This month Marie Claire is celebrating Image Makers: the behind-the-scenes heroes who create the images and looks we gush over in print and on social media. Photographers, hair stylists, make-up artists, stylists, and fashion designers are responsible for breathing life into the fashion industry, and that’s why we’re honouring them this month – both the icons and the new guard.
One such image maker is Limpopo-born style maven Kwena Baloyi, whose brain we picked for career insights in a brief Q&A session. This image maker boasts an Instagram following of about 20 000 and has styled TV shows, magazines, and various commercial projects. Most recognised for her innovative, offbeat style and ever-changing, out-of-the-box crown, which she attributes to her long-time fear of getting her hair combed, Kween Kwena has established herself as a leading stylist in Africa.
‘What people don’t know is that I dream of my outfits maybe a week before,’ she says of her awe-inspiring ensembles.
Baloyi has been a stylist for over five years now, and she shared some of her career journey with us:
What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard?
Ask. None of us knows it.
Who do you look up to?
People that are not in this industry. Fresh eyes are always the best.
What’s your biggest highlight to date?
I’m able to connect my clients to themselves before anything. Because style is basically you, and if you don’t know or have no idea of who you are, you’ll never get it. So every time I achieve that it’s a definite highlight – seeing them accepting how they look and what they have, being able to testify to their friends and family, that gets me to do even more.
Do you have any secret weapons on set or when designing?
Have more than they asked for. Have back-up on your back-up because sometimes you might have to jump in to save the day. Always rather be over-prepared because there’s no such thing as too many clothes anyway.
Funniest moment on set/behind the scenes?
Hmmmmm, I’m always the funny one, they say. I dance and make people dance too, because we all need a shake-up now and then to get focused.
Word of advice to those starting out?
Know thyself before anything else. It’s like someone praying against demons, they say it’s either you come right with that prayer or you going to leave with demons. So come right or just don’t try it. You are what the business needs, master that and you will win it all.
What’s next for you?
At the moment there’s a lot, and there’s a possible shift from styling. Just keep watching – we’re going Wild Wild West and it’s going to be amazing.
Be sure to pick up a copy of our Image Makers issue on shelf right now to see the full shoot and get a complete look into the lives of stylists, photographers, make-up artists, and fashion designers.