Growing up in Barlett, a suburb in the north of Chicago, Degraffinreaidt was much more into fashion than the average school girl. She solidified the relationship with clothes by attending Chicago’s International Academy of Design and was awarded her BA in Fashion Merchandising Management four years ago. The goal-digger wasted no time in establishing French Vedette.
Miss Erika has style, and she didn’t buy it over the years. It was something she was born with, thank you very much. She also attended Parson’s The New School for Design, and has had clients on both coasts. She is known for giving attention to the slightest bit of detail.
In a not-so-traditional interview, we let Erika pour her heart out over the phone. Check out what she had to say below:
How did you initially get interested in fashion, and styling?
I’ve always had an interest in fashion…for as long as I can remember I’ve been opinionated about what someone should wear. I don’t see clothes and accessories the way most people do—or so my mom tells me. I see proportion and color and layers. It’s because of this that I’m able to tell if an outfit is making a person feel confident and beautiful or if it’s totally overwhelming or not right.
Who taught Erika how to dress?
No one… everyone…I don’t really read fashion magazines, but I do love style.com. It’s cool to see what the designers are doing each season, but that’s where following current fashion trends ends for me. Style, in my opinion, is much more personal than wearing whatever’s current. It’s a great skill to be able to integrate what’s happening in the industry with whatever makes you feel confident, beautiful, and unique
You have a Bachelor’s Degree from Emory University. Do you think that going to business school really improved your business acumen?
Business school teaches a lot of things. Not only do you learn basic business—numbers, finance, left brain stuff—you learn about competition, responsibility, and sure, a little about how to run a business too. But in my opinion the only thing that really improves your business acumen is experience…especially the tough kind.
What’s your absolute favorite color? What do you like about it?
My absolute favorite color is pink. Not to be cliché, but it really is uber-feminine and playful. Light pink can make even the edgiest of outfits look soft. And hot pink can turn something buttoned up and stuffy into something pretty sexy.
How much interning should someone do before taking a full leap in the fashion arena?
Interning is a good thing. Learning all about what speaks to you and inspires you is a great idea before choosing a career path. Many times we fantasize about something and think a job is one way when the reality is really very different.
Are there certain things that you strive for each time a client calls on you to work on a styling project?
I do a lot of personal styling. So each time a client reaches out and wants a style makeover or to be styled for an event, I try to get a sense of whom I’m working with. Working with “real” people is very different than crafting beautiful photos. With people, you want to know what makes ‘em tick, what makes ‘em feel confident and beautiful. Learning to listen to what a client doesn’t say, what a clients gravitates to, says a lot more than words. It’s my job to make someone look and feel good, inside and out.
A lot of your clients look to you to do their personal shopping. How do you get your clients to have so much confidence in you?
A personal shopper or fashion stylist should be someone you connect with. You should trust that a shopper isn’t trying to make you into her version of what you “should” look like. Instead, she should be bringing out the best, most confident version of you. Once you meet someone you trust, stick with that person. That’s my secret. Just because a client might look good in something doesn’t mean it’s right for them. My clients know that.