What Advice I Would Give - Stylists

Interested in knowing what life as a stylist is like? We've got you covered! In our new series "What Advice I Would Give" ( #waiwg ) we're going to be chatting with different creative professionals and collecting their advice for people interested in what they do. Comment below if you have any advice as a stylist that you'd also like to share!

Happy Mother’s Day!

August 1988. Quadras was flourishing. The Perimeter Mall holiday catalog would soon be going to press, and I was in Northside Hospital labor and delivery reviewing the final proofs. My first daughter, Alexandra, was born, and two weeks later I was back at work and she was in her nursery down the hall. Fourteen months later, my second daughter, Charlotte, was born, and five weeks later, we were all back at Quadras in the new two bedroom plus a playroom nursery we had built when adding on studio space for the newly awarded Macy’s Cellar account. (A contract that had us producing 50+ pages a week, 52 weeks a year, for 4+ years.)

Each Monday morning I would arrive loaded down with a weeks worth of baby clothes, bibs, diapers, and food, and collectively, we had 4 cribs, 4 high chairs, 2 playpens, and double the amount of toys for life at home and at Quadras.

The girls rode their big wheels through the studio, modeled for lighting tests, swung from Johnny Jump-Ups in the doorways, took their first steps, and had a kiddie pool in the side yard of our building. In their bedtime prayers they never failed to ask God to bless Ray, Rick, Beverly, and the other employees that were their friends and family, they ate their lunches and celebrated their birthdays in the same kitchen that we have today, (renovated several times since!) and they were on a first name basis with our clients.

Jane, then Carlyn, and then Janis were the amazing women that met us there each morning, cared for my children - the self-proclaimed company mascots, and balanced the unusual daytime routine of life in a photo studio and thriving company. One of my most prized possessions is the hand colored (with crayon), Xerox portraits of the girls from when Jane used to place them, face down, in the copy machine.

That routine lasted for seven years, until Alex went into the first grade, and Charlotte into kindergarten. Taking them to work was ofttimes a crazy and harrowing logistical nightmare, but it worked for me. Older and wiser, I know now that they would have also been fine at home, or in daycare, or with a relative, because with any of the options, I would have still been their mother, and would have loved them still, from the depths of my soul.

My girls say they have few memories of their early years here, but I have many; and today, Alex works at Quadras, and her first office was actually in the little room that had been her bedroom when she was a baby.

Work and motherhood is not for the faint of heart, but to all those mothers that seek to find balance between career and home life, and especially those mothers that have made careers at QI, I wish a heartfelt Happy Mother’s Day!

Cynthia A. Morgan

#TBT - Retro "Reminitions"

It was 1995 and I was channeling my best Heather Locklear, AKA Amanda Woodward, ad exec power suit, from the Aaron Spelling sudsy drama “Melrose Place”. Lime boucle, I had purchased it at the Bal Harbour shops on a recent business trip to Miami Beach.

Having recently sold (read article) Quadras to the public company Graphic Industries (read article), we were attending our first “President’s Meeting”, where we were two of the only three women presidents in the friendly, yet staunch, boy’s club. Front and center, Sara, chic in Armani, was standing next to “Chief”, Mark Pope, Sr., or MCP Three, as he was affectionately known, and after the photo op we were whisked off to meetings where Chief chewed on a cigar, and interrupted Mark Jr., the reigning President, with loud outbursts, if and when, he saw fit.

Dinner was at the opulent French restaurant, Toulouse, and while Chief told us he had never done well with “girls in business”, he seemed happy with our numbers (i.e. dollars) having the details of our business written on a scrap of paper and stored in his shirt pocket. After the dinner the boys went off to The Cheetah (a gentleman's club), and MCP III asked Sara and me to stay and have a drink with him. Brandy Alexander’s and ashtrays for everyone, the non-smoking rule didn’t seem to apply when Chief was involved.

He told us about his life, his business, and how he had sold his wife’s diamond to help create funds for what would eventually become a $500 million dollar company, that he and his sons sold in 1997 for $260 million to Wallace Computer Services. (I am guessing Mrs. Pope forgave him.)

It was a fortunate acquisition for Quadras, Inc., and for Sara and me personally. Pre-internet for us, I think it was 1997 when we acquired our first computers; I had simply picked up the phone, called Graphic Industries, and asked them if they wanted to buy us. Three months later, and pounds of legal papers, we were part of GI. They were wonderful to us, and we were happy being “the girls” and we missed them after they moved on and we became part of Wallace.

In 2000 Sara and I purchased the company back, and while the 90’s were a special time, today is pretty good as well.

Cynthia A. Morgan

We'd like to introduce to you...

Our latest project - a video tutorial for BlendSMART. They have created a spinning brush for flawless makeup application, which is now being sold by Sephora. QI is thrilled to have produced this video for BlendSMART and Sephora, and we want to share it with you! Let us know what you think on our Facebook!

Dressing For Success - Or Are We?

