photoHere’s my recommendation for some pool side reading to any young entrepreneur.  Boys, don’t let the name deter you.  It’s for everyone.

Sophia Amoruso, founder of the wildly successful online shop Nasty Gal, talks to you like a friend and breaks down how she got to where she is today with tips on how to interview, how to be optimize your work experience, and how to not be afraid of failure.

The first thing Sophia Amoruso sold online wasn’t fashion—it was a stolen book. She spent her teens hitchhiking, committing petty theft, and dumpster diving. By twenty-two, she had resigned herself to employment, but was still broke, directionless, and working a mediocre day job she’d taken for the health insurance.

It was there that Sophia decided to start selling vintage clothes on eBay. Eight years later, she is the founder, CEO, and creative director of Nasty Gal, a $100 million plus online fashion retailer with more than 350 employees. Sophia’s never been a typical CEO, or a typical anything, and she’s written #GIRLBOSS for outsiders (and insiders) seeking a unique path to success, even when that path is winding as all hell and lined with naysayers.

Some quotes taken from #GIRLBOSS:

“A #GIRLBOSS is in charge of her own life. She gets what she wants because she works for it.”

“I have three pieces of advice I want you to remember: Don’t ever grow up. Don’t become a bore. Don’t let The Man get to you. OK? Cool.  Then let’s do this.”

“Failure is your invention.”

Here’s a great review on #GIRLBOSS on NY Mag’s The Cut, HERE.

Read this book.  Amen, Sophia.  You ARE a special snowflake.



Some words to live by

I saw this on my photographer friend’s blog.

“Do the things you used to talk about doing but never did. Know when to let go and when to hold on tight. Stop rushing. Don’t be intimidated to say it like it is. Stop apologizing all the time. Learn to say no, so your yes has some oomph. Spend time with the friends that lift you up, and cut loose the ones who bring you down. Stop giving your power away. Be more concerned with being interested than being interesting. Be old enough to appreciate freedom, and young enough to truly enjoy it. Finally know who you are.” – Kristen Armstong

Contracts from wardrobe and/or prop stylists

Here’s some food for thought.  I just watched this video on A Photo Editor called, “F- You, Pay Me.”  If you don’t have time to watch the entire video, although you should if you freelance, it basically says that all creatives who charge for their work should always put everything in a contract so there are never any discrepancies. You want everything on the table upfront.  It’s to protect you AND the client.

In the photo industry, photographers already practice this, or they hire producers to do it for them when dealing with agencies and clients.  But what about the rest of the crew?  Why is it common for the rest of the crew to work on handshakes even though we’re all freelance?

It’s a tough bridge to cross and become contractual because it isn’t common for crew members to work under contracts upfront.   If you’re not familiar how it typically works, the crew get’s a phone call from the producer or photographer asking them if they’re available on said dates and willing to work for X amount.  You say yes, and now you’re all in.  Things can change, but nothing is in writing and won’t be until you send your invoice at the end of the job.  The only time numbers are put in writing with discussing your fee is when the photographer or producer asks the stylist to send a rough estimate of what things might cost when they’re in the bidding process to get hired for the job with the agency.   In this case, it is based on estimated costs, nothing is finite, therefore it is far from a written contract.  As a stylist, the riskiest situation is when you’re hired by out-of-towners you’ve never worked with or met before, and you’re asked to put THOUSANDS of dollars on your credit card for requested materials to get the job done.  All you have is a verbal handshake with the hopes that these expenses will be covered.  Luckily, I’ve never had any issues, but luck runs out and I never want to be in the position where I’m kicking myself in hind sight.

