Doing business in her very own style

She may have been noted as one of the "most powerful" fashion editors by every style bible, but this creative’s iconic career goes well beyond celebrity styling. Having fostered a clientele list that includes some of the entertainment industry’s greatest faces, this US-based powerhouse has turned her focus to include other women across the world with her fashion tech app Wishi that brings together fashion experts, brands and consumers. Driven by her earlier professional experience, Welch says of the mentorship programme, “I had two wonderful mentors who instilled what leadership felt like, looked like… and [as a mentor] I like to say I’m your PHD… giving you those tools of how to run your business”. From red carpet to philanthropy, her maverick spirit saw her also found x karla, a line of perfectly cut tees that redefines this wardrobe staple. And more recently, The Period Company, offering sustainable menstrual products at accessible prices and in inclusive sizes. Welch’s outlook is underpinned by the core belief of working with women for women.

I didn’t ever feel like I needed to be put into a certain silo; I felt like I had other stuff to do.
Karla WelchStylist, fashion designer and entrepreneur

Set your own rules

Karla Welch is a the Hollywood stylist known for her drive to push the limits of the industry. She’s been namechecked as one of fashion’s most powerful voices, defining the potential of dress from the red carpet to philanthropy and mentorship – which is exactly what brings her to The Art of Drive.  

Here, she shares her essential tools for success, from building strong partnerships to cheering on your peers and trailblazing a path that’s right for you.

Team up to step forward

The key to success is to always be growing together with your community. In the fashion industry, the collaborative spirit between the talent and the stylist is key, it’s the strongest partnership in the business of creating an image. 

You meet people at the perfect moment – I’ve been working with some clients for more than a decade and our stars have risen together. Iron sharpens iron. That energy creates something quite magical. 

Be open to finding inspiration in others, too. For example, I might go to a rock show and get ideas from there. Get yourself a little lost in other artists’ processes, that’s where good ideas come from.

Fine tune your systems

Preparation is key. I really believe in being so prepared that I already know what we’re going to wear, before you even come in the door. Fine tune your systems, create your own lane, take things into your own hands. A great styling team really works strategically, we’re always thinking forward. 

Know that you will always learn something from each new project or experience. At the beginning of my career I never said no, I said yes to everything. I knew I could learn from the process and that has served me very well.

Move outside the box

Stay open to where your career might take you next. Zipping up dresses does have a timeline, so I thought, ‘What are my greater and bigger opportunities?’ I detect mine and decided to take them unapologetically.

I didn’t ever feel like I needed to be put into a certain silo; I felt like I had other stuff to do. Twenty years ago you wouldn’t think about a stylist possibly being a creative director. But I am a creative director. It’s undeniable that stylists are creative directors. I always want to expand that vocabulary, and expand my influence.

The importance of cheerleading and mentoring

There are so many opportunities and your peers often share the same values and experiences, so there’s no reason not to cheer people on. I love the idea of being a cheerleader, I cheerlead every other stylist.

When it comes to being a mentor to others, I like to say “I’m your PHD”, because if someone’s really committed, I want them at that level where they’re almost ready to go on their own. Then I can just give them the tools, leaving them in a place where they could continue that mentorship themselves.

Take your time

Right now, I think the younger generation is stressed out about having achievements by an unrealistic age. I’m 47 years old and I’m just at the – I don’t even want to say the prime, I have so much prime left – but I’ve hit my stride as a creative and as someone who really loves their work.

So, know that there is lots of time, and don’t buckle under that silly pressure that you have to have something achieved by the time you’re 30. You’re already achieving. You’re here, you’re living in this crazy world.