PRODUCER SPOTLIGHT: LISA KIRSHNER

Liz Peters and Brooke Jacobs interview Bark producer, Lisa Kirshner.

Stylist:  Liz Peters  - Photographer:  Steven Zeswitz

Stylist: Liz Peters - Photographer: Steven Zeswitz

We are so excited to be interviewing Lisa Kirshner, producer at BARK, the cutest dog toy and treat company ever! BARK launched in 2012 with BarkBox, a monthly themed subscription of all-natural treats and clever toys. The Stylist Coop members have the luxury of getting to work with this awesome client throughout the year and are thrilled when we get to spend a day creating delightfully cute images all based around PUPS! Today we spoke with Lisa to get some insight into what it’s like to work at BARK day to day, her love of dogs, and what BARK does to give back!

Brooke: What I admire about BarkBox is that they allow dogs to be dogs. They have a vision of what they want from the shoot but always allow the dogs to be themselves and don't push them in unnatural ways to get the shot. I've been on set when there are some challenges but everyone seems to go with it in a calm manner! As both a stylist and a pet photographer I love being on set with such professionals who give the pups room to be themselves.

Liz: Working with Lisa is always a blast. At BARK, the theme of each shoot is always cute and colorful, and right up my alley! They give me the freedom to be creative and bring my own perspective to the table, and playing with dogs all day is a nice bonus! The team at BARK is not only clever and creative, they are the sweetest people you’ll ever met. 

Stylist:  Brooke Jacobs  - Photographer:  Aliza Eliazarov

Stylist: Brooke Jacobs - Photographer: Aliza Eliazarov

As a producer what are your biggest rewards and challenges?

Being a producer can be extremely challenging at times, there are a lot of moving parts involved in photography and sometimes the smallest thing going wrong can set you back to square one. Pulling off an extra challenging shoot feels so incredibly rewarding especially when trying something new or different and realizing it works. 

Have you always wanted to work in production? 

Actually no! I really wanted to work as a fine artist (in photography) but it's a very challenging field to break into. When I graduated from college I had a few jobs in different areas of the industry and realized working in production was what I loved the most and I decided to actively pursue it. 

Stylist:  Liz Peters  - Photographer:  Steven Zeswitz

Stylist: Liz Peters - Photographer: Steven Zeswitz

Do you always get the shot? What are the benefits and disadvantages of working with dogs?

We definitely do not always get the shot! I think on any kind of shoot (dogs or people!) there are so many outtakes before you get THE shot. The outtakes and trying new techniques while shooting are part of the fun. 

Working with dogs is so amazing, dogs have forever been my favorite animal so getting to meet and work with so many different kinds of dogs is amazing. They can really surprise you with how they photograph and what they do. Of course dogs can't talk so getting them to do what we want can be extremely challenging especially if we have not worked with the dog before, sometimes they can be afraid of the flash and we don't end up getting the shot, so we usually will cast back up dogs. 

Stylist:  Brooke Jacobs  - Photographer:  Steven Zeswitz

Stylist: Brooke Jacobs - Photographer: Steven Zeswitz

Has there been a shoot that is particularly memorable?

Yes! Recently we shot a camping themed collection called "Grrreat Outdoors" the budget was much lower than usual and we decided to shoot it with a set pretty last minute. We hired Liz Peters and she knocked it out of the park, the set came together so beautifully and really complimented the products. It felt like a huge accomplishment to pull it off so quickly as well. 

Stylist:  Liz Peters  - Photographer:  Steven Zeswitz

Stylist: Liz Peters - Photographer: Steven Zeswitz

Lisa, you went to Puerto Rico with BarkBox to help with a spay and neuter clinic there. Can you tell me about other activities that Barkbox is involved with that are extra unique?

Bark is such an incredible company to work for, everyone really truly cares about dogs and their well being. We volunteer quite a bit in NYC and different groups of employees take trips around the country a few times a year for different volunteer opportunities. 

Stylist:  Brooke Jacobs  - Photographer:  Steven Zeswitz

Stylist: Brooke Jacobs - Photographer: Steven Zeswitz

If there is a dog hair in a cookie, do you eat it or throw it away?

Is it just on top of it or baked in? That definitely changes my answer HAHA!

You’ve been with Bark for several years and have seen the company change and grow. What do you see in the future for Bark? 

Bark has been growing so fast and working on tons of new and innovative products for dogs, I am looking forward to getting to work on larger photo and video campaigns as we grow. 

Stylist:  Liz Peters  - Photographer:  Steven Zeswitz

Stylist: Liz Peters - Photographer: Steven Zeswitz

Who is your favorite dog to work with?

Frank the bulldog!! (@frankiegoestowork) He is a superstar and he nails every shot. He's extremely versatile too, he swims, runs, jumps and chews on any toy that comes his way. He is also extremely cute. 

Stylist:  Brooke Jacobs  - Photographer:  Steven Zeswitz

Stylist: Brooke Jacobs - Photographer: Steven Zeswitz

Photographer Spotlight: Nathan Kraxberger

Celine Griscom interviews friend of the co-op, Still life photographer, Nathan Kraxberger.

test copy.jpg

I have been styling for Nathan Kraxberger for a few years now, and I always look forward to spending time in his studio. It’s always good vibes, as Nate has a chill way about him while he makes sure each shot is as perfect and beautiful as it can be. I really enjoy working with people like him who care about the quality of the work and care about delivering all that was promised to the client. So each day we have a running dialogue on getting the shots right all the while laughing at some good dad-jokes, rockin’ to great albums, and enjoying the natural light coming through his arked window. I am often amazed watching him work fast magic in photoshop, fixing anything I cannot on set. Another rare (in this business) quality that Nathan has is his honesty and sense of fairness. I trust him implicitly, and as a result, I am always happy to go the extra mile for him and his clients. He really brings that out in people. If we speed through the agreed- upon shot-count, we will do more rather than just call it a day early. His beautiful work and collaborative spirit must be why his client list glows with such brands as Rag &Bone, Oscar De La Renta, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Kate Spade (to name a select few).

Website: NathanKraxberger.com

Instagram: @nathankraxphoto

Pinterest: nathankraxphoto

47464368571_d80b5e8733be_k.jpg

What type of photography do you specialize in?
First, thank you Celine for this opportunity and it’s always great working with you! While I enjoy many types of photography, I specialize in still life, and more specifically, fashion and beauty related still life. I’ve been shooting in this category for about 10 years now and I absolutely love it. While I am not highly fashionable myself, I enjoy seeing the trends come and go and I really enjoy photographing beautifully crafted garments and products. Often times, it’s a small team, or maybe even one person, who has spent countless hours designing an item, and I feel it’s my responsibility to make that piece as beautiful as possible, bringing their concept and design to life for all to see. I love my job!

46005221195_6487c9edf4_k.jpg
41252672185_1337c854b1_kbbb.jpg

Location, Location Location! Tell me about your sweet spot...how convenient is it to have a studio in the heart of downtown?
Yes, I am very proud of my location. I’m at the corner of Broadway and Houston, right in the heart of SoHo. It makes me happy when a new client comes to the studio and says “I love this neighborhood!”. For me, I like to make it as convenient and enjoyable for my clients as possible, and for the fashion industry, it doesn’t get much better than SoHo.


