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Why Working NYFW is the Best/Worst Experience of Your Life

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely live for this fucking time of year. It’s like band camp for creatives. You get to be with all of the other awkward, misplaced, don’t fit into social norms individuals. NYFW has proved for me that this is where I belong.

I’m a little off beat, hella eclectic, artsy and the best part is…so is everyone else. That’s what makes it such an amazing experience, you’ve found your people.

Hair stylist during NYFW

This Fashion Week, myself along with my Apprentice (@ouilovehair be sure to follow her) had the opportunity to work with the Obi-Wan Kenobi of our industry— Aubrey Loots—and his Jedi Knight Jamie Pierce-Elwell, what a duo they are. May the force continue to be with them.

Hair Stylists at NYFW

As amazing as it is to work alongside the right people, all focused on creating something incredible, working backstage at a runway show is no joke. You get no sleep, don’t eat, run around nonstop, moving from show to show in an adrenaline fueled daze.

So, why do we do this every season?

Because this is where creatives come to get their souls fed. The constant swirl of activity, the crazy over-the-top fashion and people, the pushing of boundaries past any point you’ve ever thought they could go…This is what being an artist is all about.

Hair stylists at NYFW backstage

If you’ve ever wondered how you can get into NYFW, the key is to build your network which in turn, will build your net worth. Find the right people, make the right connections, and don’t stop putting yourself out there until you get in there.

But first— understand that Fashion Week is relentless and will chew you up and spit you out if you aren’t prepared/built for it.

Below I’ve compiled twelve essentials that will aid you on your journey. The best part about the lessons I’ve learned from my time spent backstage at NYFW is that even if you never work fashion week in your life, they can still be applied to your day to day.

Stylists backstage at NYFW

My 12 NYFW Takeaways

  1. Be on time, on time means be early. Always allow enough travel time, consider traffic finding parking and locating the venue when doing so. Make sure your phone is charged and you have all points of contact plugged in, anything can happen it’s best to be over prepared than not. 
  2. Be professional and courteous. No complaining or whining about things you have no control over, show up, show out and shut up. Be responsible for your energy, it is transferable. Keep your negative comments to yourself you never know who you are complaining around, they may be important. The key is to be on your best behavior. Take it all in, the good and bad, just be grateful to be there. There are so many individuals who would kill for a chance to be in your place. Always remain humble and display humility.
  3. Wear black, be aware of current trends, be unique, be yourself. Don’t forget to showcase who you are through your fashion. You are there to help create the new up and coming trends, remember you are the standard hold yourself to that. So be sure you are on trend or ahead of it (you can definitely get jiggy with some black). Wear breathable clothing, items that are easy to move around in, layers are always a great idea. The temperature tends to fluctuate, it can go from hot to freezing in an instant. Last but not least wear comfortable shoes.
  4. Be camera ready. It’s Fashion Week, you never know what media outlet you will appear on. You are representing not only yourself but your team.

  5. Carry business cards, or create a digital one. We are full throttle in a Digital Revolution, embrace it, it’s not going anywhere. I’ll talk more about this after I attend LBP Idealogue September 24 & 25th and the first Empowherment event—The Coterie— on the 26th.

  6. Bring energizing snacks like nuts, energy bars etc. Stay hydrated, it is essential you graze throughout the day. The time zooms by, next thing you know you’ve been working nonstop and haven’t eaten.

  7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You are on a bomb team and no one is going to let you fail. That is the beauty of a team, you balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses. If you do not understand the concept of team, fashion week will give you a wonderful taste, I highly recommend it. Cliche as it may sound “Team Work Makes The Dream Work!”

  8. Remember everything you’ve ever learned or understood about your craft and let that guide you on your journey. Allowing your craft to guide you leads you to other amazing creatives who are taking the same journey as you. You forge unbreakable bonds with some pretty badass individuals.

  9. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. This industry is all about firsts, remember this one above all, it is essential.

  10. Be open to trying new things. Fashion week is a great place to master your craft. Think of it as a hands on class with top educators that you get on the humble. That is priceless…

  11. Overcome communication barriers. NYFW is an international joy, there are many creatives traveling from around the world you may encounter language and cultural barriers, be open. It can prove a bit difficult at times but nothing a little hand gesturing and smiles won’t get you through. Remember they are at band camp just like you.

  12. Expand your network beyond your wildest dreams. Working season after season will help you stabilize your network and be seen continuously by the right people. As I stated above you forge unbreakable bonds.Hair stylist at NYFW

To put it plainly fashion week is not for the faint of heart. If you don’t like taking direction, working and growing with a team, being ridiculously uncomfortable then you need not apply. But if you are truly about your craft and want to push yourself beyond its exterior, than this is where you belong baby! Fashion week is self-driven and thrives on pure creative passion.

*Note: If you would like to experience Fashion Week I highly recommend Aubrey’s Backstage Pass. Last season I covered the 2 day class during NYFW, to give a clearer understanding you can read the article here. If you decide to take Aubrey’s class you will not be disappointed, you will come out an improved stylist.

Wondering if NYFW is right for you? Read This>>

Photos of Author courtesy of Ksenia Poulber

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