How to Be a Fashion Stylist with Jermaine Daley
This episode features Jermaine Daley, a New York-based fashion stylist. We cover topics such as career tips for beginner stylists, perfectionism, challenges Jermaine encountered along the way, his approach to fashion styling, managing finances, sustainability in fashion, and much more.
Jermaine Daley is a New York-based fashion stylist. His work focuses on storytelling and creating characters through styling and editing.
"Relationships are essential to the job that we’re doing and will continue to be important to get our job done."
One of his signature strengths is the use of color, which is inventive, bold and sophisticated, inspired by his childhood in Jamaica. Editorial clients include Interview Magazine, Kinfolk, L’Oﬃciel, Mission, Behind The Blinds, and The Last Magazine, to name a few.
- Introduction [00:00:00]
- Episode Introduction [00:00:50]
- Career Tips and Insights for Young Stylists [00:02:36]
- Work Routines and Habits of a Fashion Stylist [00:14:25]
- Making a Living As a Fashion Stylist [00:29:02]
- Short Episode Break – Support the Podcast [00:34:05]
- Jermaines Professional Challenges in the Fashion Industry [00:34:48]
- On Sustainability in Fashion [00:46:34]
- The Process of Editorial Fashion Styling [00:58:50]
- How to Be a Better Creative Professional [01:13:45]
- Episode Outro [01:17:16]
Jermaine: You may not make it right away because it doesn’t really happen for everyone else at the same time, but if you really do pay your dues and do these things, it will come.
This is the Creative Voyage Podcast, a long-form interview show with the mission to help creative professionals to level up. I’m your host Mario Depicolzuane. I’m a creative professional myself active in the fields of graphic design, art direction, and creative consulting. In this podcast, I present in-depth interviews with some of the world’s most inspiring creative professionals revealing the stories that shape their lives and careers, plus actionable strategies to help you take your mindset and skills to the next level. I invite you to join me on this journey.
Mario: In this episode, I talk to a fashion stylist.
Jermaine: Hi. My name is Jermaine Daley. I’m based in New York and I’m a fashion stylist.
Mario: Jermaine Daley is a New York-based fashion stylist. His work focuses on storytelling and creating characters through styling and editing. One of his signature strengths is the use of color, which is inventive, bold and sophisticated, inspired by his childhood in Jamaica. Editorial clients include Interview Magazine, Kinfolk L’officiel, Mission, Behind the Blinds and The Last Magazine to name a few.
In this episode, we’re going to listen to the highlights of the conversation I have with Jermaine in October 2020. We cover topics such as career tips for beginner stylists, challenges Jermaine encountered along the way, his approach to fashion styling, managing finances, sustainability in fashion and much more.
Jermaine loved clothes from a young age. However, it took some time for him to find his way and understand what he wanted to do. Even though that passion directed him to start studying fashion, he wasn’t too excited about being a fashion designer. In his early 20s, he started working in retail instead and explored other fashion avenues through freelance and part-time gigs always keeping busy. During those years, he interned with two different celebrity stylists which gave him the first real taste of what fashion was. It was hard work and an opportunity to find his place in the industry.
In 2015, as a freelancer working closely with the editors at the Interview Magazine, things started clicking for him and he decided to pursue his career as a fashion stylist. Through patient and directed work and collaborations, slowly but surely he began to work on his projects and network elevating his professional skills along the way, which as he told me is a long and ongoing process. I began my conversation with Jermaine asking him about the advice he would give his younger self during those early days as suggestions for starters who are just starting their professional journeys.
Jermaine: I think one of the things that I would really tell myself is to like really push. Just push for more, because at that time I wasn’t pushing for as much as I could have been doing. and I think there were certain opportunities that were almost given to me and I kind of denied a couple of them at the time just because I was like not really comfortable with the idea of it. And I think, for me, if I had to say go back and say I would be like, “You know what? Take the chance. You never know where it may lead.” And I didn’t really take a full chance during that time when I first really started and I really wish I had taken more of a chance with myself and really pushed the idea that I could really like be in this industry fully. And I’m in the industry fully. I’ve worked with quite a lot of editors and like really good ones and from different backgrounds and like different publications. So like I know I could have had more of a push, but I think that’s the one thing I would have told myself a little earlier, push a little bit more.
Mario: Yeah. And why do you think you were on that little bit of a conservative side I guess? Do you know why? Why were you holding back?
Jermaine: I think most of it was the part about not knowing to do everything was one of the ideas was one of the things in my brain. I’m a perfectionist, and I think being a perfectionist is really, really hard because if you feel like you can’t do something, you won’t really do it necessarily. And I think, for me, I was such that person who wanted to be perfect at everything and I didn’t really want to push unless I was perfect at it. Like I didn’t want to chase something not knowing how to do it very well. And I think for me, over time, I worked on – Like I try to work on what I understood like even about doing market work, which market working tells me going through a publicist and getting close. And that took me a little bit of time to understand how to get around it, which I was really like most of my friends I know they were so involved in pushing forward that and I just didn’t do that at a time and I think it was my nerves getting to me.
But I think the idea of just being a perfectionist for myself really affected most of what I could have done, but not really to that full extent. And I think obviously having a full-time job at the time was also another big reason why I didn’t really push myself too much. It was because I wanted to stay financially stable and not go into a part of the world where I may not have the same financial background. So I think those two things really took a halt on what the idea behind what I should have been doing was.
Mario: Yeah. Do you consider yourself to be a perfectionist at the moment?
Jermaine: Yes. I’m a very, very big perfectionist in terms of I really like things to really be – I’m meticulous about a lot of things. Like I’m meticulous about the places I eat, how my food is presented to me, how my drinks are presented to me. I work. I’m very big on that. Like I don’t like things to look messy too much. Intended messy is a little bit different from if it’s actually messy. And I think I’ve just also come from the bone of like working with editors who are the same way in a way. So like I get that mentality that things have to be perfectly placed. But yeah, I find myself to be a very big perfectionist. I may not be perfect in the real bigger picture, but I think I like things around me to be as perfect as possible. And I know perfection is obviously a thing that is unattainable most times. But I think just from your mental state and knowing that something could be perfect in a certain way in your mind, that’s what I look at.
Mario: You mentioned at the beginning one of the reasons was also that perfection holding you back and I guess the lack of certain confidence in the field. How do you like now kind of balance that? Because I mean of course you do have more experience, but usually with more experience and certain progress you can also learn more and realize other gaps or places where you can enhance or level up again. So I’m curious, how do you balance those things because I feel like perfectionism can be for a lot of people almost like something that is holding them back in a sense. It can be quite like an obstacle. So how do you balance that?
Jermaine: I think right now I just have like an idea in my head that everything will not necessarily be perfect. I try to get it as perfect as possible as I want it to be, but I think working with other people now is like a thing that you have to put into play, and I think a lot of how even my work takes place is that I have to remember that it’s not only me that’s creating this work that I’m doing. There is a group of people that are on the same idea span as I am. So I really have to understand now that it’s always not possible to have things be perfect because you’re not doing it yourself all the time. And I really just kind of – Working with a group I think – I’m sorry. I’m a little bit trying to put this outright, but I think working with a group, I learned to understand that I just need to be happy at the end with the results that I’ve obtained. And obviously, if I could try to make something as the best as possible, I will, but if it’s not possible like I just have to reimagine it in a way where it’s possible that that becomes perfect.
