Everyday Icons: The Prop Stylist

Curious to read the ins and outs of a career in styling? Read our interview with prop stylist extraordinaire Ginny Branch!
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Curious to read the ins and outs of a career in styling? Read our interview with prop stylist extraordinaire Ginny Branch!
ginny-branch

Image Credit: Ali Harper

Ever wondered what it would be like to shop, arrange and photograph products all the live long day? Of course, there's much more to being a prop stylist than the aforementioned highlights, but Ginny Branch makes it look just as easy. With clients like Anthropologie, Gap and Kinfolk, she's carved out a living doing what she loves - all day, every day. Read our inspiring interview with one of our favorite (extra)ordinary role models:

OK, so the life of a stylist feels so crazy glamorous. But it's way more than shopping all day, right? (Right?) Tell us what a day in the life of Ginny Branch is like.

Well, it's not glamorous but I truly, madly, deeply love what I do. A typical day looks something like this:

7:30-10:00 am: Answer emails and social media time. Somewhere in there, I squeak in a decaf coffee and develop new ideas/moodboard/storyboard for both myself and clients.

10:00 am-1:00 pm: Resourcing, whether it be shopping or scouring the city/internet for props for photoshoots or for new props to add to my prop stash. This involves an insane amount of loading and unloading bags of goods (which is super fun in the Georgia summer heat #psyche #false). This is also usually when I have meetings with all of the incredible photographers, artists, designers, and clients that I am fortunate enough to work with. One of the best parts of my job is the insanely talented people I work with who all help me be a visual storyteller because of their beautiful work.

1:00-5:00 pm: This is usually when I am pow-wowing with my team for photoshoots or events. We also spend a horrible amount of cleaning and organizing our studio. I detest cleaning but it is such an integral part of what stylists do. This is also when a lot of pre-production and prep work happens which can be anything from designing, crafting, or helping my talented pal and studiomate

Amy Osaba

with floral arranging. Over the last year, a team and I have been further developing

CAMP

, a year round little school where we offer classes, crafternoons, workshops, and small gatherings to further connect and nurture the needs of artists/designers/stylists/

photographers/thinkers/makers/

movers and shakers.

5:00-7 pm: I try and devote this time to spending with my stud of a husband, sweet beagles, dear friends, or supportive family. Balance is not my strength but I always want to have some quiet time with the people I love the most. I used to have a great system of going on walks with friends in the early morning or in the evening and I need to start that again. Also, remind me to start yoga...

7:00-2:00 am: I circle back to answering emails, keeping up with social media, and developing creative direction for clients. Creative Direction/Consulting is a major leg of my business and I have clients in several different timezones so I try and be available during their workdays as well.

Wow, we're exhausted just reading that! So how did you become a stylist? What has your creative path looked like, with all its twists and turns?

I studied Fashion + Fibers at SCAD in Savannah, GA and had about 5 different internships in New York with various designers and magazines like Kenneth Cole, Libertine, Slow and Steady Wins the Race, Costello Tagliapietra and Nylon Magazine. I moved to New York and worked in retail for Marc Jacobs which evolved to visual merchandising at Maison Martin Margiela, which is such a natural transition to styling. I briefly interned for two different stylists in Atlanta before deciding to branch out on my own.

Any particular challenges in your career or personal life? And how did those challenges shape your current life philosophy?

So many challenges! How long do we have? First of all, I highly recommend assisting for someone for at least a year to learn mistakes on someone else's dime. I have made so many costly mistakes that just make me cringe. Also, running your own business is expensive and unfortunately requires a lot of personal sacrifices that can often impose on your spouse/partner. My husband deserves a medal for being so supportive and patient. I also joke that there should be support groups for people married to entrepreneurs. Also, a huge kudos to mothers who work. Y'all are my personal heroes. I also find I feel extremely guilty all day long because I can never accomplish everything on my to-do list and I constantly worry I am letting someone down. I am a huge people pleaser and I want everyone to be happy, all the time. Which is insanely unrealistic and I'm trying to not let perfect be the enemy of good. I also stopped comparing a long time ago. I love that phrase "comparison is the thief of joy" so I try not to let others (or myself) get discouraged. In fact, I genuinely find delight in the success of others so I'm constantly trying to offer that perspective. It's a lot more fun being a cheerleader than a Debbie Downer. Better for your soul...

