Work Matters: Yvadney Davis, kids’ fashion stylist

“A few years out of fashion school and I had completely lost my confidence. I did a short course in fashion styling at Central Saint Martins. My tutors were both former uni peers, who exclaimed ‘What are you doing here? You don’t need to do this, just get on with it!’.” And she did…

Yvadney is a kids’ fashion stylist and hosts daytime raves for mums. She lives in London with her husband and their two school-aged kids

How long have you been in your current line of work and what led you to it?
That’s a tricky question. Styling started off as a passion I did alongside my PR job on weekends 10 years ago and has crossed over to my full career in between having two kids. I had graduated from both Camberwell School of Art and Central Saint Martins with a fashion degree and five years into my PR career, I realised that all the strategy, Prosecco breakfasts and events couldn’t make up for my loss of creativity. I had always loved styling throughout my degree and couldn’t stop the burning desire to create beautiful images.

What were you doing previously?
I worked with some incredible luxury and high street brands, including Selfridges, Smythson of Bond Street and Marks & Spencer. I did enjoy PR and was pretty good at it, but the more senior I got, the less creative I was. I also got bored of full-time work and felt like I had lost myself.

Was there any training/studying involved for your current career?
It’s funny, a few years out of fashion school and I had completely lost my confidence. I did a short course in fashion styling at Central Saint Martins. My tutors were both former uni peers, who exclaimed “What are you doing here? You don’t need to do this, just get on with it!”. But I think my degree, which was not only about the design and construction of clothes but also included historical and cultural influences, combined with the commercial savvy of working in PR stood me in good stead to think both client and creative.

Do you do it for the love of it, money or both?
Oh to be an artist…sometimes I wish I had a passion for accounting or something a bit more reliable, but I don’t and the scales definitely tip towards love. BUT, being a freelance stylist allows me to earn money for our household AND have the flexibility to work around the kids, so childcare costs are minimal and I can be really hands on with them for school and play.

Which career moment are you most proud of?
That’s a tough one, because each shoot brings so much pride – I always celebrate the small things. But I think if I take it back to the beginning, when I moved to Canada with a handful of test shoots in my portfolio, got stuck in collaborating with the fashion industry over there and then signed by a top agency within a few months, really meant something. This wasn’t a hobby any more, I was living my dreams.

And your lowest point?
I honestly cannot think of any. My job is very unexpected, you may not always get the option for a gig you want or that perfect green pea coat is delayed coming over from Paris for your amazing editorial, but I always find it works out well in the end. The challenges always stretch me in hindsight.

What are your daily work challenges?
I now have both kids in full time education, so I’m adjusting to working during the daytime in peace. It’s funny I thought it would feel like I’d get so much done, but the time actually whizzes by even faster. Also working from home, I can feel incredibly guilty for not getting on top of housework or other chores, even if I’m working to a deadline.

How do you cope when things aren’t going as you’d like with work?
I’m an eternal optimist, but that doesn’t stop me moping about for a bit listening to John Coltrane and staring miserably out of the window. Then, I quickly snap out of it and journal. I will write about how far I’ve come in my journey, some of the big successes over the last year and also do a hit list of goals I want to achieve to turn the situation around. This is a bit more stoic and gives me back the control to recognise my abilities and have confidence things will change again.

Do you reward yourself after a work success – if so, how?
Not always, because normally by the time new work has come, I’m already thinking of the next project. I need to get better at acknowledging the success with more than a quick dance around the kitchen after taking ‘that’ phone call.

Would you be comfortable to tell us what you earn?
Traditional print media has been severely hit by social media and digital media, which means there’s a fraction of the budgets there used to be when I do magazine editorials. My day rate really fluctuates depending on the client and brief ranging from £400 to £1000+ with half rates for any prep. I also have an agent who takes a percentage of my bookings.

Are you happy with that amount?
Yes I am, a few days work can give me more than I earned working full time in a job I disliked, while having the freedom to spend more time with the kids. I do hope that things can change for magazines whether digital or online, as no Instagram square of an influencer could ever compare with the beauty and longevity of a fashion editorial.

What’s the dream/aim/goal – career-wise?
The dream is to be the go to for kids fashion, not only in the UK, but also abroad. I’d love to regularly contribute for one of the big print magazines and introduce kids’ fashion in an aspirational way to their readership. I’d also love to start an initiative which encourages and supports young black teenagers to start careers in the arts, we need a lot more of it.

Three people we should follow, in your industry?
@juniorstylelondon an amazing kids blog with loads of mainstream and independent kids’ brands
@wynkenkids a former menswear designer and mum, who’s created an incredibly cool and wearable kids brand… just waiting for her to extend to adults!
@leoniefreemanphoto a fellow mum of young kids in this industry and the lady behind the lens for some amazing kids’ photography.

Anything you’d like to plug?
I’m hosting another Mums That Rave event with my co-founder DJ Nikki Beatnik. It’s a community of mums from the arts, fashion and music like us to business, stay and home mums and everything in between, who like to network, get glammed up and dance.

Xmas Rave-up on 29th November 2019 at The Curtain Club in Shoreditch £20.