Mario: You’re trying to make sure that you do your absolute best.
Jermaine: Yeah, exactly.
Mario: And then if it mismatches the vision in some sense, you can still be like, “Okay, I did my best. I had the best people I could have around and there were all these circumstances,” and it’s good at the end.
Jermaine: Yeah. That’s a big thing in this industry. The circumstances that we work under is very, very different from your normal daily life as a nine-to-five worker. As our circumstances are very much based on the end results. We don’t really have – Like you could bring it to the table like so many ideas, but in the end, it may not turn out the way that you thought it was going to turn out. Either it’s the makeup, the hair, the model, the photographer, the stylist, the location. Like all these things really do permit to what our work end up being towards the end because nothing is ever perfect. We’re always going to encounter one thing that’s going to like kind of stricken us to what we think perfection should be. It’s just like nature. Nature is not perfect. Nature has its moments and we can’t ever think it’s going to be perfect always.
Mario: And following the thread of giving your younger self a piece of advice, what advice would you give to a young person who is entering the field of fashion styling?
Jermaine: I think for me I would tell someone really come in with a mindset that you’re going to do it and you’re not going to stop until you get where you want to get and you’re going to understand every single aspect of what your job should and could be, because you never stop learning what this job is. You learn things as you go all the time. Like there’re just so many different situations that you’ve learned that this is how something could be done or like you’re just not – No one ever stops learning. It’s like anyone would tell you even like an older person you never stop learning things in life because life continues to improve and to change. So having a mentality that you cannot give up because you’re not seeing results in the first maybe year or so as results come later. You just have to continue to push and to grind and to really make yourself more knowledgeable of what you’re doing because knowledge is power.
Mario: Yeah. And if we like imagine a theoretical situation, but probably there are actually people like that in that situation at the moment where let’s say somebody’s just finishing their studies or has like a – Maybe they finished or are finishing and they look up to you and they’re like, “Okay, I really like what he’s been doing,” and they can relate and they’re like, “Oh, I want to go into that direction,” and they have a question of how should I go about it. What would you suggest?
Jermaine: A good suggestion is to – If you really like that person, there’s always Instagram or email. I feel like a lot of people that I hear about now – I had an intern that I’m currently working with still and he found me on Instagram and he reached out to me by email, and really you just have to connect yourself with that person. If that’s that person that you really want to like be your guidance in a way, reach out to them, “Can I intern for you? Is there any way for us to have a conversation? I would love to get coffee and chat with you about how for me to enter into this field.” And most times these people, they’re really willing to help you out especially if you’re suggesting, “I want to intern for you for a couple of months and to really understand what your job is.” That’s a great way to really get into this industry is, first of all, knowing who you want to be or knowing what your work want to be. It’s the same for any single person. Like photographers, hair and makeup, if you want to learn something, you have to find someone who could help you and teach you. If you want to break into this industry, acts whoever work you’re looking at and you like something, like if you look in the magazine. Because before this is also a good thing to say, but before when I used to look in magazines, there used to be a lot of work that I used to like, but my one mistake was that I never really paid attention to names because I’m so bad at names in general. And I never paid attention to the stylist or the photographer’s names that would appear in these magazines all the time because it was, for me, I’m so horrible with names. Like I could never remember people names so easily. So I think for you looking in the magazine and you see, “Oh, I always like for instance this ID magazine, I always like this styling or this photography type,” and you just keep reading those people names and that’s also how you could find whose work you’re interested in. Like what are you really interested in? Kind of research those people that you kind of see like their work. Like, look them up. Try to find what other works they’ve done that you may like and get an idea in the head of who you want to work for as well.
As the author, Annie Dillard reminds us, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour and that one is what we’re doing.” To get a better insight into Jermaine’s work and the craft of fashion styling I’ve asked him to share his current work routines and practices.
Jermaine: A lot of work that I do is specifically for brands and like whether it’s their ecom or like an editorial that they want to do or a campaign. So like these small little things are kind of like my average week. And what goes into a lot of that is that I gather my thoughts and like whatever I’m doing I show up to work. And like normally I show up to work and I kind of get a walk through my clients about what’s going on? What do we need to do? What are we creating? Just the idea behind what they want to see an end result and just gather in all the information that I could possibly get and like I start to style and like I start to like try different things. And a lot of it is when I’m working for like a client, like in terms of a brand, I’m working with what their clothes is. So I’m not really necessarily picking clothes out of thin hair from other people. I’m working on what they give me and I kind of get the ideas that they want to entail. Like whether it’s like a mood board that they’ve already had an idea like, “We want to evoke happiness in the styling or like fun colors.” Like just this based on ideas from what I get from a client. Like I create looks, and like looks meaning like a full outfit for the model or for whoever the case is. And it goes a lot like that. And obviously, like most times they do like a pre-day, which it’s just me and my assistant and we style out everything and we kind of like go over with the client and see what they think. See what could be changed.
The idea behind also retail is that most clients have this like what they buy into and what’s their main pushes for the season. So really a lot of that is mentally understanding what the client needs and fully giving it to them on that side. And then on the editorial side, a lot of my work comes from – Like I built some of my own mood boards for some magazines, or for like not some magazines, but for right now for like one main magazine I build an idea of what I want to do for this season of shows that I saw. And I get excited about clothes personally. I will never really stop being excited to see clothes. I’m just a genuine lover of clothes and like what clothes could be and should be. Whenever I see a runway show, for instance, like we have fashion week, that’s kind of going on. I don’t really know if it’s really going on. Shows are still coming out. But the runway shows are where you kind of like see and you kind of get an idea. You’re like, “Oh, this would be great in this scenario,” meaning like setting like I want to do someone in the fields running in this dress. Just like an idea of what you really come across.
So for me, I create a mood board based on what I’ve seen this season or what I would like to see. And then I kind of go about and I find the clothes or the brands that would be great to like get this idea rolling. And I start to go through that process of finding what the clothes is, finding where I could get them. I request them from the brand about three to five days prior depending on the location of the magazine that I’m working for. If it’s a U.S. publication and I’m going through the U.S. market, I could request it up until the day before, maybe a couple of days and I may get lucky. But normally I do a full week dealing with like publicists and trying to work out whether they’re able to like to loan me samples from any of these brands that I work with and kind of like a back and forth. And then we get the clothes in. We have like a full day of getting everything, picking ups and organizing our day before the shoot. And then we go into set the next day and we create beautiful pictures. And the processes is like me kind of making my final edits with the photographers and seeing what is the best result for what we could produce, like what works best, what idea behind clothes are we going to like choose here?
Mario: Yeah. And let’s say on a specific shoot, usually, how prepared are you or like do you already have like we’re doing, I don’t know, these 10 looks and it’s probably going to be like this? And like how then does that like translate to the shoot or do you improvise? Like how does that work?
Jermaine: So what I do is normally I’ll get like a 10-page story, for instance. I will request about 50 brands in terms for clothes.
Mario: Okay. 50.