What is the biggest or most frequent problem that clients have that you can help solve?
Living and working in NYC is not easy, and there is often something that makes our lives (and jobs) difficult. With that, I think my clients enjoy the flexibility and accommodating environment that I provide them. I can make changes on the fly so that a shoot always goes off without a hitch. Also, being the point person on all things related to the shoot, from bookings to image delivery, keeps mistakes and miscommunication to an extreme low. I love communicating with my clients directly so that I can provide exactly what they are looking for.

15870487588_4b8477621c_obbb.jpg

How did you become a photographer?

I bought my first camera when I was 8....a beautiful Pentax PC35AF. I used that camera for years, taking pictures of things that interested me, but all the while not really thinking about composition or storytelling. Fast forward to 2005 when I was living and working in Atlanta, sort of spinning my wheels career wise. I decided to go back to grad school for photography and loved it. The next thing I knew I was in NYC and the rest is history!

What is your favorite type of project?
This one is easy! On-location still life. While I love shooting in the studio, it’s so much fun to shoot on location. You simply can not replicate the look and feel of a real life location. The colors, the light quality, the surfaces...all these things add up to making very interesting and beautiful photos.



25825827457_e4da40a504_k.jpg

When you are not shooting, what do you get up to, and does it play into your work at all?
I have 3 kids that keep me plenty busy, so finding time is tough! Having said that, I am an avid cyclist and try to get out as often as possible for a nice, long ride. The bike is my personal escape from the city, and while on those long rides, my mind is able to wander and I often find myself thinking about personal photo projects or lighting techniques. I also keep my photography skills sharp by shooting street style in NYC. I’m fascinated by the city in general, including the people and places that exist here.

34090003 copy.jpg
34282658851_23808c5021_k.jpg

Stylist Spotlight: Liz Peters

By Brooke Jacobs

Photographer:  Chris Linn

Photographer: Chris Linn

Liz’s colorful vibrant personality, contagiously fun energy and her crafty talents are hard to match. She puts spirit into every project she works on, and if she gets her way (and if it is right for the client) a burst of humor and creativity that makes every shoot unique.

While Liz hasn’t been styling for that long, it is as if all her talents were leading her here. She isn’t afraid to jump into the unknown, to take on a project that pushes the boundries and is quick to come up with clever solutions. And she does it all with her positive can-do personality. It is no wonder her website is I love Liz Peters!

Website: ilovelizpeters.com

IG: partypoodles

IMG_4633.jpg

How did you get into styling?

I went to college to study fiber arts, textile design, and art history. I thought I was going to create prints for clothing designers or for a line of my own someday, but after interning with a designer in New York for a year I realized that it was not the path I wanted to take. I met fellow Coop stylist, Xina Giatas, at a vintage clothing store we were both working at and she introduced me to the world of styling. The rest is history! 

Who do you admire or take inspiration from?

I admire makers, crafters, and designers who have fun and and a sense of humor in their work. I am a huge fan of Amy Sedaris, who has several crafting books, and an amazing show currently on TruTv called At Home with Amy Sedaris, a combo of a Martha Stewart type homemaking show mixed with off color and bizarre comedy. 

I also grew up on Pee Wee’s Playhouse, which not only shaped my sense of humor, but showed me how fun and colorful life can be. I just moved into my first home purchase this year and the first thing I did was paint giant eggs and bacon all over the kitchen walls! I always want to do quality work on set and in my personal life, but I think the key to it for me is not taking anything too seriously. We have to play and try things out to see what will work. We all make mistakes and have bad days, but when you have a good attitude on set and a sense of humor I think that translates into the images that we create!

What do you do when you’re not working?

I love to craft anything, sewing dresses, making miniatures, frosting cakes, quilting, knitting, gardening. I like to make things! And I try to translate that love into the styling work that I do. Any time I have a chance to do some paper cutouts for a card, turn a champagne cage into a little chair, add pom poms or glitter to any project, literally pull a Sound of Music and make a dress out of old curtains! I like to do it all.

Photographer:  Steven Zeswitz

Photographer: Steven Zeswitz

What is a project your are most proud of? 

Jared & Liz-143 copy.jpg

I think my most rewarding job was for Bark, one of my favorite clients to work with (because its creative, colorful, and there are doggies on set!) They were selling dog treats that would support local dog rescues across the country. I made paper cutouts of each of the cities participating and it was creative, challenging and so cute! It was hard work and took so much concentration, but was extremely rewarding. 

I think the project I’m most proud of outside of work would have to be my wedding dress. I had purchased a vintage dress but about three months before the wedding decided it wasn’t really the right dress for me. I went to the fabric shop, got some white cotton and colorful tulle and made one myself. It was a total surprise to my husband the day of, my train was embroidered to look like Coney Island where he proposed to me. I love it so much, I wish I could wear it again somehow!

What goals do you have for your career going forward?

I am a newbie to styling compared to some of the seasoned and extremely talented ladies of the Stylist Co Op. I have been styling for about three years now and know that I have a lot of experience and technique to gain. I think as a stylist you never stop learning, trying new things, being creative. I want to add more of my own personality and style into the work I do and work with clients that want to have fun with their products! I would also love to try my hand at some of the more artistic styling niches like make up and food styling. It feels related to so much of the arts and crafts I love to do already that I think I might fall in love!

Photographer:  Steven Zeswitz

Photographer: Steven Zeswitz

Stylist Spotlight: Brooke Jacobs

By Charlotte Sims

Photographed by  Steven Zeswitz

Photographed by Steven Zeswitz

Brooke is one of the most unique and genuine people I have ever met, and she does this effortlessly. She was hesitant to be interviewed, because she’s not the person who enjoys the spotlight. She’s most comfortable #BTS, doing everything in her power to make your merch look great or helping get a rescue kitty adopted.

Brooke’s knowledge on set and as a stylist is vast because of her second career as a photographer. She can evaluate the scene from all sides. Composition, lighting, ambience, are all key components in an advertising shoot and Brooke has home court advantage.

Photographed by  Russ Roland

Photographed by Russ Roland

She spends almost all of her free time photographing rescue animals in the cutest possible situations and complimenting each photo with an equally hilarious caption. Duncan is Brooke’s own cat, personal muse and perhaps her mouthpiece. His eccentric and colorful personality fills her Instagram feed. She’s a staunch vegan yet will listen and share without judgement. Her compassion she extends to her loved ones and furry friends is inspiring and contagious.

Websites: brookejacobs.com and www.brookejacobsstylist.com

IG: @brookejacobsstylist

Photographed by  Brooke Jacobs

Photographed by Brooke Jacobs

How did you get into styling?

I started out in the photography end of this field. I managed a photo studio and assisted still life photographers. I knew commercial photography wasn't for me, but was happy to be working in the field, making a living and having time to still shoot for myself.

I was introduced to the world of stylists on set and many became quick friends who are still in my life today. When I decided to go freelance, I assisted several of these stylists while continuing to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. While I love taking portraits of animals for magazines and ad campaigns, as well

as for personal use, I also realized that I love getting to work with my hands on a set and be a part of the creative process. It is always invigorating to work beside photographers and art directors helping create that perfect moment, mood or setting.

