Today we have side hustle advice from a stylist and my friend, Lili Morton. She’s studied fashion at Michigan State, worked at a fashion startup as a freelance stylist, and now has started her own stylist firm, with one of her stylist projects and income stream being a great side hustle for young professionals. For my fellow self-proclaimed fashionistas, this one is for you!
My career as a Stylist
When one door closes, another door opens. So cliché, I know. But, sometimes we have no choice but to succumb to a multitude of clichés to keep us going, especially when the unexpected happens.
Imagine this scenario: You’ve been working for a startup you love for four years. You started out freelancing with the company, but as their business model changed and your success grew, they offered you a full-time role. You pack your bags, leave your hometown, your friends, family, boyfriend, dog, and head to the city. It’s amazing at first, but then you realize a lot of the things you were “promised” don’t happen and there is no sign of them happening in the near future. Then, unexpectedly, one Friday afternoon, you’re on a company-wide call and your CEO tells you they are closing up shop. After the meeting, you must turn in your computer and you’ll be paid through the rest of the day (so, an extra two hours, cool!).
What do you do when you lose your stylist job?
(Aside from drink a bottle of wine and have a good cry)
When we are faced with obstacles, we have two options, to let them defeat us or to learn and grow from them. Thankfully, I chose the latter.
Now, living in NYC with no job, no severance, no savings (i.e. those “promises” that were never kept) and no side hustle, I felt a bit lost at first. I had been a virtual stylist at an e-commerce company for the past four years and wasn’t sure where I fit in Corporate America. Business development, e-commerce merchandising, styling, sales, recruiting and business coaching/mentorship were my strengths, but because the bulk of my work was styling, a number of recruiters told me I would need to start my career over and work as an assistant. Really?! Ten years of business experience and I need to start over? No thanks.
The lost and defeated feeling began to set in again, until I realized, I don’t need a random person to read a piece of paper (my resume) to tell me what I’m capable of and direct my future. I decided to take control and do that myself.
Following my passion
I went back to what I knew best and what I love doing – helping others find and refine their personal style and navigate the challenges of wardrobe selection. Helping them feel confident in their own skin (and clothes) and showing them that fashion doesn’t need to be as intimidating as they think is particularly rewarding for me.
I had the skill set and client list, but the platform I had used to share shoppable looks with my clients was gone. I found a way to make it work by building looks in PowerPoint.
This was a lengthy and time-consuming process. Once I found the pieces I wanted to use, I would copy, paste and arrange in a visually pleasing manner and then link each item to the retailer using an affiliate program. What used to take one hour now took five. There was no way I was going to be able to make a living working this way and, thankfully, I didn’t have to.
What saved me
Insert: Arthur. Arthur is a platform for freelance stylists to manage their clients and share online recommendations. Stylists can earn commission on client purchases from hundreds of brands, with no limitation on where to shop. What’s more? It’s free!
Arthur made it easy for me to curate a collection of looks to fit the personality, lifestyle and needs of my clients. I downloaded their Chrome extension and anytime I saw an item at an online retailer that I wanted to share with a client, I used the extension to add it to one of their looks. You can get an idea of what the shopping experience is like by viewing my profile, here.
In addition to working with my personal clients, Arthur was a wonderful complement to the business I co-founded while continuing to freelance as a stylist. Remember when I mentioned being defeated or learning and growing from a negative situation? The learning and growing part came in the form of a personal branding/corporate image-consulting firm. When the startup I worked for closed, I got together with a couple of my co-workers. We compared client lists. We discovered that the majority of the women we styled needed the most help with work wear. So, we founded an image-consulting firm that we could scale at the corporate level. We called it FirstSeven, based on the longstanding premise that “you have seven seconds to make that all-important first impression.”
FirstSeven partners with businesses and conduct interactive, informative and entertaining learning sessions that empower professionals to dress purposefully to maximize potential and improve performance. The tone of each session is always optimistic, empowering and inclusive. We don’t lecture on what you can and cannot wear. Rather, we educate and inspire professionals to take pride in their appearance. This is based on the positive result it could have on their careers and overall self-confidence. The conversation goes beyond fashion (although that is a key element) as we aim to motivate while illuminating the importance of one’s appearance.
Because we can only get so personal in a group session, we offer private coaching sessions, too. We utilize Arthur’s platform to connect with and help our clients build their wardrobe.
Okay, so you may be thinking:
I’m not a stylist, how does this help me?
Do you work in a conservative role/environment and find yourself yearning for and missing an element of creativity?
Do you love fashion and style?
Perhaps your friends and family look to you for inspiration and styling advice?
Do you want to make extra money outside of your 9-5 doing? And, doing something fun for you and helpful, inspiring and empowering for others?
If you answered yes to any or all of those questions, Arthur is the answer!
Getting started is easy! Follow this link and be sure to mention Urban20Something when creating an account. Once you’ve created an account and downloaded the Chrome extension, you can start styling right away.
When I first started using Arthur and earning commission on the styles people purchased through the platform, I had a ton of questions, such as . . .
How does commission work?
- Commission percentages range across retailers, but you earn commission on clients’ entire checkout, no matter what product you specifically recommend. There is a list of brands on their site and the possible commission earnings from each.
Do clients need to have an account in order to earn commission?
- No, clients do not need to sign up for Arthur. You can share lookbooks you build on Arthur with whomever and however you like and you’ll still earn commission.
What brands do you offer?
- Arthur offers commissions from top online retailers (e.g. Net-a-Porter, Shopbop, Moda Operandi, Revolve, Nordstrom, Need Supply, etc) and brands (Everland, Rebecca Taylor, Club Monaco, All Saints Sam Edelman). However, with Arthur you can pull items from wherever you like, regardless of the brand is a commission partner.
Arthur has allowed me to stay connected with my clients while continuing to help them with their wardrobes. And, of course, I earn some extra money! If you’re bored with your routine and looking to add some style to your life, give Arthur a try.
It has been a creative outlet for me (not to mention, a lifesaver) as I transitioned from losing a job to freelancing and eventually starting my own company. You can use the platform at your leisure or build a thriving business from it. It’s up to you! Remember, you’re in control of your life and there is opportunity everywhere.