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Starting Out Self-Employed as a Stylist: A Comprehensive Guide

26 Jun by Alexandra

Starting Out Self-Employed as a Stylist: A Comprehensive Guide

Embarking on a career as a self-employed stylist is an exciting and rewarding journey. The role of a stylist involves much more than simply picking out clothes; it’s about understanding the intricacies of fashion, connecting with clients, and curating looks that inspire, empower, and intrigue. This guide will provide essential insights and actionable steps to help you start your career as a self-employed fashion or personal stylist – including expert tips from fellow creatives.

Self-employed vs. Employed

Being self-employed as a stylist significantly differs from being employed by a company or fashion house. As a self-employed stylist, you have complete control over your business decisions, client base, and schedule, allowing for greater flexibility and creativity in your work.

However, this independence comes with increased responsibilities, such as managing your marketing, finances, and client relations; unlike an employed position where job roles and tasks are typically defined and supported by a team, a self-employed stylist must multitask and handle all aspects of their business.

This autonomy can be both empowering and challenging, as success relies heavily on your ability to attract clients, maintain a strong network, and continuously adapt to the evolving fashion landscape.

Wondering how to successfully switch to being self-employed? We’ll let you dive right in!

Gaining Experience

Experience is invaluable in the fashion industry. Although highly competitive, there are always plenty of opportunities for aspiring stylists and creatives to join the community and gain relevant experience. These include interning for established stylists, fashion houses and independent brands to learn the ropes, starting as an assistant to a professional stylist to gain hands-on experience, and browsing ad-hoc, freelance opportunities such as volunteering backstage and fashion shows or attending networking events. These experiences are perfect for helping you see the business side of fashion, as well as creating your own portfolio.

Building Your Portfolio

Speaking of portfolios… a strong, in-depth one is essential to attract clients and take your self-employed styling career to the next level. To build an impressive portfolio, be sure to include your best visual work (whether that’s editorial styling, previous personal styling work or professional moodboarding for clients), while letting your personality and versatility truly shine. As portfolios are often a lasting first impression, creating a well-organised one that’s highly creative yet professional is a key to landing new projects.

Developing Your Personal Brand

Your personal brand is a reflection of your unique style and professional identity. Developing a strong personal brand involves several steps: define your unique styling approach and aesthetic, create a professional website to showcase your portfolio, services, and client testimonials, and maintain a strong social media presence on platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok to share your work and engage with potential clients. Consistent use of visuals that represent your style across all platforms will make you recognizable and memorable to potential clients.

Networking and Building Relationships

Building a robust network is crucial in the fashion industry. Start by attending industry events such as fashion shows, trade shows, and networking events to meet other professionals. Join professional organisations and participate in online communities related to fashion and personal styling to connect with peers and share knowledge. Collaborate with photographers, makeup artists, and models on projects to expand your network. Networking can lead to referrals, collaborations, and new opportunities, so it’s important to actively engage with others in the industry.

Setting Up Your Business

To start your self-employed journey, you’ll need to handle the practical aspects of running a business. Decide on your business structure (e.g., sole trader, partnership or limited company) and register your business accordingly. Check if you need any licences or permits to operate in your area and consider getting business insurance to protect against potential liabilities. Set up a system for managing your finances, including invoicing, expenses, and taxes. Handling these administrative tasks will ensure your business operates smoothly and legally, allowing you to find new clients and build your social presence.

Pricing Your Services

Determining your pricing in advance can be challenging but is crucial for your business’s success. Some of our tips include:

  1. Research Market Rates: Look at what other stylists in your area are charging.
  2. Consider Your Experience: Adjust your rates based on your experience and expertise.
  3. Offer Packages: Create service packages (e.g., wardrobe consultation, personal shopping) to provide clear options for clients.
  4. Value Your Time: Ensure your pricing reflects the time and effort you put into each project.

Transparent and fair pricing will help you attract and retain clients.

Finding Clients

Finding clients as a self-employed stylist requires a proactive approach and strategic marketing efforts. Start by leveraging your personal and professional network; let friends, family, and acquaintances know about your services, and ask for referrals. Social media is a powerful tool for showcasing your work—regularly post engaging content, behind-the-scenes looks, and client transformations to attract potential clients. Additionally, consider creating a professional website that highlights your portfolio, services, and client testimonials. Joining professional organisations and online communities related to fashion styling can also provide valuable connections and insights. By maintaining a strong online presence and actively participating in industry events, you can build a robust client base and ensure you remain at the forefront of the fashion industry.

Continuing Education and Staying Current

The fashion industry is constantly evolving. Stay current by attending workshops and seminars to learn new techniques and stay updated on trends, engaging with other stylists to share knowledge and insights, and incorporating current trends into your work to keep your styling fresh and relevant. Continuous learning and adaptation will keep your skills sharp and your services in demand.

One excellent resource for ongoing education is the London College of Style. From Personal Styling to Colour Analysis and Fashion Styling, we offer a comprehensive range of courses designed to equip aspiring and practising stylists with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in the industry. For self-employed stylists, these courses provide practical, hands-on experience, expert instruction from industry professionals, and valuable networking opportunities. Our emphasis on real-world application and up-to-date fashion trends ensures that graduates are well-prepared to succeed in the competitive world of freelance styling. If you’ve ever felt ready to get started but weren’t sure how, we’ve got the perfect place for your fashion career to begin.

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