Amen, Ginny! So let's talk organization. You juggle so many responsibilities as a stylist - how do you stay organized and top of everything? And how do you separate personal Ginny from professional Ginny? Are the two symbiotic?

If there is any part of me that is organized, it is thanks to an excellent right-hand woman, Jenn Gietzen, my iPhone, and a lot of apps. Mailbox app has truly revolutionized my inbox and Teux Deux is a personal favorite for my daily checklist. But honestly, I'm as far from type A as can be. One look at my car and you'd know that - the minivan is like hoarders on wheels... Oh and there is no separation of church and state with personal me and professional me. What you see is what you get.

Clementine Daily is a space for women who believe in embracing simple pleasures, setting realistic expectations and bettering their lives to better the lives around them. In your eyes, how do you fit in with that mission?

I could not be more excited about Clementine Daily. I am in constant pursuit of beauty and I definitely find it in the smallest of pleasures- beautiful wildflowers foraged from an abandoned parking lot, my warm and happy snuggly beagles, really decadent cheese from a local cheesemonger, a wrinkled linen tablecloth, or even sharing wine with friends under bistro lights on a hot, sultry, summer day. For me, I value experiences over things which seems contradictory to the nature of my profession but I'd rather meet a friend for a walk than buy a new pair of shoes. However, if I can combine going to a flea market with a friend, well, that really is my vision of a perfect day!

You live and work in Atlanta, GA. To be fair, GA doesn't quite get the credit it deserves. What do you wish people know about your hometown?

Such a great point! Styling in Atlanta presented its fair share of challenges in the beginning but there is a crazy amount of talented photographers who I owe every single gig to. Other benefits of styling in Atlanta is the ability to have your own car and cheap studio rent, say compared to NYC or LA. I love having a studio to work and be inspired.

Sum up the life of a stylist in one sentence. And what would your advice be to a budding stylist?

A stylist is a visual storyteller and one part of a greater sum of individuals who make beautiful images. My advice would be to surround yourself with people more talented than you are. Be brutally critical of your own work and a cheerleader for others. The best part of styling is undoubtedly the people you work with.

So tell us, what's in your stylist toolkit?

What's not in my toolkit, ha?:

-tape of every kind (gorilla tape, blue tape, masking tape, packing tape, double sided tape, and double sided mounting squares)

-scissors (pinking, paper, fabric, and garden shears)

-hot glue gun, fabric glue, and epoxy

-zip ties, fishing line, and floral wire

-for making things level, clear plastic shims, makeup wedges, conefoil, and quarters (in a pinch)

-straight pins, safety pins, bobby pins. bulldog clips of every size. (a-clamps are excellent for smoothing tablecloth wrinkles by clipping one to the edge and letting the weight pull the wrinkle right out)

-steamer and iron

-tweezers

-baby powder

-bleach pens/stain removers

-measuring tape

-paint brushes and q-tips

-rubbing alcohol and glycerine

-empty spray bottles

-hammer

What is your personal motto or mantra?

Can I steal Conan O'Brien's?  “If you work really hard, and you're kind, amazing things will happen.” I've seen this proven true time and time again for all of my friends and their successes.

What are five everyday items you can't bear to live without, personally?

Aside from my husband, beagles, friends, and family?  I would say my iPhone, Pinterest, a panama hat, red lipstick, and wildflowers.

p.s. Don't you just love Ginny? For more inspired gals, don't miss an Everyday Icon feature (we publish a new interview every Wednesday!). Subscribe here.