Meet Christen. Baltimore based Personal Stylist, Style Biz Coach, & founder of Black Women Who Style, a digital community for stylists to learn and grow.
TFE: How did your career begin as a wardrobe stylist?
Christen: I started my styling career as a blogger back in 2013. I was a junior in college and wanted a space where I could talk about fashion, where I shopped and some of the events that I was attending. At the time, I also started styling outfits on a platform called Polyvore. I absolutely loved that site and would spend hours curating looks and posting them to social media. And that was when I realized I wanted to be a stylist.
In 2014, I styled my first editorial photo shoot right before coming home for summer break. I literally used my own clothes and styled one of my model friends. I blogged about the entire experience. That summer, I also landed my first internship at a local boutique called TopKitty and helped Maria, the owner, run her store a couple of days out of the week. I had a part-time job at Children’s Place, so when I wasn’t there, I was at the boutique. At the end of the internship, I assisted her in styling her collection at Baltimore Fashion Week. It was so fun to be behind the scenes and assisting with a pro. It was the perfect end to my first internship and that’s when everything began to unfold.
TFE: I know you’ve talked about your career as stylist for a corporate company. What was that experience like?
Christen: I really enjoyed working for other companies doing what I enjoy doing. I’m definitely blessed to have had opportunities like that to learn more about styling and the business side of the industry. Everything that I learned from those roles are still keeping me afloat today.
In 2015,I landed a Retail Management Internship at Nordstrom and graduated from college with a B.S. in Business Management and a concentration in Entrepreneurship.
That internship opportunity gave me a leg up at my first Corporate job. In 2016, I landed my first corporate styling job at Trunk Club and this is when I realized Personal Styling was my passion. They let me go after just 8 months but I picked up a job as an Executive Assistant to a local designer a week later.
TFE: I love your platform Black Women Who Style. Tell us about it and what ignited your passion to create it?
Christen: Black Women Who Style actually came from a FB group I started called “Stylistas”. I invited all of my fashion industry connections and was posting weekly wins and opportunities in the Baltimore area. I really just wanted it to be a space for stylists to connect with other creatives. But it started to die down, so I started an IG page in April of 2018.
The page started off as a space to highlight black stylists and what the work they were doing. But it quickly turned into a space for all stylists to come to get the guidance they need to survive in the styling industry. We started hosting events, offering resources and partnering with other stylists to give our audience a peek inside the life of a stylist.
TFE: Tell us about some of the resources and services you offer for stylists.
Christen: Yesss! So BWWS offers digital resources and hosts virtual workshops for stylists of all types. Most of the information is based around the business of styling but am working on creating content that is specific to stylist types. I always bring in other stylists to talk about their journeys and give tips about working in the industry.
I launched Project Style University in January 2020 to specifically coach Personal Stylists through business. I noticed that many stylists had amazing talent but were missing the mark. They didn’t have the proper knowledge to sustain a business. So, PSU offers coaching and courses to combat that.
TFE: I love your social media aesthetic for your personal brand as well as for BWWS. Do you have any tips you can share on building/ maintaining a strong presence on social?
Christen: Building a strong presence is all about being consistent. I’ve gotten in the habit of posting everyday; at least once a day. I know this can be a lot for some so I always suggest planning out your content and captions ahead of time.
But when you’re posting, don’t just post anything. Post content that is engaging, educational, and entertaining. You want to enlighten your audience and let them know that you’re an expert but still a real person they can relate to.
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TFE: I’ve been following BWWS for a while and there are always dope virtual events happening. Tell us about one you’re most proud of.
Christen: I’m mostly proud of our membership, The Style Squad. It’s a subset of BWWS that is a little more intimate and hands on.
There wasn’t anything like this when I was building my styling business, so I am blessed and humbled to be able to offer something like this to other stylists.
TFE: What do you think is one the biggest challenges for fashion stylists today? How are you overcoming this?
Christen: CHARGING THEIR WORTH. Stylists are so afraid to charge the proper amounts for their time and talent. They typically base it off their accolades and how long they’ve been in the industry but honestly, none of that really matters.
I’m overcoming it by standing firm in my prices and being clear about the value and the benefits of what I do as a Personal Stylist. Yes, I still get “NOs”, but I’ve realized that those people weren’t my clients. And I’ve learned to be okay with that.
TFE: What are some ways you stay inspired on a day to day?
Christen: I stay inspired by spending time with God and reminding myself of his promises. I also listen to podcast interviews and watch a ton of HGTV 😂 Seeing luxury homes reminds me of what I’ll have one day. That’s literally the only channel I watch.
TFE: What is a piece of advice you've received during your styling career which has helped you along your journey?
Christen: That every opportunity that comes my way isn’t for me. I used to be “booked and busy” but wasn’t making money or seeing the types of clients I wanted to see. But once I shifted my mindset and understood that what I offered wasn’t going to be understood by everyone, my business changed.
Follow Christen on IG @sochicchris to learn more about how she's helping stylists thrive in their businesses.
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