Stylist Janja Popovic: Surround Yourself With Other People Who Have Similar Values
“…surround yourself with other people who have similar values, goals and different knowledge with the fashion industry.”
Janja, tell us a little about yourself and how you did fall in love with the world of fashion? I consider myself as a creative enthusiast and during my free time I love to snowboard. After I graduated in Fashion and textile design I moved to London, where I am based now.
Since I was young I loved to skimmed through the fashion magazines but what really caught my attention were always fashion editorials, which I tear out and built my inspiration book full of fashion editorials.
I started to work as a stylist in my first year of University and few months after I started doing my first year I entered the competition Elle Slovenian stylist and I won. This gave me some kind of validation, also as the following year I won two other competition, Fashion girl by magazine Grazia, best styling for fashionbloger.si. Since then my interested into fashion and styling just grow.
All those achievements gave me further motivation and I make a constant effort to keep moving forwards and learn every day.
When I started to work as a fashion stylist I was very lucky to being surrounded by young designers, creative minds, so usually I borrowed some clothes from my schoolmates and this is how everything started.
What would you say is the greatest thing about working in the fashion industry? What is most rewarding? What I personally enjoy most is that every day is creative in its own way, every project is challenging and different and it is always a pleasure to meet other passionate creative individuals, as well. I love the dynamic, constant changes whether in terms of trends or new approach to design.
Regarding my work, the most rewarding is I suppose the positive feedback, happy, satisfied clients, when you see someone notice your work, publish your work in fashion magazine or when you simply inspire some other person.
In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception people not working in your field have about your job? I believe that there are still some people that don’t consider fashion as a serious business or job. In terms of working as a stylist, I think most of the people only see the final editorial so lovely photo in the magazine or styling on the runway, but they do not question its background. The truth is whether this is a ‘simple’ styling in an editorial, or ‘simple’ dress on a runway behind every project and photoshooting there is a big team of professionals, that work very hard, there is a lot of organization, good communication and patience needed. And of course constantly coming with new, fresh, unique ideas.
How would you describe your styling aesthetic, artistic vision or style? I do not have a certain rule to follow, styling aesthetic vary of client, customer/model body shape, fashion theme of a editorial, occasion and an overall mood. I find it interesting that with different styling you can create totally different character of a model and also with combining creativity and art transform simple everyday garments into the artistic photography.
I personally like to see garments in a not typically every-day form, but give them new approach, for example transforming plain t-shirt to skirt, scarf, hat, bag and so on. So we can conclude this is my artistic vision.
Do you remember your first proper job in the styling world? What was it? Yes, I distinctly remember. I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to prepare outfits for a department store Maxi for their big annual Christmas fashion show. I got this opportunity, as I won the competition Elle Slovenian stylist on the Phillips Fashion Week in Ljubljana and the company invited me to prepare the stylings for their runway show. Also, my winning outfits were part of a window display exhibition.
This was my first job as a stylist, and I still remember that moment of happiness when I passed the big department store and saw my outfits on the mannequin in the window display.
Describe please a typical day for you as a fashion stylist. What goes into your position? My days are very different, it also depends if I work as an assistant stylist or working on my own projects.
If I work as an assistant, I help to collect the clothes around the London and pull them out from variety of stores, or just buy certain garments and help that the photoshoot run smoothly.
When I work on my own project, I need to organize all photoshoot by myself, so find the right photographer, model, make-artist, finalize the whole mood and think about location of a photoshoot. I always start with the mood-board, so I create colour pallete and what kind of style I am going to use in the photoshoot. After that, I usually have a discussion with the photographer and make-up artist, especially if I never collaborated with them before, so just to clarify their abilities, views and overall, what are the possibilities to transform the ideas into reality.
Fashion can be a somewhat unforgiving industry with allot of egos, how do you deal with it? What challenges do you usually face as a stylist when working with models/clients? Everybody has their own way of expressing themselves and if somebody let their big personality takes it over than they should learn how to cope with it. I think people seem to have a vision that with a big ego you will forge your career in fashion, but usually this doesn’t really work that way. But I suppose with practice, work and experience you become more confident at what are you doing and learn how to keep your ego down and concentrate on what is really important.
But than on the other hand, where would we be without our big personality. Sometimes it is necessary to have it, so we can ‘survive’ in today’s competitive fashion world, after all, some of the crazies designs would probably never happen if people wouldn’t have big ego.
In your opinion, why is it important to have internships and work for other people? I think that if you want to work in fashion, there is no better way to get a real world experience than working as an intern. You can closely see what other professionals do, their way of thinking and basically use all the theoretical knowledge you gained at university in practice. Internship can also help you to build your network and of course meet other people within your field.
Internship can be very valuable experience and you can learn so much from it, as long as you are ready to take your own initiative. I did quite a lot of internships in different field of fashion as well, so I got better understanding of the whole fashion sector. I worked in a showroom, in a design studio, in retail and as a print designer. Working as an intern can make you humble in a good way and being surrounded by professionals in the fashion field help you to acquire a unique set of skills, open new avenues and overall grow as a person, as well.