Jermaine: And I’ll kind of make like a very good edit like, yeah, 50 brands or maybe sometimes more. For me, I don’t really like to go too much. We do get a lot of clothes. We do get a lot of clothes when we work. So I think the main idea of why we get this many things a lot of times is that most times we see things on a runway or we see things in a lookbook and we think it may work, but we get on set and we start to take a picture of it and it doesn’t translate to what you thought it was going to translate to. So you always like to have alternative options just in case something doesn’t work out.
And I think the idea behind brands giving you clothes is that sometimes something that you requested may not be available and you may not want anything else from that collection. So you request these alternative brands and you try to figure out who’s going to have what is possible for you that you could use. And also the next thing is that when you’re working with a publication, that has a set of advertisers, you have to normally prioritize their advertising lists before you prioritize any additional brands. And if you possibly get these things from their advertisers, which most times you will, you shoot as much as you can from the advertising list that they’ve given you whether it’s like we needed to shoot Armani, Prada, Gucci, Saint Laurent, like all these things. And whatever picture is left over, if I give you 10 credits and you didn’t get a good look from three of the credits, you could filter something in that’s not necessarily a credit for them or not an advertiser for them, but you could filter in a couple other brands. Or maybe you like an accessory from one of these brands that’s not an advertiser and you’re able to mix it in with the advertising brand, whether it’s a shoe, a hat, like something, like even a T-shirt. So it’s really like a full-blown idea to really get what your work is around.
Mario: When you’re in a shoot obviously or either on location or in the studio, but on other days when you’re preparing, like how does your workspace look? Do you have an office or do you do something else?
Jermaine: My workspace is normally my home. I normally work from home, or I’m always kind of on the go. I mean, even if I’m not working, I’m kind of always outside and if it’s not too cold especially. I always try to be outside just because I don’t like to stay in my house too much. It’s just like a weird thing. But I’m either working at home or I work actually a lot on my iPhone, which my iPhone is actually amazing to get a lot of the work that I need to get done. So I’m normally either I’m on a train and I’m still getting work done on my phone. Because most times for me I use my phone personally. Even when I’m working I use my phone a lot more than my computer. And if I’m home, I use my computer to like do a bigger kind of like perfect everything. Like I either need to put a PDF together for someone or I need to like finalize a couple of things in terms of a mood board, I do it on my computer because my computer obviously, it’s a bit more practical in that way. But a lot of my workspace is my home and sometimes there’s an office that I use or borrow, but I mostly use it for when I’m getting in the clothes and I will go there and have all the clothes sent there. But yeah, mostly my home.
Mario: Yeah. And how – Do you work alone or do you often work with collaborators? How is that distributed?
Jermaine: I normally have an assistant that helps me out for editorial purposes most times, because editorial most time doesn’t really pay. You’re doing it for really nothing. So it’s quite costly to do an editorial. So I try to do as much as possible on my own if I can and then I’ll get an assistant in. And if I’m busy with another job, I will kind of have an assistant take over for me or my assistant take over and handle the market and like I’ll tell them, “Hey, I would love you to find really nice fine jewellery.” Or like, “Hey, I would love you to find this specific type of shoe,” and give that person an idea of what I need and they will execute the rest of it.
Jermaine: In terms of collaboration, I mean, mostly, yes, I do collaborate with people, but most of it for me at this current point in my career necessarily I’m doing it on my own for bringing the idea to life and clothes-wise. I’m doing it on my own a lot. I don’t know, I’m a very self-efficient person in terms of getting things done on my own and I’ve always been that way, which is not very – Which sometimes is not the best way to work, but it works for me just because like I know the time frame for myself, and like if I have to get something done I’m going to get it done in the time that I need to get it done.
Mario: And before you mentioned a little bit about your schedule during the day, but how long are your workdays on average?
Jermaine: Sometimes from like maybe a 10-hour day normally. For editorials, I could say it could be a run-up to a 12-hour day. So 10 to 12 hours a day is normally my workday.
Mario: Yeah. And do you have weekends or is it like the shoots happen at a weekend? How is that? Do you manage to have a certain kind of routine in your schedule or –
Jermaine: Weekends, I don’t frequently work on weekends unless it’s may be editorial, because I like personally love to like do my editorials on a weekend because it’s not like a working day normally because if I’m doing a client job, they’ll normally have their shoots during the weekdays. Not to say they won’t have a weekend, but the majority of the jobs I’ve ever worked on, it’s been on a weekday. So I normally do have my weekends off unless it’s like really something specific. And I do my editorials on the weekend whenever I have one. But normally weekends I do have off to myself.
Mario: I aim for the same thing. Or if I do something, I aim to have something more fun or something more on the side or a side project or something self-initiated.
Jermaine: Yeah, exactly. Side projects on weekends are not really bad because it just feels like it’s not really taken away because it’s something you necessarily want to do for fun.
Mario: Yeah. And especially if you can like involve like some of your like friends or people you would like to work with and it can be, yeah, quite a good way to like work on yourself and your skills on like, let’s say, yeah, on off time. But still, it contributes overall to your work.
Jermaine: Yeah, exactly.
Mario: There are different facets of what you’re doing from being on a shoot to like sourcing, to, I mean, research. There’s administration. So how is that distributed?
Jermaine: Research, I should have mentioned in my last answer or last topic, but research is a very big part of my job. For editorial purposes, research is one of the main things that I think that a lot of people depend on because it’s actually like you are creating an idea behind something. So doing research is a very big part of what that idea becomes. I’m always going to really speak an editorial like I’m speaking more so about editorial right now. But for editorial, I do research quite a bit and try to like get an idea of what I’m going to do because I’m also sending these things to other people. And most time the photographer does send a mood board, but sometimes I send my own mood boards as well. It’s like 50-50. It just really depends on who I’m working with yeah. And if the photographer sends a mood board to me with his research or their research, I’ll follow with some additional images of what I think we could also add-in. And I think that’s the first part of the job really is to like really gather what the research is and try to figure out what we’re going to do.
And for administrative stuff, really, I don’t like dealing with the administrative part of my job. So I kind of look towards the end a lot of times. It’s just not a very fun part, but I leave a lot of that towards the end for some reason. I’m not really sure why I always do that, but it’s always like the last thing I worry about. And I’m like what’s the other thing that you said, you said administrative, you said research and there was something else you said. What was it?
Mario: I mean there was time on the set and if there’s like anything else I guess. I mean, there’s research, prep, there’s, yeah, administration. Is there anything else?
Jermaine: Well it goes to research, prep, shoot and then what’s the word? It’s post-shoot. Post-shoot is basically after I’ve done the shoot, I have to return the clothes to the houses that I’ve requested them from or the PR people that I’m dealing with. I have to return those things and I have to kind of – So that is really the last end result of whatever I’m doing, which is an administrative part of it I would say. It’s like dealing with the end result. That’s why I always say I do it towards the end. But yeah, I mean, I feel like generally, that’s just my routine. It’s like research, prepping, then going – If there’s like additional things I need to do like I’ll have them in between. And also like another casting, dealing with casting a model. If I’m not doing a talent like you also have to cast a model. So like there’s that idea and you’re dealing with that part a lot because you want to find the right face and who you’re going to shoot. And can they like to give you what you’re thinking about your idea?