Photographed by  Stephen Johnson

Photographed by Stephen Johnson

So you're still a photographer?

Yes. Animals are my biggest passion. I love creating images that bring joy to many people. I'm involved with animal rescue and this talent lets me help homeless cats and dogs each year. As you can see with my most recent project 'If I fits I sits’ , I have been propping and picking the perfect vessel for each rescue kitten or group of kittens.

How do you think starting out in photography has helped shape you as a stylist?

I studied photography in college and worked with a large format camera. Because every image/exposed film counted,  I learned to make sure the composition was exactly as I intended. While most photo shoots don't have the luxury of time, I try and make sure to really examine each frame since every component holds a purpose and contributes to the story of the image. My attention to detail was strengthened during my studies with photographers Larry Fink and Stephen Shore, and continues to be a strength art directors appreciate. 

Brooke Jacobs4.jpg

Since you specialize in bedding, what does your bed look like at home and do you make it every day?

My bed doesn't look like most of the beds I style. What it doesn't have in fluff though it has in color and character. (And cats!) I have layers of quilts in different blues bought from sample sales of several clients - a perk of the trade! I have five standard pillows, several with patterns to liven the bed up. And of course I have some cool decorative pillows.

Quilts make it easy to make my bed, but I have to admit I don't make my bed every morning anymore. And I would never think of ironing or steaming my bed. I only do that if I'm getting paid!

Stylist Spotlight: Charlotte Sims

By Heather Newberger

image1.jpeg

Charlotte Sims is easy to admire. For one, she’s stunningly beautiful, with a unique sense of style that draws from every decade. Unafraid of embracing patterns, chunky jewelry and adventurous lipstick, Charlotte’s outward appearance speaks loudly to the person that she is - creative, talented and multidimensional. From her experience styling on figure, to her ease manipulating products for still life, I envy Charlotte’s ability to startle what can often be a very hard line.

A ceramics artist and figurative painter, Charlotte draws from all parts of her self to offer clients a well rounded experience. And she delivers. In the time we’ve known each other, I don’t think there has been a day Charlotte hasn’t been booked. Sought after for her keen eye, and well rounded skill set, Charlotte Sims is a true artist, in every sense of the word.

Website: https://www.charlottesims.com

IG: @charlottesreign


How did you get your start as a stylist?

My journey was long to get here. My mom is an apparel patternmaker and so growing up, my twin sister and I were surrounded by 1980s colorful fabrics and garments, always playing dress up. Growing up, my mom always advised us not to go into fashion, ha! That was okay with me though, because my true love was for art.  Eventually I went to Pratt Institute for an undergraduate painting degree. Color stories, textures and shapes filled my thoughts always. A couple of years after graduating and working an archive job that did not challenge me in the way that I needed, I started stylist assisting a friend. My first job was for Getty Images. They had rented an entire school and each room was its own set and team. I was thrown into a classroom set to style with about 30 kids. I had so much fun! That was 15 years ago.

image3.jpeg

Do you need money to be a stylist?

image2.jpeg

Myself and many of my colleagues are proof that you don’t need money to be a successful stylist. My collecting developed from not having money or access to the nicer things. As a teenager, I would wander up and down the strip of thrift stores with my sister and best friend. From there, I first began to create with my wardrobe. I believe the best stylists are the ones that are innovative, and constantly examining and imagining the new and different. There is still a long way to go in making this industry intersectional and inclusive, but I believe the most innovative stylists are the ones that think out of the box, and sometimes a lack of access is beneficial. 



How do you think your art influences your styling?

I am a figurative painter and sculptural ceramics artist. I am a fashion, props and textile stylist. Styling is interdisciplinary. I can bring all my artistic skills together. Just as in my art, every component of the set holds value – color, positive and negative space, texture and their relationships to each other. My art is very personal and I don’t see it as a commodity. When I started styling, I felt able to bring my abstract artistic concepts and apply them to my day job.  I was hooked. It was creative and fun! I feel fortunate to have found this career. 

image4.jpeg

What advice would you give a young stylist?

Follow your heart. Life is full of adventures and from those adventures you will gain the most knowledge. Believe in your creativity. Styling is a very unique career. Prepare yourself to be self employed. Build your community. Take risks and challenge yourself with new career opportunities as they come.  

IMG_20170427_191818_956.jpg

Stylist Spotlight: Heather Newberger

By Mary Arch

Photograph by  Anairam

Photograph by Anairam

I’d never met Heather before Celine suggested her as a new member to the coop. But I remember the moment that I did. I was sitting in the corner of a Brooklyn bistro with a few fellow members when from across the room, a woman opened the front door. Without realizing it, I found myself hoping it was her. Immediately I was struck by her presence, and intrigued by the confident way she held herself. Little did I know that over the next year, Heather would not only become a valued member of The Stylist Coop, but also a great friend.

At 6’, Heather Newberger is a natural beauty, with a wide grin and a sense of style that is spot on. Not only is she good at what she does, but Heather also runs a tight ship with elegance and grace. In addition to her well-rounded knowledge of production and endless creativity, she approaches each job she takes with limitless passion.

A gifted writer whose love of the fashion industry is deeply intertwined with her thirst for every human to feel 200%, Heather is an amazing and a wonderful individual to have on any team.

Website: www.heathernewberger.com

IG: @heathernewberger

Photograph by  Yudi Ela

Photograph by Yudi Ela

How did you get your start as a fashion stylist?

For most of my life - I didn’t know stylists existed. I attended an art college where I studied photography, and always thought the photographer was responsible for not just the lighting - but also the concept and creation of the image as well. When I moved to New York, it was a giant surprise for me to find out that on every photo shoot was a dedicated person, paid to make each aspect of the image look right. This felt in wild opposition to what I'd previously understood photography to be - just me, alone, hiding beneath a blanket, using a 4 x 5; timing it just right so that I could also jump in front, and play model.

Moving to New York after school, I quickly found myself rising into the role of an agent who worked directly with stylists. And I was great at my job! But even though I’ve always enjoyed scheduling and talking to new people, I felt incredibly stifled sitting in a desk chair every day.

After a weekend shoot where I pitch to hit on a pro bono project, it finally hit me that stylists are the ones responsible for what’s in the image, while photographers are responsible for manipulating the light - and I wanted to make the content, not learn about the latest lens. From there, I spent nights and weekends getting my book together, and quickly my clients (who had become friends) were calling - asking for me.

In 2016, I left my second agency, three years after I started styling, with clients like Samsung and PNC bank already on my resume.

Photograph by  Tory Rust

Photograph by Tory Rust

What’s in your closet?

Mostly denim. I probably have about 20 jean jackets, and no plans to stop buying them.

What sets you apart from other stylists?

Photograph by  Jin + Dana

Photograph by Jin + Dana

I’ve never considered myself a ‘label whore,’ or someone obsessed with designers, new seasons or even NYFW. I’m the kind of stylist who is much more concerned with the look and fit of a garment, and how each person I dress feels in what they’re wearing.

