Welcome back to another segment of Glamniac’s Life of…series. Today’s person of interest is Leslie Arnelle. As one of the most popular trendsetters in the Washington, DC-area, the Wardrobe Stylist-Photographer-Boutique Owner has worked with NBC, MTV, and Fox affiliates in perfecting the complexion of male and female clients. When she’s not working with makeup palettes, she’s volunteering with Bread for the City, a non-profit initiative that supports abused and disadvantaged populations.
Like many other enterprising wardrobe stylists, she’s delving in other avenues. There’s the Leslie Arnelle boutique which sells trendy fashions to fashionistas who want to know what’s the newest thing is…yesterday! There’s the Leslie Arnelle newsletter, that the style conscious quickly sign up for. They all want to know what Leslie Arnelle knows.
Here she is, discussing her work.
Glamniac: How did you get started in fashion styling?
I knew since I was in elementary school that I wanted to be in the entertainment industry. I grew up with a mom who loved glamorous people such as Diana Ross and who watched shows like Dallas where everyone seemed to be fabulous. I guess in some sense I thought if I too were glamorous I would make her happy. So on the journey of trying to make my mom happy I discovered that I was multi-talented and believe it or not that was also my downfall. I wasted too many years trying to figure out which talent to use. The more I tried to limit myself to one talent the longer it took for me to step out on faith and be who I am today. Although I am nowhere near what I believe for myself, I do believe that I am on the right path. So to answer your question, after fighting myself for so many years, I stepped out on faith. I went downtown here in DC and registered my business and from there everything just started falling into place. I had no guidance and no help from anyone that I reached out to, so I decided Leslie Arnelle would be all my talents rolled into one.
Glamniac: On a typical Monday, what goes into running Leslie Arnelle?
Now after many years of mistakes I’ve learned to be more organized. Mondays entail [everything from] bookkeeping to making cold calls to possible clients.
Glamniac: One of the things that fashion stylists say time after time is that one does not have to have a lot of money to have a decent wardrobe. Do you share that philosophy?
A wise closet entails key pieces and statement shoes and accessories. You can wear the same outfit for one week straight without anyone noticing if you have key statement shoes and accessories.
Glamniac: You run an online fashion boutique as well. How do you balance the demands that come with both?
I have a vision board that breaks down my entire schedule as a photographer, stylist and boutique owner. It was never in my DNA to be talented at just one thing. If ever I am limited ,I am not being true to myself.
Glamniac: What would you say to a newbie who’s pondering on building multiple beauty brands, as you’ve done?
My advice is to first believe in yourself. Second, have a plan—and third—be humble because you will get rejected more than accepted in the beginning.
Glamniac: Some think of fashion as being a shallow industry. But plenty of beauty industry people such as yourself prove otherwise. You work with a non-profit, Bread for the City. Tell me more about that.
I light up whenever I hear the name Bread for the City. I was at my lowest when I found Bread for the City. Bread helped me feed my children at a critical point when I had no money for groceries and for that very reason I feel as if I owe them for a lifetime. When I got to a place in my life where I knew I would be able to commit to an idea I had to give back to this wonderful organization, I pitched an idea and Bread loved it. Now in the NW and SE location the Leslie Arnelle “Live Well . Live Fabulous” Giveaway takes place every month once a month for 6 years now. The giveaway simply gives a fabulous gift card to one lucky person in each location every month. The giveaway was created to simply give hope to the people in their program. A reward for not giving up and to experience delicious eats and treats that they never have thought they would experience.
Glamniac: That’s really awesome. TJ Maxx, MTV, NBC, and Fox are all on your client list. How can those starting out build such an impressive list of clients?
I too wondered how do people get on TV and get invited to exclusive fashion events. I will say this again no one wanted to help me. Maybe they saw a threat or maybe they simply did not want to help. My advice is first get a website and business cards. Watch the credits of movies and your favorite shows and call the studio of where the film or show takes place and ask until you get the information of the right person and you go from there. Last, find an upcoming photographer and a model and create a portfolio of your work. From there, you can be very successful as long as you continue to perfect your craft and remain professional.
Glamniac: What are some of your favorite brands?
I love Tom Ford, Calvin Klein, Miu Miu, Prada, Eli Saab and the list goes on.
Glamniac: What do you like about them?
What my favorite brands all have in common are great structure and craftsmanship to their label.
Glamniac: How do you stay current on all aspects of the field?
I’m always on the blogs. I follow fashion bloggers, watch shows regarding fashion and I subscribe to a few fashion mags.
Glamniac: Have you made some errors towards the beginning of your career?
Wow, in the beginning I was all over the place. As I’ve said before being multi-talented can work for or against you. I almost ended Leslie Arnelle many of times because I simply lacked direction.
Glamniac: How did you deal with them?
Today, I’m finding success because I’ve earned that every single one of my talents work hand in hand. For example, when I shoot a model my styling and items from Leslie Arnelle are used. It’s nothing like figuring out your purpose. I would not be the brand that I’m growing into without the mistakes and disappointments.
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