Riding home from work, listening to NPR, (yes, I am in my 50’s and listen to public radio), the topic was “Power Suits: How Dressing For Success At Work Can Pay Off” (read article).

My immediate memory went to myself decades ago as a high school and college student where dressing up on exam day was standard procedure…I felt that if I looked better, I performed better.

When Quadras was in its infancy, and Sara (the other half of QI's presidency) and I were in our 20’s, we over-dressed for every situation – big heels, power suits, lots of jewelry, and even a fur coat in winter. It made us feel, and we believed look, mature, sophisticated, smart, and capable of handling someone’s advertising needs as well as managing their budgets. Maybe it was the clothes, or maybe it was our sheer determination, but it seemed to work.

As the business matured and we grew up, we learned to assess circumstances, dress, and present ourselves accordingly when making presentations. Would the potential client prefer me of Sara? Would they be impressed, or put off by our fashion sense? Which would suit the customer and the presentation better – black leather or khakis?

We have also dealt with a casual business environment in which we have had to tell employees that t-shirts with profanities written on them, bare midriffs, and booty shorts, are not work attire, and have, on occasion, had to request tattooed legs be covered, or that an employee revise “their style” in the presence of clients. At one point in time, we wanted to have employee jumpsuit uniforms. This idea was not joyfully embraced.

So while these were my initial thoughts that I wanted to blog about, I also thought my views might seem outdated, and thus wanted to hear how one of my "millennials" would relate to the article. Here's what she had to say:

"Dressing for success – it’s a phrase I heard echo out of my mother’s mouth time after time. Dressing for success was a second religion to me- I didn’t want to go ANYWHERE without believing I would be the best-dressed person in the room. (I once wore a pencil skirt and 5 inch heels to a normal day of classes in the 9th grade). That tradition carried into the first year or so of my work life – where I would also wear unbearably high heels most days, and on a “casual day” I would at least wear a pressed, dress shirt.

However, I think the perspective of things is changing in our work culture. I believe that my generation is far more casual, not just in dress, but in so many areas of life. We’re casual in business, we’re casual in communication, we’re casual about relationships. We’re much less focused on what a person is wearing when we first meet them, rather than what they can bring to the table. We’re growing up in an extremely self-aware age that is, despite older generations believing this or not, much more real.

Everyone seems to think that our generation centralizes around narcissism, when in reality – the selfies, the online mingling, it all relates back to finding people who are being so open about their personal lives that we can easily relate to them. While all of that may seem off topic – it isn’t. It all relates back to how we are presenting ourselves – which is totally real. We’re put off by flash and “power mongrels”.  We’d rather meet and work with genuine people who show up as they are, people we can relate to, instead of trying to command a presence with their attire. The people who have the most social followings online are the ones who share their embarrassingly real stories, not the ones who look like they have totally perfect lives. And so – in a new work environment, we’d rather meet people we feel we can relate with and connect to, than people who seem so calculated or stuck up in their appearance.

The older I get, the more of a truth this becomes, not just in our generation, but the generation after mine. The tricky part is- we’re not always dealing with our generation. At this age, I mostly deal with the generation before me – who still wants to be wildly impressed by “how mature we seem”. They genuinely value a well- dressed person and I believe, equate that with success – whereas so many successful people our age are typically dressed in jeans and hoodies, sitting behind a computer drinking coffee most of the day. We’ve just learned to measure things differently.

That being said, I think it’s important as a young professional to understand both sides of that. If I know I’m going to be meeting someone older than me, someone who thinks differently, I know what I need to do to make them see me as powerful, or full of potential. I need to dress up. I need to wear that pencil skirt, that dress shirt. I need to make them see me as an anomaly- a young person that has their life together. I have to set myself apart from the crowd. The understanding of that type of thinking can’t be dismissed. It would be foolish to try to. Impressing those people is so important because they run so much of our world. But the reality is, I’m sitting in those meetings – looking smart, and focused – but my mind can’t stop thinking about getting home and putting on pajamas. The thought of kicking off my stilettos is dominating my mind – rather than the actual work I’m doing.

When I’m comfortable, when I’m in “athleisure” as this article put it – I’m crawling on the ground organizing things just so. I’m running from the front of the office to the back of the office in 2 minutes flat instead of wobbling down the hallway trying not to sprain an ankle. I’m ready for the next eight hours of work, or even ten hours some days, because I’m at ease. I can move. I can relax. And I can let my brain focus on what it really needs to, without fabric starch getting in the way.

That being said – I think that there is a time and a place for both, and it’s so important to take into account the age group of people you’re dealing with, as well as the type of encounter (a job interview, etc.).  It’s hard for me to really pick a side to this argument because I’m caught between the two worlds."

Interestingly, we both came to somewhat the same conclusion, which is to dress for the audience and the circumstance, although I still believe that pants without a zipper lead to weight gain, and sloppy appearance equates itself with sloppy work…. Just sayin’.