OPENING UP A CLOSED WORLD
The long read
In this section I will show you how to create and utilise a hit list to acquire and catalogue your contacts within the fashion styling industry.
The below excerpt is taken from my book, Fashion Stylist’s Handbook. Use this guide and the templates to help you find the contacts you not only want, but need.
Warning: This is not a quick how-to, building contacts is a long and arduous task, but by sticking to your plan you will get there.
You should always do your research before attempting to contact or meet people and companies you would like to work with. This can be done by looking through magazines, watching films, documentaries or reading up about them online (see Chapter 6). As well as the fashion magazines, look at the advertising agencies and music companies whose work fits your style and aspirations for your career direction. Look at who they have worked with in terms of magazines or film producers, stylists, photographers and models. Do you like their agency and website, their work and their style? Is it the kind of work you would like to do or could do?
It is possible to find an enormous amount of information online, such as which photographer, stylist and model worked on a particular advertising campaign, or who was the band manager and stylist on a music video or album cover. Your aim is to discover styling history and visual references, to find advertising companies, band managers and photographers. Watch YouTube / MTV, get to know which directors you would like to work with, who shot the latest video for the hottest band. Contact these people and study their inspiration for the shoots.
Once you have drawn up a hit list of useful contacts, and researched everything you can find out about them, it is time to start calling to try to make appointments. This is by no means easy – calling people in fashion, music or advertising can seem daunting, but practice makes perfect so don’t give up.
If the receptionist can’t put you through directly to the person you have asked to speak to, they will usually give you the option of leaving a brief message or voicemail. It is worth asking for an email address as well, though be aware that data-protection law prevents receptionists from giving out names or contact details over the phone. If you have an email address, send your contact an email to follow up on your call so they are aware of you and what you can offer them.
It doesn’t matter if you have an incorrect contact name for an art director, as you are most likely to get through to the secretary, booker, assistant or intern first, who will hopefully point you in the right direction.
Never underestimate an assistant – they are also just starting out. By sending your CV through the assistant, they will also look at it and can mention it to the art director if they like what they see. Add the assistant to your hit list of people to whom you should send new work.
If someone is difficult to reach but gives you a specific date or instruction to ring back, then make sure you stick to it. However, be prepared to keep phoning them – these are busy people and it could be months before you hear back from them (but if they ask you to stop calling, then stop). Little touch-points you could introduce along the way include sending your comp card in the post as a reminder of your work. If you keep going, you should eventually secure an appointment.
I keep track of who I have contacted and when (see Chapter 8), by filling out Progress Reports like the examples opposite: (names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals).
This is an ongoing hit list and you should keep it updated every week.
All of the above has been taken from my book, Fashion Stylist’s Handbook. The book is available in four countries - UK, USA, Germany and Spain (with China out December 2018)
Illustrated throughout with inspirational photos and behind-the-scenes shots, the book is packed with tips for organising your own fashion shoots and advice on getting started in the fashion world. It features interviews with international contemporary fashion stylists and advice from experts working within the PR industry.
German Version (avedition)
German language, relevant to Hamburg & Berlin
Available in paperback.