I also chose to diversify my career early on, by styling for editorial publications like NYLON, while also working alongside lifestyle clients like Guinness and eBay Fashion. And I love that I did that! I can confidently say that in just this past year I’ve done everything from tying Ezra Miller’s shoes to dressing the cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

My goal has always been to create inclusivity in an otherwise exclusive world. No matter what shape, size, gender or ethnicity - every person deserves to look their best, whether it’s in Target or Gucci. It doesn’t matter who makes the garment, it’s more about the intrinsic value of how wearing it makes you feel.

Do you have any hobbies outside of styling?

It may surprise some people, but I’m an (extremely) amateur boxer.

As stylists, we have to always be the best at our jobs, collaborate concisely and work efficiently with our clients. When I’m training, I’m allowed to say “I don’t know what I’m doing,” and that’s not only OK, it’s encouraged.

To anyone (and everyone!) feeling the pressure - I highly suggest that you find something you’re not good at, and then do it over and over again. It’s a good reminder that you’re allowed to fail, you don’t always have to be in charge, and growth is a good thing.

Photograph by  Erika Astrid

Photograph by Erika Astrid

How else has styling impacted your life?

Heather Newberger by  Lauren Volo

Heather Newberger by Lauren Volo

I’ve always been a writer (just ask my mom!) and have been a member of The Greenpoint Writers Group for roughly three years. For a long time I saw my writing and my work as a stylist as being very separate from one another, but I recently started noticing the ways both spheres interconnect.

I write about woman’s experiences, often personal ones, in hopes of helping other women feel less alone - and there is no lonelier place than the dressing room at Zara. When I realized I could use my experience as a stylist to help women more easily navigate the fashion industry, it became clear to me that all these parts of who I am aren’t disparate from one another - they work together and separate me from other artists working in the same sphere.

Photograph by  Brook Pifer

Photograph by Brook Pifer

Stylist Spotlight: Mary Arch

By Jessica Agulló

tumblr_inline_plwq8tut2l1v53ibx_540.jpg

Mary Arch and I are contemporaries and we have both been prop stylists for more than 20 years. It’s weird but not altogether surprising to find out that we have been crossing paths for decades; literally passing one another through the doors of prop houses, accounts and studios. I have more than a few vivid, frustrating memories of visiting prop houses to find that the perfect prop that I wanted for a job was already tagged for ARCH. So it’s strange to have met her only recently through the stylist coop (thanks Celine!) …it almost feels as though we’ve been stalking each other all these years…only now to become fast friends and mutual admirers.

Mary looks and acts exactly how you would imagine a stylist should look and act (whatever that means) – casually elegant, dressed all in black, skinny jeans, oversized shirt, interesting jewelry, well worn Prada boots,  and her long blonde hair carelessly mussed. She arrives at my place in a flurry of upbeat, frenetic energy, casting a sweeping gaze around and taking in every detail of my apartment…so lets get started.

What is the first memory you have that made you aware of still life styling as a career, and what made you want to become one? 

First I did not know it was a career, I fell into it in a way but then I was hooked. I started in fashion, but then I realized I loved the set and prop department. In looking back I must thank my mom. She was training me as a prop stylist before either of us knew it.  Being the youngest of 5 children my mom was very thrifty and we went to garage sales, thrift stores and antique stores. We would buy old furniture and change it - changing the knobs, the upholstery, repainting, you name it.  That’s where I started a lot of my collections some of which I still have.  

tumblr_inline_plwqf0ntOx1v53ibx_540.jpg
tumblr_inline_plwqfgdxKv1v53ibx_540.jpg

What inspires your own sense of style?

High end/ low end and good quality pieces are key.   I especially love accessories:  jewelry is my first love, then bags and shoes.  Labels do not define my style, in fact I would rather have a great piece that atracks someone’s eye and they have to ask about it.  I just love finding that one piece that makes your heart skip a beat, its movable, wearable art.

You’ve raised your now teenage kids working as a freelance stylist. What do they think about Mom’s job?

When they used to come to set with me they would think I had a really cool job, and even an easy job. They think all I do is play with cool things, paint, set up and talk to my friends and eat free catering. Cool job Mom!  

The beauty of being a freelancer is that you can spend time with your kids when you need to, and you can work around their schedules.  The hard part is it is always changing, good for a Gemini.

tumblr_inline_plwqhbKVCG1v53ibx_540.jpg
tumblr_inline_plwqia1RCT1v53ibx_540.jpg

Do they ask you for style guidance and tips? 

My daughter will ask me and I will tell her and she will do the opposite. She’s 16. But she’s hitting my accessories. She likes my jewelry and now we have the same shoe size.   She says I wear too much black and would love to do my makeup but I rarely wear it.   She now she wears black, is a thriftier and gives style advice to her friends. The apple did not fall far.

My son, he’s 19, has his own style and thinks all black is boring, hence he loves color and he has a wicked T-shirt collection. I now hit his stuff.

If you were not a stylist what sort of work would you be attracted to?

That’s the million dollar question. I’d love to be a jeweler, who knows maybe someday I will.  I also love animals and children.  I had a great childhood so I would like to help those who are less fortunate and our planet.  She needs our love and support, definitely doing more for her is in my future.  

tumblr_inline_plwqj7Nsn91v53ibx_540.jpg
tumblr_inline_plwqjzxog21v53ibx_540.jpg

Tell me about your property in PA and the role it has played and continues to play in your life.

It’s my happy place, I’m blessed.  It is a 100 year old farmhouse which we have had for 17 years, I literally fell in love at first sight.  I saw its potential and it has been and will continue to be a work in progress, but a happy creative work in progress. The baby trees are now huge, there is now a beautiful man made 2 acre pond, and a few gardens. Nature is a magical healer and a grounding force and releases a lot of creative energy.  Much needed when being a stylist, mom and living in Manhattan plus my friends love coming and shooting there, we have had a few fun ones. It has soul and energy, and I’m grateful.

Mary’s property in Pennsylvania

Mary’s property in Pennsylvania

Industry Spotlight: Revelle by Lisa Harbottle

By Xina Giatas

tumblr_inline_pif8q6UsL11v53ibx_540.jpg

A woman of impeccable taste, Lisa Harbottle runs her bespoke, custom womenswear line, Revelle, out of Los Angeles, CA. 

Inspired closely by the women in her life and their everyday lives, Lisa cultivated a clientele that helped her develop her real purpose in the fashion field; beautiful, custom pieces designed with integrity. 

Revelle’s pieces are made-to-order and produced with sustainable materials in the USA. Working in this responsible, individual way lends itself to a personal connection between Lisa and her audience, only further inspiring her to create with intent. 

My favorite quote of hers, “When clothing is truly made for an individual woman, it creates a feeling that is undeniable and a value that can never be compromised.”

revellecollection.com

Instagram @revellecollection

tumblr_inline_pif8qltjKy1v53ibx_540.jpg

How would you best describe the quintessential Revelle woman? 

I always love this question and I equally love when I can spot a Revelle woman out in the crowd. She is one who prefers classic, clean and simple designs which have a touch of sophistication, a touch of glamour and are all softly feminine. She chooses pieces that are comfortable for her to wear and live in, finding that comfort allows her to be the best version of herself. She is a woman who loves to be one of a few to own something incredible and that makes her distinctive, refined and timeless.

Where and how do you find inspiration? 

