By Mary Arch
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.
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.
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?
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.
How else has styling impacted your life?
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.