SHE’S TURNED PRETTY GIRLS INTO IT GIRLS WITH HER TALENTED TOUCH - THE REAL MONICA ROSE

MONICA ROSE: CELEBRITY STYLIST

Today, I’m not in the business of spreading rumors or getting clicks. I’m in the business of celebrating and empowering women. So regardless of what you think you might know about Monica Rose and any drama she may have had in the span of her decade-plus-long career as a celebrity stylist, I’m here to share part of her journey to now. Her childhood days “styling” her friends before school, her early days in retail before “Monica Rose” was born, and her steady, unpredictable rise to success.  From yours truly, to the Kardashians and Jenners, Jennifer Lopez, Gigi Hadid, Jenna Dewan, Kaia Gerber, Chrissy Teigen, Chanel Iman and more - her talented touch has literally turned pretty girls into IT GIRLS, and that is a fact.  If you are an aspiring fashion stylist, read this interview. As Monica shares in our conversation below - if she can do it, you can do it. She’s self-made, tough as nails, and one of the hardest working moms I know. This is Part One of our conversation. Check back next week when Monica opens up about the brilliance of Chrissy Teigen, discusses her favorite red carpet fashion moments to date, and also shares tips on how the “every woman” can up her fashion game.

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Catt Sadler:
Moni. We go way back. Like 2006, I think, is when I met you.

Monica Rose:
2005.

C:
Was it '05?

M:
Yeah. 2005 is when we started testing for The Daily Ten. I still remember your outfit.

C:
Oh God. Do you mean the outfit you met me in? What was I wearing?

M:
It was boot-cut jeans.

C:
Was that in then or not?  'Cause I came in straight from Indiana.

M:
I feel like boot cut had a moment but it wasn't a boot cut done right.

C:
Oh shit!

M:
It's okay though, it's okay. We helped you along.

C:
Do you know I remember the jeans? They were Robin's Jeans. Do you remember that brand?

M:
Yes, of course.

C:
I'll get to how you definitely helped me along the way, a little girl from Indiana with questionable style but I love hearing just a slice of how you grew up.  As a young woman, what did fashion look like to you?

M:
Different scenarios and memories growing up come to me. I definitely remember caring about outfits more than other kids. I would call my 2nd and 3rd grade friends and tell them what to wear to school the next day or I'd coordinate like, "We have picture day. Everybody's wearing ripped jeans." And I would bring scissors because if they didn't have ripped jeans, I would cut their jeans. One of my friends was like, "My mom won't let me cut my jeans. You can't cut my jeans." I didn't understand why. We were all doing it. Why can't you cut your jeans? I just remember that as a kid, I cared way too much. I would plan my outfits the night before and it was an obsessive thing as a kid that wasn’t normal.

School was never my thing. I never could focus. I was more focused on things like fashion magazines and watching my mom dress. She was a hair stylist so I'd go to her salon and I would read all the '90s magazines back then which were with Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell. I would gravitate towards all of these beautiful images I’d see, and I would try to recreate them in my own way. I would tell my mom how she should dress. I would say, "Mom, you should wear this." She was just so confused like, "Why are you telling me what to wear?"

C:
That is crazy. So it's almost like it was just an instinctual wiring. You were just like that.

M:
Yeah, but you know what's really weird? Where I grew up nobody knew about high end fashion. I didn't know about designers. I didn't know about Gucci. I didn't know about brands like that, so I worked with what little I had, you know what I mean? When I moved to Los Angeles, I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I started working retail at age fifteen. I think just working retail helped me discover new things. Designer or material things never really drove me to liking fashion. I just wanted to make people look and feel good.

C:
Create, yeah.

M:
I was doing that at a very young age all the way up until high school. I never even knew until friends reminded me saying, "Remember you dressed me for this dance? Remember you did this?" I was like, "No, I don't remember but that's amazing." I love when people share stories with me because I’m like, "Oh my God, I was doing exactly what I'm doing now, back then when I was a teenager and when I was a kid."

C:
Well, it's interesting that it wasn't about you. It was about letting your friends know what they could do or be or how they could dress the right way or coordinating other people's sense of fashion and helping them. It wasn't about just looking in the mirror and looking good. It was really about serving other girls. That is cool.

M:
I just wanted to make them look good and just...

C:
That gave you satisfaction.

M:
I think that's how it started. You don't think about things like that when you're young because people are telling you, "You gotta do good in school. You gotta do this." I never knew what a stylist was. I never knew that you could make it a profession. To us it was like you need to go to school, you need to go to college or you need to work. That's what you need to do. For me, it's so crazy to look back, and that's why it's so important for me to see what my kids are into because they could be doing it right now and we don't even know.

C:
Yes and they're going to benefit so much from you giving them the freedom to explore whatever that is 'cause so many kids are hit over the head with you have to fit in all these boxes and you have to get these grades and you have to go to this school in order to be successful, which is not the case. You talked a little bit about breaking into the business. When you came to LA, did you know what you were going to do here? Did you have visions of working in the fashion industry? I know that you worked in retail, but what was the thought process then?

