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Art & Life with Kiyana Howard

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kiyana Howard.

Kiyana, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
At the age of ten is when my mom gave me more freedom to dress myself and pick out my own clothes. As I got older and got more into my style, I had to find ways to improvise and make multiple outfits out of one because my parents couldn’t afford to buy new shoes or clothes every paycheck. So in high school, once I ran out of my outfits that I got for the new school year. I started wearing clothes out of my mom’s closet from the 90s and started thrift shopping. I would get compliments from my peers on my outfits and I would always think to myself only if they knew “this outfit isn’t new”. Only if they knew “these pants I’m wearing are from when I went school shopping last year”. My love for fashion grew because I wanted to fit in but it slowly became a passion of mine. Sophomore year in high school, I realized fashion was my career path. It’s been that way ever since.

In 2017, I moved to Los Angeles, CA. from Vallejo, CA. to pursue a career in the fashion industry. I was so ready to take on a new journey and independence that I left home with only $1,500 in my savings. I packed up my Ford Fiesta with all I could including my mom and sister and headed for the road. All I wanted for my 22nd birthday was to move to Los Angeles and a couple of days before I I made it happen, finally. That year I spent my birthday alone, I didn’t have close friends, I rarely knew anyone but my roommate. It took me a while to get homesick, I was enjoying my independence and was busy trying to find employment. My only income was driving for Uber and Lyft, three months later my car broke down. That was a really tough pill to swallow, not only was that my only way to make money but it was how I got around. At the time, I lived on Slauson and Hoover. I didn’t know too much about the area other than going to the Slauson swap meet down the street whenever I came to LA to visit. I had to get used to my surroundings and learn how to get around on public transportation. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to get my car fixed because I was always thought once I got to LA and got stable, I could build my savings again in case of a a rainy day. That rainy day came way sooner than I thought and my insurance or warranty did not cover the engine.

So after some months has passed, I realized that moving to LA wasn’t turning out the way I pictured it. I started to finally get homesick until I met a friend in the building I lived in who happened to be an aspiring model. We connected instantly and started working with each other. With the little bit of knowledge she had from modeling back home in Columbus, Ohio working with different photographers and wardrobe stylists. She encouraged me to build a “portfolio”. I knew I had the skill to be a successful wardrobe stylist and the hunger to make it happen. But I was completely clueless on how to get started. She introduced me to “trade for print”. From there, I searched on Facebook and Instagram and reached out to other aspiring creatives that was trying to build a portfolio as well. I got turned down a lot because I didn’t have hundreds of dollars to book a photographer or money to pull clothes for potential clients. The first five months I spent in Los Angeles was no walk in the park I ended up getting kicked out for the same exact friend who helped me get started and had to move back home with my mom. I was so devastated because I felt like I sacrificed so much just to move out and start my life.

So I started working again in the bay area and saved a couple of thousands again so I could move back to LA but this time I moved to Long Beach in 2018 I found myself in another terrible roommate situation but I made the best of it and that year is when I felt like I was starting to get the hang of what it takes to become a successful wardrobe stylist. I started going to networking events and making more connections with other creatives like myself. Just when I felt like my career could possibly take off I got kicked out once again. I couldn’t help but to think I was going about chasing my dream the wrong way. I felt defeated in that moment and for the first time I questioned if what I am pursuing is my purpose. I move back to Vallejo with thoughts of my fashion career on hold. I reconnected with old friends, found employment and jumped back into the swing of things with life back at home. I took some time off to focus on family and my next move. In that time, reconnected with someone back in LA, who reminded me of how much I loved being a stylist. I wasn’t confident in the direction of my career and what exactly I should be doing however I no longer want it to continue a long distance relationship. So falling in love made me move right back to where I always wanted to be.

In September 2018 for the third time, I moved back to Los Angeles. They say “third times a charm” but I was just being optimistic and hopeful that this time around would be different. Still taking some time off to figure things out I wanted to shift my focus on ways to make extra money. Doing nails was a side hustle I grew to love and enjoyed doing. But giving up on my fashion career was not an option. So I slowly started setting up photoshoots and getting my name out there once again with the support from my loved ones. With enough trial and error in 2020, I can finally say I am proud of where I currently stand in my career. I am not where I want to be just yet, I still have so much more to accomplish. However, I am much further along and more wiser than I was when I first started my journey. And I wouldn’t change a thing. Going through all of those ups and downs made me realize how hungry I really am to succeed as a celebrity wardrobe stylist. And I’m just getting started.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
My long term goal is to incorporate nails with my fashion career by building a team and opening a beauty bar offering beauty services. Such as manicures, pedicures, lashes, etc. I would also like to include styling services and sell garments I designed. A one stop shop. Where women can enjoy a luxury experience and get all of their necessities done in one place. That’s the ultimate goal.

How do you think about success, as an artist, and what do quality do you feel is most helpful?
You are successful when you are satisfied with yourself and you feel fulfilled when you have made yourself proud and you have lived up to your own standards not anyone else’s to me that is true success. To be successful it takes sacrifice. It takes determination and hard work. I know for myself it’s hard to do. However, being selfish when chasing your dreams most times is key.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Vivica, Austin, Cheiy, Jesse, Arthur

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