Crystal Wright, author, speaker, educator and founder and president of the Crystal Agency, a leading Los Angeles-based talent agency, believes the timing has never been better to move into the fabulous world of editorial work. Crystal—whose agency represents hairdressers, makeup artists, fashion stylists, manicurists and photographers—spoke recently with Vivienne Mackinder about breaking into this lucrative field. We’ve presented some of that conversation here.
Editorial work has always had an aura of glamour and excitement. This is what attracted Crystal to the industry in the first place. And after 20 years in the business, she knows a thing or two. One of these is how to find the right talent for her clients; those magazines, record labels, production companies, public relations firms and entertainment executives who rely on her to supply artists for their projects.
What is she looking for? Skill, obviously, but also a willingness to dig in and do the necessary research, along with the ability to take a historical perspective, for example, someone who could put a 60s spin on something futuristic when asked. She also wants artists who can talk about their work, what they did and why, giving her a story to tell clients about how the images were conceived. Most importantly, she’s looking for someone with a passion for the work rather than just for the money. If you have passion, Crystal says, the money will come.
Editorial work does pay well. The average editorial page pays around $150 to $350, says Crystal. However, she adds, this work brings fantastic exposure that frequently leads to bigger paying jobs with commercial clients where pay can range from $1200 up to $6000 a day. However, she cautions, be prepared to pay your dues. With the exception of a lucky few, it’s going to take most several years of work and persistence before truly making inroads.
For those hairdressers fresh out of school, Crystal advises going to the best salon you can find, and then:
Identify those whose work you admire and get as close to them as you can. Assist. Give 100 percent every single day. Ask questions. Be willing to do anything; no job is beneath you. And while you’re doing this, build your portfolio. Give yourself five years, assisting and building your book. This is the right way.”
Experienced salon hairdressers must be willing to reinvent themselves if they hope to break into editorial work. And they have to accept that what they’re doing is new, and that they will be essentially starting over.
Crystal offers tools to make the task less daunting. One of these is her two-day national portfolio building and marketing workshop. An event highlight is the panel of industry experts she assembles for an hour-long Q&A session. These are experts that can hire you for a job, take you on as an assistant or sign you to an agency, says Crystal. As part of this workshop she holds quarterly conference calls. Extremely popular, (there can be as many as 60 people on the call) participants submit questions ahead of time, an agenda is developed and the questions are answered in about a 90-minute session.
She has also written a book, The Hair, Makeup & Styling Career Guide, now in its 5th edition. The book provides invaluable insights about brand building and marketing, developing a portfolio, interacting with clients, the tools required for success, along with business information and more. Every stylist, as well as salons, will find this book helpful.
Succeeding in editorial work requires first of all, building a great portfolio, which requires building a great team. For example, your hairstyle might be incredible, but if the photography is bad, that’s what will get noticed. But beyond this, success requires energy.
“There is no room for complacency,” Crystal says. “You can’t be lazy. You have to do your homework. You have to constantly reinvent yourself.”
For more information about the Crystal Agency, visit: http://www.crystalagency.com . To learn more about books, classes and workshops, visit: www.crystalwrightlive.com. And keep an eye out for Crystal’s newest book, Thirty Days at 100 Percent: Changing Your Life 30 Days at a Time.