I find inspiration everywhere whether it’s a particularly interesting color combination seen out in the wild, a beautiful abstract piece of art or a woman walking down the street and imagining what I would dress her in. It is also simply the fabric - the drape or the color, often the fabric always tells me what it wants to be.

How did you first become interested in design? 

It’s always been a part of me. I’ve been sewing and making clothing since age 6, equally I’ve played piano. I always knew that I might become one or the other and after an attempt at becoming a professional pianist, I knew quickly that what I could do for the world was fashion. What I kept for myself was music.

tumblr_inline_pifabgMIyc1v53ibx_540.png
tumblr_inline_pif91o9YVn1v53ibx_540.jpg

In your past you were an intimates designer. What was the transition like from intimates to custom ready to wear? 

For a long time I made custom clothing privately alongside designing lingerie. I didn’t get the chance to design those custom pieces, it was always what the client wanted, so being a bit burnt out from making dresses, lingerie was exciting and fun to design - it made me giggle. I always knew I’d start my own clothing company someday, where I would be what we call now the maker - which is both design and creation. It was years of thinking I’d start planning for it and then one day life happened and Revelle began with a sweatshirt. Now it’s all I do.

tumblr_inline_pif92vmdj41v53ibx_540.jpg

Who is your dream person to dress in head to toe Revelle? 

It’s someone who no one will know and that’s why I feel she’s so special. I met this woman a few years ago and she had such a profound impact on my personal style and taste. She changed everything for me by just being herself. I’d never met anyone like her before and the way she wore her clothes, the way she was herself in those clothes, I can only hope to bring that feeling with every piece I design to each individual woman who chooses to wear them. She’s not my dream person to dress. For me, it would be the highest honor if she chose my pieces to wear on her own. This woman, she just had…style, and you always stopped to look at her when she walked in the room.

tumblr_inline_pif98szF1e1v53ibx_540.jpg

How has e-commerce changed the way you design custom pieces? 

E-commerce has exposed Revelle to such a large audience with many private custom size requests. A good portion of this year has been testing a new program with a few private clients to make this a public offering on my site next year. Composing this program has taken time because it requires much more communication than just plugging in numbers on an order form and because it’s only me over here, I want it to feel like you are working with me and not a machine. Stay tuned!

As a responsible line, how does Revelle commit to sustainability and ethical production? 

There are many ways - from the fabric, to how the fabric is produced or dyed. The production end - pricing every piece with respect to my time for creation. Small, exclusive collections to not produce any waste. Finally, which is equally important in my opinion - being able to offer a practice where the customer is able to select their exact measurements for my pieces which results in the purchase of a few items per year that fit perfectly vs. purchasing several dozen from others that don’t fit perfectly. My impact at Revelle extends far further than my personal output. It has also changed the shopping habits of some of my Clients, and that has a sustainable impact as well.

tumblr_inline_pif9jwFd371v53ibx_540.png
tumblr_inline_pifab2NZum1v53ibx_540.png

Where do you see Revelle in ten years? 

Definitely an extension of where I am now - I would love to have some help with a small team, and I’d love to be able to begin creating my own sustainable fabric with local mills. If I could have a space that was large enough to create and have a small store with everything under one roof, that would be amazing. Wishing on some lucky stars for that someday.

How do you spend your free time, if ever you have any? 

You will find me in the kitchen with my nose in a cookbook and always a bit extra butter in the pan, or outside in our garden with more wild animals to feed than you can probably dream of, for someone who lives in Los Angeles.  

Further peruse all that is Revelle at - 

revellecollection.com

Instagram @revellecollection

tumblr_inline_pif8r3Ut7P1v53ibx_540.jpg

Stylist Spotlight: Jessica Agulló

By Celine Griscom

tumblr_inline_pdk1gmw4P41v53ibx_540.jpg

Jessica has been a girl-crush of mine since we worked together on side by side sets for Marshalls at Robert Tardio Studio. I was immediately struck by her fun personality, her rock-n-roll style, her overwhelming positivity, and joie de vivre.  She blew me away with her beautiful pin-ups, and she was happy to show me her techniques. The job was very much a team-player family environment, and she fit right in, happy to help in any and all ways. She has so much energy and passion that goes into all that she does (and she does a lot!), from once having craft beer business to selling t-shirts she had designed to raise money for charity. I can’t wait to see what she does next!!

Portfolio: jessicaagullo.com

Instagram: @agullostyle

What made you decide to teach e-commerce fashion styling at FIT?

I became a stylist before e-commerce was a thing and before digital capture had killed the time between shots waiting for polaroid and film processing. There was time to play, to learn from watching other stylists and to invent and practice new techniques on the job.  

E-commerce has become one of the main marketing avenues of the fashion industry and continues to evolve as social media becomes the new marketplace for consumers, but today’s e-comm set is a high output machine with no time for learning or teaching.  Stylists must know what they’re doing from the moment they arrive on set. Basic techniques for pin up, laydown, table-top, etcetera are teachable skills that take lots of practice. But how to learn these skills if not on set? 

So I pitched a basic skills workshop to FIT and they went for it. Thus began SXS 250 Off Figure Fashion Styling For E-Commerce And Digital Applications, which is now part of FIT’s core curriculum for their stylist certificate program.  I get a kick out of teaching because it makes me break down techniques that I came up with instinctively; I have talented and dedicated students who make me a better teacher and give me fresh ideas. And I have a growing team of enthusiastic assistants that I can hire on set and recommend to the coop.

Photograph by    Will Anderson

Photograph by Will Anderson

tumblr_inline_pdkekt8iiw1v53ibx_540.jpg

How does art play into your work?

When I started styling I worked with some of the best advertising photographers in New York. I became a stylist while photo-assisting Colin Cooke, food photographer par excellence. I went on to work with Matthiew KleinBruce Wolf, and Michel Tcherevkoff among others. The perfection of artistry and professionalism on those shoots was thrilling.

Then I had kids and opted for lower stress jobs so I could be present for my family, and when digital photography arrived e-commerce soon followed. Now I work on all sorts of jobs, some more artistic than others, but no matter the kind of styling involved I always approach it as a form of art.  I even think of pin-up and laydown fashion as soft sculpture.  And the collaboration with the photographer and creative team brings another level of artistry and teamwork into the picture.

“OJay”, “Hedda (Lettiss)” with    Colin Cooke   , and “Pablo” with    Robert Tardio

“OJay”, “Hedda (Lettiss)” with Colin Cooke, and “Pablo” with Robert Tardio

“Steak on the Barbie” and “Shrimp on the Barbie” - photos by    Colin Cooke

“Steak on the Barbie” and “Shrimp on the Barbie” - photos by Colin Cooke

I love playing with objects so the act of playing itself inspires me. I’m a fan of free association and wordplay and I figure if an image is interesting to me it will be to others also…so I try to create image series that are playful, imaginative and, I hope, a little bit clever. 

The Barbie series came from the Aussie grill expression “throw some meat on the Bar-B”, which makes me think of a Barbie doll in the iconic Marilyn pose on red silk, except on red meat – flank steak to be precise.  I shared the idea with Colin (Cooke) and now anything that can be cooked on the grill (and made into a dress) becomes an excuse to get together and play with food and Barbie dolls. 

