One job does not dictate your future. I mean, it can, but I won’t let this be like ‘Okay, I worked with Solange, I’m the hot sh-t, where the jobs at?!’ I’m like ‘No, I’m still learning.’ I want to assist. I don’t feel like this was the end all be all for me. I feel like I have a lot to learn and I’m so grateful for that opportunity and now it’s really time to grind even more.
When I Get Home ushered us into March with the visual artistry and musical genius of Solange. The album, now accompanied by the stunning “Almeda” music video, showcases elements of Texan style with urban roots, and the symbolism of circles and part of that was thanks to wardrobe stylist Natasha Hester of Work by Tata. Although she was just one piece of the puzzle, Natasha collaborated with the lead stylist, Kyle (Luu), who set the tone to bring this visual project together. The Maryland native, now Brooklyn resident, was discovered on Instagram, though her work in the industry starts much earlier.
PopEd World had the pleasure of speaking with Natasha about her work on When I Get Home.
*This interview has been modified for clarification*
PopEd: When did you know you wanted to do styling and how did you get into it?
Natasha: I was interested in fashion designing when I was younger and I moved into film production – tv shows, commercials, for the last several years. Last year, I was working on a job with a stylist she said, ‘I really like your style you should really consider wardrobe.’ So, I started building my portfolio and then maybe 8 months later I booked my first gig. I was a stylist for a commercial which just so happened to be because I was working at the production company coordinating a Samsung commercial and one of the head producers at the company mentioned he liked my style and said ‘Hey I know you aren’t a stylist, but do you happen to know any?’ Of course, I was like ‘Well, I can be your stylist’ and from there I started working with that company and booking commercial work, and now here I am a year later.
I started building my portfolio about 8 months before they asked me. I made sure I uploaded to Instagram. I made sure I had a website so in the event I had a platform where I could show them my work.
PopEd: That’s awesome. I think it speaks to what people should be doing. What would you say for anyone interested in getting started?
Natasha: I think everyone should P.A. (production assistant). Everyone is in the microwave generation where they want what they want now. I honestly busted my ass for quite a few years, making little to no money so I could see how everything works. I know 12 hour days, I know the different departments, I know what call times are, and the flow of how things go. I was able to understand the gist of everything. I’m sure it’s different per industry. I could be 30 years old and if I wanted to start something, I’d humble myself and intern or PA and take the time to really learn my craft and learn how things work.
PopEd: I love that. Humble yourself. With social media, you can see what everyone else is doing and want what they have instantaneously. Does that add extra pressure in your field?
Natasha: The Solange project was my first huge job, but even now I will still assist. I’m still reaching out to stylists because I just wanna learn. Granted, I haven’t been styling that long. Take all the work that you can get. Don’t say no to anything. I’ve learned that the biggest lessons I’ve learned came from the shittiest jobs I had.
PopEd: How did you come to work with Solange?
Natasha: I honestly don’t know how she found my Instagram. It was probably 5 days before my birthday and an email audit I got said ‘Hey she’s working on a project and would love to have you on’ and I said yes of course. I didn’t even think it was real. I had 1,000 followers on my Instagram at the time. I was getting so much spam from my new professional email, so I honestly thought someone was playing a joke on me. I quickly responded and from there I worked.
PopEd: What did Solange say about your direct work?
Natasha: So one moment, for me personally, is we were one set and I showed her a picture and said ‘What do you think about this?’ And she said ‘Girl, I seen your Instagram.’ She was like ‘Girl, I trust you.’ In my head, I was like “Oooh-kay! I don’t even know what you saw on my Instagram girl, but I trust you for trusting me and I will get what you need.” *Laughs*
PopEd: Then you flashback like, what’s on my Instagram?
Natasha: I know right. I was like omg let me hide my stories and my Instagram *laughs*
PopEd: Overall, looking back after completing your first big project, do you feel like this could be something easier to obtain again because of social media?
