Hi, my name is Lauren Di Bartolo and I am the founder of Australian Style Institute and I’m so grateful that we can connect like this. I’ve been lucky enough to be a stylist for over 15 years now and I’ve seen so many exciting changes in our industry, and so many success stories come out of Australian Style Institute. But I know that when I began, my fashion story wasn’t your usual one. I knew that I loved helping people to feel great, that I loved putting looks together and I certainly didn’t have a traditional fashion design talent. And I think that’s important to say; there are so many different pathways in fashion and there are so many ways that you can get to the outcome that you want. And for me, that really was about helping people to look and feel their best.
So I get asked questions all of the time. Often, they’re questions that I had when I began that I didn’t have anyone I could ask. I had to track mentors down across the world trying to get insights into, not only how to get started, but how to really make this a career. So I’m so glad that I’ve had these questions submitted to me and I’m looking forward to answering them here.
Q1: I love fashion but what other qualities does it take to become a professional stylist?
Lauren: Being a professional stylist is about more than having a great eye for fashion. While that’s important, it really is only one part of what makes up a successful personal stylist and stylist in general. Yes, understanding what trends are about, what accessories you love and what you want to dress a client in is important, but equally as important is curiosity to really understand the person that we’re working with and the brief that’s at hand. And also empathy – I think that’s something that gets very overlooked. But if you think about the heart of what we do as stylists, we are working with people. Whether that’s a model on their first photoshoot or whether that’s a client who’s undergone real transformation and change. We could be working with someone who is in a body shape that they’re just not used to. So if we turn up with empathy and real understanding then we’re always going to achieve a more successful outcome. Those qualities are going to be equally matched in helping you to achieve success in your business and in your career, not just with creative briefs.
Q2: What are the notable changes you’ve seen in the industry? And what do you predict is to come?
Lauren: Our industry has seen huge changes and that’s for a few reasons. We’re a young industry that has seen huge growth and with that new opportunities. We’ve seen our students be published in publications across the world even from photoshoots that are captured here in Australia. However, there’s also been a pandemic (2020) and with that has come a need for creativity and creative thinking. We’ve seen our students consult virtually to their clients whether that be organisations or individuals. And we’ve also seen photoshoots happen remotely. Essentially, I’m really grateful to be in an industry that can evolve and more now than ever, our presence in the digital space and our ability to work and collaborate alongside other creative influences and publications online is exactly where it’s at. And that’s really exciting!
Q3: I’m a Mum and I lead a busy life. Do you think a career in styling is right for me?
Lauren: The answer is yes. The truth is that there’s never going to be a perfect time. In fact, one of my first students ever, this is going back 10 years ago, was a busy mum. She’d actually been a client of mine and said, “Lauren, you’ve completely changed my confidence in my life. And this is something I want to do for other people.” She had always loved fashion and accessories but her biggest obstacle was how does she fit that in with being a mum and also working full-time. I made a commitment to her that I would create a course that had the flexibility so she could get started to really live her dream and begin a career based on passion and love. And so for that reason, the flexibility and the course structure was really established. Interestingly though, she also achieved an incredible success which also set a precedent that if she could do it, even as a busy mum, then anybody could.
Q4: What’s the education experience like for international students who don’t live in Australia?
Lauren: We have students in over 15 countries, which means that you can learn anywhere, anytime. And you’re able to do that because our course is also delivered across an online platform and our online resource library, meaning that you can access resources on demand anywhere. The other benefit of that though is that you’re actually part of a global community and as a creative and a style maker, this matters. In our private Facebook Group, our students share ideas, observations, fashion trends and different resources that they’ve come across. Something that is not only important creatively but another factor that gives you a professional edge in the styling industry.
Q5: How do I choose which course is right for me?
Lauren: Some students know where they’re headed when they join our course and others really have no idea; only that they want to get started in styling and see where it takes them. We have three courses which take you in quite different directions. Our Certificate is all about personal styling one-on-one and in-store styling. Our Advanced course really, is all about editorial, image making and you’ll collaborate with photographers, makeup artists, and creative teams. And in our Masters, well, we get you to be a leader in the industry, meaning that not only will you refine your own brand but have the skills to be able to work with organisations, professionals and really help them to put their best brand forward. In the beginning, it really is about taking the first step. And of course, a chat with one of our team will help to point you in the right direction but you can get started with one course and progress into another. The most important thing is that we help you to begin and get the dream underway.
