No, this post is not about self-promotion. Although you can book my services on my website, this is about an interesting business launched in the US, connecting private clients with a wide range of stylists specialised in different areas, from celebrity to menswear.
From left to right: Holly White, Christian Wood, Nicole Chavez, Tania Grier and Zadrian Smith
Like most people in the room, I was invited by the founder and CEO of Glamhive, Stephanie Sprangers, to attend the company’s first live event in London. Featuring an impressive line up of speakers and held at the elegant Bulgari hotel in Knightsbridge, it was a full day of inspiring talks and networking.
There was plenty of food and drinks, and an exciting goodie bag by Mary Kay cosmetics. Nonetheless, the most rewarding aspect of the day was hearing from people and their unique career journeys. And I have to start with the founder of Glamhive, who decided to launch her own business in 2013, after working in the tech industry.
Initially it was just an app where you could take a picture, and tag what you were wearing so that other people could buy it. Since then, she starting speaking with people about how they were actually making money, and realised style was the industry, developing the business into what it is today.
“You make a decision and then you just go for it, and keep following the bread crumbs like the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel.” Stephanie Sprangers
When she asked the audience who was there because of her invitation, most people raised their hand, and this really shows her determination to expand the business across the Atlantic. She gathered British celebrity stylists and the star of her network, LA based celebrity stylist, Nicole Chavez, to discuss ‘the London perspective’, about the distinctive style of this magnificent city.
Christian Wood, hair stylist to none other than Jessica Chastain, started his career twenty years ago, three of those working as an assistant, and was inspired by period dramas and the eccentric shows of Vivienne Westwood. Like other panellists, he considers being an assistant as the best way to learn before becoming an artist in your own right.
Celebrity stylist Holly White also started her career as an assistant, interestingly enough to Nicole Chavez, after studying fashion business and working in editorial. She emailed 30 stylists and Nicole was the only one who replied.
She flew out to LA without knowing anyone, and did whatever Nicole asked her to do with a smile on her face. “I just want to say, for the record, Holly was by far the best assistant I ever had”, said Nicole, which was a really sweet moment.
This panel was moderated by Zadrian Smith, also a celebrity stylist and part of the Diversity and Inclusion committee at the British Fashion Council. London style is generally perceived as cool. He said a lot of his American clients specifically request to work with London artists.
Celebrity makeup artist Tania Grier adds that a lot of actresses who are in London from the States want a relaxed vibe. They can spend two hours in hair and makeup and look like they have almost nothing on, very natural, and “this is something the UK is definitely known for.”
On the other hand, Nicole had a totally different way of seeing it. “When I think of British fashion, I find it traditional, more prim and proper. London is a traditional place and I’m really interested in that kind of stuff, as it seems so foreign to me.”
When talking about red carpet looks in London, it was interesting to hear about the struggles associated with the weather, and funny stories about learning curves. But the most profound of all was the pandemic, from embracing social media to connecting with followers in a deeper way, to simply appreciate being around one another.
“I love doing the red carpet, seeing them in a dressing gown and no makeup, and a couple of hours later, they look like a different person. I love that moment! It’s going to be a really fun summer!" Tania Grier
The audience was also given the opportunity to ask questions at the end. I asked what was the most challenging request they ever had from a client. I was thinking of an article I’ve prepared for a magazine a few years ago, on the personal styling service offered by department stores.
The then head of Harrods’ By Appointment’ service mentioned a few outrageous things, including decorating a whole jet in 24 hours. Surprisingly the question was met with humour, about writing a memoir that could turn into a movie or mini series.
This actually highlighted a crucial quality for a celebrity (and personal) stylist: discretion. “Relationships are very important, your clients need to feel safe with you” said Nicole, and Christian added that he would take some secrets to the grave.
But we did get a behind the scenes insight. “As a stylist, you’re competing for a handful of dresses and there are many actresses who all want the same piece, it’s hard to get what you want, and a lot of it is out on editorial, so you have to look at other designers to have more options”, said Nicole.
They are all excited about the Met Gala, which is coming up on the first Monday of May. This year, the theme is In America: An Anthology of Fashion, and the event’s official co-chars are Regina King, Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
From left to right: Colette Laxton, Ruby Hammer, Stephanie Sprangers and Kelsey Norris
Other Glamhive Live talks focused on the beauty industry with Ruby Hammer and Colette Laxton, who managed to capture everyone’s attention with their incredible perseverance and business journeys. There was also a panel about ‘growing your personal brand’ with top TikTokers and an agency insider.
A personal favourite was the discussion about the future of fashion with Nora Zukauskaite and Geraldine Wharry, moderated by Jack Eustace. Even though many in the audience felt slightly alienated, it was fascinating to hear all about the metaverse and the digital economy, dressing avatars and virtual worlds.
Nicole Chavez and Zadrian Smith returned to the stage for a last session on favourite red carpet looks, and the day ended with a cocktail, and just as it started, with networking. The initial off-putting pompous atmosphere was by then completely diluted into engaging conversations and people exchanging numbers. Hats off to you, Stephanie!