Monday, May 23, 2022

How I Got Here: Melbourne-based stylist and art director Carlos Mangubato

“Being creative is one thing, but being commercially viable in a saturated market is another.”

Have you ever followed someone on LinkedIn and wondered how they managed to land that wildly impressive job? While the Internet and social media can make us believe that our ideal job is a mere pipe dream, the individuals who have these jobs, believe it or not, once in the same position, imagine someone else’s unattainable job. Was doing.

But behind awe-inspiring titles and fancy work events lies a heck of a lot of hard work. So what lessons have been learned and what skills have proved invaluable in achieving them from dreaming about success to actually being at the top of your industry?


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Welcome to how did i get here, where we talk to the people who are hitting it off in their respective fields, about how they found their awe-inspiring jobs, the peaks and potholes discovered, the failures and victories, and most importantly, knowledge, advice and practical Suggestions that they have received along the way.

The career path in the fashion industry is rarely linear. Job titles are flexible and ever-changing, with multi-talented employees obtained in a variety of coincidental and non-traditional ways. Those who love it, love it—and they accept the industry as the beautiful, unpredictable beast that it often is.

Stylist, creative and art director Carlos Mangubat is one of those people. After graduating from RMIT University with a fashion degree, Carlos initially thought he wanted to be a trend forecaster – but after volunteering at Melbourne Fashion Week, he tapped into an unseen love for the world of style.

Partial Masters degrees, multiple internships and countless Sydney-to-Melbourne flights later, Carlos is an incredibly established and well respected creative in the Australian fashion industry. Here’s what he learned along the way.

What do you do and what is your official job title?

My name is Carlos and I am a stylist and creative/art director. Sometimes I take up photography and writing as hobbies. I’ve been contributing to fashion journal From about 2012 till now; Styling shoots and writing feature articles and interviews.

Take us back to when you were first starting out. Did you study to get into your chosen field, or did you start out with an internship/entry level role and climb the ladder? Tell us the story

I went to RMIT University for about eight years, only finishing with a fashion degree in product development. I initially wanted to be a trend forecaster. I interned and worked for WGSN and Scout – both trend forecasting agencies – but after volunteering at MFW, I was introduced to the world of style.

While I was studying fashion I interned at MFW, helped out and continued to volunteer. When I was making my own folio, I did this for about four years. I was so hungry to move on that every opportunity I thought would be valuable. I also assisted other stylists, such as a longtime partner. fj Stylist Elaine Marshall – as well as Philip Boone, Kate Carnegie, Emily Ward and Belinda Ponzek, mostly on editorial and advertising jobs.

When I started my Master of Journalism (something I thought you needed to do to be a fashion editor), I interned at Grazia. I used to fly every Wednesday from Sydney and Melbourne back (same day) for months. I didn’t tell them that I had been in Melbourne for months.

When he came to know that I was catching a flight to come every week, he started giving me more chances and put me on more shoots. It was a nice environment to be around. I found out later that I was more qualified than half of the editors out there, so I decided to discontinue my internship and study in journalism. Since then, I have continued to work as a stylist and occasionally write articles.

What challenges/obstacles have you faced in getting to where you are now? Can you tell us about any one in particular?

One of the biggest challenges is maintaining a steady stream of cash flow. Working freelance is difficult, but it can be very stressful if a client doesn’t pay on time. When I lived in London, I had two other jobs to supplement my income.

I had been following clients for months, which led to problems in paying rent on time – hence getting multiple sources of income. I made sure I didn’t depend on my ‘dream’ job to pay for everything. Learning to balance your cash flow and budget (and bookkeeping) is an essential skill for a freelance career.

What do you want people to know about your industry/your role?

A very good mindset is to embrace both your ‘business’ and ‘creative’. You cannot have one without the other. Learning to be a good businessman is just as important as being a talented creative person – if not more.

Networking, marketing your product and skills (yourself), balancing your bookkeeping and creating new business opportunities is just as important as concept development, inventory management, creating forms and stories, etc. Being creative is one thing, but being commercially viable is another in a saturated market.

What is the best thing about your role?

It is quite amazing to be able to turn the thoughts and ideas in your mind into reality! For example, I collaborated with a photographer who had a strong architectural vision and we created a shoot based on repetition, lines and form. The end result was some of the best I’ve ever done.

It was more about the images and composition, which was a big change from focusing only on seasonal trends. The story had a timeless nature, which gave it more depth and meaning. Another great thing about the fashion industry is the people you meet, work with, and learn about. This is a real advantage.

I have worked with some really cool and inspiring people – from actors and Hollywood celebs to unknown creatives who have no profile. Interacting with a diverse group of people who all come together to create something is special. The collective love and creativity make this quite a humbling experience.

What would surprise people about your role?

Again, being both a good businessman and creative is very important for acquiring and retaining customers. It’s important to know how to deliver on a concise set and have strong interpersonal skills to keep customers on your side. In addition, credibility and the ability to go above and beyond can help ensure that you maintain a customer and your reputation. Knowing what people want before you ask can go a long way!

What skills have served you well in your industry?

Again, good interpersonal skills — being able to interact with a wide variety of people and personalities — can take you a long way. Plus, being able to keep yourself cool in very stressful situations is a skill that comes in handy in fashion (especially during Fashion Week).

Having the stamina to push through obstacles (even when it all seems like too much) will show clients that you can still perform under pressure. It is great to be able to adapt and show resilience in difficult situations. Working freelance, you may only get one opportunity to show off what you can do – so you have to make it count!

Additionally, being able to remember names and faces is something that people definitely appreciate. Anyone you know can be important to you. For example, a volunteer helping you style may become your client in a few years. Remember everyone and treat everyone with respect.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be in a role like yours one day?

For those who want to be a stylist (especially today’s generation): Work hard and don’t expect things to come your way. Earning your own way and people’s respect doesn’t just come from what you post on social media. The hard-working attitude on and off set will enable clients to see that you are more than just an image.

What about a practical tip?

Life Tip: Fashion is not easy, work hard and hustle. Don’t fall for what you see on social media.

Read the rest of the How I Got Here series Here,

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