Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrew Nguyen.
Andrew, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve always been drawn to fashion, more so to dressing up part of it. There’s something about getting ready for a big event that does it for me. A big part of that was due to my mother, whenever she was prepping for a big night out on the town I would sit behind her on the bed as she applied her makeup in her vanity. It probably wasn’t normal for a 10 year old boy to be so opinionated about what Chanel purse went with what dress but she enjoyed it and that really helped me flourish.
It wasn’t until high school where I caught the first & second season of Project Runway where I put the love of fashion and it being an actual career together. I knew this was something I wanted to be apart of. I went to college for design but quickly learned it was not for me. The patience you must have from sewing was a skill I never mastered. Thankfully soon after I was blessed with an internship that helped my career and styling skills blossom into what it is today.
I interned for a local designer who had just gotten off of a stint on a BRAVO Network “Project Runway” spinoff and he placed as runner-up. The stars kind of aligned for me at that moment. My internship quickly grew to a position in the small atelier and since there were only about 5 of us I got my hands in to every aspect of running a fashion label. Learning about production and what went on behind the scenes of running a successful label was interesting but what really lit a fire in me was styling. From putting together a concept for the next season’s collection, to shooting a look-book or campaign or even collaborating with other creative types to produce a fashion editorial I was immersed in it all and most importantly I thrived in it.
I was the assistant for a while and finally I decided to take the leap and style on my own outside of the label. The connections I made during my time at the small atelier helped me exponentially. My first “breakthrough” moment was when I made the decision to put together my own team of creatives and shoot an editorial in the dead night during one of the hottest day’s of summer. I had no idea what I was doing but we turned it out and it was my first editorial to be published in a magazine with myself billed as Stylist/Creative Director. I’ll never forget the feeling of getting the e-mail from the magazine saying they were picking it up for their next issue.
Since then the fire has definitely not died. I’ve been so lucky to work with some of the biggest photographer’s, makeup artists, hair stylists and models from the biggest agencies in the surrounding L.A. area. I love being a fashion stylist but more importantly a fashion editor/creative director who can vibe and collaborate with other like minded individuals into creating a beautiful story. So much so that I started a bi-annual fashion magazine, Alpha Omega Magazine, with a focus on highlighting local talent in the So-Cal area through conceptual high fashion editorials.
I have still have many more goals to check off on my list but I feel this is the right direction that I am heading in.
Has it been a smooth road?
Navigating the fashion industry could be rough terrain especially if you’re doing it on your own. Most people don’t have mentors and decide to get into it all on their own and that could be especially tough. Luckily for me, I was assisting a designer who taught me the ropes.
With any profession there will come the egos and dealing with those egos will be a true testament to who you are as a person. Dealing a lot with diva-like personalities or fake fashion types are common, but how you handle it will show your character traits more than it will show theirs.
Fashion isn’t glamorous, it’s long hours of grueling work to create something that will hopefully last longer than you will. But seeing the outcome is worth every blood, sweat and tear you put into a project. A lot of times I feel as if I am doing this on my own, but thankfully have a great support system. But at the end of the day it is your name as a stylist that’s on the line and if the caliber of work you produce isn’t up to par that is definitely detrimental.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
My plans for the future include me styling full time, right now I juggle a full time job and style whenever I can. I’d like to go back to fashion styling for private clients, magazines and the sort as my main focus. I’m finding it quite a juggling act to do a regular 9-5 and squeeze in photoshoots whenever I have any time off. It’s hard work and a big sacrifice of any free time I do have but I know it will pay off in the end. I see my own fashion book/magazine, Alpha Omega Magazine, being shown on a bigger platform. I would like it go global but if that doesn’t work out I see myself working for a big publication. I wouldn’t mind sitting at all the major shows and taking what I see on the runway to create a story for a magazine I’m working for. I’m still dreaming big!
Let’s dig a little deeper into your story. What was the hardest time you’ve had?
I’ve been assisting and styling on my own for almost 4 years now, I’ve been blessed to work with many talented individuals in the surrounding LA area. I am lucky enough to work with photographers who trust my vision and therefore connecting me to some of the biggest modeling agencies in the area. I think everything fell into place for me when I got my internship. I was going to school then but everything I had learned in that small atelier was nothing they taught me in class. It was so hands-on and I got to be involved in everything. Since me leaving the atelier I knew I wanted to be apart of something bigger. I’ve always wanted to work for a magazine and since the opportunity has yet to arise, I decided to start my own. With the help of a fashion writer and graphic design friend, we created Alpha Omega Magazine. Currently we are working on third issue and the outpour of positive feedback has been phenomenal. You can check out our back issues here: www.alphaomegamag.com. My team and I knew we wanted to create a fashion magazine/book with a focus on talent that’s found in the Southern California area. You wouldn’t realize the talent we have here by looking at the media, it’s not all blonde and big boobed Real Housewives type stuff. There’s an undercurrent of real talent waiting to be discovered in a high fashion way and with Alpha Omega, we intend to showcase that.
I would say this is the hardest time in my career. I’ve heard time and time again from professional fashion industry folk say that when you first start out you should juggle a job that pays and do the fashion work on your spare time – eventually things will pick up. Well in this point of my life I happen to be working a full time job and all my spare time goes to my fashion styling as well as creating content for my fashion book, Alpha Omega. As of right now I am desperately trying to figure out how to handle both careers without the other suffering. I think at this point in my life, I am ready to take the big leap to doing fashion full time. I trust in my abilities and I know this is just another jumping off point.
Do you ever feel like “Wow, I’ve arrived” or “I’ve made it” or do you feel like the bulk of the story is still unwritten?
I don’t feel as if I had made it just yet. There is still so much I want to do with my career such as style a KPOP music video or create a lasting red carpet moment for a celebrity but I know I’ll get there. Every moment on set to me is a WOW moment. Being able to create with such wonderful, talented, and selfless people is an amazing feeling and I know I am so blessed to be around their creativity.
A major WOW moment for me was almost four years ago when I had enough courage to venture off on my own and put together a team of newbies that had never done a photoshoot before. I took the reigns, produced and directed the team, came up with a concept and styled it. We had no idea what we were doing but the energy was infectious. That first editorial we produced got picked up to be a part of an exclusive for a magazine and we were extremely proud. I knew then that if I just keep listening to my instincts, I will be ok.