I loved Netflix’s latest series ‘Styling Hollywood’ so much that I binge watched it TWICE. The first time was the day the show launched and the second time was during Fashion week with my girlfriend’s Monica, Tania and Tawana. It’s a Netflix original that stars celebrity stylist Jason Bolden and his husband, interior designer Adair Curtis. They are this delicious and scrumptious, happily married black and gay couple that owns the LA-based JSN Studio, a lifestyle studio that specializes in home and wardrobe styling. I specified that they were happily married, black and gay for a reason because when have we ever seen a couple that fits into this category being positively portrayed on Television? I’ll wait….
While platforms have documented the lives of celebrity stylists before – think June Ambrose’s VHI series ‘Styled by June’ and Bravo’s ‘The Rachel Zoe Project’ – this behind-the-scenes view of the celebrity couple was inspiring and ground breaking because we never get to see married black gay men in this light but I also loved how the show served up just as many business lessons as it did fashion looks.
In a day and time where everyone wants to take the leap to entrepreneurship to be #goals, the reality of actually living it is often filled with all kinds of twists, turns and DRAMA. Which is why it was refreshing to get a realistic view into the ever-changing world of this powerhouse couple. One that I related to on so many levels as an entrepreneur recently venturing to business partnership with my husband and learning to lead my vision as I scale, all while juggling motherhood, self care and everything in between.
Whatever stage you are in business ownership, ‘Styling Hollywood’ provided several important takeaways that unfold in the subtext. Here are five real-life lessons that stood out to me.
1. When you dream it and believe it, you can achieve it
Similar to Jason, I have confidence in the power of manifestation. Not in the fluffy, hope that my dreams come true while I sit back and wish for them kind of way. Instead, Jason’s mix of faith, visual manifestation and simply doing the work is exactly what landed him a few of Black-Hollywood’s most coveted names. From vision board to reality, he has dressed Yara Shahidi, Ava Duvernay, Serena Williams and many more. Two visions of mine that I dreamed of but tucked away as I put in the work to grow my business manifested this year – recognition for my work in an elite publication such as Forbes (something I had envisioned for years) and launching Kensington Grey Agency. If there is one thing that I know for sure, mindset and vision are at the very core of every business decision. The beliefs and attitude you have about your brand will always determine what you ultimately achieve.
2. Your network determines your net worth
Forget networking, relationships are the most sustainable business growth strategy. Talent matters but people want to work with people they know and like. Which is evident in the who’s who of names that Jason and Adair consider both clients and friends. Cultivating a relationship with Actress, Sanaa Lathan, lead to immeasurable connections through word of mouth to her other actress friends including, Taraji P. Henson and Gabrielle Union. Instead of a one and done transaction, these relationships have become the foundation of JSN studio. In addition, true connections such as these incite a loyalty that simply doing business with someone does not offer. As Bolden has described, “I’ve proven myself [with my clients], in the trust of it all. We have this magical relationship where no one has these diva meltdowns. It’s just like, ‘Okay, cool, let’s figure it out.”
3. Don’t work with friends but if you do, do so wisely
While ‘Styling Hollywood’ does not have wig pulling fights that happen on Bravo, it did come with its own share of drama. The kind of challenges that come when boundaries are crossed when working with friends. The person on the show that so far everyone is talking about is Kafia Ahmed, the Operations Manager at JSN Studio, who expressed her frustrations with not being made a partner in the couple’s business. Everybody knows or has worked with a Kafia. That employee that embellishes and exaggerates their worth, does a few things here and there during the day tells anyone willing to listen how the company would be in shambles without them. And they fail to mention how they are chronically late, leave early, miss deadlines and have a terrible attitude at the office. Kafia points to the tireless hours she works and her overwhelming responsibility of taking care of multiple family members as the reason she deserves a raise and to share in the company’s equity. Having these kind of tough conversations that blur between business and personal is why working with friends is always difficult and should be avoided, unless expectations are clearly set from the beginning.
4. Don’t force things
The final lesson is more of a life lesson, but an essential one to understand when making major decisions. Whether it is in business, relationships or anything else, I have learned to only say “yes” when I am positive that I am ready. Similar to my husband and I, Jason and Adair are partners in life and in business. Which means conversations about expanding our family, expanding our businesses and investing into our future are always on the table. While we chose to have Kensington when it made sense for both of us (personally and professionally), Jason and Adair struggled to find common ground on having a baby. Despite the appointments already booked with surrogates, Jason wasn’t ready to have a child yet while Adair pushed for them to move forward. This is a recipe for disaster. Not being on the same page will eventually tarnish a business if both partners are unwilling to abandon timelines and get on the same page. Spoiler alert that we all eventually learn in life and in business: things never turn out as planned, and that is okay.
So there are my 4 lessons. Have you watched yet? If yes, what were your biggest take aways and if no, what are you waiting for! Check out the trailer here