A significant and sometimes challenging part of being a professional is making money. As most of us know, the awe-inspiring editorial work often doesn’t pay that well. So I was curious to hear how Jermaine manages that.
Jermaine: I’m not going to say I’m very good with finances, but I don’t really put myself in tough spots with finances because my mother always like really told me, she’s very like big on like making sure you’re set up for in case of any emergencies. One thing my mother has always told me is to make sure you have something put away for rainy days, and rainy days meaning that we’ve just gone through a very long rainy day. We’ve just gone through COVID where no one was working. And I listened to my mother, but like I also would say I don’t always listen to her. But when COVID happened, I really thought about it and I was like, “Wow! Like she’s actually right. This is a rainy day. This is what she’s talking about.” Because we don’t really see it. We’ve never gone through such an experience where we’ve noticed that we’ve had to like not to work for five months or six months, basically a year without knowing that we’re also not from like – We’re not wealthy necessarily or we don’t come from like a very good family stature of money. But what my mother told me really clicked in my head and I’ve always had her in the back of my mind whenever I like to deal with money. So I think, for me, I say that I try to make sure I’m thinking smarter in terms of finances.
And one of the things also is like I’ve always chosen to do more of a money job in terms of like even assisting. Like when I’m assisting, I try to work with people that are working on a money job. Meaning that I’m getting paid more money for the job that I’m doing rather than an editorial, which you don’t really get anything as an assistant. So like I always prioritize a job that is going to be a better paycheck because it’s like you want to have money. You don’t want to be without money. Something you need to survive really. But I’ve always tried to take the things that are going to pay better. I won’t say that that’s necessarily true, but most of the times I would like to put myself in the space where I’m making enough money where I could not really worry for a couple of months if something happened.
But finance is a really big part of this job in terms of you really put a lot of your own money out into making it. There’re a couple of people who may tell you like being a stylist is very expensive. It’s one of the most expensive jobs apart from being a photographer because photographers have to like really spend a lot of money on equipment and post-production and like things like that, but a stylist also have to spend that same – Probably more money because just to even put together these shots and to get a messenger and to like buy these things for these shoots that you’re doing, it costs a lot of money like it’s not very easy to like get a shoot done in terms of finances. You could spend like, I don’t know, a couple of thousand dollars on prepping to shoot for yourself. It’s really expensive at times.
Like I have friends who have spent so much money doing one shoot and I’m like, “Oh my God! Like that’s insane.” Because for me, I personally always try to like not spend so much money because I’m like, I don’t know, like I’m just not willing to like really give that much money away into something that it’s kind of like it’s me protecting myself from waste I would say.
Mario: And when you say there are all these different costs, like what are some of those costs? Because I assume like for some clothing and accessories and stuff, you like pull in, right? Like you can borrow.
Jermaine: Well, the main cost behind that is that for an editorial I am paying for shipping. I’m paying for a messenger. I’m paying for someone to pick it up. So that’s a lot of where the cost has come from. Shipping internationally is very expensive. You could pay five to six hundred dollars for one shipment to come to you. Meaning that one brand is sending you clothes. That’s already $600 that you have to pay either to return it or to ship it. You have to pay one way most of the time or some people have to pay both ways because some brands don’t have the budget to ship things internationally. But you are shipping something. That’s where a lot of the money really does come from. It’s like you’re paying for a messenger in New York City. Like you’re paying maybe 60 bucks to pick one bag up. These are things that are very pricey and they add up. So if I’m requesting from 50 places 50 different things or 50 different companies, just think about that cost that is being added up. And that’s why it takes so much money to really do this job, is because you’re paying for the service of getting it to you.
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As creative professionals, we’re often met by obstacles and challenges alongside our path, and our response in those moments is one of the determining factors of our success. I believe Roy T. Bennett was right when he said, “When things do not go your way, remember that every challenge, every adversity contains within it the seeds of opportunity and growth.” I’ve asked Jermaine about the professional challenges he was facing currently and throughout his career.
Jermaine: In New York, for me, I think there’s too many of us. That’s a very big challenge. In terms that you know having so many options doesn’t really ever get you a job all the time because you’re being compared to so many different people that are doing your same job and it’s whoever has the better relationship or whoever has the better book or whoever worked with a better photographer, whoever has the most follower on Instagram. So a lot of these challenges that myself is currently facing has to deal with a lot of these things combined. It’s really taken a very big part of your job. Because just having, I don’t know, like if you have – Being freelance also is a big thing and just everyone is hunting for the same job, whether it’s like, “Oh, a client is trying to like get someone for the cheapest possible,” and you know you won’t go down and rate. So like the jobs end up going to the person that’s going to work for the lowest. Things like these are very big challenges that we are facing. And I feel like it’s kind of hard to get out of them also knowing that clients are not really trying to help you in the way that they want so much out of you, but like they’re not really giving you the compensation for what you’re doing all the time. And I’m not saying this is all clients. I’m just saying it’s happening a lot more with some clients and I’m not really sure why is it okay for you to not want to pay someone when you have to pay your normal employees and your normal employees are doing just about the same work as someone that you’re hiring freelance. So it’s like what is our difference in a job? We’re sometimes maybe doing more work because we’re trying to help sell your products at the end of the day.
So it’s a really hard spot, but I think my main challenge being here in New York is just that there are so many people that are doing what I’m doing in terms of the job title, but not necessarily creating the same exact content that I’m creating. So I can’t really say we’re much the same, but it’s also there are other things that are going into play around that area whether it’s your Instagram followers. Who’s going to give the brand a little more push? Like just a lot of these things really do take place now. And I’ve always noticed it, but it’s getting more apparent that these things aren’t just happening more frequently than possible.
Mario: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, creative industry and creative jobs are booming, but there’s also, I mean, more and more people, young people, entering the market. So it is a competitive place to be, I mean, in general. And I can imagine in a place like New York. How are you going about it? Because I mean, a thing as you mentioned that race to the bottom in a sense where, yeah, a client kind of doesn’t care about having like a standard maybe on the market and then a lot of people, because of various reasons, are just willing to drop their prices. But I mean, that’s really not a sustainable approach. So I’m curious, how are you going about it?
Jermaine: I mean, I’m a very firm believer in standing my ground. So I think a lot of how I focus on is understanding that I’m worth more than what these people are trying to give me. And I really stand my ground. And if you like, listen, if you really want me to work for you, you’re going to find the money to pay me to work for you. And if you don’t, that means that it’s your loss. You’ve reached out to me. I didn’t reach out to you. So like there’s a reason you reach out to me. And if you really wanted me, you would find that money. And if you do want me, you will hire me. So I really just got my ground.
Obviously, there are some times when I understand that it’s not really possible based on what we’re doing and like I really put into play how much I’m doing a lot of times. So if I’m doing like 20 looks or whatever, I’ll try to use that as leverage where it’s like, “Well, you’re giving me this much to do and you’re giving me this rate. This doesn’t mix very well because it’s like you’re giving me so much to do and you’re not really trying to pay me for what I’m doing.” But I think, for me, I just really try my best to like get what I want. And if I have to go a little bit lower, I’ll try, but most times I like to have like a base. This is my base rate. This is what I’ll do it for or this is the lowest I could go for you. But also some of these things you are making up, you’re not necessarily making up numbers, but you are making up numbers in a certain way. It really depends. It really depends on the amount of work. For me, I really say I try to stand my ground as much as possible. And if I can do the work and it’s not as much as I think it is, then I’ll do it, but normally I don’t really ever say yes to a lot of things like that.
