I like to be upfront with people about the reality of life in the fashion and jewelry industry, and about small business in general. I like people who are equally upfront, so I’m loving the interview that celebrity stylist Lysa Cooper recently did with Vogue Italia. (It figures that it would be Vogue Italia that would interview someone so bold, since the magazine has been known to make a bold statement itself.)
Cooper has worked with Beyonce (Cooper loves her) and Rihanna (not so much love there). She’s talking about dealing with the music industry here, but what she says accurately describes most of my meetings with retailers:
“So what you’re dealing with is a lot of marketing people, a lot of executives, a lot of people sitting in a room, wearing fucked up shoes, trying to tell me about fashion. And you don’t even know how to get down to the cobbler and fix your heel, and you’re going to tell me what I should be doing? And the fact that marketing is even involved in the hiring is, to me, insane. It’s almost backwards. Shouldn’t we make a beautiful product, and then decide how to sell it, rather than already know what you’re selling and then try to make the product match?”
Too true! Brings me back to 2007, when I had a meeting about jewelry with a woman at Saks who not only wasn’t wearing any jewelry … she wasn’t wearing makeup and looked like she hadn’t brushed her hair that day. If she strolled into Saks like that to eyeball the David Yurman counter, I have no doubt a security guard would have been hot on her run-down heels, wondering why she dared to come into the store. (In the interest of full disclosure, right now, I’m not wearing jewelry or makeup. I haven’t brushed my hair. I’m wearing sweaty gym clothes. But I’m sitting at home, working by myself, not meeting with designers to tell they’re not up to my standards. When I’m going to insult people like that, I dress for the occasion.) That was the same meeting where another woman told me that I shouldn’t make more of one particular earring style. For a follow-up appointment with the second woman, I deliberately wore those earrings. Naturally, she loved them. “Do more like that!” she told me. And that, my friends, is how meaningful so-called expert advice is.
Other highlights from the Lysa Cooper interview include her thoughts on celebrity lines (“Bullshit. Go to school. If you go to school, then maybe you can talk some shit.”) and not getting credit for her ideas. This is some damn good advice here:
“I won’t give presentations anymore. I won’t do mood boards or any of that. I learned my lesson the hard way. Because they take your idea and hire another stylist. They can’t have you come to set, because it’s your idea. If you do, then everyone will know it’s not theirs.”
When asked if she ever thinks about quitting, she answers:
“Every day. Every day. I can’t stand it anymore. I really can’t. Like, I’m not even joking. But I’m also a person that was taught you don’t leave a job until you have another one.”
Lysa, call me! I feel your pain. We can start a new bitchtastic business together.
To read the rest of Lysa Cooper’s straight talk in Vogue Italia …