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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Inside the Creative Mind: Kendall Shai

Fashion stylist, Kendall Shai Rowsey, talks about her transition from being a big name stylist in the a smaller Florida market to the hurdles of starting over in the fashion metropolis of New York City.  

1. What was the most difficult part of the transition from Orlando to New York City as a stylist?
     The most difficult part of my transition would be the lack of network I had available to me. After working in Orlando for almost 4 years as a freelance stylist and event show producer, I had many connections I could easily turn to when projects would come up. I would always know the right photographer to call, boutiques or stores to call if I needed to pull clothes and always knew the right people to call when I needed assistance in building out a show. In New York that network doesn’t exist right when you get here. You are starting from the bottom again and thus have to re-build your network, accepting that you are starting from the beginning. I have really had to put my networking skills to use here and become creative in contacting the right people.

2. It's been approximately 6 months since you made the big move to the city, do you feel you are settled into the job market yet?
     Not at all. The fashion industry here is a whole new beast to tackle; I am just starting to feel immersed in the real fashion world here and networking with the right people. There are so many opportunities here and different routes you can take. It took me awhile to figure out the best thing for me. I have really pushed myself to try as many different facets of the industry as possible in a short amount of time. It really takes a lot of exploring, not excluding trial and error, to ultimately wake up everyday and know that I really love what I am doing! I am still on the journey but feel that I am much closer than when I started here.

3. Was there anything unexpected or unplanned for that happened during the transition, and how did you adjust for it?
     I had left Orlando knowing that this was a big adventure I was about to embark on and knew that it was going to take time and a lot of effort to really feel like I had made it here in NYC. I think since I mentally prepared myself that way before the move it made it easier to except that it was going to take awhile and it wasn’t going to be easy. I think that made it easier for me to face not having a job right away when I got here.  I don’t think there was anything unexpected or unplanned, but I do have to say it has been a journey. I am only at the very beginning.

4. Do you feel a change in your sense of style since you moved to NYC, a fashion capital?
     I don’t feel that my personal style has changed much, because I was comfortable with the way that I have always presented myself, and have always found myself to be fashionable and creative with my wardrobe. Every once in awhile I have noticed that some of the outfits I put on are a little more creative or daring than they were in Orlando. Here in NYC anything goes, that’s for sure. Living in NYC and working in the fashion industry you do feel like you are always being judged, especially when people ask you what you do for a living. This does put pressure on you to always make sure you are fashionable!

5. What are a few of your biggest accomplishments since your move?
     Some of my biggest accomplishments since moving to NYC in January have been being part of the production team for some of the largest shows during NY Fashion Week; Michael Bastian, GANT by Michael Bastian, Chadwick Bell, and Joy Cioci.  I was also pulled from the audience of a NY Fashion Week show, showing at the tents, 3 minutes before show time to help on headset and call the show from backstage! That was cool, someone who had never met me before believed in my capabilities and trusted me enough to call a show during Fashion Week. I am also now assisting a stylist; Mia Morgan and we just wrapped the 2012 ad campaign shoot for a major northeast based Department Store.  I can’t wait to see the product of a job I was involved in, presented on the side of the NY City buses and billboards around the city!

6. Have you worked with any amazing or inspiring photographers in NYC?
     When I got to NYC I started working for a marketing/branding company that specialized in events, The King Collective. ( Since I was working with them to better understand that side of the industry, I wasn’t as concentrated on styling as much. That being said I haven’t had many styling opportunities until recently. I am just now starting to style again as I am assisting Fashion Stylist, Mia Morgan ( This summer I am going to really concentrate on building my personal styling portfolio so will be working with more photographers then. I am excited to really get creative again!
7. Can you give any advice to upcoming stylists who might be looking to move to a larger city to start their career?
     Networking is KEY! Know that it is a long journey that takes a lot of work. If you really want it, people will realize that and will see your drive and determination and will be willing to help you succeed. Know that no matter how big you were in the city you came from you are starting at the bottom again, you really have to prove yourself. People are willing to help if you are willing to learn and be open-minded! 

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