How To Start From Scratch When You Want A Career As An Interior Stylist

Last weekend I received a message via Instagram from someone who wanted advice on starting her Interior Styling career from scratch.

Her message read like this…

“Hello! I’m looking to start my own interior styling business. I have been doing some online design projects and I find I don’t like doing it. I like being in people’s space, not online. Also, I want to focus more on styling and not full interior design services. Can your courses help me start a career in interior styling? Thank you!”

I replied to her and her follow up message was…

“I have been listening to your podcast. It’s seem like most stylists including yourself have an extensive background working in fashion or some sort of creative position for big named companies before starting their own stylist career. I don’t have that experience. I’m starting from scratch with a passion for beauty and design and an eye for it. I’m having my doubts on being able to do it. Can you give me your thoughts.”

I love getting asked these kinds of questions. I’ve long thought I am one step ahead in the experience department when someone needs a bit of advice or help and as I have taught Styling for Interiors both on Inside Stylists Online Course and for Chelsea School of Arts. Sharing my experience, knowledge (and probably unwanted opinions) is always a pleasure. I also have a great network within the interiors world and hear about all kinds of sides of work from interior designers, editors, brands and prs. It helps me to have an well rounded knowledge. It’s probably down to my nosy, inquisitive nature.

Here’s what I said to her.

It doesn’t matter where you come from.

Although I’ve interviewed lots on experienced Interior Stylists, Assistants and writer members of Inside Stylists on the Inside Stylists Podcast the fact that the majority of them come from creative backgrounds is a bit of a fluke. There are plenty of stylists I know who work in creative fields now but came from very corporate backgrounds. No interior experience at all.
Your background can help you get into styling of course but that isn’t the only way in. Having a passion for interiors, a need to know the trends, an unwavering ability to stay on top of the latest colour, fabric and furniture styles will stand you in much better stead.

It doesn’t matter how old you are

Okay this wasn’t a question I was asked this time but I am always being approached by people who think they are “too old”to start a new career when they are 30/40/50+. To that I say NO YOU ARENT.
There’s no age limit on style whether that’s fashion, beauty or interiors. If you want to get into Interior Styling you just need to find your avenue and start. Go. Right now!

You have life experience and that’s what matters

It’s often the case when I get asked these questions that the person has a long standing career in another field and the thought of starting over is mega daunting. You may be comparing your beginning stage with my 20+ year career. Don’t do that. Instead focus on what skills you can bring to a room. Have you been in an office job where you need to co-ordinate with different departments to get a project off the ground? Have you had a career break while the kids are little? Are you looking to escape a job you hate because you can’t be creative. All the skills you’ve accrued over the years will come in handy with interior styling from the logistics of an office job to the after school mum taxiing with homework deadlines – and packed lunches. It all counts. Everyone has skills that are interchangeable. List yours out so you can be reminded of that.

People need stylists, and not just for magazines and brands

There are so many more areas an Interior Stylist can work in other than shooting photography for magazines, brands and pr campaign. That is predominantly what the members of Inside  Stylists do as profeessional Interior Stylists, assistants and writers. The people who do the hiring for those kinds of jobs want to know their next hire has lots of shoot experience rather than just styling experience. That doesn’t mean there’s no work out there if you don’t want to get into professional styling.

I could list a ton of places like working for interior designers who don’t have time to style their own projects when they are being shot, or home owners who are looking to sell a property or just want to pull a more co-hesive look together.

I have lots more ideas but that’s for a future post.

You have a style all of your own

The kind of interior styling this person wanted to do was more styling peoples homes. There is a lot of work in this area. It’s home staging for sales or for living. It’s making a house a home styling – the best kind.
The thing to remember here is that you will become known for your interior style. If you style rooms in neutrals and share that across your socials and websites you’ll become known for that. Someone may well be watching your journey until they are ready to hire so keep sharing the progress – no matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel.

A quick word about Imposter syndrome

We all suffer from it from time to time but especially when we are pushing the boundaries and starting something new and scary. As ‘they’ always say – success is just outside your comfort zone. Get uncomfortable.

I had the pleasure of having Lucy Cox, a confidence coach on to do a workshop for the members of Inside Stylists and later edited it to share on the Inside Stylists Podcast (Episode 137) In the recording she shares all about Imposter Syndrome and how to understand it and deal with it better. It’s a great listen. I think I didn’t edit out my total vulnerability in this one – the kind I tend to save for the members. Eeek! There I go again pushing the boundaries to be outside of my comfort zone! Your turn.

So with all of that said I think I sewed a few seeds and answered all the questions – and more. If you would like to have a listen to some of the Interior Stylists, assistants and writers podcast episodes go check them out here

Podcast interviews with Interior Stylists

Sally Cullen  Sally Cullen shares how she makes interior styling work for her

Laura North Styling outside of London

Charlotte Boyd How to set fire to a shoot location with interior Stylist Charlotte Boyd

Emma Morton-Turner – How I became an Interior Stylist

Inside Stylists Interior Styling Course

8 unconventional jobs Interior Stylists can do – link here soon

Imposter Syndrome podcast  – Lucy Cox Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

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