Fashion Stylist Kerryn Grady has been working in the fashion industry since graduating from the University of Central Lancashire with BA (Hons) in Fashion Brand Promotion and Journalism in 2005. Starting her career at Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge, London. Kerryn then gained experience as an intern at Vogue, Grazia, ASOS and Instyle, with the latter leading to a position at Glamour Magazine. We chat to Kerryn as she tells us about her career in the fashion industry and what advice she has for those starting out in the world of fashion. Now working as a fashion stylist, bridal stylist and fashion journalist, Kerryn’s life as a freelancer is a busy one!
How did you get into styling?
After graduating I got a job as a window display assistant at Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge, which involved styling mannequins for window displays and throughout the store. Each floor had very different styling, for example, the women’s first floor was very chic and expensive with their high-end designers such as Stella McCartney, Lanvin and Chloe, while the third floor was more contemporary, youthful and cool, so it was a great opportunity to experiment with my styling. I wanted to pursue this side of the industry more, so left Harvey Nics to do magazine internships and ended up working at Glamour magazine before going freelance
Has the fashion industry changed much since you have been working in it?
Since moving to Liverpool I feel like I’m quite removed from the hub of the industry in London, but I see old friends and colleagues moving their way up the career ladder, moving from magazine to magazine. These are all girls that started as interns and have worked their way up, like I did, so in that sense, I think the industry is maintaining its standard of starting from the bottom and establishing yourself that way, rather than jumping straight into a job from university. As more people are doing styling as part of their degrees (my course has changed a lot since I was at university, and puts a lot more emphasis on fashion styling), I think the industry is becoming even more competitive to get into, which is why it’s so important to shine in the early days of doing work experience.
Now based in Liverpool, what are the benefits or disadvantages of being away from London?
The styling industry up here is a lot smaller and more limited, with some very good and established stylists, making it quite hard to get your break here. However, once you do, there’s a lot of loyalty. I’ve had a lot of people tell me its hard to find a decent stylist, so once you get yourself known you can get some really good work. More fashion companies are basing themselves in the North West now too, such as Boohoo, Misguided and Shop Direct, so there is definitely an increasing work base up here. However, all the big fashion houses, PR agencies and high street PRs are based in London, making it hard to get samples. I have to work close to the season rather than the season ahead like the glossies, using stock from shops, which can be risky as any damages are on my head (and credit card account!).
What are the challenges of being self-employed/ freelance in the fashion industry?
The same with so many other creative freelance careers – regular work is never guaranteed, dry spells are very scary! And when you do have work, despite the thirty-day payment agreement held with most clients, you actually never know when you will get paid. I’ve had to wait three to four months for the payment of some jobs, and I know some people who’ve had to wait even longer! It means having to be very careful with your money (not one of my strong points). I have the back up of a part -time job that allows me to pay the rent and bills every month, regardless of whether I’ve had freelance work or am waiting on a payment, whilst still having the flexibility to take time off for shoots.
Who would you love to style in a photo shoot and what designers would you dress them in?
I’m obsessed with Orange Is The New Black, and was blown away by how beautiful Ruby Rose is in the new series. She identifies herself as gender fluid, and a lot of her shoots have her styled in androgynous clothing. I’d like to dress her in some cool, contemporary womenswear designers such as Christopher Kane and Mary Katrantzou, with sharp, structured silhouettes and bold prints, which would look amazing with all her tattoos, whilst keeping a masculine vibe through her hair, make-up and accessories.
What direction do you want your career to go in next?
I recently styled the ChloBo jewellery Autumn/Winter campaign, which was so much fun. I’d love to do more fashion campaigns. But I’m also enjoying the more general campaigns I’ve been involved in, which aren’t so much fashion based but still require me to be creative and understand the person or character I’m styling. Most of all though, I love editorial shoots where I work with a small team creating something beautiful! I’d love to get more work contributing to magazines, where I get paid to do what I love most.
What advice would you give anyone trying to get into the fashion industry?
You need to make yourself memorable, for good reasons! As an intern, you have about four weeks to ingrain yourself in peoples’ minds. If there is an assistant vacancy on a magazine, that job will go to someone who has done work experience at that magazine.
If you’re doing the coffee run, do it with a smile, if you finish one job ask what needs doing next, don’t wait to be told, if it’s a quiet day, tidy and organise the fashion cupboard. Communication is key – if you’ve been given a list of things to do, e-mail your editor at the end of the day and tell them how far you got, the results of any enquiries, and any good results (eg, confirmation of a sample they really want for a shoot). If they can see your successes and achievements spelled out in front of them, they will remember you. No job will ever be too big or too small, and nothing is too much effort. If you’re clocked rolling your eyes about doing some tidying up, you’re done. Unless you’re dying, don’t call in sick! Four weeks is not very long to impress, so you have to give it your all.
I think it’s also very important to remember that your competition will also be your friends. Be nice!! Some of my closest friends in the fashion industry are girls I interned with, and we were all so supportive of each other. Later on in our careers, if one of us was offered a freelance job we couldn’t do, we’d put the other girls forward for it. If one of us heard about a vacancy on another magazine we’d give everyone else the heads up. Your peers are going to be your best access into new roles.
We would like to thank Kerryn for taking the time to share her knowledge and experience with us. Kerryn is currently a contributing writer for #Inspo, a fashion and beauty magazine, where she has had many fashion editorials featured. #Inspo launched in 2014 with a fashion show at Palm Sugar, Liverpool, curated by Kerryn. She has recently begun working with The White Closet, Didsbury, as a bridal stylist. And there’s more! Kerryn has taken her love of photography to the next level since being hired as a wedding photographer and is excited about where it will lead to…