Hi friends, this week I had a “Creatives in Focus” interview with International Stylist and fashion blogger, Maryanne Alabi. I learnt about her creative journey and what it takes to be a fashion stylist. Grab a cup of tea and let us get stuck in.
Vicky: Can you please tell me a little about yourself and your educational background?
Maryanne: Maryanne Alabi is an adventurous soul, an avid lover of everything God given and an accessory junkie. I am a graduate of philosophy from the University of Lagos, Nigeria.
Vicky: Can you please give me a little more insight into your creative journey?
Maryanne: My journey started over 10 years ago, straight out of college and into the entertainment and fashion industry in Nigeria. I worked as a fashion editor of several fashion and lifestyle magazines. I have also worked as a wardrobe consultant and stylist to international brands like Pepsi, Amstel Malta, Gtbank, to mention a few. I have worked with fashion brands from Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, London, the United States with the likes of Laquan Smith, Tracy Reese, Julien McDonald, David Tlale, Lanre Da Silva, Orange Culture, Hellava girl to mention a few, as well as host of celebrities in the music industry.
Vicky: Can you please describe your personal style?
Maryanne: My personal style is very eclectic, I love very versatile and fun clothing. I dress for comfort.
Vicky: What are the three favourite pieces in your wardrobe right now?
Maryanne: A pairs of shoes from the brand, “Call it spring” an oversize tuxedo jacket from a Nigerian brand, “John Membo” and my hand accessories.
Vicky: How did you get into fashion styling?
Maryanne: Fashion styling found me, it was love from day one. I started being the creative head of a dance and art organisation and then moved to editorial styling and more doors kept opening. Editorial and runway styling are my favourites, but I do a bit of everything.
Vicky: Can you please give me a quick overview of what being a fashion stylist/ consultant entails? Is it a flexible role? Do you work long hours?
Maryanne: You must be extremely creative. This job entails humility, dedication, making crazy compromises, wins, loses just like other career paths but the love you have for it will keep you grounded. You definitely get to work long hours. I have been on shoots and productions that have taken me away from home for more than 3 months. I often work round the clock, it is extremely intense but I love every minute of it. The end results and achievements have become a massive drive for me.
Vicky: What are the key skills required to be a fashion stylist/ consultant?
Maryanne: You need to know what area of styling you want to work. They are editorial stylists, runway stylists, personal stylists, theatre, movie stylists and much more. Humility always opens doors for you, no one wants to work with a nasty character no matter how good you are at your job. You are always dealing with people so interpersonal relationship skills are very important.
Vicky: Are you inspired by any fashion stylists/ designers?
Maryanne: Oh yes! A ton of them, Tosin aka The style infidel, Law Roach, Isi Atagamen, Orange culture. There are tons of Nigerian bloggers that inspire me as well as Korean and Australian bloggers. A long list but this will do.
Vicky: How do you gain inspiration when you are dressing a client or styling for a fashion shoot?
Maryanne: I get inspiration from a lot of things. Nature, what the client likes, my environment, any and everything.
Vicky: Do you work on your own or in a team?
Maryanne: I work with a team all the time because being a stylist entails the skills of other creatives to help pull together a project.
Vicky: What challenges do you face as a fashion stylist?
Maryanne: Wow, This is a good one, the challenges are synonymous with every new brief, it could be a member of your style team cancelling last minute, to a client who suddenly changes the already agreed theme and plan. As a stylist you always have to be prepared to fix and create magic when challenges arise and come correct, no room for setbacks, you turn those setbacks into gold. That is what makes every project memorable for me.
Vicky: What do you enjoy the most about being a fashion stylist?
Maryanne: I love the entire creative process, how you turn an idea into a masterpiece that outlives you, I love to tell stories with clothes and other elements.
Vicky: Can you please tell me 4 things you have learnt running a business in the fashion/creative industry? Is there anything you wish you knew before you started your role/ business?
Maryanne: Running a fashion business in Nigeria is not for the faint-hearted, I can tell you that for free. You need to know your environment or the environment you want to operate in, have a plan, like three optional plans for the initial plan ‘A’ you had, and it must be at least 5-year plan. I am serious about this.
Your quest to research new things as a creative is a never-ending one, you always must study, learn new things, and create new ideas to be a better creative and business owner.
You are your own competition, live and learn and find a suitable pace for yourself.
You should always remain humble and practice having a teachable spirit, that way you are ready to constantly strive despite the limitations your environment might present.
Vicky: Who is your support system?
Maryanne: My family and closest friends.
Vicky: What do you do to relax? Do you think you have a healthy work-life balance?
Maryanne: I am currently working on this, as I end up working mentally even when I am not physically at work, I believe I am making progress.
Vicky: Do you have any advice for up and coming stylists or someone considering a career in fashion styling?
Maryanne: Be sure you know what exactly you want from your styling career. Do Your research, make enquiries, research, find a mentor or someone you can learn the ropes from. Cultivate a teachable spirit and mindset.
Connect with Maryanne Alabi by clicking the links below