Mario: And what are some of the challenges that you might have experienced during your career?
Jermaine: Being taken seriously is one of the main challenges that I’ve come across a lot, and I’ll still be coming across that as well because I’m still very young to be doing my own work I’m going to say. I put myself as a full stylist obviously, because I am, but there is still work that’s being done in terms of like I’m still building my career. I’m not at any state in my life where I’m going to say my career is that it’s an all-time high because it’s not. It’s not even close right now for me. I’m still building that name, my name inside it for what I want to be and like for who I want to be around, just like I’m still building that. But I could say being taken seriously is one of the main challenges that I’m still currently even facing right now because it’s like someone has to take you seriously to believe in what your work is and to believe in what you could do. So that’s a very hard thing to really get over. You really do have to have a lot of confidence in what you’re doing for you to like not to pay attention to that is a part of what’s going on.
Obviously, I’m happy enough that I have some clients that are very sweet to me and who like me. And one of my main things is that I like to be the best person I could be for a client because I always want them to never feel like I’m being a brat or being any what way. I always want to feel like I’m being genuine because I’m a genuine person. I work very much so off of energy and people are and like I try to give the same energy I receive. So I really feel like a big part of my life right now is like learning how to just always be positive about what the results could be and will be. Because I feel like there’s this thing, if you speak to a lot of stylists, like a lot of them started to make – Their career started to move forward when they’re in their 30s. Now a lot of younger people are breaking that barrier, but it’s also still a little bit of time before you really become that person that people are really trusting in.
And I think some styles that I’ve noticed and that I’ve seen, they’ve really done a good job of like kind of breaking that boundary of saying, “Well, I’m not going to wait until I’m 30 before I could really all happen for me. I’m going to like push, push, push until it happens.” So that’s the very big thing that I think a lot of people should really pay attention to, is that you may not make it right away because it doesn’t really happen for everyone else at the same time. But if you really do pay your dues and like do these things, it will come. And I’ve spoken to a lot of people that I’ve worked with and people that I currently still work with, and I’ve kind of like getting advice from them still and what to do and how to kind of move forward, and it’s always the same thing. It’s going to come with time. Just find who you are. Find what your work should be. All the same kind of topics that I’m talking about, it’s what everyone else tells me. And I’m very thankful for everyone that I’ve worked with and like currently work with because it’s also like a very big thing for me to be with these people. I’m around a lot of different people. So having that support from them in different ways is very encouraging.
Mario: And it is like a long game, and that’s what I think really important to remember in any creative industry. Of course, there are outliers who are incredibly talented and at the same time, they get lucky with a certain like break and maybe they’re younger at the time. But most often it really is like a long run and there isn’t like a prescription of like, “Okay, do this and in two years you’re going to be there, or in five years, or ten.”
Jermaine: Exactly. There’s no subscription or like no way for you to know if you’re going to make it right away or possibly. Like this is a game that you’re going to play. It’s not a game, but it is kind of a game that you have to really play and be good at and over time the results of you playing that game will come to you. And a lot of people don’t really understand that, and also that’s the next thing even when going back to like someone young that’s coming in the industry, they really don’t ever understand that part of the game because they’re so hesitant to get what they want or to get where they want. They forget that it’s also like when you come into this industry after six months of working as a freelancer. You are not entitled to necessarily do your own work. You’re not really entitled to push your own work and like say, “I should be getting this.” no one’s entitled to most of these things. We have to work to get there. It’s like we work to get a promotion at any normal job. Like we have to work together, promotion and being a freelancer or being creative like we’re working towards that.
Mario: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. It really does take time and I think maybe part of an issue can be this – In some sense in our modern lives, we manage to like to smooth out some things and feel like, “Oh, I can go online and order whatever this cup and it’s going to come tomorrow,” and like it’s instant satisfaction in some sense. And I feel like it can almost become like a mindset that everything in life is like that. And if it’s not, there’s something wrong either with you or with the other person. Where I think in most cases, really, it is a long game and patience and pushing.
Jermaine: There is no patience currently in the world as you could see from after COVID. A lot of people you could tell do not have the patience for anything. People, I don’t know, it’s like going to Starbucks and expecting your coffee to be ready like 30 seconds after you order it. Do you know what I’m saying? These are things that people are not used to because we live in a society that tells us that we need things now rather than we should wait for it. It’s also like a reason why a lot of our planet is in turmoil is that we want these things to move faster and we forget that moving faster mean that you’re also damaging something else. Like something else is going to go wrong because people are trying to get you this faster. Faster is not always better. Faster is not always better for anyone. And that’s like – What is it? The bunny and the turtle. Like faster is never really better. It’s just you’re faster. You’re not necessarily better.
Mario: Yeah, exactly. It’s just one dimension.
At this point in our conversation, I was curious to hear about Jermaine’s thoughts on the heated topic of sustainability in fashion and how he sees his role in that domain.
Jermaine: I think it’s really hard for me to see any change in fashion just because I’ve worked in it for so long. And I’m not saying it’s not possible, but I think the rate that we’re going where brands are making all of these things that necessarily are not really selling, they’re just creating them just to create them and there’s no customer to buy them. Then they go on this extreme markdown and then someone buys them and put them in their closet but never wear it. It’s just such a waste. We don’t need it – Let me see. How many seasons do we have a year? We have spring, we have summer, we have fallen. We technically have winter. So that’s four seasons right there, right? Spring, summer and fall, winter. It’s separated into four seasons at the end of the day if you think about it. Then you have resort. You have pre-fall. You may have pre-spring. That is about eight collections a year or six collections a year. No one needs that many clothes. Think about it. You generally will wear the same clothes, maybe the same pant two times a week, maybe three.
I know a lot of people who do that. They don’t really care about wearing different pant every single day or a different – Well, shirts, yeah. But like there’re some things that you could wear multiple times. Who needs this many clothes? And it’s also just if we’re creating all these pre-collections, who are the customers that are really buying all of these pre-collections? Because the pre-collections becomes the main problem. It’s like people don’t really want to think they have to wear one season throughout the entire season. They want to feel like they’ve already entered into a new state of another collection, which essentially is the same thing. It’s the same collection, just it’s a little watered down. It’s not even really a great collection.
But I feel like a lot of brands should really – I also thought during this time a lot of brands during COVID would kind of like stop doing a runway show for the season. Just take a season off and just focused on next year and really push next year to be better. And I did not see that. I just saw brands doing the same things. Like we didn’t need to do a show season this year because it’s also you’re endangering other people based on you wanting to like sell. It’s okay if you’re not going to make money for this season because you’re also probably getting like a government check that’s going to help you because you have so much losses for the year. And I feel like companies take so much advantage of these things where it’s like you don’t really need to do this much. You could just really pullback in a little bit.
