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Forward Fashion with Shyra Ely-Gash

According to USA basketball, power forwards must be excellent rebounders–and just as importantly, must be able to take care of the ball after securing it. Power forwards must be able to hit open shots, since they typically aren’t the focal point of a defense. They must be a spark who’s capable of making a big play for the team. Shyra Ely- Gash retired WNBA player knows this position well and has now brought her past position into her new role as a wardrobe stylist.

As of 2017 stylist have come the forefront. Building their own brands and platforms in the same way as celebrities.  According to Shrya Ely-Gash, the fashion industry can be cut throat and a difficult field to break through, but she gives her insight and wisdom on how to break down the shield of fashion.

Start with Who and What you know.

You must start somewhere, meaning styling or giving helpful tips to friends, family and fellow colleagues opens up your creative mind. Not only do you gain experience, you are now learning different body types, colors, fits and patterns that people can or shouldn’t wear.

Shrya attended the University of Tennessee as a college basketball star while studying fashion merchandising. By studying fashion merchandising Shrya was gaining the proper tools and skills that helped her build a styling career. With that said, acquire some educational tools and skills to assist with your understanding of fashion. This will not only help you on a set, but you will be able to grow more in the fashion industry because of your knowledge. Find people who you know are either in the fashion industry or striving to get there. Consuming your life with like-minded people is helpful when building a career in this industry. Shrya stated, “Surround yourself around people you inspire to be.”

Find Your Opportunity (Find Your Lane)

You have to find, where you fit, in the fashion industry. There are so many amazing, talented and ambitious stylists who are looking to have career.

Shyra would always get asked by her friends and teammates , what to wear for certain events or occasions they had to attend. Now think about women who mainly wore active attire with tennis shoes who now had to go to a red carpet event. Shrya saw her cue and she went for it. She gave free advice and free styling sessions to gain more experience. After a former head coach of hers was taking on a new role in a larger city Shyra saw an opportunity to get her name out there even more. By reaching out to the coach and asking to style her for games Shyra now set herself up for success. The coach was receiving positive recognition and reviews about her wardrobe with statements like “Best Dressed Coach in the WNBA”.

Research and Plan

If you want to build a platform as a stylist you have to take the time and put in the effort to research. You can’t step onto a set and not have any type of concept of what the photographer is looking to accomplish.

For example,how is the model’s hair and makeup going to coordinate with your wardrobe choices? There are so many aspects you have to know to work in this industry. Researching trends is very important.Shyra says, looking at magazines, runways shows, social media are all inspiration to staying up on what’s hot.

Planning out your days is very important when it comes to styling. Stylist are known for running errands, meeting with the creative glam teams, emailing the designers for clothing among so many other tasks. You have to plan and organize your day. The more you plan the more your prepared for the oops and the uh ohs that can arise.

Network, Network and Network

Networking can be awkward at times. With all of her experience, even Shyra stated that this is not always her most enjoyable task to take on, but one of the most important. Networking is essential when trying to build a name for yourself in the fashion industry. No one is going to get that next job or gig by staying at home behind closed doors. Talking to designers, PR reps, makeup artists, photographers and other stylists you are now gaining access to places and opportunities you didn’t have before.

Dressed to Impress

You’ve heard this saying before and it still holds the same power. “As a stylist you are a walking business card,” says Shyra. When you’re going to the grocery store, shopping at the mall and even grabbing a coffee with your best friend you are representing your brand. These are every day task yet you have to represent your brand and business at all times. A stylist is as good as their last piece of work or last outfit. SO STAY UP ON YOUR GAME! Stylist must maintain their image, you are now a public figure to your current and potential clients.

“You get out what you put in your brand” – Ms. Ely-Gash

Ground Work

Volunteering may not pay the bills, but it pays your dues. You may dream of walking into a magazine company and into the fashion editor’s office and saying, “Hi, I’m your new head stylist” without even submitting an application. You can reach this goal, but you have to get your feet wet first.

Internships are a great way to gain more experience and build your portfolio while networking with others in your field. You may have to run and get coffee, make copies for the editor and hold lights on set to get that perfect shot. But know that all the ground work you’re putting in your gaining tools that you will later use and appreciate.

Bring the Buzz

Creating a buzz can be difficult at times, but it’s very important to have a supportive following today. As a stylist, you have now been given the opportunity to brand yourself while doing what you love for a living. This means getting the word out about who you are and what you represent. Shyra explained how social media has played a huge role in her success. Creating great content for the public to follow and be interested in is very important. Giving people different places to see and hear about your work can help build your buzz faster. Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and too many style websites to name are all avenues. You want the public to gain the knowledge of who you are as a person and your work. According to Shyra, “Social media is a job in itself,” having someone to maintain this for you would help you gain the correct and efficient outcomes you seek. Follow people that you aspire to be or work for. Make your social media model what your brand stands for as a stylist.

Shyra Ely-Gash has obviously made a mark on the fashion industry. She has built a brand that is continuing to grow and reach new heights. From the conversation with Shyra, I gained so much insight on what it takes and means to be a stylist. Taking on many roles such as a wife, mother and career woman she shows that she can do it all. She was a force on the basketball court and has now brought that same mentality to fashion. She is the true definition of a woman who will continue to knock down doors and create her own lane.

In Shyra’s words “My brand, My business”.

Tips from Shyra

  • Telling clients where you found items from. DON’T (they will go buy it themselves).
  • Create a contract (service agreement) – hold both parties accountable.
  • Charge for your time and talent.

Being recognized as a published fashion stylist in Idymes and VoyageATL magazine recently has opened up new opportunities that have helped grow Toni’s business and brand. The art of Toni being able to continue to trend set and create a body of work that influences us every day has guaranteed her strong and lasting presence in the fashion industry.

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