I recently caught up with theright.fit and shared my advice on starting your own label to becoming a freelance fashion stylist.

You can read the full article here or read on below for a snapshot of my answers.

How did you get started in your styling career?

I took a fashion styling course in London at Central Saint Martins then followed that up with a fashion business course in Sydney at FBI Fashion College. This opened me up to some very valuable work experience opportunities. I then took a position at Cue and worked my way up to become Head of Online Styling and Accessory Developer.

What does a stylist actually... do?

Preparation is key! Essentially a fashion stylist decides what a model or person wears, and how they will wear it. I usually would receive a brief from a brand, client or art director as to the concept of what the shoot is about. 

I get a feel for the mood of the shoot, who the model is, what part the location plays in that and then I work out what I will need to source - the clothing, shoes, accessories any props and then I hustle! There is a lot of coordinating with PR agencies, look-books, showrooms to borrow or even buy pieces to make the looks come to life.

On shoot day I will get in early, get everything set up, have another briefing with the photographer, client and hair and makeup and get set to have a smooth running shoot. I will dress the model, get them accessorised, get them in place and then adjust the looks as the shots happen.

There is a lot of hard work that goes into getting just one image right and I never travel to a shoot light, it's all about having lots of options!

If someone wanted to become a stylist, where should they start?

Firstly, be prepared to work very hard, there is no such thing as an easy shoot.

I would suggest doing some formal training with a college or specialised school. Then do as much assisting or work experience as you can. This is where you will get the most realistic idea of what is expected of you as a stylist and a very rounded idea of how the process works. It's the best place to get hands on and learn the craft from those with years of experience. And by working with different artists you will get different tips and tricks. It's also the best way to build some invaluable contacts and get yourself some glowing references.

Cass Anderson Balincourt women's leather bags Byron Bay

How has social media changed your career?

Social media has allowed me to reach a much wider audience than before.

Your work is able to be seen by more people and a lot faster than just relying on word of mouth references or a magazine release. It's also a valuable tool to discover new photographers and models to work with, and designers or brands that I can get in contact with and then use their pieces in our shoots. I love finding unique pieces that I can add into a look and get some fresh images for everyone involved. It opens everyone up to a new audience and new opportunities.

What was your biggest 'pinch me' moment and why?

There have been a lot of career changing moments that have also brought about life change - someone giving me a chance, working my butt off and getting rewarded with another opportunity, seeing people you have worked with go on to do great things. A very humbling moment was having my first shoot as a freelance stylist featured in a magazine. After making big life changes to go out on my own, that moment was extremely satisfying.

Tell us about where the idea for BALINCOURT came from?

I have wanted to create my own accessories for a while, covering 3 key values.

  • They had to be meaningful.
  • I had to create a brand that is focused on developing ways to provide positive examples of change.
  • And it had to involve developing a quality product that could last a long time.

By moving to Byron Bay I was able to open myself up to the ideas of imaginative and forward thinking people that are setting the trends in responsible and sustainable business practices.

After a lot of conversations I discovered how I could cover my key values and I then decided to use vegetable tanned leather for all the Balincourt styles. Vegetable tanning is a process using bark and plant tannins - the use of harmful chemicals in the leather tanning process is removed. As it is chrome free, it creates a piece that will develop and better with age, forming character and a natural patina. The leather then becomes biodegradable when it ceases to be used. All fabric lining is made with recyclable materials, like linen, and all packaging is either recycled and or recyclable.I really believe in creating limited edition, slow fashion – not mass produced. I encourage taking the time to ensure quality production and materials, giving ultimate value, meaning and respect to the pieces and the Balincourt brand.

Cass Anderson fashion stylist Balincourt women's bags creator

For someone aspiring to start their own label/brand, what advice would you offer?

Create a product or brand that means something to you or that can benefit the world. Then do it with love, loads of passion and good intentions. Surround yourself with a strong support network and educate yourself in business matters as much as you can. And don't give up!

What's your style advice for 2018?

Try not to be tempted to buy cheap, trend driven items to later throw them away. Invest in some good quality basics that can work in a variety of situations by just adding some highlight items or accessories. A good pair of jeans, pants, simple dresses, skirts, tops and blouses in neutral colours and long-lasting fabrics will form a strong basis for a functional wardrobe. When you are shopping and are tempted by something new, think about the value it will add to your hardworking basics, and if it doesn't add value, leave it behind.

Biggest fashion/style regret?

I was a child of the 80's so there are a few! As an adult though, the biggest mistake that comes to mind is circa 2005, I was moving home from London, via New York, and made an impulse purchase of a pastel blue velour tracksuit at the time when a certain hotel heiress was sporting them....!

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