When I took the Introduction to Fashion Careers course in Summer 2013, one of our assignments was to interview someone about their career in the fashion industry.
I had heard about Ashley Weston from Refinery 29 and later learned that she had styled some of my favorite actors! She and her manager were wonderful and graciously allowed me time to speak with her on the phone and learn more about her career.
Our assignment was to summarize our findings from our interview and I have recopied the assignment below.
Subject: Ashley Weston, Celebrity Menswear Stylist and Men’s Style Expert at The Wall Group
Contact Info: On her website there is a form to send inquires and messages. Her manager Dorian Innes contacted me and helped sent up the phone call interview.
Training, Education, Work Experience: Ashley didn’t have any experience in the fashion industry. She graduated from UCLA with a Bachelors in Psychology and a Masters in Education with the goal of being a teacher. A friend of a friend (a photographer) invited her on set one day and she discovered the role of styling. She helped out in any way she could by getting coffee, picking up clothes, etc. She worked really hard to become the youngest creative director for an Asian media group. She learned a lot by doing; her photographer friend became her mentor and taught her a lot about pulling clothes in showrooms and being able to envision the outfit you want in your mind. After she left her post as creative director, she went freelance and spent a year on her own pursing menswear styling. She mentioned that being present, obtaining referrers/press, and her editorial work with GQ, Esquire, and Interview Magazines helped her to be the youngest person of The Wall Group (which according to her is the best agency). She says that saying “yes”, being present and connecting with individuals in the styling/fashion industry, having a strong work ethic, and going the extra mile (saying yes to doing something even if she was tired) separated her from others and helped her to be where she is now.
Job Responsibilities: 1. Establishing good relationships with PR of companies and showrooms. Getting a good relationship ensures that you are able to get certain merchandise necessary for a client. It is absolutely necessary for her to be organized as she sometimes has thousands of dollars worth of merchandise in her car and she must know where everything is at all times.
2. Dressing A Client. She has to know how they want their image. It’s her job to have pull appointments, do fittings and tailorings, know showrooms and trends, be on time, and understand how to style a client in the correct image or representation.
3. Emailing and Following Up. She has to email and follow up quickly- even emailing back half an hour later is too late. This industry is time sensitive and urgent; she is responsible for being on top of everything and avoiding mistakes because there isn’t any room for error in her line of work and the fashion industry as a whole. She says that if you do make a mistake, just don’t do it again.
Daily Schedule: For her, every day is something different. It’s not like a typical job where weekends are taken off. Depending on her schedule, sometimes she has a Tuesday off or has a few days in between projects. If her agent had just booked her a job, her day goes like this: In the morning, she wakes up and automatically checks emails and style.com. She emails PR contacts when she likes something from the runway shows on style.com and wants to see it (ex: she says that she likes look 3 and 5 from [Designer]’s F/W 2013 RTW show). She makes various emails and calls to set up appointments. The same day (or next day if she is not wrapping up other jobs), she is driving around pulling clothes locally from LA as well as clothes that have come in from New York. In her office, she has samples that she organizes how she likes it and is constantly checking inventory. She sets up appointments at clients’ houses and gets the fittings and tailoring done. (She says that tailors are the most important people along with PR to establish good relationships with.) If she has some time, she is writing for her website, recording off camera videos, and tracking the menswear trends. At night, she is wrapping up her emails for the end of the day and prewriting emails to be sent to New York the next morning. If her office is low on supplies, she must get them as well. She says that her days are “crazy” and always involve multitasking, and driving. She is lucky to get lunch some days.
Pro’s and Con’s of Job:
Cons: Her work schedule includes long hours and her weekends are not typical. She does not get Saturdays and Sundays off. Her schedule is always changing and sometimes she gets between one to a few days off in between jobs. She is constantly on call and compared it to being a surgeon. She has to accommodate to her clients’ schedules and be available whenever they need her. Once, she did a fitting for a client at 1 to 2 AM. If she goes to a client’s house for a fitting and they don’t have time anymore or are too tired, she has to pack up all the stuff and come back another time. Also, another con is that she has to constantly check her phone for emails and alert. This can get tiring especially for her family and friends whenever she is with them.
Pros: She says that her job is one of the most rewarding jobs. It is so exciting to see a project that she has been working on come to life on the client. She loves working with amazing and talented clients as well as beautiful pieces of clothing. Being creative and working with the client to shape their image is another benefit. She describes clothes as an extension of the person and loves to collaborate with the client to find what looks great on them. Her job is not to put something on a client that doesn’t fit or show who they really are. If a client is a leading man of a movie, she must make him look sharp and clean which affects how directors and magazines view him. She loves having that influence.
Words of Wisdom, Ways to enter Industry: She says that assisting is the most important thing. She had to teach herself a lot of things, from how to pin, clip, and steam, and she wishes that she had known these things sooner. She says that helping or interning with a stylist who is established and has secrets will help you go far. She also says that while interning or helping out, don’t think of it as a job or bemoan that you aren’t paid. You are just building your book and it’ll lead to benefits in the future. Next, always say yes and go the extra mile. You’ll learn more experience and it’ll separate you from others. Lastly, she mentions to always be pleasant. It does no good to be nasty and no one needs to deal with someone who is negative. You will not go far if you are that way.
Interviewed and Written in August 2013