Interview: Olivia Rodrigues, Fashion Stylist

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By: Nina Ferreyra | Photo Credit: Brittanny Taylor Photography

I am so thrilled to bring you this interview with Olivia Rodrigues! Olivia Rodrigues is a Providence-based stylist that helps her clients go through personal transformations by falling in love with their wardrobes. She has been featured in Marie Claire, Fox Providence, and The Rhode Show. 

Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do?

I am originally from the Cape Verde islands, and I was born and raised in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. I am a wardrobe stylist, living in Providence (Rhode Island) with my family of 4 (dog included). I work with professionals who are ready to transition into a new phase, and want to look and feel phenomenal. Owning your style and looking good in it can produce a trifecta of emotional, mental and physical boosters, which in turn, can leverage the self-confidence necessary to make the leap. Additionally, as a style consultant, I partner with companies and freelance photographers to bring photoshoot art direction to life for editorial spreads and look books. Through all aspects of my styling business I get to meet truly fantastic people!

How did you get your start as a stylist? Or when did you know you wanted to become a stylist?

My mother’s personal style has been a great source of inspiration, and has influenced my own fashion tendencies from a very early age. I learned the art of dressing from her. I rarely felt intimidated or overwhelmed by fashion. When it comes to going through racks of clothes my patience is truly extraordinaire (ask my sisters). And that’s the thrill – I love to find and put things together that someone may not have thought of before.

When I became pregnant, I saw my hobby as a wonderful opportunity to blog about my maternity style and comfort, and to share shopping tips. It was after my son was born that something else hit me: I wanted to do more than blogging. It had become my creative outlet, but I was itching to explore my passion for style a little deeper. So I enlisted in Personal Stylist Jill Marinelli’s training program to gain a better understanding of the various body types, and what is involved in running a personal stylist business itself. Getting all my ducks in a row was very important to me.

I started to network a lot more, and just beginning to get involved with The Lady Project (Providence Chapter) when I was asked to style a photoshoot for their Summer Gift Guide. It was my first photoshoot – and did I think twice at the moment? No. I said ‘Yes’ to the job and figured it out later. (It’s been 3 years since my business launch, and I recently organized the 5th Lady Project Gift Guide editorial spread with my close friend and photographer Brittanny Taylor).

To be frank, a new career sprung from having this burning desire to help people, particularly women, with their personal style, and professional image; and redefine their experience as consumers of fashion. As a style consultant, I get to collaborate with businesses, and designers, and work on fashion spreads. The day I decided to follow my creative instincts and my bliss fully, is the day I started to embody the stylist in me and what makes me authentic.

Who are some of the biggest companies you’ve worked with?

My clients so far have been mainly designers, shops and boutiques located in New England.

Which project did you have the most fun on?

Very hard to pinpoint a particular project because they all bring joy. I get a sense of fulfillment after working on a photoshoot, and luckily I have been able to collaborate with really cool people. A few months ago I had the opportunity to work with photographer and friend, Cat Laine, model and former Miss Rhode Island Christina Palavra, Lulu Locks and Brandon Ward of Suite Tart. It felt like playing dress up! We were practically shooting in a studio that is adjacent to Lulu Locks’ beauty salon, therefore everything was at close reach. It was a lot of fun accessorizing the ensembles with gorgeous vintage pieces, curated by Lulu Locks, which was a stylist dream! The options were endless in terms of creating different looks.

It never feels like work to me, and the talent in Rhode Island is unbelievable. Recently I’ve launched a FB live series called “Style Stops with Olivia Rodrigues” where I interview designers and shop owners, and showcase their studios/shops, their aesthetic and style – and pretty much talk about the chicest item(s) to wear at the moment. For the first videos, people from various places, including Hawaii, were tuned in and engaging. That had never happened before! It is such an exciting project because of the connections being made and what a privilege to be able to feature unique places and designs.

What do you typically do when you work with someone or a company?

My experience with clients differs every time. The needs are different. The feel is different. The context and concept are different. However, the process and end result should be thrilling and exciting and that’s usually the primary goal. A boutique may hire me to style their lookbook for the upcoming season, so there will be a few meetings where we brainstorm the theme, create board inspos, plan photoshoot and gather the team (photographer, models, hair and makeup). Prior to the photoshoot, I will pull pieces and create combinations, schedule fitting session with models etc…It’s about getting all those parts ready to ensure that things will go seamlessly. And they rarely do, LOL, but it’s advanced preparation that will soften the blow of any impending chaos.

What tips do you have for someone who wants to become a stylist?

Start today. Whether it’s sending an introduction email to someone who has been in the industry for a while, and could provide some guidance. And/or styling your family and friends, and investing in a great photographer to capture it and start building your portfolio.

Utilize platforms like Tumblr and Instagram to your advantage to display your work and showcase what makes you unique. Start positioning yourself and be serious about it. You won’t have everything figured out at first, but taking small steps will get you there! Also, there are great online programs that will coach you to become an expert in personal style and in business, if you truly want to get a sound foundation.

What tips do you have for someone who wants to update their wardrobe?

Dressing for your body type is essential in terms of enhancing one’s personal style. The more you know about what works, the more confident you become, and the more defined your signature style gets. To me personal style is a journey, rather than a means to an end. We all go through different phases of growth in life; and our taste and preferences most often evolve along the way. I want to know where she is now. Questions I like to ask my clients during our first consultation range from the type of color/pattern/prints she is attracted to – for example, maybe it’s the color red, or a men’s watch, or vintage pieces. Also understanding her daily routine and current lifestyle is important and becomes relevant for the looks/style we are working to achieve.  Someone who may not think she has one can begin with paying attention to those details. Perhaps it’s going for that animal print purse you pinned on your Pinterest board or that locally-made statement necklace you can’t stop thinking about. Small steps is all it takes.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

A close friend once told me, “Regardless of everything (good or bad) that’s happening in your personal life, remember to always go back to what brings you fulfilment and joy, which is your business. Nurture it, rather than neglect, especially when things feel low.”

What are your favorite fashion brands?

Aargh, not fair. I have way too many because I dabble everywhere, given that my own personal style is a mix of vintage and bohemian, with a contemporary and edgy twist. I love Zuvaa, Lisa Says Gah, Ann Taylor, Free People, Americana Darlings, House of Harlow 1960, Kent Stetson, Asos, H&M, Aldo, seriously the list goes on…

Outfit Details

Outfit 1: Dress from Shoppe Pioneer, Shoes from Zara, Hat from Topshop

Outfit 2: Off-the-shoulder top from Feminine Fancies, black high waist jeans from Calico, Sandals from Aldo, Earrings from Above/Below Jewelry

Comment below! What’s one thing you loved about or learned from this interview?

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Nina Ferreyra