Jill Rothstein (@jillrothstein) is New York City’s favourite children’s stylist. You may recognise her work from the SS17 Ladida lookbook or the recent Jr Style editorial Little Mama, among many other amazing projects! We had the chance to talk with Jill about her work, family, and working with kids.
JS: Explain for our readers what stylists actually do. What hard technical skills are involved and what soft?
JR: A stylist pulls clothes and accessories from designers, showrooms, and stores to help to create a vision for an editorial, lookbook, event, or for someone’s personal wardrobe. Often, stylists collaborate closely with photographers, hair and makeup artists, and prop stylists to fulfil the creative direction of a shoot or event. A stylist has to be incredibly resourceful both interpersonally, in order to curate the clothes and accessories, and with their kit. A stylist’s kit is their bag of tricks. It contains essential styling items like a clamps, pins, a steamer, sewing kit, and of course, double stick tape.
JS: What qualities does a stylist need in order to really be successful? Do you have any advice for people who want to break into the industry?
JR: A kids stylist needs to be good with children. More specifically, they need to know how to be respectful of kids, how to make sure that they feel important, and how to keep them happy even during down times during a shoot. Also, a stylist needs to be collaborative with the other members of the team, incredibly hard working, and endlessly curious. The more research a stylist does, the better. Be up on all of the trends, have relationships with designers and showrooms, and be best friends with Pinterest.
As for advice? Work harder than anyone. Make cold calls to photographers, showrooms, hair and makeup artists, and model agents. Check out other people’s work and find a stylist role model, even if you don’t know them personally. Don’t be competitive with other stylists. There is enough work to go around. I always say it takes 3 things to be successful: 1. Have a strong work ethic. 2. Be a person that other people love working with. And 3. Be talented. Be unique. Be creative.
JS: How did you get into styling? You have a background in social work, at what point did you decide to devote yourself to a creative line of work?
JR: As long as I can remember, I’ve always had a passion for two things: fashion and kids. I received my Master’s in Social Work in 2006 and worked with children with special needs. I loved my job, but I missed working in fashion. (I had owned a jewellery design company and had assisted as a stylist on and off for years.) When my kids were about 5 and 3, I had the idea to do a test shoot, styling my kids as the models. Luckily for me, my husband is an incredible photographer. I location scouted in Prospect Park and researched and found a showroom willing to let me pull for the shoot. I also shopped my kids’ own closets. I submitted the shoot to a children’s magazine and they accepted. I was hooked!
JS: Do your children let you style them still? Has the bug rubbed off on any of them or do they rebel?
JR: My kids don’t model. My son is into sports and music. My daughter is interested in acting and sewing. They are both interested in fashion, and we often talk about what it means to develop your own sense of style, and how to do it.
JS: Name your all time fave family vacation spot and why.
JR: Hmmm, favourite vacation spot…we love Turks and Caicos and we go every year. But I think my all-time favourite spot is Montauk. It’s so beautiful and laid back. It feels like the 1970’s to me out there. Very boho and easy. We typically stay at a hotel on the beach with no bells and whistles. Kind of like a camp bunk with a kitchenette and a bbq right outside. Whenever we are out there, I’m reminded of how little we need to be happy.
JS: What work(s) are you most proud of at this time.
JR: Honestly, I’m proud of all of my work! I love the nature of this business…I have an entirely new shoot to work on each time and I get to create something from scratch that is totally unique. Each shoot is my baby. I can’t pick favourites! Although the Little Mama shoot I did with Jr Style is everything!
JS: Current obsessions: music/magazines/tv/podcast/film?
JR: I’m always and forever obsessed with film director, Wes Anderson. You can typically find some of his influence in my work. His use of space, colour and symmetry is inspired. I also love photographer/director, Autumn DeWilde’s work.
JS: What do you love most about working in the kids’ fashion space? What is the biggest challenge? What is a professional goal you are working towards?
JR: I truly love working with kids. I have been around people who use them as props. Which is a mistake on many levels! Kids are natural geniuses. They have incredible ideas for creative direction, styling, and poses. I feel totally comfortable around kids and I hope they feel the same around me. The biggest challenge of being a kids stylist has nothing to do with the kids at all. It’s…the returns. Any stylist will tell you that returning the clothes and accessories to the showrooms and designers is the worst! Still, it’s worth it! As far as my professional goals, I’m open. I love to be a part of the entire process from beginning to end. The shoots I’m most invested in are the ones where I help to cast the models, scout locations and develop the overall art direction.
Be sure to follow along with Jill Rothstein on Instagram @jillrothstein
For bookings, contact: www.thewallgroup.com
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Images from Jill Rothstein.