The phizbot idea was first inspired by my mid-century orange juicer: while squeezing OJ one morning, I saw the brow and nose structure of a face in the shape of the juicer. I arranged the squeezed orange rinds to form a mouth and placed two juice glasses below the brow for eyes. I took a shot and sent it to Robert Tardio and Colin Cooke as a concept for an ongoing series of faces. Phizbots are very entertaining - they all have names and personalities and it becomes sort of an addiction finding physiological puzzle pieces to create new faces. 

Phizbot sculptures and select prints will be on exhibit at Fifth Hammer Brewery in Long island City in November 2018, so come see them… with beer goggles on ;) 

You are such a good team player – are there any other organizations you are involved with that you are passionate about?

am a good team player - I think every good stylist is! I enjoy working as part of a creative, efficient, problem solving team. But I miss the opportunity to put my energy to use in ways that are more meaningful than selling stuff.  So I volunteer for causes I believe in.  I look for opportunities to give back in small ways when I can. I’m on the volunteer roster for Gilda’s Club and I find occasional short term projects on Catchafire.org (a wonderful project based volunteer matchmaking site).  

I got the bug for volunteering when I went to to volunteer in Sri Lanka after the Tsunami.  It was hard, hot, dirty and absolutely heartbreaking work. Talk about high stakes teamwork and problem solving!  I’m very proud to have initiated an art therapy program for traumatized children, and the resulting art – which was extraordinarily moving - continued to raise funds for Tsunami relief for months after I left.  I loved volunteering and realized that the collaborative, problem solving skills that I practice every day on set can be put to good use in that kind of situation. I decided then and there to travel the world as a volunteer as soon as I can afford to retire.  

I’m a long way from retirement, but I’d like to start taking 1-2 month long volunteer jobs while I’m strong and healthy and have the energy to make a difference.  I’d like to think that my best clients would feel okay about my taking time to volunteer and would still hire me when I come back. 

That may be a tall order but I’m putting it out there…

Tsunami Art by children in Sri Lanka, 2006

Tsunami Art by children in Sri Lanka, 2006

You are always so sunny and joyful on set, how do you keep the love alive for this job after 25+ years in the business?

I’m a restless person by nature and I could never have cut it at a desk job so I consider myself very fortunate to have found a job that allows me to work in short term, high output, project oriented bursts. It’s a job that gives me autonomy and the chance to be creative and resourceful and to work with a diverse cast of talented people (many of whom have become fast friends). It also gives me the freedom to take breaks for family and for personal projects.

What’s not to love?

Jessica Agulló

Jessica Agulló

Stylist Spotlight: Celine Griscom

By Melina Hammer

Photograph by    Nathan Kraxberger

Photograph by Nathan Kraxberger

Celine is our intrepid founder, the reason we are all here. She wants to see creatives bolstering one another, a direct push-back to the increasingly winner-take-all industry, and has a vision to create a platform where stylists in all genres could share and grow their spheres by being great at what they do and not making photography sets more complicated than they already are. 

Celine’s styling work is sharp and yet playful, smart, and very much of-the-moment. Which makes a world of sense because she is no-nonsense and won’t stop until she gets the job done right.

Full Portfolio: celinegriscom.com

Instagram: @celine_machine

Photograph by    Rob Mandolene

Photograph by Rob Mandolene

How did you become a stylist?

 I moved to New York after having lived in England for 5 years where I had started a Political Theatre company for which I produced and directed original plays. Styling was really not on my radar as a possible career, which back in 2000, most people didn’t know it was even a job. But I had an old high school friend who was a photographer and nudged me in that direction because she saw my creativity with clothing, props, scenery, etc. So I started working in her studio, and found that it actually wasn’t too far a leap from Theatre really!

As you know, I am passionate about the environment and it plays into my work. I hear you have your own angle… what is that?  

My bike!! I have been biking in the city for about 15 years, but only a few years ago now did I finally get my cargo bike, an xtracycle edgerunner11i. It’s a “longtail” bike with a very low long rack at the back that is rated to hold 400 lbs! And so, yes, I prep all my jobs on my bike. I have found that it is actually so much faster than other modes of transportation. I have saved clients so much money on taxis, which also allows me to spend that budget on props instead!    #thegreenstylist  #morepropslesstaxis

tumblr_inline_pbyq88Y2Wi1v53ibx_540.jpg

What are you like on-set?

Photograph by    Nathan Kraxberger

Photograph by Nathan Kraxberger

Attitude is so important in this business. Once I accept a job from a client, I am all-in: “challenge accepted!”,  and with a smile. So when I arrive and I am given my marching orders, I will put my everything into accomplishing what is needed, and in the most efficient way possible. In short, I care. I care that the work looks the best it can be. I care that we get all the shots done that we had agreed to do. I take responsibility for my part, as well as the overall job. That being said, I really enjoy a good laugh and banter with the crew. I will guffaw loudly at puns and inappropriate humor, like a good sneeze, I cannot help it. In the freelance world we often get to choose who we want to work with, both for talent and professionalism, but also for a good hang. I love becoming friends with the team. 

I also really love the process of creativity in a team. My favorite jobs are ones where I can have a good dialogue going with the art director and the photographer to achieve beautiful work that speaks to the message the client needs to communicate. I love when we can spitball ideas, and pontificate on the implied meanings of a particular prop, or outfit, or composition. I think the best work comes with a great meeting of the minds.

What is the biggest or most frequent problem that clients have that you can help solve?

The most common problem I encounter is when the creative team has big ideas and the production team doesn’t have the budget to cover it all. I find that I am often monkey-in-the-middle in these situations, needing to please both teams who have very opposing needs, albeit a common goal.  I am very keen to please them both equally. I often love the ideas the creative team has, and I respect their need to cover off on all the shots on their list. So I will take it upon myself to be as creative as possible when it comes to sourcing props, clothing, sets, within the budget allowed. I will bike, I will find inexpensive sources, and I will make or borrow what I can. On-set, at the beginning of the job, I look at the totality of what needs to be accomplished, and then work closely with the photographer to make a plan for the most efficient way to get it done. So much time can be wasted changing sets or trying to replicate an earlier shot, when a bit of forethought and planning can mitigate those issues and keep the ship moving at a good clip. In the end, I hope that we achieve the most ambitious creative, while sliding in under budget and on-time.

left photograph by    Nathan Kraxberger   , right photograph by    Scott McKay

left photograph by Nathan Kraxberger, right photograph by Scott McKay

Do you have any hobbies, and do they cross-over into your work?

left photograph by    Nathan Kraxberger   , right photograph by In Kim

left photograph by Nathan Kraxberger, right photograph by In Kim

If I had my way, I would spend all day in an art studio making things. I also love to explore new methods to create (on my list to try next are: resin, worbla, and pottery!). Painting was my first love many years ago, but I now feel that I have more of an affinity for sculpture. I love to mold things into shape, and have done so with clay, papier mâché, and even wax carving original jewelry pieces. All of this definitely plays into my workand is a driving force to what I do for a living. I create three-dimensional works akin to sculpting when I mold the soft leather of a bag, or gently lay a curl in a ribbon, all while remaining connected to the two-dimensional image that lives in the eye of the camera.  And when I work in cosmetics I dive back into my painterly roots, mixing colors and smearing textures with the stroke of a brush or the edge of a palette knife.  But the very best moments are when I get to create the perfect prop to bring into a shoot. I have made a few large scale paintings for room sets, and crafted exacting fabric-covered boxes for tabletop sets.  

