We had the good fortune of connecting with Wilford Lenov and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Wilford, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
The decision came after I did a spec shoot, where was paid well (which can be rare in this industry), and it dawned on me I can do styling for a living. At that time, around 2011, I was doing product development with American Apparel and I began to research creating a styling business on my own. I made the final decision after I was signed to Celestine agency, and I quit my job with American Apparel and leaped into the unknown. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because it gave me absolute creative freedom, however, it took a lot of hard work to make it successful.
Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
When I think of art, I think of true creative freedom: an individual expression within one’s self that is a reflection of one’s unique experiences in life. For example, when I first meet a client I get to know their personalities and their unique style choices. From there, I choose the cuts, fabrics, textures, etc that I believe fits their personality the best. I think the best stylists do not force their own fashion on their clients, but bring the best fashion out of their clients. This is the true value of a stylist in my opinion, and is why I strive to be current on many different fronts of fashion. On the professional front, my journey was anything but linear. It consisted of many twists and turns, financial mountains to be scaled and emotional conflicts to be extinguished. It was the hardest journey of my life but also the most fulfilling. Anything worthwhile takes effort to be valued. The number one lesson I have learned is always keep your relationships healthy since this industry truly is all about relationships. This means lowering your pride and placing yourself in other’s shoes when there is conflict, and showing gratitude when favors are given. I never expect special treatment and always am thankful when given opportunities. For my brand, I’ve always wanted to create a space where my clients are unapologetically who they want to be, and through collaboration we make their vision come to life. Everything else is secondary, and the beautiful moments come when the resulting collaborated fashion is a shared vision neither party envisioned at first.
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.
Well, during the current pandemic, my kitchen is the most exciting place. However, once the pandemic is over, Id say places like small Thai spots in East Hollywood that will knock your socks off in flavor, beautiful views from Griffith observatory during a Tuesday when its empty, a walk through Little Tokyo to get some sushi on a conveyer belt, and a stop to the best Korean place in town (Jun Won.) One of my favorite parts of LA is its diversity in culture. You can have a trip around the world without getting off the 101, and there is no place I’d rather be.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The person who immediately comes to mind first is Jose Galeana. During the beginning of my career, he really mentored me in what was expected as a stylist. During his campaigns and fashion shows, he taught me the small details of styling — kits, clamping, taping, hand sewing, etc — and it was this foundation on which I built my business. Of course, there were a variety of other mentors and significant people who shaped my career. My mother, who has worked tirelessly to see my business grow through positive encouragement, always being an ear through tough times and the wisdom to see the good times, and being my backbone when I thought I could never be a succesful stylist, is a relationship I will forever cherish. My time with American Apparel gave me an aesthetic foundation and a professional introduction into this business; including introductions to countless photographers, models, creative professionals, and more. Again, there are many more people who have mentored me throughout my career and I cherish each and every one because without them I would not be where I am today.
Phtographer: Raen Badua (Picture of Wilford, Marie Claire with Ava Max, Red Dress photo, Gucci look in grass field) Phtographer: Dalong Yang (Kris Wu Hapers Bazaar) Phtographer: Ron Mey (Harpers Bazaar with Nellys Pimentel) Phtographer: Jora Frantzis (Harpers Bazaar with Bebe Rexha) Phtographer: Elisabeth Caren (Sophie Turner in The Wrap Magazine) Phtographer: Manny Roman (Harpers Bazaar with Olivia Culpo, Gabriela Isler, and Zuleyka Rivera)