What was the most exciting experience for you during your career? I had a lot of exciting moments so far during my career and every photoshoot or project is an experience for itself, challenging and excited. Otherwise, I guess the first most exciting moment and the beginning of my career was when I was accepted at university I wanted where everything started and I was able to develop my ideas further.
You are also a designer. Can you tell us more about your jewelry collection? What inspired you to start your own jewelry brand? I graduated in fashion and textile design and I was always very interested into styling as an integral whole. Therefore, I wanted to create some fashion piece that could complete the look, whether it is dress for the evening or simple t-shirt with the jeans during the day. My collection consist of far of earrings , which are easy to style and can quickly complete any kind of outfit. Every piece is handmade and unique. I wanted to start slowly to develop so I started with jewelry and we will see how it will develop in the future.
What are the key pieces every woman should have in their wardrobe for this spring? Long cardigan, slip dress, anklet, shoulder-bare top and keep in mind it is not what you wear it, but how you wear it.
What are your favorite pieces in your personal closet that you cannot live without? My perfectly fitted blazer, cozy jumper, jeans and big travel bag.
What are some of your favorite places to find budget buys? I love DIY, so if there is something in particular I have in my mind, I just make it by myself or use some of the tricks and buy apparel for less. A lot of people actually over look the power of social media today and what I mean by that, is that there are a lot of brands offering flash sales via social media and sharing promotional codes, so if I love some designer or brand I try to be aware of it, also when brands are developing a new collection they reduce the prices from previous season, therefore it is worth to buy some seasonal clothes you can wear for the following years. And vintage shops can be a great place too, to find a lot of designer clothes worn just once or neither that, so low budget cannot be the reason to not look stylish.
Who is your fashion inspiration? Is there a designer/fashion icon you particularly admire and why? I do not really have any particular designer or fashion icon I would be crazy about, because I believe each person is unique and can be inspiration to someone.
I find my inspiration around me in a lot of different details, whether this is a person or nature itself. I personally make a constant effort to keep moving forward and staying inspired, so I enjoy attending fashion exhibitions, art exhibitions, galleries, which allows me to keep being inspired and never run out of the ideas.
In terms of designer, I like many of them and every designer has something unique and inspiring. Some has an impressive patterns, silhouette of the garments, other colour palette, again other have different marketing strategy, business model, history. But I can say what is my favorite collection of all of time and this is Givenchy 2010/ 2011 Haute couture. That collection is just breathtaking. I admire every single piece from that collection.
Do you think you need to go and study styling before start doing it? Why ? I think it is always beneficial if you have a fashion background and knowledge about the textile as you can understand more how certain material, texture act on the body and how to combine certain colours, patterns and materials. Of course, there is no proper rule to follow, but education helps you to understand more about it. After you gain the knowledge you can interpret this in your own way.
There are a lot of people out there who have not taken the formal training, however I do believe education is a foundation of everything, but at the end of the day it is really up to you how ready are you to take your own initiative and learn by yourself.
From my point of view, studying fashion and textile design didn’t just though me the history of design and all about the construction of the patterns, but also how to be open-minded, critical thinking, problem-solving and self-motivated.
Is there any place in the world you haven’t been to yet but would like to visit from a professional perspective? Well there are many places in the world I am planning to visit, however from the professional perspective, I hope my next destinations are going to be Tokyo, New York, Sydney but I believe that every city, even if is very tiny and maybe not so known to a wide public it can be inspiring and offer a lot.
What advice would you give an up and coming fashion stylist? I would say the most important thing is starting to build your network as soon as possible, connect and surround yourself with other people who have similar values, goals and different knowledge with the fashion industry. Otherwise, staying focus, working hard, being passionate and knowing what you really want to achieve is always the key. Different people have different goals as a stylist, so find something that is unique for you and follow that.
In what ways have your blog and social media made an impact on your career and business? On my blog I share a lot of behind the scene photos and the process of making of, so it gives others some insight of my work, it is accessible to a broader audience, therefore more people can see my work and easily get in touch with me.
What’s the most important thing you want potential clients to know about you? Probably diversity of my style, knowledge and ability to staying focus and not get distracted easily. Also, I have a wide range of knowledge in terms of design, textile, style, graphic, digital world and I am trying to keep educating myself on a daily basis.
How do you spend your time when you’re not working? Keep working. I think in today’s fashion world it is very important to not stop or taking too big break because you can quickly felt out of the rhythm and than it is always harder to get back on track. So, even when I am not working, I am planning my following project, looking for new people to collaborate with, doing research on the trends, visiting art galleries and exhibitions that London has to offer. However, when I decide to not work at all, I love to snowboard, travel or just researching and visiting new hidden places in London and its surroundings.
Tell one fact about you that readers can find quite surprising. Everything can be surprising, it’s hard to say, different thing are surprising for different people.