Photograph by    Monica Stevenson

Photograph by Monica Stevenson

How did you get the nickname “Machine”?

I was given that name by photographer, Liam Goodman,  during a particularly long stint of e-comm.  I would like to think it refers to my nerdiness about efficiency, as well as my analytical problem-solving brain that likes to figure out how to engineer a bag or item to sit just so. And then to repeat repeat repeat, like a machine, with precision, accuracy, and speed. I come from a family of both scientists and artists (both painters and sculptors), so I really do bring both aspects to set every day. I like to call myself a perfectionartist!

Celine the Machine, hard at work

Celine the Machine, hard at work

Stylist Spotlight: Melina Hammer

By Xina Giatas

tumblr_inline_payqk3yzQu1v53ibx_540.jpg

A triple threat, Melina Hammer is The Stylist Co-op’s food stylist, photographer and cook. If you weren’t hungry before checking out her work, you’ll certainly have a grumbling belly after!

Melina’s images are authentic and honest- you can sense crunch, juice, char and richness throughout her imagery. Along with her smart use of lighting, Melina styles her dishes with original propping elements- genuine pieces and textiles collected from all over the world.

Melina’s Instagram is a constant source of inspiration for both creativity in the kitchen and a strong appetite. When she isn’t busy making you drool, she can be found foraging for wild food and settling nicely into her new country home, soon to be bed & breakfast upstate.

Full portfolio: melinaphotos.com

Instagram: @melinahammer

Blog: lickingtheplate.com

How did you come to be a food stylist & photographer? 

My path in becoming a stylist and photographer is a little unexpected. I was a metalsmith for the better part of a decade and used ancient techniques to create mythology-inspired pieces for collectors around the world. NYC was a different culture after 9/11, and ultimately I found myself faced with making too many compromises day-to-day to support my art. I decided to reframe my creativity. Having always loved food, I thought I could adapt my fine art background - a rich relationship to textures, connection to how shapes and colors relate to one another - to editorial food stories. One thing led to another, and after a lucky mentorship with some food greats I found my stride. Even though I let go of my identity as a metalsmith - which I deeply loved - I found perhaps my greatest love of all: sourcing incredible foods, cooking & styling them for editorial and ad commissions, and now, I have plans to host pop-up events and a b&b in the country, where people can come sit at my table and *eat* the food I love making.

tumblr_inline_payqknK66r1v53ibx_540.jpg
tumblr_inline_payqpeuvJf1v53ibx_540.jpg

What are your favorite types of jobs?

My favorite jobs are those where the client trusts my creative process and empowers me to create it start-to-finish. Often that means I’m writing a column as a broader narrative to accompany recipes, which correspond to the images I photograph, after cooking and styling the food and props. Despite the fact that these projects are major undertakings, I love sourcing objects to tell a certain story, and creating the platform to explore a particular type of cuisine or food. Perfect example - devoting myself to the romance of Hand Pies in the holiday issue of Sweet Paul magazine.

What is the best part of your job? 

The best part of my job is creating the undeniable “Need! GET IN MY BELLY!” effect. When an audience drools, I know I’ve done well. The other best part is eating the creations once a shoot has wrapped, since whatever I use on set  is real food, and recipes are almost always delicious. (Thank you, awesome clients!) Another great part of my job is knowing exactly where to get unusual or amazing fresh ingredients. I’ve taken to stocking my pantry with many esoteric vittles and can throw a wicked party on a moment’s notice.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

I’m inspired by so much! Finding people via Instagram has - of course - opened the world up. JoMarie Pitino and Evan Funke and their incredible work making handmade pasta. My wild salmon fishermen friends Driftersfish and their tireless labor in grand, pristine Alaska to bring sustainable salmon to people’s tables. Scratching the tip of the iceberg in learning more about food fermentation - a true art, a way to preserve seasons, and incredible portal to health benefits in big, funky flavors. Nigel Slater’s and Diana Henry ’s poetic words and food. Photographer greats such as Andrea Gentl - half of the duo Gentl & Hyers - showing how beautiful the elemental can be. Love the food Steve Pearce styles, ever since I began. Every single thing he does makes me hungry.  I am so grateful for regular inspiration and (almost) never running out of ideas.

tumblr_inline_payql7JVY41v53ibx_540.jpg
tumblr_inline_payqldGCGR1v53ibx_540.jpg

Sustainability is very important to you. What are some of starter tips for going green in the kitchen? 

tumblr_inline_payqljSBde1v53ibx_540.jpg

I grew up with a mom who recycled or reused almost everything (sometimes to my chagrin). Needless to say, sustainability is very important to me. To broaden your own consciousness repertoire, here are some things you can apply in your daily routine: - I reuse plastic bags that make their way into my life (they also happen to be recyclable - yay!) and try not acquiring new ones by having fabric bags on-hand to schlep groceries or tools, or whatever. 

Any aromatic veg scraps left from food prep - onion & celery ends, bones, carrot peels, parsley stems, etc - go to a large ziplock bag in the freezer and get made into a lush overnight broth when it’s full. I use the broth to boost flavor in cooking grains & beans, as well as for sauces or soups. The best part is this - I use a slow cooker to make it, so it’s completely hands-off! And your house will smell amazing as it brews. Freeze the strained+cooled stock in ice cube trays and pull from it as you need.

Since I produce so much organic matter, at the beginning of the year we decided to try a vermicompost setup in our apartment. Turns out to be pretty fascinating stuff, and the result is incredibly nutrient dense compost. If you have container garden aspirations (I’m now gardening in a bigger way - we just bought a house upstate!) this fertilizer will make your basil and tomatoes go bonkers. If that’s further step than you’re ready to tread, check out your local neighborhood community garden and bring your scraps there.

Whenever shopping these days, I try to buy products with the least amount of packaging. That stuff just gets tossed! Now that I have seen where much of that packaging goes, I can’t unsee it, and I don’t want to contribute to it any further. 

Ideally, where would you like your career to be in ten years?

In ten years, I see myself having written another book with vibrant, drool-worthy pictures, highlighting what it means to eat well every day. I also see leading workshops on cooking since food is the center of everything - bringing new & punchy foods into people’s repertoires, and hosting people at our dreamy upstate getaway.

Melina Hammer shows off her skills on set

Melina Hammer shows off her skills on set

Industry Spotlight: Blank Studio

By Liz Peters

tumblr_inline_pas6p5EjVL1v53ibx_540.jpg

Last week The Stylist Co-op celebrated their Launch Party at Blank Studio, run by sisters, Marni & Willa Blank. The space, located at 457 Broome Street, is a bright, sun-filled space with lots of character, has a beautiful high-ceiling brick wall, and a view of the iconic soho neighborhood. 

I spoke with them after the party to get to know a little more about how their space came to be, the backgrounds they came from, and what they love about NYC. 

Where did you grow up? If not NYC, how did you end up in the big apple? 