I know Gucci recently said they were going to cut their amount of collections that they produced per year, which was very nice because Gucci has such a big runway show. It’s literally a hundred looks each show they have. And you’d have that many clothes going down a runway, it’s insane. And that was them doing about six seasons per year or like four to five seasons per year. That’s a lot. That’s just a lot of waste. So I really feel like brands need to pull back on what they’re producing and maybe really think about do you really need a pre-collection anymore? Should we just not move forward with just two collections a year again? We don’t really need this many clothes. It’s like no one’s really wearing it all. It’s kind of like – There’s also like the next idea. Some brands should really just go. Meaning that it should just close down because we don’t really need some brands. Some of these brands who you’re not really selling anything.
But yeah, I really think it’s time for people to stop creating these many things that we don’t need. And it’s not only even fashion. It’s just globally. In terms of every industry needs to pull back on what we’re producing for the world. Rather need to produce something that’s amazing or just not produces anything at all. It’s like technology. Technology doesn’t necessarily release – Like we don’t get a new iPhone every six months. We get an iPhone every year or every two – Well, now it’s every year I guess. But like every year a new iPhone comes out which it’s not necessarily like smart to do every year. Every two years will kind of be better, but I guess people need to still sell. So I understand like your company needs to move forward. But if we don’t get an iPhone for two years, we’re not going to die. Do you know what I mean? Like the previous iPhone still works.
Mario: Yeah, exactly. You can usually use an iPhone for at least two, three years, yeah.
Jermaine: Two to three years. I mean, they slow it down. They slow it down after two years. But two to three years is still pretty fun to have a phone. Like your phone is not really going to not do anything it was doing before, but it’s also the next problem if like the world demands the latest and the newest things, and this is what comes into play of why we have this issue. It’s because people create this need for things, and it’s not only up to companies to say we need to stop this. It’s also up to people to say we don’t want this anymore. It’s a two-sided thing. It’s from companies and it’s also from people, because if companies said they weren’t going to take this anymore, then you’re going to have people go, “Well, why aren’t you doing this anymore? This is not fine. We want this.” It’s like these problematic things that we encounter.
Mario: Yeah. I mean, I think a lot of companies would defend themselves that it is like a market thing and there are supply and demand. And like if there was no demand they wouldn’t supply it. And in that sense, I think it is a very good observation that it is two-sided. And I think it is on all of us to try to do something and, yeah, change, in some ways the ways that we’ve been doing some things. How do you see a role in that? Because as you said, and I can also think about myself, like I get excited about certain things, you’re excited about like clothes. Some other people are excited about the latest gadget. There’s that kind of passion, which means something. And then how do you like pairing that with this other topic that we’ve been talking about? Kind of slowing down and, yeah, not producing that much.
Jermaine: I think, for me, personally in my normal life I try not to actually buy really many pieces of clothes per year. And this is just me knowing that I already have a lot of clothes that I’ve sometimes even not worn. Like there’s still things that I have in my closet that I have never worn for 10 years and I’m like, “Wait, I bought this so long ago.” So like right now I have this mentality of like to get a bit of understanding about myself, I like basics, and I’m very basic in terms of what I buy for myself. Like I like standard things. Meaning that I love to have a good pair of black trousers. I may have 10 pairs of black trousers in different fits. But I love to have very essential things. Meaning that I always have a nice white tee, a black tee, like black pant, a nice pair of jeans, a basic sneaker. There’s just a lot of things that when I buy them, I buy them with the intent that I will wear them for as long as possible and I will not need to get something new, because unless it’s like really something amazing, I won’t really get it.
Like per season, I may buy three pieces of designer things or maybe less, and that’s quite a bit small. That’s a small bit of a thing for someone that works in fashion, to be honest. To buy three pieces of designer things, it’s like kind of nothing compared to what other people would necessarily buy. But I’m very much – I’ll go to UNIQLO. And even though UNIQLO is not the best place to go in the world, and I’m going to say because they are a fast retail company, there are just some things that I feel like I don’t want to pay a hundred bucks for a T-shirt. Just paying 20 bucks is better for me because it’s also just like I won’t feel like if that T-shirt gets messed up, I won’t really have any regrets because it was only 20 bucks. But buying something that’s a hundred bucks or more, I just don’t know if I want to commit that much money to something that I don’t really believe in necessarily.
But I try to like do my part in terms of not shopping as much anymore, and I think that’s what I’ve been trying to stop, is like stop wasting, because it’s also like me buying every season it’s going to tell someone that, “Oh, we need to make more. We need to make more.” And I don’t really necessarily think we need more. I think we need less. But I think that’s – I mean, what else am I doing? I feel like that’s my main thing, is calm down in the shopping. Buy things that are not harming the environments anymore. I’m trying to be as good as possible about what I’m buying, but it’s also so hard because a lot of these companies really do lie about what they’re doing to their products. So it’s like you never really know who’s telling the truth.
Mario: Yeah. And then from what you were describing now, it’s also very, let’s say, like a personal thing when it comes to instilling that in your work. I assume it gets a little bit harder because if you’re mentioning like you have to pull in this many clothes, have this many looks and all these different things, like how can you in those instances instil some of these like things that we talked about?
Jermaine: One of the best ways for me to instil is actually pulling back on what I’m doing in a way. I mean, no one needs five racks of clothes. Like I know I don’t need that many clothes to get my job done. But, for me, I mean, a mindset that I’ve always had, to be honest, I am kind of like a very tight-headed person. Meaning that I’ll get the best edit of clothes as possible. And if I have the best edits confirmed for me, I won’t really need to do anything else. I don’t really want to get more, because more doesn’t mean good. But I think I’ve been trying to follow this thing where it’s like I just need to get what I need rather than get more to impress anyone.
There’re instances where you may need more because either you’re working with talent. And like a lot of things come into play when you are working on an editorial shoot or when you’re working with talent, because especially a talent, you want people to feel comfortable so you get more in case they don’t feel comfortable with your idea. So there are instances where you can actually pull back and then there are some that you really can’t. But in instances, for me, when I’m doing a full editorial, I’ve tried to like pull back a little bit on what I’m requesting because also it’s like I don’t have the money to ship this many things from around the world to come in if it’s not here in New York. So I try my best, like the kind of simplify what my edits should be. And I think moving forward, I want to actually like just get what I really, really need and if it’s possible, because there are other moments where it’s not possible. Also like there’s times when someone confirms something for you and it doesn’t come. So you really have to set yourself up in other ways. But I think to be a stylist is to understand that you may encounter a problem and that is why we work how we do. But I think a lot of people don’t really edit as best as they can because I’ve worked with both types of people. I’ve worked with people who are really edited and people who don’t like to edit. They’ll edit the bare minimum, but they’re not like a big editor. Meaning that they try to take everything just because they don’t feel safe about something.
But I think that’s just my goal for myself is to kind of like just get what I need, which I’ve always practised. But I think after COVID, I’ve been trying to practice a lot more because I’m not really shooting a lot of editorials right now just because it’s a little bit weird to get clothes and like magazines are also like trying to figure out like what they’re doing because they’ve also lost like a lot of advertisers. There are just so many things that are happening right now where I’m kind of taking a break from doing editorials too much and just doing what I really need to do because I just don’t feel like it’s really working out right now. I feel like we have to really think about what’s going to happen in the future. Meaning like in the next two months, in the next month, what’s happening? We don’t know yet. So we have to just put a hold on things.
