We are kicking off the “Celebrating Phenomenal Women” series with none other than Payton Dale!
Reigning from Music City (Nashville), Payton is a wardrobe stylist, podcaster, fashion designer, and published author. Though she can’t share all of the people she has assisted, her website, The Payton Project, says that she’s worked with celebrities like Rod Stewart, Stevie Nicks (Swoon! I’m such a fan), Simon and Garfunkel, Diana Ross, Amy Grant, and even Weird Al – to name a few. Her fans felt she was the perfect choice for this series because not only is she achieving all of her dreams but because….well, I don’t want to give it away. Keep reading to find out!
Samantha: Can you tell us about yourself?
Payton: I’m a body positive, rock n roll wardrobe stylist based out of Nashville, TN. I also do creative direction for artists for music videos and photo shoots. My first book came out last year. It’s called “Hang Up You Hang Ups: A Radical Guide to Healing Yourself through Personal Style”
S: Woah! You sound like a busy woman. How to you balance all of that?
P: I don’t. My work is my life and there’s not a separation.
S: Can you talk more about how you’re a “body positive, rock n’ roll stylist”? What does that look like?
P: Well, a lot of stylists in this part of the world still don’t dress anyone over a size 6. I think that’s complete bullshit. If I didn’t have numerous clients come to me after being turned down by other big names in the industry, I wouldn’t believe it. I’ll dress any creative that wants to help express themselves with their clothing. Body positivity also should be expressed by our clothing. It’s the only form of art we are legally obligated to buy. We need to have fun with it. The Rock n roll part is because unlike a lot of folks in my part of the world, I don’t really work with that many country artists. My family background is definitely in the country music business, so I rebelled and really latched on to rock n roll. It’s definitely expressed in the way I dress and present myself to the world. There’s no minimalism with my personal style, that’s for sure.
S: What got you into styling and body positivity in the first place?
P: I am an eating disorder survivor and apply what I learned while healing myself to the people I work for. Some people aren’t far enough along to undress in front of a stylist, some aren’t even at the point where they can have tags with numbers on them. I recognize all of these things and saw that there was a gap in the industry for stylists that not only had a background in the entertainment industry but knew how to approach it from a healthy mind set other than making the person feel like a product.
S: Who is your style icon?
P: Keith Richards
S: If a reader, local or not, was interested in hiring you as a stylist, what would that look like?
P: If they were local (I also travel to meet people. I’m portable!) I would start by meeting them either in person or on FaceTime. We talk about their body image, confidence levels, goals to achieve by hiring a stylist, and the project that I was hired to do. I create a mood board of my inspiration to give them an idea of what to expect from the overall idea we have done up with together. It’s very collaborative. Then we move on and pick a date to execute the project. I go out and borrow clothes from boutiques and designers for it. If it’s photos or videos I will often times book the crew and location, and I’ve been known to write and direct a music video. I just wrapped my third one yesterday! I also do personal shopping for those who are needing entirely new wardrobes but I really love the interacting with fellow creatives. Online it’s the same without me being there. I do package sessions where we tackle your body image and confidence, come up with your personal style, do a mood board and closet edit, and then I virtually help you shop for pieces. I wanted to make my skills accessible to everyone from all over the world at any price point.
S: I feel that a common misconception about personal stylists is that you have to be a celebrity, rich, and famous to have one. That’s incorrect, right?
P: Totally. It’s just like having a hairstylist or a nail tech as far as I’m concerned. I take all the guess work out of what works for your body, your budget, and how to find it. Consider me a real estate agent for clothing. You want a great two-bedroom house in a good location with high rated schools? You want a perfectly tailored leather jacket that’s not TOO black? I can do it.
S: What keeps you motivated to do this every day?
P: I stay motivated by the people I help, by knowing that I’m building something greater than myself, and when the never-ending search for the pair of perfect jeans comes to an end.
S: What does a typical day look like for you then?
P: There is no typical day. Yesterday I was on set all day directing and styling a video that I wrote. It looked like lugging garment bags in the rain, spending four hours making great art, and breaking it all down. I had to be up at 6AM to get a client ready for some events she’s doing today. I’ll be with her all week. I had to run out and buy some boots for her, edit some content for my website, finalize some looks on my phone for a fashion show I styled, and am now finally sitting down to catch my breath with a coffee and this month’s Vogue. Tonight is a runway show and an after party. I’ve got red carpets coming up this week that I’m styling for, tracking down pieces for a video I’m working on at the end of this month, answering emails about suit fabric for a custom piece I’m having made…It’s always something. But it’s never boring!
S: What do you say to the woman who feels nervous or intimidated to take that leap and pursue her dreams?
P: That there’s no such thing as security, so you might as well do what you want to do. Think about it. My generation was taught that if you stay in school, get good grades, work hard…follow the rules…that you’d get into a good college, get a good job, and then live out your days that way until you can retire. My generation witnessed the 2008 crash. Tuition is higher than ever and most of my friends that chose the “safe” way are going to be paying student loan debt until their 30’s with entry level paying jobs. Even the ones that did get good jobs were laid off fairly quickly. The only thing you can bet on is yourself. If you don’t trust yourself? Don’t take the risk.
S: After a long stressful day, what do you do to relax and unwind?
P: I’m big into meditation and baths.
S: And what about if we met up in your town for lunch – where would you suggest we go & order?
P: The Wild Cow [an east-Nashville restaurant serving vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free food]. Buffalo beans and greens bowl for sure.
S: Describe one of your biggest failures – What lessons did you learn, and how did it contribute to your success?
P: I got stiffed on a payment that I already had discounted. I lost close to $1k. I learned to stick up for myself and my pricing, and always get it in writing.
S: Do you have any new goals you’re working towards now – dreams of being a stylist in another city or increasing clientele or anything like that?
P: I work in LA and have worked in NYC, but I would love to work in both of them more. I’m one of the few people that isn’t dying to live in Nashville anymore. I booked one of my dream clients recently, so honestly? Just more of the same. I’ve improved so much in the last few years of working that I just want to keep it going. It’s a fun ride!
S: Have you faced any major disappointments in your career? Like not landing a client you had been hoping for? Or some early problems you faced? If so, how has that affected your motivation?
P: I have. I’ve learned over time to not give up and that everything happens the way it’s supposed to. The clients that are nightmares in the beginning are going to be nightmares later down the road. I’ve also learned that firing clients is a necessity if you work in the industry and want to maintain sanity. My motivation used to waiver but now it takes something huge to knock me off course.
S: One of the motivations for this series is to prove that we women can raise each other up without having to tear someone down in the process. What advice do you have for the woman who feels torn down right now?
P: Get off of social media for a few hours. It’s only going to make you feel worse about yourself. Everyone’s sharing their highlights. That’s why I try to talk about everything in between.
Of course, I couldn’t end our interview without asking Payton to share one style tip that has never failed her, “Don’t save your nice stuff for a special occasion. Wear your lacy underwear under your jeans, wear your Chanel bag instead of letting it sit on a shelf, and quit waiting for that special day. Make every day special by what you put on!”
Don’t miss the next phenomenal women we are celebrating! Be sure to subscribe or follow me on Instagram to stay updated on the next spotlights.