We had the good fortune of connecting with Melissa Souza and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melissa, putting aside the decision to work for yourself, what other decisions were critical to your success?
Shoutout Socal with the tough questions! This one was a bit difficult to answer because I had to really think about all of my experiences in my industry; especially in this past year of 2020 pandemic chaos that threw a huge curve ball at my business. Honestly, there were days I wasn’t really sure I was succeeding and I took a step back to evaluate. I truly believe that we are a whole of every experience and what we choose to take away from it, and it’s difficult to decide what one defining moment was the decision that catapulted or contributed to my success. And really, what marks success? I definitely think that’s different for everyone. I’m never really exactly where I want to be, which can be good and bad. For me, the drive to keep moving forward, making that next styling project better than the last and setting goals seems never-ending. All that said, if I have to sum up the most important decision I’ve made that has contributed to success, I’d say determination. I know that’s a broad concept, but for me, making the determination to continually learn and push myself by surrounding myself with those who’ve done what I want to do (assisting with other successful stylists!), and essentially adding to my ‘bag of tricks,’ if you will, has had the most impact on opening doors for me to be successful. I strongly believe determining that you will do what it takes, even in the face of challenges, and there have been many, you will ‘succeed,’ whatever that means to you personally. By opening yourself up to experiences and determining to take the good with the bad, learn from failures, continue to push forward, and even pivot if needed, success can be attained.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
While I’m based in southern California, I’ve been fortunate to work in this industry with clients across the United States, and even international brands. My keen sense of style and affinity for mixing patterns, textures and colors, and a dedication to incorporating a brand’s vision while weaving in my own styling philosophy has allowed me to curate style for a variety of celebrity. I’ve also been instrumental in curating overall branding goals for client brands like Amazon, Volcom, and Vans. I have a passion that burns for creating beautiful styling that is inspired by travel, culture, and the everyday, and I enjoy using those passions to creatively elevate client style through a concierge approach. Adding to my styling art by currently attending cosmetology school excites me for the possibility of merging wardrobe and hair. My business actually began with personal styling. In fact, my first ‘real’ client was introduced to me via a friend and was a guy! Breaking into celebrity styling definitely was not easy. It took a lot of networking, blood, sweat, tears, and free work to get my foot in the door. That came with learning what work to take on for more experience and which jobs were beneficial for networking, as well as learning to say no. As I said previously, you have to be willing to do the work. Now, I specialize in curating great style for print and celebrity styling, while maintaining a personal styling client base. I consider myself a high-end-low-end mixologist, believing you can have high style whatever your budget. Many of my personal styling clients have called me a mix-and-match master! I think mostly because I like to start in their closets with their existing wardrobe and create fresh looks from a new perspective, allowing their wardrobe, and their investment, to stretch. While my brand has focused primarily on celebrity styling with editorials, press events, red carpets, music videos, film, and television, it is ever evolving; which I think is a must to continually stay relevant in this industry. I’ve had the pleasure to work in personal style and I’m excited to add hair to continue to curate elevated style one client at a time. I’ve also had the honor to speak at fashion events and on panels, and I’m interested in doing more of that.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
With a packed schedule, I definitely cherish days off. While I love traveling, I also love staycations. San Diego is one of my top favorite locations, but honestly, being in wardrobe, you always have friends that want to go shopping! If you’re going to hang with me, you better be ready for some hiking, biking, and whiskey! Of course, Rodeo Drive is always the number one spot everyone is attracted to when in the surrounding LA area. I would definitely have to include some LA hotspots, and a roof top bar for cocktails. Since I’m constantly hustling, I would include some downtime in San Diego. Among the usual Old Town, Gas Lamp, and Downtown, you can find some hidden shopping gems in Coronado that I’d love to take my guest to see by bicycle. Rounding out our staycation would be a stop in Claremont, CA for amazing whiskey concoctions. Hope you can keep up!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My family has always been the backbone of my support. It started with my grandmother, a strong women who had a positive attitude that you could be and do anything you wanted. My late dad deserves a big shoutout because he taught me that hard work wasn’t the only thing that was going to get you where you wanted to be, but that you had to face and survive the challenges that would be thrown your way when you want something worth fighting for. I definitely couldn’t be where I am without my mom. I get teary-eyed thinking about all of her love and support, and she knows just how much she has done for me. I also have so much gratitude to give to my fiancé. With the uncertainty of the pandemic’s role on my business, we started talking about how I could add value to that business and another aspect of service when life returned to how we once knew it. With his support, I entered hair school and am working on a Cosmetology degree. Of course, not last and certainly never least, my daughter deserves a thank you. She is only ten, but she has seen her mom take a passion and budding business to something I’m proud of. She’s had to sacrifice me being away long nights, overnights, and juggling business with mom life. My family is so important to me and I work so hard so that I can give back to them. Without their love and support, following my dreams would be harder than ever.