How to Build Your Stylist Portfolio for the Digital Era
Vogue is calling, and they want you! It’s a dream come true, and it can be real, if you’re visible in the right places. And by right places, we mean the most important aspect of your stylist career — your portfolio.
The digital age has changed everything from the days of portfolios printed in binders, sure, but nowadays, your portfolio is still one of the biggest ways to attract clients and build your brand as a stylist. How your portfolio exists? 200% different.
But unlike what you may think, social media has not made the portfolio irrelevant. With the advent of Instagram, portfolios have become even more important as you learn to create a portfolio that spans multiple platforms, keeps a cohesive story, and brings clients flocking to your bookings. We’ll show you how to make your portfolio compelling and include the design elements you need to reach potential clients and build trust.
5 Tips to Building a Stellar Portfolio as a Fashion Stylist
The Physical Book
You rarely need a physical book any longer for bookings, unless you are a magazine stylist. Consider designing an editorial-style layout to showcase your best work. A typical printed portfolio would include:
- Copies of trainings, diplomas, certifications, and any related programs you’ve finished.
- Photographs of your best styles.
- Photographs showing a range of your styling capabilities.
- Magazine or print features.
- Recognitions, awards, client testimonials, letters of referral.
- Your values as as stylist.
Consolidate all of these items in a physical binder, clear book, printed on a CD, or made into a bound book.
The choice to have a physical portfolio is up to you. There is something professional and incredible to have a stylist portfolio like a glossy magazine to show potential clients. If you’re just starting out, recently graduated, and with minimal work experience under your belt, a physical book may be a great way to wow. Ultimately, weigh whether you want to create a physical book against the time and investment it will take to curate it – and regularly update it with your new clients and latest work.
E-Portfolios – and How to Make One That Stands Out
Speaking of updating – Welcome to the Web! We love it here, and think you will too as your digital portfolio becomes an immersive stylist brand experience. A digital portfolio is the future. It’s easy to make, simple to update, and widely accessible.
A personal website is the starting point. And here’s the key: you are building a personal experience that demonstrates your brand. When a client leaves your site, you want them to know your designs and who you are as a business partner. Give them more than pictures of your best stylings. You want a combination of the three magic ingredients:
- Photos of best stylings, magazine features, client highlights.
- A compelling story for who you are as a designer.
- Your brand values and work partnerships.
Building a Compelling Story
Mantra that second point with us. If one of your photos is Tim Burton and the next is Oscar glam – where are you in between? You want a range that shows a story.
The best way to define your range is find your ideal clients. Who do you want to work with? Then think about what you have to offer them. Tailor your featured photos to fit the range of these ideal clients’ or magazines’ stylings, taking in account their different environments or features. A portfolio is always a balance of what you have already achieved and the potential of what you can do.
Brand and Stylist Values
For your brand values, this is the time to showcase yourself as a stylist. What has brought you here? What visions are you creating? Being a stylist is such a personal relationship with many clients that they want to know you – how you work, what you value in work relationships, and ultimately enough details they want to work with you as a person.
Creating an Experience
Finally, if you write a one-sentence summary of your brand and throw up a bunch of pictures, then you are one of a horde of thousands of stylists and designers looking exactly the same. Think of your online website like an experience. Cultivate that experience as if a client was walking into your store to buy your styling and leaving with the attitude reflected in your styling. Experience doesn’t mean overdone – simply uniquely you.
Social Media is Your Extended Portfolio
Oooo, the big words: social media. Fear them not! Use Instagram to your advantage – your stylist portfolio website is great, but your Instagram is a part of your portfolio too.
Think of the difference as your Instagram being a shuttle which gets potential clients to your website for a curated experience. After all, there’s only so much customization that can be done on Instagram’s familiar platform. Eventually, you want to stand out from other stylists, and your website is the real distinction.
So how to set up your IG feed? You need people to know what you’re about if you want them to trust you to style them. Start with the core of your brand and then build out your instagram plan to share some – but not all – of your brand components. Building interest with exciting glimpses, behind the scenes, and the inner workings of your creative mind will build a following who wants to see more of your work and *click* your portfolio.
Get Noticed – in the Right Places
While social media is a cluttered audience – silent observers, random discovery likes, and maybe the gem-in-the-rough client buried deep – curated websites and stylist databases are ways to get your portfolio into the world without trying. Once you build your portfolio, the clients come to you. Complete your online profile on professional networks to have a digital business card that gives potential business partners easy and direct access to you.
Resonate With Joy
As with any creative client work, day-to-day your artistic vision can be easily lost in the thoroughfare of you know, working. If you look at your portfolio after making it and think, “Who is this?” Then we have to be the first to tell you, you’re not on the right track. If your gut says include a photo, include it! Always remember that at heart, you’re highlighting your creative mind and what it can bring to the client. If you’re happy with what you’re putting out, you’ll be attracting the right customers to bring your vision to the world.