By having this be the first episode related to fashion styling, I wanted to get an even better understanding of it through the lens of Jermaine’s experience. Here, we discuss the power of collaboration and the continual pursuit of finding your voice. We begin our investigation by talking about one of my favorite Jermaine’s projects, the Sophisticated Staples, an editorial he created together with a photographer, Micaiah Carter.
Jermaine: At the time I wanted to really do a shoot and I reached out to a friend at a magazine, which was in the same magazine technically. But I made a mood board based on that shoot and I asked Micaiah to do it with me because I was like I really wanted to do the shoot. I came across these beautiful references that I was like – From a great photographer, Malick Sidibe. And I was like, “Oh my God! I really love this.” And at the time I’m still trying to find myself during this time like still happening, and I was like I reached out to Micaiah and I was like, “Oh, yeah, I would love to really do this project with you and I wanted to be like this and these were the references.” I sent him references and he was like, “Okay, cool. Like we could do this.”
We worked together. I had someone cast. I had this guy cast for me. Actually, I had my boyfriend do my cast in and he – Sorry. I don’t like to put him out there sometime because he’s also just like, “Oh!” But he casted. I had him do the cast and I was like, “Hey, I want five boys.” And I hadn’t deal with that. I got an LOR from the magazine, which is a responsibility leather, and I started to like request. Like I had a friend help me with requesting and we started to request all these things. And I was getting a lot of confirmations on like everything that I was getting and it was just perfect, because the idea behind the shoot was kind of like, “We wanted to put like black men in the space,” where it’s like we’ve seen black men in these spaces before, but I also think you don’t really see them very often in these – I don’t know what the word is. But for me, it’s special because that’s not how I normally see myself. I don’t see myself as wearing a nice tailor in suit all the time. But I wanted to put these boys in a space where they were like cool-looking boys and they were kind of wearing like these amazing outfits where it’s just like, “Oh my God! I would never see someone wearing that, but you look so amazing in it.”
And like just even terms of the patterns I use or like the suits I use. Like it was very strong, suit-in and tailoring pieces. But basically, the idea started coming along. And I worked probably two days getting everything in after the initial request. I took two days to finally get all the clothes in. I think I definitely missed a few things. But I had so many pieces of clothes. I had like three racks or four racks worth of clothes that I got for these five boys. And we took a while to get there. My assistant and I started to like put everything. We had to call an Uber. We had to call a bigger Uber car. And we literally took two cars actually, because it was so many things I got shipped to me. It was just so many pieces. Just too much to like explain. And I got to the studio. The studio was quite small. It was quite really weird. I didn’t know it was so small, but we started to set up, and as we were setting up we started to have the boys get groomed by a groomer. I don’t know. For me, that moment was a little bit stressful. I think the stressful part of it was that I had so much clothes to pick from and I wasn’t seeing all the clothes. And in my head I had ideas of what brands I wanted to use because of specific things that I got from them. But at the end, I couldn’t see a lot of the clothes because there were just not enough space to put everything out.
We started off with like one guy. We got him dressed and then we had a light test. But after that, we kept rolling. As we were going, we were creating these pictures and we were like, “Why don’t we do these two guys here or –” I was like pairing everything. So this was basically a very big shoot for me because it’s like it’s a pitch and I asked Macaiah to do with me, which we’re collaborating on this idea. So like it has to be 50-50. And even at a time, one of the boys that we had confirmed for the shoot, he actually didn’t show up. So we had to cast another boy like in an hour. And the boy that showed up was actually like he was a very new boy. Like he never really shot anything before and it was his first shoot. And he showed up. And I tell you, when I tell you I was so happy with him, because he’s actually like one of my – Like he’s sitting in the chair and he has the glasses on. You’ve probably seen that picture. He’s one of the main guys that I was like I love so much just because it was so random that he’s just literally started to model and his pictures were quite amazing. You could tell he was very shy. He didn’t know what to do. He was like you have to direct him on how to like pose. Kind of like teaching them what you want out of them.
But a lot of my roles on set entails me like kind of directing. I like to direct people because I’m very big on movement and I’m very big on poses. It’s like a thing of mine where I like I love to like direct, but I’m not an art director. I’m just a stylist right now. But a lot of the job was that basically it’s like going through every single motion and what pictures are possible to do and where should we do this or what background should we use. Like a lot of this was the job that I did during the day on set that day. And then towards the end there’s like a million garment bags of stuff that I had to like help my assistant take back to their office. That was really bad.
Mario: It was actually a project that you initiated.
Mario: And then it sounds also that it was very, very much like hands-on and very much like a 50-50 collaboration between you and Micaiah, right?
Jermaine: Yes. Yeah. Like there’s times where a photographer reached out to you, but I think a lot of stylists now, and today we all try to be proactive about our jobs because you can never just rely on someone reaching out to you. You have to kind of make that connection. And I was so happy that Micaiah did it with me because I actually didn’t think he would have done it with me initially because I was like, “Oh, he’s probably going to be like, “No. He doesn’t know me.” Because I’m one of those people that are very sometimes insecure about some things in terms of like I’m just like, “Oh, he doesn’t know me. I don’t think he’s going to want to do it.” But he responded and like he was like such a sweet guy. And I thought the pictures came out amazing. I was so happy with all the pictures. And I really think that shoot, out of all of my shoots, I really do get a lot of comments based on that shoot. And it’s quite a happy thing to know that those pictures are such a representation of a part of my work because I think a lot of people really do love them and I’ve been told that by many different people. And it’s always like an eye-opener to see. I’m like, “Okay.” Well, that’s quite happy because I really like trying to like get that idea out there and it really did work.
Mario: I think it’s, yeah, an amazing project. I mean, I came across your work when I was doing research for potential guests earlier this year. As I mentioned in my email, I was planning a trip to New York, which is scheduled just when the kind of Corona outbreak happened. So that didn’t happen. And I’ve seen your work, I think, first in Kinfolk. And then, yeah, when I went to your website and saw this project – I mean, not only this project but this project was one of those that I was like, “Wow!”
Jermaine: I really think a lot of people – Like Kinfolk, that’s actually another one of my like favorite pictures I’ve ever done. I’m assuming you’re talking about the Waris shoot.
Jermaine: Waris was such an amazing guy. And the thing about that shoot was it was actually a very, very last minute shoot. It was so last minute where it was almost impossible to do. But I did it and it turned out so beautiful, and just the pictures – The picture of him in the pink sweater was just a beautiful picture like I’m insane – like I’ve never worked with Zoltan before. Or actually, I’ve worked with Zoltan before, because actually someone I used to assist suggested me for that shoot, which I was thankful for. But those pictures turned out so lovely and I was very, very happy with the outcome because it was just like these are pictures I want to create. They’re so simple and beautiful where the images speak for themselves. And like you don’t need a lot of things in an image for it to speak for itself, and that’s what I love about those images. They were so simple. And just the person we’re shooting was so amazing. Like Waris is like an amazing man. He’s like one of those people where you’re just like, “Wow! You’re a cool guy.”
