We’re obsessed with Yoliswa Mqoco and we simply cannot help it! Honestly, what’s not to love? A popular fashion stylist and personal shopper, Yoliswa is the perfect combination of confidence, tenacity, creativity and business acumen. Her passion for her craft and inimitable attitude have earned her a stellar reputation in the fashion industry, and a large online following. Meet Yoliswa as she shares valuable insight on how to build a business with a strong client base…
Full name: Yoliswa Mqoco
Current title/company: Stylist & Personal Shopper
Educational background: 3rd year Fashion Student at Lisof
Yoliswa, we have a serious crush on you and your spectacular style! It’s bold, eclectic, full of personality and exudes buoyancy. The rest of the country (and beyond) seems to be in agreement with us, judging from your huge online following. Tell us how you entered the world of fashion and what has been the dominant factor contributing towards your impeccable style?
Well, thank you so much for the love and kind words, blush. Fashion has always been a huge part of my life from a really young age. I lived in a home where everyone that lived under that roof was fashion obsessed, and the root of that was my mother. My proper debut in fashion was five years ago when I started wardrobe make overs for my friends and family – just for fun – and things sort of took off from there. A dominant factor contributing towards my style besides the home I grew up in has definitely been my obsession with travel, art and traditional clothing from all the countries on my bucket list.
At present, you are a stylist and personal shopper whilst studying at LISOF. As a stylist you have been responsible for styling a number of music videos and your client base transcends class and creed. How did you manage to turn your styling talent into a business, and most importantly how do you measure your business’ success?
When I started doing those wardrobe make overs in Matric I also had a part time job at a boutique in a very wealthy area in Johannesburg and the customers of the boutique were mainly rich housewives not interested in doing their own shopping, and loved the idea of having a personal stylist – so that’s how I acquired my first client base. And through word of mouth I had quite a few clients. Currently I measure the success of my business mainly through social media. It’s astonishing how many clients I get through social media alone. I can’t remember the last time I got a client the good old word of mouth way. The power of social media always shocks and surprises me – especially when it comes to my business!
As a stylist, personal shopper & fashion enthusiast how do you marry your personal style with that of your client’s in order to come to the finished look? Do you ever have problems with clients not wanting to embrace certain looks or trends? And if so, how do you overcome this?
The number one rule as a stylist is to never impose your personal style onto your client. Your job is to improve their style as best you can while making sure you work with who they truly are and what they love and gravitate towards. Yes, I have had problems in the past before where I encourage a client to embrace certain trends and them not feeling comfortable with it. At the end of the day, you can give your professional opinion to a client but if they don’t trust you and don’t want to go for it, you can force them to. It’s always important to remember the brief your client has given to you and to stick to it, and most importantly keep your client happy and comfortable.
As mentioned above, you presently balance your career as a stylist and personal shopper while being a student. How have you managed to grow your clientele at such a young age?
As mentioned above, the power of word of mouth and social media has been the main reason for my success. But besides that, I’m pretty good at selling myself in social spaces; I’ve kind of killed the art of networking at all the events I attend as an ‘influencer’ so I do use those spaces to my advantage.
The fashion and creative industry has seen a huge surge in popularity – mainly because the millennial woman is confident in her abilities and knows that she can conquer anything she puts her mind to. However, with increasing popularity comes the risk of saturation. What do you think sets you apart from other fashion industry insiders and what do you think will maintain your work’s relevance years from now?
I’ve been very vocal in the fact that I really don’t care much for the opinions of others and when it comes to how I present myself – I really just live on the ‘ if you like it, wear it ‘ mantra. What sets me apart from most is that I really stay true to myself and I’m very stubborn in my beliefs when it comes to fashion and style. Dancing to the beat of my own drum keeps me away from the risk of being a part of the saturation. I believe that if I carry on with this way of thinking and never wanting to conform to social norms, that’s how I will continue longevity.
What do you believe the South African fashion industry needs? And what do you think is your personal role in seeing the South African fashion industry flourish?
I think the South African industry needs fresh NEW blood. The industry has a hard time in giving fresh young talent a chance. Using the same stylists, fashion stylists, personal shoppers, fashion photographers, bloggers, vloggers etc disables growth within the industry. I think I’m a really good stylist, I’m planning on starting celebrity styling this year as I think that celebrities in South Africa are being poorly styled particularly for red carpet events. So I really want to grow my business within those circles. I believe my deep passion and love for fashion and strong opinions will definitely be of influence and lend a hand in the flourishing of the industry.
As a stylist and personal shopper, what have been your biggest challenges to date and how have you been able to overcome them?
My challenge as a freelance stylist and personal shopper has absolutely been the uncertainty of continuous jobs and certainty of jobs. As a freelancer, you can go one month with having 8 jobs and the next month with having none. Living not knowing if you will get a styling job to sustain your life and expenses for the month is daunting. Living in uncertainty can be tough. But good money management helps when it comes to this challenge.
Take us through what a typical work day looks like for you?
Every day is different. Juggling going to class and in between going to meetings with clients and potential clients is sometimes hectic. But my favourite days are definitely when I get to be on set, whether with a client or for myself and my own personal jobs – I absolutely love days on set!
Advice for aspiring fashion enthusiasts?
Get an Instagram account. Social media is the quickest way to get noticed, and to be noticed you absolutely have to be consistent. Consistency is EVERYTHING when it comes to wanting to penetrate the industry. And also make a habit of going to any open events that are fashion orientated (Eg : Fashion week), dress your best and market yourself. But whether your aim is to penetrate the industry or not always remember to listen to the desires of your heart and never take reference from anyone else but yourself. Be your own inspiration, trust me, you’re more awesome than you think.
Morning or night? Night or rather early morning – the AM’s.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and what would you order? Asanda Sizani and we’re at Tasha’s in Sandton and I’m having something off the flamingo menu
I wish I knew how to: be less of a nice person and speak Arabic
African women are… Glorious
South Africa is… in Trouble
Motivation in 3 words… don’t underestimate yourself.
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