1) Set yourself apart with a signature style- This is an area that really separates the pros from the amateurs. With pinterest and internet access in general the average mom and or hobbyist can and does most of the things that so called stylists are doing. Thats not enough to start a business. Original ideas and cutting edge trends are what get you noticed in this kind of creative field. You cant get there by taking inspiration from other tables. As a matter of fact if you are serious about styling you should stay far away from Pinterest and google in general. Ideas should come from your head. A few of the things I did in the beginning : Felt table drops with names to match the party themes and naming food tents with clever matching names. If you saw those things you knew it was a C&C table :) Signature. Then once you have followers that have no idea who you are PERSONALLY outside of your work then start switching it up :)
2) Dont cut corners - Custom decor makes a table. Custom is not cheap. If you "saved money" it looks like you saved. Thats a wonderful concept for local events but if your desire is to break into an already over saturated industry you have to be willing to invest a little. If you purchase 85% of your party items at a local retail chain you don't have a lot to offer clients or publications. Believe in your vision and invest. Everyone is already doing parties for much less. People come to pros because they want visual eye candy!
3) Food Doesnt Make a Table : Your table needs to be pleasing (read 95% complete looking) to the eye BEFORE desserts are placed on it. Food serves as part of the aesthetics on a dessert table but it should literally be the finishing touches and NOT what your table depends on to look complete. The balances with height and depth etc should already be there. Too many aspiring designers are co dependent on the beautiful treats!
4) Dont surround yourself with "yes people"- Everyone loves to have encouragement but you want to make sure its from an authentic source. My grandmother and best friend love all of my parties lol! So do several locals who arent as accustomed to seeing very elaborate parties. They are probably not the best ones to ask for advice on the visual balance. My own mother however is brutally honest and I can also count on a few of my very successful party peers. Being stubborn in the beginning only hurts you as a stylist. Your encouragement should never come from ONLY sources that know you personally. They don't want to hurt your feelings and its nearly impossible for them not to have a natural bias. Ask for honest opinions.
5) Dont represent yourself as a business until you are at the level you want to be professionally : Once the work is out there and tied to your name it is OUT. Its the internet and there is no going back. Dont refer to events not done under your business as 'work' They are practice and thats it. Your body of work should ALWAYS be polished, professional and ready for the world to see. Winging it as you go is a huge mistake. Get the appropriate amount of feedback before taking the big jump.
6) DO use a professional photographer: This should seriously be #1. Its ALL a waste if you dont have this. No one wants to look at cell shots or point and shoot pics no matter how good your styling is. Enough said.
I am SO fortunate to have one that I click with so well. Our styles are SO suited to one another. Find a good fit for you. Its worth it! daniellemccannphotography.com
7) Let the work speak for itself : I've found the longer I've done this the less wordy I am about the tables or the process. I couldnt write 3 pages worth now if I wanted too. If you have to explain too much what you have done or what you are trying to pull off...then you probably havent actually pulled it off. Less words more work.
8) Vendors : Have backups. Dont let any ONE baker or crafter or table linens creator be your SOLE source. I've started from scratch at least THREE times over now. Be prepared for it. It happens. NONE of this is luck. A good stylist knows how to build a team of professionals anytime they need to. YOU should be the common denominator.
9) Dont solicit vendors without a body of work : Its RUDE to contact vendors if you havent been published. Nationally is the preference. Its INSANE to contact them if you have NEVER even been featured on one of the major TWO online blogs. Please dont do it. It makes us all look very bad. Its offensive and insulting.
10) Clever details are a must - Witty, smart tables with clever details are always better than just a pretty table. One of my favorite quotes is "Creativity is intelligence having fun" Aim to have a few thought provoking details on each table.
I hope some of these were helpful to those that have asked! I'll try to post pointers more often but these are a great starting point. The next one I'll dedicate to to collaborations with companies. Lots of helpful pointers there for those wanting to get started with brands :)