"Stick out your tongue. I want to see if it's blue" This is what Mary Catherine Muir, of Contrary Mary Styling, said to me after feeding me my first ever blue-velvet cupcake. So there, sitting in the back seat of an NYC cab, riding through downtown Brooklyn on a Friday evening, my tongue slipped out from behind my beaming smile. I was sticking out my (blue) tongue at one of the most brilliant New York stylist contemporaries. We burst into ridiculous laughter, and I felt in that moment how happy I am. Right now. Right here.
It all began last Sunday night when I was cc'd on an email to Mary from the wonderful Andrew Ondrejcak, an acclaimed fashion editorial set designer I assisted a couple months ago, with a glowing recommendation. Now to fully understand the situation, I have to back up a few months...
I originally contacted Andrew back in December of 2010, and went without hearing a response until February 2011 - at which point he simply said 'Hey, let's try this out. Why don't you come second-assist on a shoot. Oh, and it's not paid." To which I replied, "Where do I sign up?!?". I had never done anything like this before, I wasn't even all that interested in set design, but I wasn't going to pass up an opportunity to learn - especially not when I could be surrounded by the designs of Miu Miu and Alexander McQueen ;)
So to summarize, it went well. As in really well. Better than I could have expected. And the feedback mainly credited this to my unnaturally relaxed state amidst the chaos (I'm still not sure how I played it so cool!), and my willingness to do whatever it took to get the job done. As it turned out, I was called back within the week.
And that brings us to last Sunday. Once again, I had never before done something like what was being asked of me. But I did it. And I did it with confidence, dedication, and a willingness to learn. The pay off was working through beautiful story boards for a commercial shoot, sourcing Louboutin and Dior, working backstage at a Neiman Marcus shoot, and sharing cupcakes in the back of a taxi with one of the most beautiful souls I have ever met.
So here's what I'm getting to (I swear I have a point in all of this). Skill is awesome. Talent is priceless. But attitude is EVERYTHING. I know, because when my game's been off, it has often resulted in dead ends and slammed doors. But when I've been comfortable in my skin and resourced a joy and energy from within, more often than not the result has been pretty fantastic. Now I'm not saying outside factors aren't, well, a factor, but if you check your pride (the bad kind) at the door, you'll go much further... carrying you closer and closer to what truly makes you happy. And I've learned it's kind of an uninterrupted cycle: happiness breeds happiness. Whatever that is for you.
The second lesson I've learned through all of this is to be patient. Wait for the right timing and the right opportunity... that perfect fit. Because it WILL come, and when it does you'll want to be both available and prepared.
And one final note to all you fashionistas and aspiring stylists out there: ALWAYS bring a wrestling mask along with you to a shoot (this comes in real handy as protection whenever the high-powered fans are turned on). And most importantly, remember to wear it around in front of all the big wigs in the business - just for fun! This is a sworn secret of Mary herself :)
Finally, if you made it through this horrendously wordy post, treat your eyes to the artistry that is Mary Catherine Muir.