Wayyy Up: Ade Samuel On How She Went From Styling Your Favorite Stars to Designing Shoes
Looking at Ade Samuel's life, you would think it is the epitome of glamour, but that's the biggest misconception people have according to the growing fashion powerhouse. It took a lot of hard work and grinding to get to where Ade is today, and it's taking just as much to stay there. Having previously worked at influential fashion publications like CR Fashion Book and W Magazine, you would think Ade's transition into styling would have been seamless.
Her hard work has positioned her to be the stylist behind some of today's biggest names, like Nicole Richie, Big Sean, and Yara Shahidi. The Nigerian native spoke to us about the challenges she faced building a brand out of her name, the challenges she faces daily and most importantly, her biggest accomplishments, namely her very own shoe collection. Read more about this truly inspiring woman and her undying drive and motivation to be the ultimate #BOSSBISH.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. At what age did you start becoming obsessed with fashion?
I would say between the age of 9 and 10. I used to always draw dresses and stick figures of outfits, and I was always interested in what people were wearing, from the patterns and textures, what they had on… I remember being in daycare, always looking at what the parents were wearing and feeling enticed.
Prior to working for yourself, you’ve worked at some of the most notable fashion publications on earth, including W Magazine and the CR Fashion Book. What was the motivation behind starting your own business versus working for someone else?
I think the end goal was always to work for myself. I was always inspired by people of higher altitudes, like Oprah. I was always inspired to be an entrepreneur of some sort, working with people, working for myself and developing my own business. Being a girl from the Bronx, you’re not really exposed a lot of entrepreneurs and businesses owned by people from our community.
So I’ve always had that goal from a young age, being inspired by people like Oprah, who was able to take her situation and say “You know what? I want to own my own stuff and I want to be a leader.” So with that being said, I’ve always known that I wanted to work for myself. It was never a goal to work for someone. Working for myself allows me to not only have the ability to be creative but it also allows me to have ownership of what I’m doing.
Did you face any challenges in the beginning stages of your styling career?
Yes. I think the challenge was just building your own bridge, building your own name and allowing people to believe and recognize your capabilities. The challenge for me was how can I develop my name, how can I develop my brand, how can I let people believe that Ade Samuel is a stylist and she knows what she’s doing. I was able to research and get the preparation through my many internships to then show them I am the stylist you’re looking for. I think that was one of my challenges, and once I kind of overcame that, I began developing my own clients, and by working with my own clients, that helped to alleviate that challenge and also help me grow as a person.
How do you choose what looks work for each individual client?
Every client is different, every job is different. You can look at a person and tell what kind of style aesthetic they have. But usually, every job, every creative treatment they give me is what I use to set up the style around my client. I take what they adapt to, what they feel comfortable with, just because with most of the clients - you kind of have to build off their instinctual aesthetic. So whatever people are used to wearing, you come in as a stylist and elevate that; show them a different route.
They can take what they’re used to and kind of change it and have fun with it. Every client of mine is different and, luckily, like to have fun with fashion. They’re very open to the ideas I bring to the table. A lot of my influences and resources come from the street. I’m inspired by my environment, my culture, the day-to-day people I interact with. I’m inspired by my friends, who are social influencers. From there, I take that and go back to what they love. As a client and as a human being, I have to think about what they love and take what I know (the knowledge from my come-up and inspirations) and offer them what I think will work best. Luckily, it's all been positive!
“Just like in life, in order to get to a finished product, in order to get to a place of completion, you have to go through the process."
What is the most fun part about your job? And the most challenging?
The best part of my job is seeing the end product. The end product always gives me belief and also, it excites me. It’s a very long journey to each job, whether it’s on a billboard or magazine or on the red carpet, it takes a lot of work to get to that one place. So, seeing the final product is always, always the best part of my job. It feels good to say “oh wow, look, it’s finally done and it looks amazing.” Any stylist would tell you the worst part is slipping around garment bags, carrying a million of them to and from locations, and unpacking boxes. But it’s a part of the job. It’s a part of the process. Just like in life, in order to get to a finished product, in order to get to a place of completion, you have to go through the process.
Do the clothing choices you make at work influence your personal style in any way?
Yes. At the moment, I think my style is so opposite of my clients' style because they’re usually very dressed up. To some degree, I feel my style is a little more edgy. It’s relaxed but still fashion forward. I think there are times when I style my clients and I’m like “oh, I love this on them” and maybe, I’ll put it on myself. Most of the time, their aesthetic is their aesthetic and mine is mine. I can’t really say that I style them and get inspired, but I can say that there are moments where I pick up on what accentuates them, and those moments usually make me think “oh, maybe I can do this for myself.”
What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?
There are so many moments. I’ve been lucky so far. The moment that makes me the happiest in terms of my career, and as a person, is my shoe line (I’m a designer as well as a stylist). Being able to finish my shoe line collection, being able to get an image that I had in my mind to the final product of Ade Samuel shoes, is probably the most memorable moment of my career. Being able to take that and push it out to the public, to see it featured on InStyle and PAPER Magazine, on Angela Simmons, in Essence, has definitely been monumental for me.
Who are some of your favorite go-to designers for styling?
I have a lot of designers that I enjoy working with. Moschino, Alexander Wang, Baja East, VFILES... I love Ade Samuel Shoes, haha. Jeremy Scott. Those are my go-tos for all my clients.
Name some of your favorite trends at the moment...
I’m not always really up on the trends. I kind of create my own. Some of the things that I’ve been implementing with my clients that I love: dad caps. I’ve put a lot of them on Big Sean, Jhene Aiko. Also, I think denim is coming back in a major way and it’s being implemented in so many different ways: oversized denim jackets, denim shoes, love love love this trend.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions people have about your field?
One of the biggest misconceptions is that it’s glamorous. No, that’s not the case. It’s not all fun and all glamour. Although fashion is glamorous, the beautiful pictures and the looks you see, it’s not all play. It takes a lot of work. Like I mentioned, it’s carrying a lot of garment bags, unpacking boxes, pickups, showroom appointments, research, relationships. It takes a lot to create the final product.
What advice do you have for up and coming stylists?
My advice for them is research, intern, and also be confident. Research the trends, research what’s going on, designers new and old, understand the field that you’re trying to get into and the people that you’re trying to work for/with in the space of styling. Interning is important when you're trying to get an understanding of what it's like and if you’re wanting to get under someone’s wing. Be confident with what you do. Everybody is growing in this industry, no matter how big of a stylist you are. It’s super important to be confident of your craft.
What are 3 hidden gems in Los Angeles?
There are so many but I love going to great restaurants. My gem is Gindhi Thai in Burbank. I love going there to escape the "Hollywood" of LA restaurants sometimes and have a good meal.
For clothing, I love to thrift and find so many amazing things at the Rose Bowl Flea Market. I think that's a place everyone should visit.
For jewelry, I'm a huge fan of Broken English in Santa Monica. That store is such a sweet one for gems and amazing jewelry designers.
What does MISSBISH mean to you?
MISSBISH means miss empowered, miss focused, miss driven and miss on top of her game!
Photos by: Christina Choi