By Samantha Peltier
It was her first official styling job ever and she already knew it was going to be a headache. Other than the obvious nerves she was feeling, Leah Fraizer was worried because her client had brought her very opinionated mother to the appointment.
Frazier tried to keep her cool and was rewarded when the client finally put her trust in Fraizer. The resultl: Both women were pleased when the client’s husband noticed her new look.
“To this day, my client will tell me how much having a second opinion helped her change her outlook on her appearance, self-esteem and how she carried herself,” Fraizer said.
Breaking into the fashion industry is notoriously difficult, and the same goes for becoming a stylist.
I talked to local stylists Leah Fraizer and Elaine Stolz to try and understand what it takes to become a professional. What did I learn? First, passion has to be a stylist’s driving force to make it big, but networking and recieving great referrals are priceless in building a career as well.
Fraizer, owner of Diamond Icon Image and Styling Consultants, has worked in the business for four years now. Before becoming a stylist, Fraizer was a licensed attorney working full-time at a law firm.
She says she remembers waking up one day, as if from a dream, knowing that she had to pursue a career as a stylist.
“I’ve always had a love for clothes and shopping along with always being ‘that girl’ who was best dressed at work or wherever I was, so it was easy for me to transition into styling other people,” Fraizer said.
Fraizer started to pursue her dream without knowing exactly how to make it become a reality. She decided that her best bet would be to take classes on personal shopping and styling from Gillian Armour Fashion Image Institute, which taught her how to build her business.
After taking a few courses, Fraizer started spending countless hours networking and testing her business on friends and family. During this time she was still working as a lawyer.
“I literally would work at my law firm full-time during the day, go change in the bathroom as soon as my day was over, and head to a cocktail fashion event to network and gain clients. I was doing this three to four times a week,” Fraizer said.
Fraizer also wrote her fashion opinions on a multi-use blogger site called examiner.com, which helped her gain credibility with designers, retailers and major PR firms. From there, her portfolio grew and referrals started coming in.
Dallas businessman Jim Wortham believes that these referrals can make or break a stylist’s career. Wortham hired his first stylist at the recommendation of his best friends’ wives after his divorce was finalized.
“I began exploring, looking for a stylist at that time because I felt like I did not have a clue about what to wear on first dates,” Wortham said.
The stylist that he eventually hired helped him purchase fantastic clothes, but at a price. The final cost of all of the clothes was way over his budget, and the whole process was exhausting.
“I remeber being physically drained after shopping. I seriously would have rather run a marathon,” Wortham said.
His first expereince with a stylist may not have been ideal, but this did not detour Wortham from hiring a personal stylist again.
He eventually hired Elaine Stoltz, owner of Stoltz Image Consulting and Stoltz Image Institute in Fort Worth. Wortham soon saw why Stoltz came highly recommended.
“Elaine asks her clients the right questions and accurately determines their specific needs. Therefore, there is no wasted time while shopping,” Wortham said.
The questions Stoltz asks are a part of her style analysis in which she takes the client’s measurements from head to toe and shows them what style of clothing looks best on his or her body type.
Stoltz goes so in-depth with the process that she will even advise her clients on what type of hair styles and eye glasses would look best on their individual face shape.
As one of 10 people in the world certified at the Association of Image Consultants International as an Image Master, Stoltz has a lot to teach her students at the Stoltz Image Institute.
She holds training classes six times a years and teaches students how to do color analysis, style analysis and wardrobing, which includes closet organization and shopping, and how to run a styling business.
One of the reasons why Stoltz works so hard at her job is to help clients like Wortham.
“Everyday people benefit from the services of an image consultant,” Stoltz said.
As a personal stylist, Leah Frazier helps people ranging from high-powered lawyers to stay-at-home moms to CEOs.
And like Stoltz, Frazier gets to know her clients goals before she starts working with them. Whether they are looking for a new job, or have recently lost weight, changes Fraizer’s approach to styling their new wardrobe.
“Really getting to know your client personally and intimately helps you to style them based on not only how you feel would make them look and feel their best,” she said, “but also based on an assessment of what styles they would be most comfortable in based on their personality.”