So you ask, why don’t you put everything in writing from the get go?  Concerns that I’d have if I started to send contracts before starting a job is a majority of producers and photographers want a crew that can role with the punches and not nickel and dime you for every mile you drove, for example.   I’d be afraid that those hiring me would see it as being too rigid and start thinking of me as someone who is less about the creative goal and more about the money.  When I really think about it, that’s silly.  In fact, the photo industry may be the only creative industry where everything isn’t spelled out from the beginning from everyone involved.  In film and television, when filling out paperwork, I often start to feel like I’m closing on a house rather than signing a couple of papers because EVERYTHING is accounted for.  In the photo industry, things are only brought up through verbal communication with the crew, where it’s easy for bits and pieces to be lost or a miscommunication to occur.  Ironing out money details before the job is easy, ironing out money details after the job is uncomfortable.  No one likes to be mislead or feel like they’re losing money.  It’s easier to work for less if you know from the start because it’s up to you whether or not to take the job.  It’s a lot touchier negotiating fees after the job is performed because the expectations of the job had changed or their was a miscommunication from the beginning about your fee.  Losing the money you thought you earned becomes much harder to swallow.  The thing is, contracts couldn’t hurt.

I’d love to hear feedback from industry professionals who hire crew members on what they’d think if they were presented with a contract prior to a shoot from wardrobe and/or prop stylists.

Website templates and hosting…

I’ve been quite happy with Qufoto as a website host.  It looks good to almost great, it’s crazy cheap (no initial fee and $19 a month), BUT it doesn’t show video and looks terrible on a iPad.  Since I’m doing more motion than still these days and more and more creatives are using iPads, I’m on a big hunt for a new website host.  I’ve been considering A Photo Folio, does anyone have any other suggestions?  A Photo Folio seems to have everything I need, but would like to see more options.  Thank you for your help!

“Food is the new rock & roll.”

I’m not sure where my husband heard this quote, but he sure loves to repeat it and I’d have to admit, I kind of agree.  Food definitely has more of a media presence seeing how chefs are all over prime time network television and Justin Bieber can only be seen performing Fridays on the Today show.  Maybe it’s because we’re all sick of our pop music options and food never stops being delicious.  Accomplished chefs have become celebrities and restaurants have become the new hot ticket.   With all that being said, I had to restrain from screaming like a 12-year-old girl when work allowed me to step foot into Alinea’s kitchen last week.  HOLY ****!  It bursted my bubble.  Voted the best restaurant in the Americas and #7 in the world, I now only wonder, what does 4, 5, and 6’s kitchen look like on a Saturday night?  I guess when you’re cooking magic, quite literally, you need to operate like a Swiss machine.  The 25 chefs (guestimate) who working in the 500 square foot kitchen (another guestimate) operated like swift feathers.  I swear, you could whisper across the room and be heard, and on a Saturday night?  This was an operation that could only be mandated by a true visionary (Chef Grant), and I felt truly honored to see it in action.  Now I need to save my pennies to eat there and when I say pennies, I mean a mortgage payment for me and my better half to enjoy this epic concert.  Worth it?  I don’t have any doubts.

Here’s a couple of photos I asked the hair and make up artist to take of me in the entrance hall to the restaurant.  It’s a strange combination of Alice in Wonderland and 2001 Space Odyssey, with a hint of Back to the Future Part 2.   

Nifty NFTE

After plucking at people’s shirts and sniffing the air of every fine mall in the area, I found I needed a little balance.   Here’s an amazing program and great volunteer opportunity, especially for those who freelance and can’t commit to anything long term because of their unpredictable schedules.  NFTE- Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship provides programs that inspire young people from low-income communities to  recognize business opportunities and plan for their financial futures.  In a NFTE program students learn business concepts, practice skills including negotiation and pricing, and work on completion of business plans for their own individual businesses.  Pretty awesome, right?  That’s just a taste of the awesomeness that goes on.

A huge part of the success of the program is in bringing in outside speakers to come and speak the students directly.  They’re looking for more creatives to come into their classrooms because it’s a frequently requested career path.  I just did my first volunteer session last week where I spoke to two different classes about what it means to freelance in a creative field and what to expect.  It was a really rewarding experience and I can’t wait to visit a different school.  You might think, “Dang, I don’t live in Chicago, but I would love to volunteer!”  You still can my friends.  NFTE is in 22 states and 9 countries.  If you click here or HERE, you can hear about the program and all the different opportunities they offer.