Willa: We grew up in Stamford, CT which is about 45 minutes outside of the city. Most of our family lives in or around NYC so it was a natural move for both of us. Marni moved to the city after undergrad to attend Brooklyn Law and has been living in Brooklyn for that last 13 years. I moved to the city after graduating from RISD to pursue a career in fashion design (and did so for 10 yrs before the conception of Blank Studio)

tumblr_inline_pas6pjCiJQ1v53ibx_540.jpg

Did you ever work together on another work project? What roles do each of you play in the business? 

Willa: We had a lot of “businesses” as kids (lemonade stands, sold rocks off a boogie board on the beach, sold trees and beaded bracelets outside of a grocery store in the Adirondacks where our grandparents lived, etc) but never in our adult life! We definitely couldn’t have predicted this, but somehow this business blends our skill sets perfectly. Marni runs the operations end of the business and I take care of all things design and maintenance of the physical space. We both field customer service and split just about everything else.  Its a collaborative effort and we really try to hear and support each other to keep things professionally and personally on the up and up.

What did each of you do before collaborating on Blank Studio NYC? How did these jobs influence your current career?

Marni: I call myself a recovering lawyer. I practiced for almost 5 years and just didn’t feel it was the right path.  After quitting my job and taking a 7 month backpacking trip, I came back refreshed and ready for something creative and new.  Willa worked as a womenswear designer in her former life, for companies including Marc by Marc Jacobs, Trademark and JCrew. The idea for the studio came to her while working in a truly sad/bare bones studio in the depths of Bushwick with zero amenities. She knew she could do better and that people in NYC have everything but space. After asking around and doing some research on existing studios, she enlisted my help to start searching for a unique space (my side hustle continues to be commercial and residential real estate).  I think another driving force for us both is that we come from an extremely entrepreneurial family.  We are inspired by their example and value the flexibility to allow time to create the work/life balance we want.

What has been a favorite client or project that you’ve seen happen in your studio since you’ve opened?

Willa: One of our favorite shoots was our very first one, with Rag & Bone. The studio was still under construction, with literal holes in the wall and building material everywhere. One bathroom was literally put in the night before and finished at 7am the morning of the shoot. It was a crazy shitshow, but it was exactly what they wanted for the concept of their shoot, and it meant we were now a legit business. 

What else happens at the studio outside of Photoshoots?

Marni: We have clients who host corporate off-sites, meetings, year end reviews, product launches, showrooms, etc. We also host our own series of workshops and speakers at the studio for our growing community- which we are really excited about! The concept for the 2018 series was built around the idea of “getting your shit together.” It includes talks and workshops in the areas of love and relationships, career, personal finance, and health and wellness. We post these on our social channels as well as through marketing emails you can sign up for through our website.

tumblr_inline_pas6ptZ65w1v53ibx_540.jpg

When you’re not at work, what is your favorite thing to do in NYC?

Marni: I love to explore the city. Even after all these years, I am still in awe.  I will say that I tend to gravitate towards Brooklyn.  Often I’m just taking long walks around the hood or hanging out Brooklyn Bridge Park and people watching.  I’m also a big fan of taking baking/pastry classes- baking is my stress reliever and I often bake for our clients :) 

Willa: I spend a lot of time hanging out with my dog Otis in our little garden at home, when I’m not working.  I am working on earning a green thumb, but i see it is years in the making (i chat with my grandma often about shade plants). We both also put a huge emphasis on travel- we make sure we split our time running the studio so we can each have the freedom to take trips when we can.

To contact Blank Studio for your own event or shoot, visit their website for more info at https://www.blankstudionyc.com or contact them directly at  info@blankstudionyc.com

Stylist Spotlight: Xina Giatas

By Liz Peters

tumblr_inline_p4ug01lggX1v53ibx_540.jpg

If you don’t know about Xina Giatas, you are in for a treat! Xina is a fashion stylist with a fantastic ability to blend different styles together to creative fun and innovative looks, both on set and in her personal wardrobe. I have always loved how she can rock a 1950s skirt with a band tee and one of her millions of pairs of Keds, always flawless, fun, and fresh! I have known Xina since 2011 and watching her constant determination and growth in her work has been inspiring. Not only is she a talented stylist, she is a pleasure to be around. Her positive vibe on set and one on one reminds me of the most beautiful woman in Puppet Land, Ms. Yvonne! Check out Xina’s work on her site:

https://www.xinagiatas.com

How would you describe your demeanor on set? 

tumblr_inline_p4uga7y20F1v53ibx_540.jpg

It changes throughout the day. When I first get to set in the morning, I’m very focused on the game plan. I believe that performance and outcome is heavily based off of preparation. While the models are in hair and makeup I take my time seriously, working closely with the photographer, client and my assistants to set up our day for success. Once the shoot begins I try to keep things upbeat and forward moving, with the assistance of good music and coffee! Its very easy for me to keep pushing through the day with focus, yet in a neutral, stress-free way.

tumblr_inline_p4uge11NHr1v53ibx_540.jpg

How did growing up in Rhode Island influence your style?

For the smallest state, Rhode Island has a large variety of art, music and cuisine to be taken in. Its home to the Rhode Island School of Design, less than an hour from Boston and less than four hours to NYC. Growing up, I do believe that my biggest style influence came through the different experiences, subcultures and events my mom exposed me to. We would take long weekend road trips to discover museums and fine dining, all the way to flea markets and live rock & roll shows.

How did you come to be a fashion stylist? 

When I was a little girl I would sit in the waiting area of the salon while my mom had her hair cut and would peruse the pages of Italian Vogue. I was always drawn to the fantasy told in each shoot; The model as a character - what was her story? What was the mood? The fact that images can evoke a feeling in a viewer is fascinating to me, and I was drawn to that idea of moving an observer through a photographic story. I began studying analog photography & darkroom developing processes throughout high school and into college. Towards the end of my training, I was finding myself very interested in the wardrobe and fashion in the shoot. Although still very important to me, It was at this time that being behind the lens took the backseat to fashion styling.

tumblr_inline_p4ug265hdv1v53ibx_540.jpg
tumblr_inline_p400cttMn21v53ibx_500.jpg

Where do you draw inspiration from? 

I feel so lucky to have built my life here in NYC, because the city streets here are their own runway. I don’t focus so much on labels and trends as much as I do personal style. Seeing a nitty gritty kid on the Lower East Side, or the old money woman on the Upper East side - I truly love it all. I tend to absorb ideas from my close friends - you Liz, being one of them! I also love how the internet has bridged the gap of global fashion. We are so lucky to have apps like Instagram that can instantly expose you to any style, anywhere in the world - in seconds!

Do you have any advice for someone trying to become a stylist? 

Reach out to stylists that work with your dream clients and most fit your aesthetic. Don’t be afraid to use your network to cast a wider net - a word of mouth recommendation goes a long way. Ask them for assisting opportunities and consider this your on the job training. Ideally, over time, when stylists you assist are not available for a job, they will have you fill in for them here and there. In the meantime, pair up with other strong up and coming artists and shoot on the weekends for your portfolio. Don’t fall into the rut of assisting for too long, though! Develop your website, spread the news, walk the walk and believe in yourself - you are your own best agent!

tumblr_inline_p4ug3hqKTD1v53ibx_540.jpg
Xina Giatas (left) and Liz Peters (right)

Xina Giatas (left) and Liz Peters (right)