Natasha: Yes and no. I was professionally raised by vets in the game who have been in this business. I can definitely say in terms of the commercial world when people get jobs in social media and don’t necessarily have the skillset to be on a set, that’s what’s not shown. If you are a professional outside of putting work on social media, but actually doing the work — that will be the difference in getting consistent work. I do feel a social media presence is important now, but I wouldn’t say it’s necessary because, in the end, it’s all about who you know.
PopEd: Now that you’ve done your first big project, is there any factor you would consider going forward before taking on another project?
Natasha: I’ve just learned over time to ask more questions. I might hesitate to say no, but the truth is, I can’t turn down anything. I like working too much.
PopEd: When you were younger, did you know styling was something you wanted to pursue?
Natasha: Oh yeah. I was probably about 10 years old when I wanted to be a fashion designer. I used to draw all throughout middle school. I had a sewing machine, I took sewing classes, and later when I was in high school, I transitioned to theater and production and now I’m back into
PopEd: You moved from theater to actual TV to commercial?
Natasha: Yeah! I’ve done pretty much everything, so I know how wardrobe works in music videos. I had the opportunity to work with Jahleel Weaver, Rihanna’s stylist, and his assistant. I was able to learn what it was like to work in high fashion with a big celebrity. So I learned from there. Every job I’ve done, I’ve had a background in almost every aspect of production
PopEd: That gives you an incredibly diverse background and you’re adaptable to whichever situation is needed. Let’s talk about your personal style and brand. How do you describe it?
Natasha: Oh my god that’s the toughest question because I don’t really think of myself, or what I do. I just do it. It’s the truth. I just try to be as authentic as possible and I feel like that’s the difference. I have no other way of explaining it. Later, I’ll look back and ask what was I thinking, but I try to live in the moment.
In terms of style, I don’t have inspirations in terms of people. Sometimes the energy, the mood, the weather affects me. A song I heard earlier that morning may change what I put on.
PopEd: What do you see as the future for you? What are you manifesting to do next?
Natasha: Now, there’s so much I want to do, which is so bad. I see myself, honestly, doing creative direction working with artists. I also have a musical background. I’m very much into music and writing. I think I’d really like to work with an artist in terms of building.
For me, I miss the days when projects were cohesive. Music videos had a great story and made sense, they were cool, and the aesthetics were there. The album was complete, and that’s what I enjoyed about working on When I Get Home. When I listen to it now and see what I was a part of, this is exactly what I wanted to do. The music industry is lacking that. It’s lacking artists and people who don’t take the time to really work out the look. What was the style like? Do the songs on this album sound like they can be on this album? I’d like to cultivate what they desire for their music projects in terms of filming, styling, and music.
PopEd: You mention writing, has that played a part in your artistry? Does it contribute to you creatively when it comes to styling?
Natasha: When I first started building my portfolio I was very conceptual and I wanted everything to have a story and every photo has a meeting and in a way; I’ll create the story or the clothes will come out of the story. Now, I think of things as poetic. It’s not that clothes are poetic per se, but they are. It’s all about meaning and attitude when you’re wearing it. That’s the translation with writing and styling.
PopEd: Any upcoming projects you can speak on?
Natasha: Nope, I’m back to being unemployed as a freelancer. *Laughs* I can only hope something comes along, but right now I’m back to square one.
PopEd: That is proof of the grind though.
Natasha: One job does not dictate your future. I mean, it can, but I won’t let this be like ‘Okay, I worked with Solange, I’m the hot sh-t, where the jobs at?!’ I’m like ‘No, I’m still learning.’ I want to assist. I don’t feel like this was the end all be all for me. I feel like I have a lot to learn and I’m so grateful for that opportunity and now it’s really time to grind even more. I’m just ready to do the work and hustle. I never dreamed that I’d do something of this magnitude within a year — let alone 5 years. It’s not something I dreamed of. But now that is has happened, I do feel like there are opportunities out there, it’s just a matter of when it’s going to come.