[quote style=”boxed”]Manage self doubt more effectively or not have it. It’s a waste of time. Believe in what you’re doing and believe that you’re the only one in the world who can give what you can. Everyone has something unique to give and I wish I would have realized that a lot sooner.[/quote]
Kami Gray is a film and television wardrobe stylist and prop stylist/set designer for photo shoots. She is also a personal stylist for women and men. Her work can be seen on television shows including House, Veronica Mars, and Hell’s Kitchen, and in commercials and catalogs for Toyota, Nike, Intel, HP, Rejuvenation, and Discover Card. Kami contributes regularly to television, print, and online media outlets including MSN, CNN, AOL, Real Simple, Women’s Day, and Redbook, and is a regular guest on AMNW, a local talk show in Kami’s hometown, Portland, Oregon. Kami is also the author of the bestselling lifestyle book, The Denim Diet: 16 Simple Habits to Get You Into Your Dream Pair of Jeans.
What are you working on right now?
My freelance work is all about style. I will style anything. Someone’s wardrobe, a photo shoot for a lighting company, a hamburger commercial, a video trailer for an upcoming children’s book, or a pro snowboarder’s costumes for a viral video. Basically I shop for a living, using other people’s money. I then take all the found items and create a look that is uniquely suited for that client or brand.
Where did the idea for Kami Gray STYLE come from?
It evolved over time. A little late in the game and as a mother of two; I repeated college, got a bachelor’s degree in fashion design, and set out to be a costume designer for feature films. That sort of kind of worked out. I came to designing sets and doing prop styling for television commercials and photo shoots quite unintentionally. I’ve worked as the wardrobe stylist for hundreds of television commercials, which organically sprouted a personal styling business several years ago. As TV commercial budgets got tighter and commercial directors came to rely on my creative input, one director asked me to design the sets along with the wardrobe. Oh boy was I hooked. In addition to costuming actors for film and television and working one-on-one with wonderful clients to provide style transformations; I design sets that satisfy my need to create beautiful spaces and unique environments.
How do you make money?
Really good SEO and referrals. For prop styling, art direction, and wardrobe styling for brands, I charge a day rate for pre-production days, shooting days, and wrap days. For personal styling, I have three packages clients can choose from.
What does your typical day look like?
There is no typical day, but I spend most of my time sourcing props or wardrobe for a video or photo shoot or a personal styling client. I source online or at department stores, boutiques, vintage furniture shops or thrift stores.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I do a ton of research and I create inspiration boards to communicate my ideas. When I’m not sourcing/shopping, I’m researching how to best meet the needs of my clients, whether they are a brand or an individual. For brands, my specialty is creating unique, sharable photos and videos that show off a particular brand and enhance and elevate that brand’s image on their website, Facebook fan page, Twitter, and the reigning site for all things sharable, Pinterest. My goal is to help brands create opportunities for interaction and conversation to increase social amplification, brand exposure, and most importantly, to introduce (or reintroduce) the brand to new customers.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Moving away from traditional advertising to viral videos and social media campaigns. I don’t have to work on conventional 30-second commercials much anymore. I only worked on one last year. Social media campaigns are far more creative and interesting and I get to have a bigger role in the creative.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
The only job I’ve ever loathed was temp (office) work. When you’re temping, the “real” employees don’t treat you like a person — you’re a temp and you’re not going to stick around so why say hello or ask you to lunch. Plus, there was a massive earthquake (in Southern California) during my last temp job and it scared me silly. I can’t really blame the job, but it didn’t help me like it or want to go back.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Manage self doubt more effectively or not have it. It’s a waste of time. Believe in what you’re doing and believe that you’re the only one in the world who can give what you can. Everyone has something unique to give and I wish I would have realized that a lot sooner.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Be kind and courteous to every single person you work with or come in contact with — say hello, say thank you, and learn people’s names. There is no excuse for bad manners.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One or one hundred? I’ve failed so many times that a specific instance doesn’t come to mind. Plus, here’s what happens with failures; they don’t stay failures for long. They become opportunities, which you just aren’t aware of at the time.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I have a side business called Student Stylists. It’s kind of like college painters, but for styling: affordable and talented fashion and design students are available for hire for video/photo shoot styling, fashion show assistance, and visual merchandising for retail stores. The business actually makes money even though my partner and I put zero effort into it. And I do mean zero. We’re too busy with other work. I honestly should have never started the business. I think it could do really well if someone actually worked on it. It’s like a temp agency, but we’re nice to the temps. It’s a very repeatable business model too — anywhere there is a fashion school could have a branch. Or the same idea could be applied to other college skills like interior design, web design, or graphic design.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
The things I would want to change are BIG. Ban guns. End hunger and poverty. Let gay people marry. Stop arguing about a women’s right to choose. I feel helpless to change any of these except to make sure I’m not part of the problem and that I contribute positively to other people’s lives.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I’m an introvert. I’m on television at least once a month, I speak to large groups of women, I teach college classes, and I have to present my creative ideas to a committee so people assume I’m an outgoing extrovert. Not so. I need to spend a lot of time alone and I dread parties and social situations where there is small talk.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Clicky for website analytics. I use it every day to see where my website traffic is coming from and what content they visited when they came to my site. I used to use Google Analytics, but Clicky dumbs down the information so I can understand it easily.
Pinterest: I use it to collect images to use on my inspiration boards for clients. I also use it to display my portfolio. I was a little late to the world of Pinterest and now I’m obsessed.
Facebook: To see what my (college) children are really doing.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I couldn’t put this book down. It’s more of a psychology book than a self help book and it’s a life changer. As silly as it sounds, I now make my bed every morning and that one keystone habit has caused a chain reaction of other positive habits in my life.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
@theatlantic because it covers everything and I like their perspective.
@danielpink because this author is a genius and has nothing but good news for creatives like me.
@mindykaling because she cracks me up.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
Yesterday when my daughter told me that AAA (the automobile company) started with a T (as in triple) so it’s not going to be first on the list and therefore isn’t a strategic idea for a business name. She’s 23.
Who is your hero?
My Dad. He’s smart, funny, silly, he loves everything about his kids and grandkids, he gives more than he gets, and he picked my Mom.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs just starting out?
Find a group of people you trust and share knowledge with them. Meet regularly and hold one another accountable for goals and objectives. Don’t isolate yourself just because you’re a one man or one woman show. Ask people for help and advice and offer other people the same.
Do you consider yourself an early bloomer at late bloomer?
Late bloomer. I found my work love at age 36 and my life love at age 43. I knew what I wanted to do at age 7 and it took me almost 30 years to come back to it. Maybe that just makes me a slow bloomer.
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