The stylist offers up her personal tips on how to switch from a stable accounting career to build up your name as a successful stylist in China.
Looking at Lulu Zhou with her hard to miss, bleach blonde pixie cut and visually strong, punchy portfolio, it would be hard to guess she’s still a relatively young stylist. In 2014 having worked for a few years in a stable job as an accountant she realised she wanted to do something more inspiring, albeit less predictable.
So she quit her job and applied to Shanghai’s Donghua University to take a 7-month long fashion design programme. Although Lulu didn’t know what she wanted to do next, plus her friends and family were less than supportive about her ‘irresponsible’ choice (Chinese culture has always been about safe bet careers), she decided she needed to explore her personal interest. While studying her teacher suggested she try her hand at styling due to her strong sense of colour, shapes and shadow play.
After her graduation she approached locally famous expatriate lifestyle publications including SmartShanghai and City Weekend to build her real world portfolio and skills in event photography, makeup and styling taking any work she could, paid or unpaid. Lulu spent about a year getting her foot in the door before she began to exclusively focus on fashion styling in 2015.
Since then she has established herself under the name EyeLoveLu and worked as an in-house stylist for Chinese fast fashion brand Metersbonwe and has collaborated with major names including adidas Originals, New Balance, Singaporean footwear and accessories brand Charles & Keith and need to know independent designer label C.J. Yao.
Here’s her tips on how to switch careers and build up your name as a stylist in China.
1) Look for different ways to learn
A lot of China’s styling is influenced by western style concepts, by taking on a variety of fashion styling projects EyeLoveLu was able to expand her knowledge of different decades and iconic style references. In the autumn she will attend the Condé Nast Center of Fashion & Design on a merit based scholarship to study fashion styling to further hone her skills.
2) Develop a focus
At first EyeLoveLu tried makeup and photography to get her foot in the door, but she soon realised she wanted to focus on fashion styling so she would be known as a stylist and could prioritise her time.
3) Look for a platform
After freelancing for smaller publications EyeLoveLu joined Chinese fast fashion brand Metersbonwe as a stylist where she could see and be involved in the whole visual process from planning, pre-production to post production and marketing providing her with a broader industry view of look books and campaign imagery.
4) Evaluate opportunities
Commercial work in China needs to be considered for its ability to build connections and its return on time invested. The right clients and projects can often provide more opportunities for the future.
5) Invest your time in developing your talent
Although China has a business reputation of being based on ‘guanxi’ connections, since fashion styling is evaluated on your ability to deliver relevant visuals, stylists need to really invest in building a strong portfolio backed up by a broad knowledge of the arts, historic references, political movements and other macro influencers that define current style to ensure things look right. Get ready to become a voracious lifelong learner.
You can add EyeLoveLu on Instagram here or follow her public account on WeChat: EyeLoveLu
Like this? Read How Natali D built a successful styling business in Shanghai. Follow Sandy on Instagram here or add her on WeChat Sandychuchu