In the late 1990s, Misa Hylton was behind one of the biggest shifts in R&B and hip-hop style. Her fashion-forward footprint prevails today. At 17-years-old, Hylton started styling the R&B group Jodeci. During that time, R&B groups dressed in suits and hard-bottom shoes.
Hylton, along with Sean “Diddy” Combs, the father of her son Justin, persuaded Andre Harrell, the founder of Uptown Records, to shake things up with combat boots, hoodies and baseball caps to the back. With the success from that decision, Hylton set off a domino effect of historic moments in fashion and music including one of the most memorable moments of the MTV Video Music Awards when Lil’ Kim hit the red carpet in a lilac one-shouldered catsuit with a sequin pasty covering one breast.
Another iconic fashion moment for Hylton was styling Lil Kim’s “Crush On You” video—with a concept inspired by The Wiz.
From Mary J. Blige and Missy Elliott to 50 Cent and LaLa Anthony—Hylton is behind some of the biggest names in R&B and hip-hop. After years of fashion styling, the entrepreneur, lifestyle architect, and mother of three children felt an urge to give back. She and Jai Hudson launched the Misa Hylton Fashion Academy.
Below, she shares her advice on the business side of fashion and staying true to yourself in business, relationships, and motherhood.
On the importance of understanding the business side of fashion:
By the time I was 25 years old I made $1 million as a fashion stylist with no tools and no firm foundation or understanding about finance and how to take that money and build upon it. So I’ve always been passionate about continuing to learn about finance and sharing information through the Misa Hylton Fashion Styling Academy.
As stylists, you deal with a budget. To be effective you have to understand how to deal with money across the board. Nowadays, on the high end, you have some stylists that are making $15,000 – $20,000 a day. Even if you’re a stylist making $1,500 a day, or $500 a day, that’s a lot of money—but no taxes are paid out to their companies. So as an independent contractor, setting goals, managing budget, and income and then learning how to plan taxes are super important because you may work for a month and not work a month.
On not losing yourself in business, relationships, and motherhood:
My goals and the things that I wanted to do as a young mother in the first 5 years of motherhood changed at year 10, then it changed again at 15 years of motherhood. It kept evolving. One thing that has helped me is not letting any sort of emotions that don’t serve me stay too long and hinder me.
You have to pay attention to how you feel because that’s your navigation. Be honest with yourself: Does this work for me? Does this not? What do I want to create? How do I want to show up and who do I want to be in this moment? And if you can do that at every moment you can’t go wrong. You may stumble, you may not make the best decisions all the time but we’re humans, that’s the beauty of life.