Q6: My dream is to make a career change from corporate to creative styling, but my fear is starting fresh and knowing how to get the work. What’s your advice?
Lauren: Having a fear of not getting work after your studies is completely normal. Especially, if you’ve done a course before that hasn’t worked out exactly as you thought. I know I did a lot of those. The difference is that we provide you with not only the system and the structure to be able to really cultivate your skills to a point where you’re very industry ready, but also the secret ingredient is that you’re backed up with more mentoring and support than you could ever imagine. As stylists, we come up with creative ideas at all sorts of times. So it’s so important for us that you can access content on-demand when you need it, that’s anywhere, anytime. And that’s why all of our course content sits online where we have conversations like this. You and I and our other facilitators and experts where we’re taking you through step-by-step everything you need to know.
The beauty of that of course, is that you can listen back to resources whenever you need. You can press pause, rewind and really start to feel that the language, the strategy and really the whole process of styling is not just something that you’ve learned, but something that you can feel within you is yours. That’s going to make the biggest difference. And on top of that, the commercial focus that we have at ASI that’s really about equipping you with opportunities and introductions that are going to help you to get a headstart. In fact, we have our own agency here which places work for our students. Essentially, your success is our success, which is why you have unlimited mentoring and unlimited support to be able to get you to exactly where you need to be. In my opinion, it’s the only way that we can ensure that your success is guaranteed.
Q7: Online learning is better suited to my lifestyle, but will it still give me the same experience?
Lauren: I’m sure you’d agree we’re busier than ever. So in order for us to start something that we’re passionate about or better ourselves, it has to fit in within our busy lifestyle. That’s why our online course has been designed to create a learning experience for you which is just as if you were in the classroom with us. It means that there’s videos where just like I’m here chatting with you now, I take you through step-by-step the styling process as do our facilitators and industry experts. It means that you can learn on demand anywhere, anytime but really have the confidence that you’ve got someone that is there, giving you a private tutorial, sharing everything that you know. We bring together decades and decades of knowledge which really ensures that you’ve got someone on your team all the time.
Q8: I’ve heard that a standout for your students is learning The Psychology of Style. Can you tell me a bit more about this?
Lauren: There’s a common theme among our students. You could call it a “like-mindedness” that attracts them to ASI and to our courses. And that’s not just their love of fashion but a genuine curiosity for people and what we call The Behaviour of Style. In fact, a big portion of our courses are actually based on the psychology of why we buy the things we buy and why we dress the way we dress. Why does that even matter? Well, I realized early on in my styling career that I could know as much as I could about fashion and the technicalities of styling, but if I didn’t understand what was really going on in the minds of my clients, then I really couldn’t help them at all. I learned very quickly that there’s a series of strategies that we run as humans and rules that we keep that determine whether we can or can’t wear something; whether we’ll actually change before we walk out the door in the morning or whether we’re really confident in what we’re wearing and what we have on. It’s in that psychology that we uncover so much of the most important information that helps us to deliver on a brief, every single time.
I’ve been really fortunate to have clients from around the world and when they’re investing their time, their money and their energy in us, we need to know that we can deliver. And as creatives in a creative process, sometimes it’s challenging to know that we’ll absolutely land that. So it’s a combination of two things. It’s not only the strategy that we apply but the psychology and the human behaviour understanding that we always implement, that ensures that we can deliver every single time. Not only that, it means that our clients really feel that we get them. They say, “it’s like you read my mind.” And when we hit that space, we know that we are going to create an experience that not only will they remember but an experience that really is transformational. That’s the kind of level that you want your styling to be at. Because that means that you’ll be able to, with that kind of curiosity and human behaviour understanding, dress anyone of any shape, size, age, budget in any season, anywhere in the world. And that’s going to ensure your success.
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Here’s to your styling success.