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A Day In The Life… Of An LA Stylist

Spend a day in the life of Emily McDonald, the founder of Stylist LA.

In A Day In The Life… we interview people both in and out of the fashion industry to see what a day in their shoes is like. Today’s interview is with Emily McDonald, the #girlboss founder of Stylist LA. 

The Stylist LA is a designer dress borrowing service founded in 2009 by fashion entrepreneur, Emily McDonald.

Read on to learn how McDonald dreamed up the idea for her successful business and get some advice on what it takes to work in the fashion industry!

How did you think of the concept for The Stylist LA?

When I was in college at USC I was in a sorority and saw how often girls wanted a new dress for every event they attended. They didn’t want to pay for an expensive dress for each occasion and they were tired of shopping at Forever 21. At the same time, I was interning at a PR firm and I saw how celebrity stylists basically “checked out clothes” for their celebrity clients. I thought, why can’t the everyday girl do this?

What is your favorite part of your job?

Witnessing our clients when they find a dress that they feel amazing in. It truly is a magical moment. Still til this day I get goosebumps when a girl finds the perfect dress.

When did you first know you wanted to work in fashion?

I’ve wanted to work in fashion for as long as I can remember. Seriously, as a kid I had a sketchbook where I would paste down torn out outfits from magazines and as a teenager I was reading entrepreneur books on how to open your own clothing store. I think my interest in fashion really began when I was a kid and somehow ended up in the cocktail dress section of Saks 5th Avenue. I’ve been falling in love with clothes ever since..

Who are some of your mentors?

I have a few and always am looking for more. One of my mentors is an old professor of mine from USC, one is a female, small business owner in LA that I met at a networking event, one is one of the most creative people I have ever met (we met via twitter!) and another is a family friend who’s business brain has always amazed me.

What are some of your goals?

Ah there are a lot. I have yearly goals for myself and the company. For The Stylist LA my main goal at the moment is to expand our reach. I want more girls to experience renting with The Stylist LA and for them to have access to the brands that we carry without having to purchase the dress. Our clients are our friends, our family, our tribe. I want to keep growing and serving that tribe.

For myself, I always am trying to get out of my comfort zone. I am drawn to doing things that make me feel uncomfortable because I know that is where growth happens. I want to grow so much each year that I look back on things we did last year and can’t believe how much better my work has gotten. Another goal I always have is to try and get as many “Nos” as possible each month. This means that I go for things that I normally wouldn’t, I ask for things that I think I won’t get.  You would be surprised how many yes-es I get while trying to rack up these Nos. A mentor of mine taught me this trick and I love it.  It’s gotten me a lot of things in my career that I didn’t think I would get.

Would you ever create your own clothing line?

Yes definitely. Stay tuned. There is more coming soon on this one!

Who are some of your style icons?

Rachel Zoe hands down. I love her effortless vibe. I have also always loved Miroslava Duma’s style.

What advice do you have for people pursuing a career in fashion?

Get ready to work your butt off! Get as many internships/part time jobs/volunteer opportunities as you can. The more you can learn about different aspects of the industry the better. I also suggest reading fashion websites like The Business of Fashion and Style.com. Stay as informed as you can about the industry all the while trying to gain new knowledge that will propel you ahead of those you will competing for jobs with.

What advice do you have for recent college graduates trying to break into the fashion industry?

Same as above. Reach out to people who you admire/who’s jobs you think are cool. Ask them out to have coffee. Pick their brains and learn from them. Network and learn from as many people as you possibly can. Then use that network to get an entry level job and never stop working your butt off. In the fashion industry, hard work and perseverance go a long way. People will notice if you are always willing to do the tough stuff and help out with whatever needs to get done.

What is one piece of clothing you think every woman should own?

A go-to dress that you feel like a million bucks in.

What are some of your favorite clothing brands?

Totally depends on what item of clothing!

My go to jean shorts (basically my uniform): Wildfox

Button Down Tops: Equipment

Rompers and casual dresses: The Jet Set Diaries

Dressier Dresses: Karina Grimaldi

What is your favorite fashion blog?

The Business of Fashion & The Coveteur

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most  time with. If you’re the smartest person in the room, leave (unless you are there to teach!) You learn so much from the people you surround yourself with, so make sure you surround yourself with people you admire and want to learn from.

What did you take away from this awesome interview? Let us know in the comments below!

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