Today we’d like to introduce you to Brandi M. Jones.
Brandi, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up on the southside of Chicago – a little girl with big dreams that pursued every opportunity I could to follow them. Journaling became a way for me to release the trials of my days as a youth and I became a pretty good writer by doing so. My teachers took notice and encouraged me to pursue writing. Soon after, a friend of mine told me about a newspaper based out of Columbia College Chicago that was written by and for teens, that circulated throughout the city of Chicago and surrounding suburbs. I jumped on it! After a few months of being a staff writer, I became the Editor of the front page news section. And this wasn’t some small newspaper that focused on playing games and teen gossip – we covered everything from school policies and procedures, bullying, drugs – you name it. During my tenure as the Editor, I scored some pretty major interviews including one with the Mayor of Chicago at that time; I was invited back to share my views on the pubic school system and what I thought was needed to improve the quality of education and interpersonal relations, with him and his entire staff. Pretty big deal for a 16-year-old! I knew then that I had been bitten by the journalism bug and wanted to become a news reporter.
Fast forward a few years later, I had the opportunity to intern at my childhood dream job, Entertainment Tonight on CBS and I was determined to move to LA, land a job there and never look back. Well, I did. Four weeks into the internship, I was offered a position at ET by the senior supervising producer, the late Bonnie Tiegel. Talk about goals!!! And this is when everything changed…
I didn’t take the job. I know you’re probably wondering why, right?! Well, a few years later I asked myself the same question but my interests had evolved and my support system encouraged me to move back home. And with the blessings of Mrs. Bonnie Tiegel, I left ET and moved back to Chicago and began to pursue my interests in fashion! Being in LA for the first time and having access to such a prominent studio, I discovered the wardrobe department and a view of life and fashion that I never knew existed.
Once back in Chicago, I went to the best of the fashion world there and quickly built my reputation as an award-winning, tenacious and fashionable young woman. Soon after I was recruited by a designer and chose to return to LA to run his business in west LA (and of course build on my contacts here). This opportunity opened another door which led to my first red carpet client. How? I credit God because I had nothing to do with it! I literally woke up one morning to a request in my inbox and a sudden slew of PR and Showrooms that wanted to connect with me! The rest was up to me! People often ask me for advice or a blueprint to become a fashion stylist and break into the industry, and I always tell them that God orchestrated this! I literally just kept walking the path that was placed before me. Here I am years later, blessed to have costumed for film, commercials, red carpets, and now my own business.
Has it been a smooth road?
Yes and No.
There’s nothing easier than waking up and having exactly what you need [to accomplish your goals]. I was truly blessed to start my journey as a stylist this way.
Booking gigs and clients, longevity – that’s where it gets tricky. LA is saturated with talented people! And convincing a celebrity, or a seasoned costume designer or a celebrity stylist to take you under their wing, and teach you the ropes, is as difficult as trying to make a dollar out of fifteen cents. I’ve had celebrity stylists say to me “I don’t care how much experience you have, I don’t need anyone trying to take my spot.” And I was just asking for advice on how to transition into tv/film from the red carpet! Another lady, who used to run one of the major costume departments at one of the big studios here, also warned that my talent and beauty would prevent access and opportunities because I was too much of a threat to other female costume designers and stylists in the industry. While I understood her POV I was still a bit taken aback by the beauty part. I worked hard to get to where I am and the thought of something superficial blocking my path was disappointing.
She, unfortunately, was right. I’ve experienced many doors shut in my face when it came time to be on a set where I would be able to network and grow, despite having researched, shopped and pulled wardrobe for shows – wardrobe that was curated by me and actually used for multiple characters on those shows. While disappointing at the time, it taught me how to better navigate this industry and choose my projects more wisely.
The other struggles? Survival! In this business, when you’re hot, you’re hot and when you’re not – you’re forgettable. Not to mention, if you don’t work, you don’t eat. So, unless you have a significant cushion and several other jobs, at any point in time you can find yourself sleeping in your car or on someone’s couch. There were times where I didn’t know where my next meal was coming from or how I would pay my rent or car note. Times where I questioned my talent, my confidence, and my life choices. Where giving up felt easier than moving forward. Life is hard. And none of us are exempt from it.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
After years of freelancing as a wardrobe stylist, collaborating with networks such as NBC, WeTV, BET, CBS and a host of celebrities, The Brandi Jones Experience was born out of my desire to do more than just make people look good. For me, that was the easy part. I want my clients to FEEL good. I want my clients to experience a transformation that establishes a sense of worth and love of self that exudes confidence – no matter who they are or who they’re wearing. My mission is to affect change in the lives of others through Fashion, Beauty, and Philanthropy and I believe this is what sets me apart from other stylists. Partnering with nonprofit organizations such as Dress for Success and Peace over Violence has given me a chance to do more than just build a Brand. But to truly make a difference in the lives of others. Fashion is just a catalyst to do so.
The Brandi Jones Experience is my ultimate styling package for clients. I meet with them on a weekly basis to edit, curate and style outfits based on their lifestyle, image, and/or brand. These clients enjoy the ease of not having to focus on their image. I literally style them for simple brunch dates with friends, to dinner with clients, travel, birthday parties, red carpet events, anniversary dates, you name it.
I also have an app that works in tandem with our weekly style sessions. It can be downloaded on your cell and laptop for access anytime, anywhere in the world. My app is broken up into three sections: A “Finds” section which is a tool that I use to virtually shop for items where clients can like and comment; A “Lookbook” section where looks that I’ve styled are kept for ease of dressing, and a “Closet” section for purchases made individually, from the Finds section, including items that the client already owns. “The Brandi Jones Experience” allows every client to focus on the other areas of their lives while having a fashion expert in their back pocket! It’s been my most rewarding package as it requires the client to also be committed to change. Those that are committed to transforming their lives in this way love it! And if a client is only interested in the App, there’s an option for that too! Check out www.thebrandijones.com for more information on additional packages and services offered.
Aside from operating a successful business for the past two years, I would have to say that being acknowledged by my peers, including a nomination during my first year of business by the Los Angeles Business Journal Fashion Awards, (in the Social Responsibility category) was a major accomplishment! I didn’t win but I was a finalist and lost to Patagonia – I mean c’mon, that’s pretty huge. I was later nominated by the LABJ as a woman in business alongside some pretty amazing female entrepreneurs. Being seen in this business – any business – is challenging. So to be seen and heard while also doing my best to serve others using my gifts and talents is serious motivation to keep going.
What am I known for? Being a tenacious, genuine, creative and strategic visionary with a coveted sense of style. And of course, making sure my clients are the best dressed in any environment.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Yes, there aren’t many cities in the US where one can build a successful brand and business as a fashion stylist. It’s not the most common of jobs. However, with the age of social media, it’s much easier now to do so than when I started. A new client, a new job, and exposure is only a click away. LA is extremely competitive but if you can stay committed and focused on your goals, it’s a great city to do so! LA can change your life for the better or for the worse if you’re not careful. It’s not for the faint of hearts.
The one characteristic about LA that I wish was better is the lack of support. It can be a very self-centered city.
But with God all things are possible!
- Website: www.thebrandijones.com
- Phone: 310.770.6991
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @styledbythebrandijones; @thebrandijonesexperience
Vanessa Espinoza, Getty Images