Today we’d like to introduce you to Kyanna Johnson.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’ve always loved fashion, but growing up, I wasn’t on a path to become a stylist. I had always been involved with the arts — dance, theatre, and music, but when I moved to LA for school, I became more comfortable expressing my interest in fashion. I started my journey as a Visual Merchandiser for Bloomingdales. After a few months, I realized I could make a career out of this, and I began to lay the groundwork. I interned for a year almost two before I received my first paycheck…talk about stressed out. I knew this freelance journey wasn’t going to be easy, but sheesh! After interning for multiple celebrity showrooms, I realized I had a network of successful stylists who overtime had shown interest in my skill set and talents. Once my internship ended, I began following up on most, if not all, of those relationships. I interviewed with some amazingly talented stylists, and I was blessed with the opportunity to intern for Zerina Akers, lead wardrobe stylist for Beyoncé Knowles-Carter.
During this time, I expanded my understanding and knowledge of fashion. From day-to-night music videos to early morning photo shoots, I experienced the fullness of being a celebrity stylist. I took all those lessons and skills with me as I transitioned into my next stage. Post interning, I became an assistant stylist working with other prominent styling teams. For the next two years, I worked on countless projects — magazine editorials, interviews, music videos, tours, and red carpet appearances. For celebrities and brands such as — Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Kelly Rowland, Kash Doll, Dreezy, Galore Magazine, and Afropolitan Magazine. Working on these projects, at this level, quickly put fashion and professionalism into perspective for me. I encourage creatives to take the time to develop your craft. It will allow you to have clarity of self and stabilize your career. Self-development is the best investment. I took the time and am still taking the time to develop my person and my craft. Yes, it was hard, but it was worth it!
Currently, I transitioned into lead styling and brand consulting! It’s been tough to navigate this transition in the midst of a pandemic, but I’ve come too far to fall behind now! My latest project is for a luxury shoe company called Kendall Miles Designs. They are an LA-based company but their shoes are handmade in Italy. I received the opportunity to style their Summer 2020 Campaign Release, and it’s been such a great relationship since then! I love what I do, and I’m thankful that even though this job can be hard and quite draining I still feel like I’m having fun! I enjoy making my clients feel confident and bringing their vision to life. To me, it’s a gift to make people feel self-confident so I would do myself and others a disservice not pursuing my passion for fashion!
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Fashion is not the easiest industry to break into especially if you don’t know someone who’s already established on the inside. Nepotism runs rampant throughout fashion. I’ve lost multiple opportunities just because someone else knew someone. Regardless of your resume and skill set, nepotism will unfortunately close a few doors. It used to heavily discourage me, but now I know that what’s destined for me will find me no matter what.
Another issue I thought would’ve been bigger was schooling. I graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a major in Sociology and a double minor in African American Studies and International Relations. Since I had no formal training in fashion, I expected that to be against me. I’d say it wasn’t as big as I thought but still an overarching issue.
The most obvious issue for me was/is being a black woman. Fashion doesn’t make space for black people/POC unless they need a new trend. I’ve had showrooms tell me: – “This project isn’t aligned with our brand direction. We’re going to pass.” – for one of my black clients, but for the same project, I’ll ask for a white client and they’ll immediately say “Yes, what time would you like to stop by?” It gets worse… Because lots of stylists loved my looks during my intern period, one of the showrooms (we’ll keep them nameless) extended my internship period with them. At the time, it felt good to be recognized for my contributions (considering I wasn’t being paid), but once my internship ended, that same showroom never allowed me to pull clothes from them once I started getting clients. They even stopped replying to my emails after a while. I know that anybody can be used but it’s almost a requirement in fashion to use and exploit black people and culture. Of course it’s unfortunate to hear about it, but to constantly experience exploitation is trauma.
Lastly, my biggest hurdle was myself. I’m a perfectionist so everything gets a second guess. I allowed those previous experiences to taint my self-image and my skillet, but now I’m learning to control those impulses and to trust myself. I’ve realized that this is my purpose. I’m learning to believe in myself and to not let other people’s actions or words infiltrate my space. Yes, this is still an ongoing process, but the more I speak as if it is so, the more it feels like such.
Please tell us about Kyanna Renee Styles.
Kyanna Renee Styles is a fashion-forward company aiding in the development and reassurance of one’s self-confidence. My services include: wardrobe styling and image/brand consulting. I style celebrities and brand campaigns for various occasions — red carpet appearances, award shows, tours & performances, editorial shoots (print/digital), brand launches/campaigns, and also for day-to-day activities like parties, brunches, luncheons, conferences, etc. Right now, I am a one woman show, and I’m proud that I’ve built this brand from the ground up. I am nowhere near where I want to be, but I am far from where I started! I learned early on that anyone can claim themselves to be a stylist, but it takes discipline and a strong will to be consistent and persistent about your vision and your purpose!
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My favorite memory from my childhood is seeing how different I was growing up versus how I am now. I was a HUGE tomboy. I loved being outside! I used to love being with my dad. He coached the boy’s flag football team at my elementary school, and I went to the practices so much that they put me on the team. The only girl, and I outran all of them! Sometimes I sit and wonder at what age the “switch” happened. Don’t get me wrong though, I’ll still lace up my tennis shoes now, but I’ll also make a nail apt right after 🙂
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kyanna_renee/?igshid=o4l95zf2bmzg
Kyanna Renee Styles, Kendall Miles Designs, Galore Magazine, Afropolitan Magazine