M:
Well, there wasn't really any thought process. I moved out here when I was nineteen or twenty years old and I was still working retail at that point. I was already six years into working at different stores. So when I moved out here, I thought, "Okay, well I'll just work and figure it out. Maybe I'll go to school." My very first job was actually at the Beverly Center and I thought I made it. I was like, “Yes! I work at the Beverly Center!”

 Joyce Park

Joyce Park

C:
Shut up.

M:
I met some amazing people there and I actually got recruited by someone who worked on Robertson. She came in, she loved my customer service and she said, "I work at a store on Robertson and I'm recruiting. Here's my card. I would love for you to come in and audition." I'm like, "Audition?  What?  You have to audition to work at this place? This must be major." I was shitting my pants. I was so scared and didn't want to call her. I ended up calling her and she's like, "Yeah, come in and we'd love to just have you audition." So I said okay, terrified, because the word audition is just terrifying. I went in and she had me work for twenty minutes, just to see how my people skills and customer service were. I can't even remember. I was just so nervous because this woman was just staring at me the whole time and I ended up getting the job.

C:
Hell yeah!

M:
But after, I walked back to the Beverly Center and I kid you not, I cried because I thought I did horrible. We're so hard on ourselves, but she loved me and hired me as an assistant manager. I was a little intimidated because it was like, whoa these things are so expensive. I never knew about these boutiques.

C:
What boutique was it?

M:
It was called Parallel. It was a sister store of BCBG. That's when I discovered what a stylist was. When I worked at this boutique, it was more personal. I worked with all of the stylists and celebrities that would come in. What I loved so much about my manager was that she taught me a lot about clienteling. She was like, "You've got to make sure you treat everybody the same. Here's your book." It was very specific. We had pictures of our clients. We had their sizes. I learned a lot with her, even though she was very strict and I was always intimidated by her - it helped me. When people would come in, I already had a rack of clothes waiting for them. We'd have our one on one. We’d dress them, and they’d go to their event. Everyone was happy. She was very specific on the way we treated our clients. That really helped me so when I was able to work on my own as a stylist, I pretty much did the same thing, but I would take pieces to my client or to the photoshoot or whatever it was I was doing. Had I not worked with her, I probably would have been so clueless on how the details and preparation part of it worked.

C:
Wow, have you run into that woman since?

M:
I have not, but I'd love to see her and thank her for just being such an awesome, stern manager... an amazing teacher.

C:
So that was kind of school for you.

M:
Definitely.

C:
At what point did you become a certified "stylist" beyond the retail world? And what launched that?

M:
When I figured out that I could make styling into a career, it was a little emotional for me because I never really knew what I wanted to do and it seemed like everyone else already had their shit together and I was still trying to figure it out.

C:
And you’re how old at this point?

M:
At this point I was probably about twenty-one, twenty-two years old and I had a lot of people doubting me.  I’m happy that happened because it pushed me a little harder to really want to succeed. When I finally figured out I could truly make a career out of styling, a lightbulb clicked.  I thought, "This is it. This is exactly what I want to do." It was such a moment of, “I have no idea how I'm going to get there, but I'm going to do everything I possibly can to make it as a stylist.” From that moment on, I worked really hard and here we are today. Isn't it crazy?

C:
Whoa!  But completely self-generated, completely self-motivated, completely ... that is you.  That's what is so dope about your whole story is you are completely self-made. Like you said, you weren't born into designer wear. You weren't a kid growing up going to Paris Couture Week. You just identified what your purpose was and then you had to connect the dots.

M:
Yeah, absolutely. I think that's what's so rewarding about where I am today is that I didn't assist anybody. I didn't go to fashion school. I did it all on my own and nobody can take that from me. Nobody can say, "Oh, I helped her along the way," or, "I did this." No, I worked for where I am today and it's just such a beautiful feeling. That's why when times get tough and the workload seems endless, I just remember that I’ve got to keep going. You've got to keep going no matter what. It's that push. We have to push ourselves.

C:
And it's all possible.  You made it possible. Even if it's kind of one of those where you fake it til you make it scenarios - but you positioned yourself.

M:
I was like, listen, if I don't have confidence in myself and believe in myself, nobody else will. It's all about working with people and knowing how to work with them and how you react in different scenarios. When I was doing editorials and not really getting paid much, I was still so excited to just be working. I remember on one of my drives calling my mom and saying, "Mom, I had this weird dream. I was in this hotel and I was working the Oscars. It was so weird. I was in the elevator going from floor to floor and I was so stressed out and I just remember running and running. I don't know why I was so stressed out the whole time, but it was this dark hotel and it was just the most bizarre dream ever." She's like, "Oh my gosh. Well, you never know." I'm like, "Oh yeah, like I'd ever work the Oscars!" I still remember that dream and everything about it. It was so crazy because years later, I was working at E! and I was working with you, Debbie (Matenopolous), Sal (Masekela) and Ben (Lyons) for the Oscars. I remember running from floor to floor because they booked all of you guys on different floors. Why would they do that?! I was getting all of you guys ready at the same time. I'm like, "Is somebody messing with me?" You guys were all stressed out and nervous!