The new music video.

Now that we’ve formally dropped the Music from MTV and have officially said good night to music videos on television, mega mall store J. Crew has hit up the opportunity to take the old art form and turn it into marketing.  This video for the band, The Rassle is pretty straight forward, but made me excited to think there’s a whole world of ideas that could jump from this.

Kokorokoko. It may just be the first 90’s “vintage” store.

I was working on a project set in the early 90’s where I was FORCED (and loved) watching angsty romantic comedies  like Singles and Reality Bites for inspiration.  In my research, I also found a local “vintage” store called Kokorokoko that sells things you probably still have buried somewhere deep in your closet.  Much like people calling bowling a sport, I don’t think I can back the idea that 90’s clothing as being “vintage,” OR maybe I’m in denial because I don’t want to feel old.  I guess you can decide.

Kokorokoko is located at 1112 N Ashland Ave, Chicago.

Modcloth selected #2 on Inc. Magazine’s Top 500 list.

It was very surprising to see a retailer, an independent retailer no less, at #2 on Inc. Magazine’s top 500 listModcloth is a website that specializes in indie, retro, and vintage apparel, accessories, shoes, and decor from independent designers and artists at an affordable price point.  Much like Obama, they believe in working at a grassroots level in interacting with their client through social media such as Facebook, Twitter and their Modlife Blog.  They also ask you to vote on potential inventory with the Be the Buyer program so you can have the opportunity to have your voice heard to keep the company fresh, relevant, and growing by leaps and bounds. This allows them to continually accommodate their shoppers by pioneering passion for modern trends.  Pretty smart if you ask me and apparently everyone else agrees.  Their 3 year growth is 17,191% and currently have 15.6 million in revenue.

If you’re interested in starting your own retail endeavor, I suggest you read this interview with the founder of Modcloth, Susan Gregg Kogar.  Click on her picture to bring you to the interview. 

The 3 P’s, maybe 4.

Columbia College in Chicago just had a great event where they featured 3 photographers from PDN 30 under 30, an art buyer and an accomplished photographer to talk about how they got into the industry and what seemed to be working for them.  The art buyer was there to be the voice of the hiring side and to share the things she’s looking for in a photographer.  First you’re probably wondering, why were you there as a stylist?  Simply put, I like to hear from people and I love photography.  I go to everything because I’ve never walked out of a lecture or meeting where I thought something was a complete waste of time.  I enjoy hearing everyone’s insight, whether I agree with it or not, it always important to get another perspective.

At this point, I’ve been to enough of these talks to know that there are going to be a number of people in the audience that are looking for THE answer to becoming successful in the photo industry.  Everyone wants to know the magic formula, the secret list of 5 steps that work, or the 5 people that they NEED to talk to if they want to be successful.  The three 30 Under 30 nominees all had very different stories on how they’ve got to where they are today, none of which may work for the next person in line.  While filling the room with possibly false hopes, the accomplished photographer chimed in and said with a chuckle, “All you need is the 3 P’s; point of view, perseverance, and personal relationships.”  As the talk progressed, the panelists agreed that the 4th P could be passion.

Could this be THE answer?  The 4 P’s?  Honestly, hardly.  Of course you need all of these things but that still might not open up the golden ticket.  I guess that’s why we’re all still here.  If we weren’t interested in the journey to the destination, we’d all just play the lottery.  The fun is trying to figure this all out.  The 4 P’s are a great place to start, but I’m sure there’s an N, a T, and a L too that are giving the person next to you the edge.  That’s why you need to work on your own S, R, and K on top of the P’s to make yourself indispensable.  Gosh, now I feel like eating alphabet soup and watching Sesame Street.