Yetunde Ayinmide, senior in apparel merchandising, is the mind behind one of Auburn University’s femboys — Brandon Rowand.
“He’s not actually a femboy,” Ayinmide said. “We were talking about it, and I thought it was so funny — but, sometimes I’ll style him and he doesn’t really care what he wears, so sometimes I’ll put him in skirts.”
Occasionally putting Rowand in skirts is just one part in Ayinmide’s journey to becoming a full-time stylist after graduating Auburn next fall. A couple of times a month, she’ll ask her friends or even strangers in the street if they want to be in a shoot, with her as the stylist.
“My life is pretty hectic, so I really try to do it when I can,” she said. “It’s mainly my friends, and people I meet, and I’d be like, ‘Hey, my name is Yetunde. I’m a stylist, can I take pictures of you one day?’ Or, if I see a nice car, I ask them if I can use it in a photo shoot, and most people will be really cool about it.”
Not only does Ayinmide do the shoots to expand her resume and experience — Ayinmide said she also does them because she genuinely loves styling. It was a love that splintered out and grew from seeing fashion in her mom’s Avon magazines.
“I’ve been into it for as long as I can remember,” she said. “I went to a really strict private school when I was little, and the closest thing I could get to fashion was, you know, the catalogues. I would cut out pieces of clothing and, you know, match them together. I always said I wanted to be a designer; I didn’t know stylist was a thing.”
Ayinmide’s mom had given her a spiral notebook when she was younger after seeing her mix and match clothes from her magazines, and she would pair shirts, shoes, and pants, for the winter, fall and summer.
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“It was all stuff that I would wear,” Ayinmide said. “I didn’t know that after writing down all the clothes in such detail that I would sooner or later buy ... when I got old enough, when I had my own money.”
She kept making more and more books and eventually ended up going to public school, which widened her horizons beyond what she saw in 17 Magazine. She was eventually able to buy her own clothes and develop her fluctuating style.
“I feel like I don’t really have a specific style,” Ayinmide said. “It goes off of my mood, which is kind of crazy. When I think of my outfits and what I wear, I usually think about it a week prior. It’s just, like, when would be the right time to wear them after I think of them.”
Ayiminde said she feels like her style is timeless — something she would wear in 2017, she would also wear today, with the addition of a necklace or some other accessory. However, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, she said she feels as if she is losing some of her creativity.
“I really don’t process them as quickly, or be as sure on it, ‘cause I feel like I haven’t seen some of my stuff in a long time,” Ayinmide said. “During quarantine, I was wearing the same three outfits every week.”
On the other hand, she said she felt like it made her better in a way.
“I really have to look outside for inspiration, now,” Ayinmide said. “You know, like fashion news and trends and stuff. It really makes me look more towards the future to see what’s next.”
Ayinmide is currently working hard for her future. Not only does she set up shoots with her friends for experience, she also sends out her resume to current working stylists.
“Instead of waiting for school to end, I really wanted to start looking for work now,” Ayinmide said. “I ended up going on Instagram and emailed a bunch of stylists. I sent out over a hundred emails, but I was like, ‘You know what? I’m just going to go to New York and see what happens,’ so I saved up some money.”
Luckily, a stylist, Tashiann Yasmine, got back to her and invited Yetunde to work on a photo shoot with her. Although the first shoot they were meant to work on together ended up being cancelled, they had the opportunity to work together on another one. After, Yasmine asked Ayinmide to be her permanent assistant.
“I told her I couldn’t because I’m in Alabama, but I’ve been her permanent assist now for almost two years,” Ayinmide said, “I’ve just been doing everything I could online, to the best of my ability.”
Through this connection and potential future connections, Ayinmide hopes this will open her up to a world of opportunities, any and all of those available to stylists.
“I want to be like a wardrobe stylist for music videos, or a personal stylist,” Ayinmide said. “Or like, costume designing, which is like a stylist for movies and stuff, or editorial stylist, because you work at a magazine, and I feel like it’s way more of a stable job.”
Ayinmide says the key to being a stylist and chasing your dreams is to believe in yourself and be confident in what you want to do.
“If you’re trying to get into the fashion industry, being insecure will get you nowhere.” Ayinmide said. “Fashion is so opinionated, and it’s objective, so it can be anything. Just be confident in what you want to do, start early and do it to the best of your abilities with your resources.”
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