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A style maven: Ruth Odhiambo’s celebrity stylist, fashion consultant journey

For the Eve woman, image is synonymous with success.

A stylish wardrobe can transform your confidence, your sense of self-worth and arguably your entire life. Image consultants and fashion stylists are the fairy godmothers we read about growing up watching classic fairytale movies.

It is certainly why you need a stylist in your life. Ruth Odhiambo is a celebrity stylist and fashion consultant.

She is also the creative director of RuthOdhiambostyles, an image consultancy and styling company based in Nairobi that caters to the fashion needs of A-list celebrities like Tanasha Donna and Kate the Actress.

They say the hardest part about embarking on anything great is simply getting past the starting line. How did you get started as a stylist?

It was never planned. I was a photographer assistant at Couture Africa Magazine where I would work on editorial fashion shoots.

I was already interested in fashion, but I did not have much information about styling. I used the opportunity to observe and learn a few things about styling. Thereafter, I decided to pursue it seriously and here we are!

Fashion Styling and Image consulting is a relatively unorthodox career path. Is this what you wanted to always do?

I knew I wanted to do something fashion related since I was young but styling never crossed my mind. I thought I only had two career options in fashion; either fashion design or modelling.

I discovered styling while in campus; since I was so passionate about fashion, I researched and fell in love with it.

I needed a space to practise what I had taught myself and at the same time learn from others in the field, so I applied for an internship at Couture Africa Magazine. That helped me build a solid foundation in my career and transition fully into the industry.

Image is a weapon that can be wielded by men and women to get exactly what they want out of life. How would you say your image has contributed to the woman you are today?

Image is an important and a powerful thing, which I honestly feel most of us take for granted. The way you look physically says a lot about who you are even before you utter a word. Image determines how you will be addressed and how serious you will be taken.

My image has made a great impact on the woman I am today. It has made me self-aware, assertive and bold.

The styling industry in Kenya is quickly becoming competitive. How have you carved out your own personal identity within the field?

I believe my style speaks for itself, and that is what I deliver to my clients. A rareness. I offer services and deliver outfits you won‘t find anywhere else apart from Ruth Odhiambo Styles (ROS).

You have an impressive portfolio of celebrity clients ranging from Tanasha Donna to Kate the Actress. What practical advice would you give to stylists looking to work with such clients?

First, quality, professionalism and discretion. I have had the honour of working with most of the big names in the entertainment industry, locally and internationally.

They have established personal brands, making my work as a stylist crucial. They demand and deserve quality. Additionally, when dressing them, be aware that their image is in your hands and do not take it for granted.

You are the director of your own styling and image consulting company (@ruthodhiambabostyles). What challenges have you faced so far as a woman in business?

Luckily in my line of work, I call the shots 90 per cent of the time, meaning my work is rarely interfered with once the mood board is agreed upon. The challenges I face as a woman mostly come from male clients who want to take our business relationship to another level.

How did you move past them?

I have learnt to handle such situations by letting them down respectfully but firmly and avoiding situations that would make them think otherwise. I have strict rules set in place for my team and I, to guard against crossing professional boundaries.

The Eve woman is confident, bold, and definitely stylish. You embody all these qualities and more. Tell us a little bit about your journey through self-confidence.

I am grateful to have never had self-confidence issues. I have always been confident for as long as I can remember. I think of myself as a big deal! As someone important who has a lot to offer the world.

I am my biggest cheerleader and it shows. It is infectious to the people around me and I love it. It is the reason I thrive in my career.

Stylists draw inspiration from many different places. What informs your outfit choices for your clients?

My client’s personality, physic, comfort and schedule. I work hand in hand with the client to understand what they need to achieve. First, I create a mood board of our final selections on designs and outfits.

Second, I source or make outfits and accessories from scratch and make sure I have everything according to the client approved mood board. Fittings are done after sourcing and finally, the pairing and styling of pieces happen on set where everything comes together for the final product.

In the world of fashion, trends change as quickly as they come. What is the one fashion trend you swear by and why?

Monochrome. Wearing a single colour or different shades of the same colour to achieve an overall tonal head to toe look. It is simple, classy, elegant, expensive and easy to pull off on any occasion. Especially subtle tones.

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