On quitting her job… I decided to quit because I didn’t want to spend another Christmas in retail. When I was a teacher, although I didn’t enjoy it, I thought I was doing something good. I was trying to make the children I was teaching see the world in a different way, helping them be more creative and broaden their views. But with the visual merchandising job it had no higher meaning so it felt empty. It was just to make money, and there was so much repetition. I’d know when to do the valentines window, the mother’s day window, Autumn Window, Christmas window and so on in this loop. I made a promise to myself in Christmas 2017 that this would be the last Christmas I would work in retail. I quit in August last year and just went for it! Thankfully I have a very supportive partner; she said ‘go for it and we’ll figure it out’. Sometimes you need to let things go so you have space to let other things in.
On creativity… Gosh, defining creativity is a hard one, but I believe it’s a form of self-expression. The most exciting part of my art classes was when the teacher would give me a brief; I would spend hours on it, sometimes I wouldn’t sleep. Creativity is problem solving and making things happen and expressing the ideas you have in your head.
I do believe everyone is creative, oh my god yes. People think being creative is just grabbing a canvas and painting or drawing something out of your head. It doesn’t just have to be that; it can be finding a way to solve a problem. So I would say there is some creativity in everyone. You don’t need to be an artist to be creative. Social media can add a lot of pressure, especially when you see people seemingly being more creative or working harder than you. But after a while you notice that there isn’t a lot of individuality to social media, it’s just people copying or trying to be like everyone else.
On Edinburgh… There is so much I like about Edinburgh; the people are always nice, polite and non-judgemental and there is a lot more diversity than where I come from. The food and coffee shop scene is amazing, there are so many cool and delicious places to visit. My favourite season is Autumn; I don’t think I’ve seen so many different shades of orange before. The city is really beautiful, cosy and for the most part safe.
Advice… I just think it’s important to follow your gut and do what makes you happy. Even if you don’t think you’re good at something, just keep doing and you eventually get there.
Andreia; a fashion stylist and creative advisor, originally from Madeira, now based in Scotland.
On her career… I did a Fine Art degree. However, thinking back, I wonder if I should have studied design because I like structure and clean lines; I did Fine Art because my original idea was to work in restoration cleaning old paintings. But my teacher said it would be really boring and that I wasn’t the most patient. So I decided to become an art teacher, which I did for four years with middle school kids (ages 12-15). It was hard; I feel I was maybe too laid back because as a teacher you have to be serious and authoritative and I’m not a serious person.
I then came to Edinburgh because my partner was offered a job at Rockstar Games in the code department, so I followed her here. I found a job in visual merchandising, and at first I enjoyed it because it was interesting, creative, exciting and I was learning a lot. But after about 2 years it felt like I’d done everything. I got into styling because I used to dress the window displays as part of my job and my managers gave me freedom with that. It allowed me to be a bit more creative and I thought maybe this is what I need to do, maybe I’m good at this. It wasn’t long after this that I discovered Crew Scotland (agency); I would spend my afternoons searching for something more than I was doing in my job. I reached out to Crew Scotland in October, and then the following April I got my first email from a photographer asking me if I wanted to help her style a shoot. I couldn’t believe it, I was so excited and worried thinking whether or not I could do it. But I was desperate for something more, so I worked on the ‘shoot and it was amazing. I couldn’t get over the fact that this was someone’s job; it was so cool. And that’s how I started, I kept working with that photographer, she asked me to do another ‘shoot and another and I just kept going.
On influences… My Mum is a tailor and my Grandma was a tailor. My Mum learned everything from my Grandma, who was amazing; she was the most stylish old lady you could find. She would not leave the house without her red nail polish, and she would love to die her hair and constantly wore it in a bob. No white hairs in sight. She loved hair bands and big clip-on earrings; she was a diva. She was fabulous.
I grew up with my Mum making clothes for other people. She would use me as a mannequin to cut clothes and test outfits. We have this event in Madeira called Carnival, where you dress up, it’s like Halloween and my Mum loved that. Every year she would make a different costume and we would plan them together. My little sister is younger than me – almost 17 – and when she was little she was my mannequin too; I used to dress her and clip things in her hair. Every year Carnival happened my Mum and I would plan what we were going to dress my sister as. I remember seeing Atonement with Kiera Knightly, and there was an old fashioned nurse with a red cape, so we decided that’s what my sister was going to be. She was maybe 2 or 3 years old at the time, and my Mum designed and made the outfit with every detail. The nurse’s cape was red with blue and so that’s what my sister had too; she looked amazing.
On fashion… I wonder, sometimes, if fashion is a bit shallow. I recently watched the McQueen documentary and you can see that he was passionate, he was full of ideas and with each of his catwalk shows he was trying to deliver a message. His last show was especially amazing. But, I’m now at the point in my career where I’m asking myself where I want I want to specifically do and where I want to go. Do I just want to do beautiful editorials, or something more? I worry about how I might sustain this career.
What I liked when I was growing up was when my Mum used to dress and work on clothing for bigger women. Clothes didn’t fit as well as they did on skinnier women, so Mum would make the clothes fit curvier bodies. It was so nice to see because their faces would change when the clothes fit better. They get more confident. I love that. But what I’m discovering is that fashion isn’t inclusive. Even I find myself on set wondering if the clothes would look good on the models, and in the photos, who weren’t as tall. Why am I thinking like this? I believe it comes from the industry, specific people who create these views that are then widespread.
When I first started I was excited to create images for my portfolio, but now I don’t just want to be the person who is good at styling; I want to do something more. I want to work with more sustainable brands, and explore that. My style is minimal, and I want to navigate towards this sustainable way of fashion.
On imposture syndrome… There are so many amazing stylists out there, I find the comparison on social media hard to handle. Imposter syndrome certainly affects me more than I ever thought it would. I wonder if what I’m doing is new or different.