Words by Vivienne Lee
From studying and interning just like us, to working as Style Director for The Australian Woman’s Weekly, Maya Wyszynski gives us an insight on what her career journey was like and the many unforgettable experiences along the way.
On a chilly Monday morning, I got the chance to interview our trainer Maya, to gain a deeper insight on what it’s like to be style director for one of Australia’s most well-known fashion and lifestyle magazines. She has worked with several Australian actors, models, influencers and personalities, as well as travelling to New York Fashion Week to attend and report shows. Maya is always on the go. From choosing shoot locations to visiting showrooms and finalising looks, she works closely with multiple amazing creatives and individuals which will always be a highlight within her day to day work life.
For this interview, I wanted to get to know Maya beyond what we see as our trainer and gain a little behind the scenes on the life of a Style Director. It left me feeling nothing but driven and inspired to focus on my end goal but also practice patience as well. As this lockdown may be coming to an end, I hope that from reading through this interview that you will be left as inspired as I was and we can all go and chase our dreams without any boundaries!
WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT ROLE WITHIN THE FASHION INDUSTRY?
“I am currently acting Style Director at the Australian Women’s Weekly and a Diploma Trainer at The Fashion Institute.”
WHAT DOES YOUR ROLE ENTAIL?
“We style main fashion in the magazine and also the celebrity upfront section as well. So sometimes we get a brief coming through from the art department or the picture department saying “hey guys we have a photo opportunity with whoever it may be” and then I will need to get back to my picture editor and art team, and then pitch my idea which includes where we should shoot, what the styling would be like, the whole vision of the photoshoot. And then they would either give me a heads up or they’ll say maybe let’s change this part or add this to it.”
“In terms of main fashion, I have a majority of the creative vision for that. For example, I have a photoshoot out now which is with Kate Waterhouse and her two little girls for Mother’s Day and I found this beautiful amazing location. I pitched that to my editor in our weekly meeting and she loved it. From there I had my inspiration for what clothing I would like to include, then I would contact PR agencies, see what samples they have available or I would physically go into the showroom and make a pool of the clothes that I like. Once I have all the clothes together in the fashion cupboard, I would then start styling them and putting looks together. Once I have my final 8 looks, I would request a meeting with my editor and she would approve my looks. When they are approved, only then can we can start organising the shoot. I would send a call out to the whole production team such as hair and makeup, photographer etc with all the details of the shoot.”
“It’s just go go go... there could be a few shoots going on at once, sometimes I would have three shoots in just the one week. You need to be able to multitask, and be thinking of the next project as well, while also being aware of deadlines because they come up very quickly.”
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED AND WHAT WAS YOUR PATHWAY LIKE?
“I completed a three-year Bachelor Degree majoring in Styling and just like yourself in my final year of studies I interned. I interned 1 day a week for a whole year at Grazia Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar because at that stage they were right next door to each other so it was very convenient to intern at both of those magazines. My aim was to absorb as much of the fashion industry as possible through internships. Through my internship, there was an opportunity at News Weekly Magazine and I was lucky enough to be put forward for that position, and I did happen to get it. Since then I moved throughout the company in different positions. My first position was Fashion Assistant at the News Weekly and I slowly moved up. I have been working at Bauer Media for twelve years.”
IS NEWS WEEKLY, WOMENS WEEKLY and BAUER MEDIA ALL LINKED?
“Yeah so they’re all under the same umbrella. Once you’ve got your foot in the door, you get opened up to other opportunities throughout the company.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE SHOOT SO FAR?
“That’s a really tricky question to pinpoint just one, but I think, you know, like they say working with children and animals is a no no in the industry just because you don’t know what to expect and how they will react, but I have to say that some of my favourite shoots have to be either with dogs or children.”
“Working in media, I always feel so privileged and really want to create something beautiful. I did a shoot with David Jones and the RSPCA, while I was working with OK! Magazine. It was an Autumn/Winter trend story and I got to incorporate the RSPCA into that shoot, it was quite amazing. I feel so privileged to be working in a magazine and producing beautiful shoots that make a difference. The emotion, connection and strength all in one picture. To have the RSPCA in that was quite special. It was a full-on day with a big crew. We had three David Jones Ambassadors on board (Jacinta Franklin, Jess Gomez and Montana Cox), 5 rescue dogs plus their owners, talent managers, hair and makeup, the photographer and our assistants… looking back it was a very fun and full on day.”
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
“OMGosh, my inspiration comes from all different areas, like it could be a beautiful location that I’ve scouted, it could be a collection I’ve just viewed, it could be a runway show that I’ve seen or it could even just be walking down the street and something catching my eye if it’s like a colour or an image. It could be anything.”
WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST MOTIVATION WHEN TIMES GOT HARD THROUGHOUT YOUR JOURNEY TOWARDS YOUR CURRENT ROLE AS STYLE DIRECTOR?
“I think the biggest motivation for me is knowing my end goal and knowing my dream job. Throughout my whole career I knew that I wanted to be a Fashion Director, Fashion Editor or whatever it may be but I knew that I wanted to work in magazines. So just knowing in the back of your mind, whenever you’re going through ups and downs, you just have to be patient and it takes time. If you’re focussed and motivated, you’ll get there.
WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S IMPORTANT TO INTERN AND WHAT IS YOUR BEST ADVICE?
“My goodness… so obviously interning, like I can’t stress enough how important it is. It’s your doorway into gaining hands on experience in the Fashion Industry within whatever pathway you choose to go towards. So even just creating some kind of relationship with your manager or team members. Those little chit chats in the kitchen or just making sure employees know who you are, they know your name. just little things like that make a difference.”
“Practice makes perfect so always putting your hand up for any opportunity, even if it’s something you maybe don’t like doing, but just give it a go because you just don’t know you might end up enjoying it.”
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 CAREER HIGHLIGHTS?
“I got the chance to interview Jean Paul Gaultier, face to face. That was actually my first interview I’ve ever done and I was thrown into the deep end. I was so nervous but it was amazing. He was so nice and friendly and made me feel really comfortable, we spoke for so long.”
“Another highlight was being flown to NYFW to report on the shows and actually attend some of the shows as well which was amazing.”
“And also, just working with such amazing creative and different kinds of people as well would have to be a highlight. I actually got the chance to style Victoria’s Secret Supermodel Shanina Shaik, that was one of my favourites as well.”
IF THERE WAS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WOULD LIKE TO TELL EVERY STUDENT AT THE FASHION INSTITUTE WHAT WOULD IT BE?
“I think the one I would choose is just remembering the way you present yourself and hold yourself together says a thousand words. Going to those interviews or for your internships as well, I know it’s hard because you guys are just starting off but being confident, polite, nice as well as being present in the moment makes a huge difference. Just asking for help, asking questions and just try to get as much information out of your trainers or your mentors as much as possible.”