But I really want my work to kind of always be like that where it’s like you don’t really need much to make something beautiful. It takes so little to make beautiful images sometimes. I’m like the simplest things to make a beautiful image. And I’ve been really trying to like do that, but I feel like also in the current time that we live in, a lot of people are not really into the simpler things anymore because they just want the extreme things or like it always has to be so many elements where it’s not really necessarily needed, but this is what people want. And I’ve realized that I’m still finding a place for myself obviously. But I love what I’ve been created and what I’m currently trying to create. And every shoot I’ve worked very, very hard to like to make it the best it could be. I’m like the kind of person who is very meticulous about every single thing. And even when I’m working with a photographer and be like, “Hey, we should take also this shot just in case this doesn’t work out.” like I’m that kind of person. Like I want the best results possible. Because when you look at your pictures at the end, you want them to tell a story. And for my work, I’m a very big on storytelling, because it’s like I love to watch movies, number one. Movies are such big storytellers for me, which it also seen an image in a storytelling way and someone understanding what the image is telling as a story is kind of like very impressive.
If you could understand like a story when you see a shoot in a magazine, and I would also say today you don’t really find a lot of fashion stories telling stories anymore. They’re more like just giving you looks rather than telling you a full story. But maybe 10 years ago, to like 20 years ago, those stories that you would find like a W, an interview, a Vogue maybe, I don’t know, like all these older magazines, The Bazaar, they told a lot of stories back then. But today there’s not much story being told anymore. And I think it’s because there’s so much restraint with advertisers. People wanting to pull back and not spend this much. And I get it. We don’t want to waste, but it’s also like we’re kind of missing the reason why there are magazines. Fashion magazines were mostly for storytelling and to really bring the clothes to life, and we’re not really getting much life out of the clothes we’re seeing anymore. So the storytelling elements have just been taken away kind of. And I don’t know how many magazines you look at now, but if you look at a lot of them, you just see clothes and people. You don’t really see a story. I don’t know if you’ve ever understood that about like looking at it, but when I do look at a magazine now, I don’t really see a full story anymore. And like I’m also even finding the problem with that, because I think a lot of photographers now also – I think some of them have missed the part about storytelling because they’ve just been so like wanting to do fashion, but not really understand that you have to tell a full story sometimes. And it’s everyone. It’s stylists, it’s photographers, it’s everyone. We’re all sometimes missing the factors of the story and it’s also based on knowledge. Knowledge is a very big part of our job. Like if you have knowledge of what fashion was, you would know that we always – There’s always storytelling.
Mario: Yeah. And how do you go about, I guess, developing yourself in that sense? Because you said with some of these shoots and what you’ve been doing lately you’re kind of finding your voice, but you’re still of course searching and it’s like an ongoing process in a way. So I’m curious, how do you go about that? Like where do you get your inspiration? What are your like kind of resources to keep evolving yourself?
Jermaine: As of lately I’ve been trying to like collect books and books with like amazing imagery and amazing like – Just things, pictures that are like special. Like yesterday I actually just bought this book and it was – Give me one second. I want to tell you the name of it.
Jermaine: So I just bought this book yesterday and it’s Lorna Simpson, and that’s just the name of the book. And I saw it and I was like – And I started to look through it and I was like, “Wow! These are some amazing images. They’re just so beautiful.” And the layout of how the images are laid out on these pages is so special. And I saw it and I was like, “Oh my God!”
So like, instantly, I feel like whenever I see a good book now I get like so inspired because you see things and you kind of you relate to them in a way. And I think one of my biggest things is like I like to relate to the books that I’m buying in a way. I like to put myself in those images maybe or kind of like I say, “Oh! This image –” I’m like seeing one of the images in the book and I’m like, “Oh, she looks like she’s in like a Prada dress or a muumuu dress or like a Gucci dress. Like things like that is where I really play around mentally, because when I look at a book I kind of see things.
Like there is this one other book that I actually have and it’s called Bolton Photos and the cover is literally this you know black guy in glasses and he’s like in a black suit, white shirt. And I was like, “Wow! This is an amazing image.” Like I get so inspired by just seeing things like that where I’m just like, “He’s in a simple black suit with a white shirt and the image speaks so loudly.”
So I think, really, researching and looking in books is like a big part of my process and how like I get excited about what my next thing maybe. It’s like a kind of researching and recreating those moments. Not necessarily recreating the moments exactly to what they are, but kind of taken a note from what the moments that those people created back then were.
We’ve come to the last topic I’ve discussed with Jermaine. As usual, I’ve asked him to highlight three pieces of advice based on what he learned so far on his professional journey.
Jermaine: One of my first things is your relationships. Your relationships are very important to this job and how you are perceived as a person in the industry. And I think building a relationship is one of the most important parts. It’s either with a photographer, a makeup artist, a hairstylist, the client, just anyone. Always build a relationship because the relationship is important. Never walk into a room and not even say good morning, because, first of all, that’s building a relationship. You walk into a room and someone’s like, “Oh, that person is snobby. Like they didn’t even say hi.” Like always introduce yourself.
Relationships are very important to the job that we’re doing and will continue to be important to get our job done.
Even in PR, my relationships with some PRs are stronger than others and that’s how I normally get my clothes is because of my strong relationship with some of these people that I’ve worked for years and I’ve known and I’ve hanged out with and some of them are my close friends. Those relationships are very important. That’s one.
The next thing is to build a reference for yourself. If you know what you want your work to be, start your research images and like find images that you relate to and build the archive of references, because references at the end of the day will always make your work stronger than having no references. I’ve done shoots where I’ve had no references and they’ve turned out great, but also like I feel like my images really come to life when I’ve understand what a reference was or understood like where this image could be taken to. And I really think having an archive of imagery that you enjoy and that evokes something to you emotionally is really important.
And the third thing is your finances. Before you enter into this industry, like if you want to break into being a stylist or even just you’re leaving your assistant part and you’re taking off on your own, just make sure you have like something finance-wise. Your money is in the right place, just because this takes a lot of money to do. And being freelance necessarily means that you may not be work for a couple of weeks. So you always want to have backups. And I think, financially, you should be stable before you really indulge yourself and like fully going on your own because you will spend a lot of money to do this job. You will spend quite a bit of money to do this job. It’ll come back, but it’s overtime. So you have to have yourself be ready to not necessarily have finances that you’re normally used to.
So I think finances are a big part of this, and a big idea in what being a stylist is sometimes you just really, really want to like have it together. So those three things I feel like are the most important things that I could recommend to anyone who is either leaving to be a stylist or want to break into the industry. Just gather yourself together in these ways, relationships, finances and research. These are the three big parts of our job. And I think they’re very important topics that people should know about and should understand.
Hey, everyone. That’s it for this episode. I hope you find it useful. If you like this podcast, tell a friend. I want to thank Jermaine for coming onto the show. I find his work remarkable and I’m grateful that he was willing to dive deep into the world of fashion styling with me. Links to Jermaine’s work and some other things mentioned during the conversation can be found in the show notes at creative.voyage/podcast.
If you love printed matter, do check out our first publication, the Creative Voyage Paper, featuring adopted podcast episode, three publication exclusive, one lesson learned features and various tips for levelling up. Visit creative.voyage to get your copy. And lastly, if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe. Until next time my friends. Take care.
If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe and until next time my friends, take care.
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