C:
Oh my God. Who dresses four people for the Oscars today?!

M:
Literally, you guys were saying, "Okay, we have to be ready. We can't be late!" I had to run from floor to floor. Everyone had a different vibe and energy in the room. I walked in to each room like, "Hey guys! You guys are all good?"  I had to just play it cool like I was good. Then it hit me and I was like, "Holy shit, I literally had this same exact dream." In my dream I didn't see who I was working with, but it was the same exact scenario and vibe. I was like, "Holy shit, this just means I'm on the right track!" Everything I did was exactly the way it was supposed to be. Crazy huh?

 Joyce Park

Joyce Park

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C:
Whoa, isn't that big?  Huge.

M:
Yeah, my mom had reminded me. She was like, "Remember you had told me about that dream?"  It's so interesting. It’s little things like that, and when times are hard, I'm like, "You know what?  It's all good. We’re on the right track."

C:
You feel like you're where you're supposed to be. You are doing exactly what you are intended to do.

M:
Absolutely.

C:
You sacrifice a lot.

M:
You do, and I forget that because I’m at a point of ... I've gone so far and I can't stop. There are things I wish I would’ve have done differently, because at one point I was spread so thin. I’ve done everything the way my instincts told me, but I’ve learned so much along the way and I’m still learning and growing. I thrive off of working with such beautiful, talented women who inspire and fuel me. It makes me want to go above and beyond. You've seen how hard it is to do what we do, but at the end of the day, I'm happy that I’m able to do what I love. I love my job.

C:
For the people that don't operate in Hollywood and for people like myself and you who are exposed to the world of glam - there is hair, there is makeup, there is this, there is that. But I think the fashion stylists deserve a next-level respect because there's so much prep.  So much pre-planning. So much navigating. So many outside relationships. Showrooms, buyers, designers. There's so much that goes into being a stylist that people will never understand and then there's this intimacy because like you, I was a little girl from Indiana. I didn't know what Louis Vuitton was. I'd read Vogue and I didn't understand it when I was sixteen. Then I got to Hollywood and I was like - whoa! It is such an art. There's an intimate relationship with a stylist and myself because listen, I'm on the other side of you. Working with you, I'll never forget the first time when I was like - “I get naked in front of you?” and I'm all hanging out in front of you. It's a really beautiful thing. It's hard to put into words for people who don't experience it. But beyond the business of it, it is such a talent. Because half of middle America, sadly they will never get a chance to work with a ‘Monica Rose,' to have her get them dressed for a day.  And the empowerment that comes from the experience. I mean, I remember those early days with you... Again, I was a mom of two. You would grab a belt to add to a dress and I'm like, "Holy shit! I just came to life! I have a waist!"

M:
But that's why I do what I do and I love to hear things like that and to be able to do that for my clients or just anybody, it's amazing. There's no other feeling. I live for those moments and it's all worth all the hard work. Now, I have an amazing team. They're rock stars. They bust their ass. They don't mess around.

C:
What did it feel like when ... I mean, there's no way to sugarcoat this. I mean, you're a celebrity in your own right now. So what did it feel like when you became the story in many ways or people follow what you do and how you look and you have a million plus followers on Instagram. How does it now feel to have this notoriety because of the celebrities you've worked with, like the Kardashians - because of working with some of the most famous, fashionable people in the world? Do you like that or do you wish you were invisible?

M:
I wish I was invisible.

C:
Really?

M:
I mean, it's hard because I know people want to see more of me but I just really truly enjoy being behind the scenes.

C:
Do you hate interviews like this?  I remember when we did interviews and you'd be like, "Ugh, it's so hard." That's not your comfort zone.

M:
I'm okay with it now, more than our first interview together-

C:
Ten years ago.

M:
Yeah, ten years ago. Listen, if I can be the voice of the girl who really wants to make it in this business and is doubting herself, let me be the first to tell you that you can do it, because if I did it, you absolutely can do it. If I can inspire a young stylist, then I will be that voice and I will be able to talk and do interviews and whatnot, because I want people to know my story. I want people to understand that it's not easy but you can do it with hard work. It's great to be able to get the recognition for your hard work. At the end of the day, that's what it’s about. If somebody wants to take a picture with me, I'm very flattered. When I'm having dinner and somebody's like, "Oh, I'm such a big fan," it kind of throws me off but again I’m so flattered. Sometimes it happens in front of my kids and they’re like, "Wait, why is she your fan, Mommy?  What do you do?"  So I have to try and explain it to them. It wasn't something that I went into this business for but it’s really sweet when I hear things like that. It makes it all worthwhile and I'm happy that my hard work has paid off.

Instagram @MonicaRoseStyle
Website MonicaRose.com

 

STAY TUNED... PART 2 OF THIS INTERVIEW DROPS AUG 21

Catt Sadler