Home Fashion Why Stylists Are Natural Fashion Designers – Forbes

Why Stylists Are Natural Fashion Designers – Forbes

18 min read

I’ve written quite a bit about how influencer clothing lines are a natural next step for many of the world’s top social media stars, but there’s another type of fashion expert out there who makes a great designer: the stylist.

Not only are these individuals dressing and beautifying taste-making celebrities of the world, but they’re also experiencing firsthand the products from countless top brands in the fashion and beauty world. Stylists know how clothes are supposed to fit and the adjustments they need to make to make a garment flawless. Makeup artists and hairstylists have sampled hundreds of formulas and ingredients in the products that they use on their clients in order to know which ones are the most effective. Stylists have vast resources and knowledge on what makes a product successful, so when they set out to create their own line, they know how to make it right.

But don’t take it just from me! I spoke with three different style professionals—makeup artist Dillon Pena, stylist Cristina Ehrlich, and hairstylist Ricardo Roja—to get their take on the stylist brand trend.

DILLON PENA, Makeup Artist

How has social media changed your industry and how you attract new clients?

Social media has given indie brands, like Leland Francis, a way to reach new clients without having to go the traditional route of spending thousands of dollars a month on advertisement placement. I’m able to attract new clients by sharing the brand’s vision and personality.

Why are stylists naturally a good fit to launch their own lines? 

We are consumers and experts in our field. We have our hand on the pulse of what the consumer market is missing and what the consumer wants and needs.

Tell me about the process of developing Leland Francis.  

On set I noticed clients would look at ingredients in the skincare, so Leland Francis was developed because I needed a natural solution to help prime and prep the skin for a smoother application. It took over nine months to develop and test the first product, and four years later I am about to introduce my ninth.

I made many mistakes; some were costly, which I learned from, and others were happy accidents. When I was developing and through my first launch, I was a team of one. I spearhead everything from media outreach to graphic design, shipping to website design, and even sales. Four years in, I’m able to have people wear the hats I once had to wear. 


How has social media changed your industry and how you attract new clients?

Social media has become an encyclopedia for a stylist. All the new things I discover and learn about seem to be from looking at my colleague’s social media. I rely on Instagram to find everything, from the best new sunglasses, handbags, and lipstick, to who’s wearing what on the red carpet. The #hashtag is a glossary at your fingertips.  

Now more than ever, stylists are creating their own lines or collaborating with brands on product collections. What do you think has led to this rise?

Stylists are now creating their very own lines because their celebrity clients are setting the trends. As stylists, we have full access to everything that is currently in fashion. We also have a clear instinct to what is missing. It’s only natural for stylists to have the impulse to create that which they need and can not find.  

Why are stylists naturally a good fit to launch their own lines? 

Stylists have direct access to every designer out there, so their knowledge base is limitless. This understanding gives a bird’s-eye perspective on fashion that others don’t have. Stylists are in the ideal position, having all the right combinations and ingredients, to launch meaningful and stylish collections.  

Tell me about the process of developing your brand. 

The process of creating Plays Well With Others with my partner Cheyann Benedict was wonderfully organic. Our alignment on both a creative level and personal level came from a natural, well seasoned, and emotionally matured place.

Through the process of working with Cheyann, I’ve begun to feel that what the world needs now, more than anything, is natural, gentle conversations. Our best creative moments came from open listening and deep trust in one another. And ideologically, we both agreed that the T-shirt is everyman’s contemporary uniform. That the basic T-shirt is a free symbol of unity. And that the art behind each T-shirt is a beautiful and poetic story. 

RICARDO ROJAS, Hairstylist

How has social media changed your industry and how you attract new clients?

Social media has provided a great platform for me (and other artists) to express and show to the world my points of view on my craft and artistry.

I really enjoy sharing final images and videos, as well as sharing footage from sets, studios, etc. At the same time, I love being able to see the same from other artists—including hair stylists, make-up artist, designers, and painters—that inspired me as well.

The biggest change that I see is that platforms like Instagram have begun to replace the physical “book” that artists used to share their past work during in-person meetings with potential new clients! That has basically become a thing of the past, and some newer artists are hardly aware of it!

Additionally, the social platforms allow me, as an artist, to communicate directly with followers and fans, provide details with how to book me as an artist, and where to purchase my product line and hair extensions to achieve styles I have created and posted at home.

I wish social media was around in the early stages of my career, it would have been incredibly inspiring and fascinating to communicate with some of the legendary stylists, photographers, and designers that paved the path that led me to where I am today.

More than ever, stylists are creating their own lines or collaborating with brands on product collections. What do you think has led to this rise?

I really believe that more and more experienced stylists, like myself, who work with hair color, hot tools, hair pieces, and so on are hopeful to create their own line out of the need to offer a high performance, quality line of products and extensions to their clients and consumers to achieve desired texture, volume, shine and conditioning and repairing benefit.

As consumers have become more and more educated to the real effects of specific ingredients, know where to search for and find tips and tricks to achieve styles, and the secrets hair pieces and augmentations behind the looks they see in magazines, it has become critical that brands collaborate with a reputable stylist to bring legitimacy to the line and effectively communicate the functions and benefits of it. 

Why are stylists naturally a good fit to launch their own lines?

No one knows better than a hair stylist what quality ingredients are essential to creating any style, and that every step, from shampoo to blow dry to color to style, require a unique treatment plan to achieve the desired style!

Tell me about the process of developing your brand. 

Well, first of all, I had NO idea what I was getting myself into!

I knew I wanted to create a line that was effective, efficient to use, and was infused with my experience and my culture. And so the 4 year journey began to create what I believe is the essential building block to healthy hair and great styles: an excellent everyday shampoo and conditioner that will not strip your color, dry out your ends, or leave your hair dull and lifeless. 

So, we added infusions of vitamins, minerals, and essential oils, but nothing seemed to hold up with day-after-day use. To make a long story short, I realized that as an Argentinian, the first thing I did every day (and all day) was reach for my Yerba Maté, the antioxidant powerhouse tea long attributed to health and wellness in my country.

So we reached for it and added the extract to the formulas and found what was missing. Not only did we achieve shine and manageability to perfect the Yerba Maté Every Day Shampoo and Conditioner, but I decided to infuse Yerba Maté through the entire collection, and added 3 additional shampoos/conditioners in the line Rich Color for color-treated hair, Hydrate de Coco for hydration, and Goji Volume for added lift and volume, and Baño de Crema Luxurious Mask to deep condition weekly and undo the damage done during the week!

As I began to develop the styling line, I knew from working on sets that I needed to create a few high quality, top performance products that can be used to achieve many styles, but were also made of the best ingredients. I created the Full Blown Volumizer with essential European ingredients, inspired by apothecary products I only found in France, I knew I needed to bring this to the US, as these ingredients not only work for volume, but also are excellent as a styling/setting lotion, firm hold hairspray, and also work in keeping my clip-in hair extensions securely in place when applied at the root. The Amore Serum is the signature product in my collection; it is perfect for creating slick styles to textured waves, and the scent throughout the line is taken from the Azares (sour orange) blossom found in my hometown of Tucuman, Argentina!

Last, to complete star quality looks, I created a 7 piece clip-in hair extension system, available in 10 color combinations that include roots, ombre, highlights, to add not only length, but in many cases much needed volume, texture and color enhancement.

It was a long journey, but one that has been quite rewarding to see launch at Neiman Marcus nationwide!

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