Stylist Michelle Obama Shares How She Won Her Gig

Stylist Michelle Obama Shares How She Won Her Gig

Welcome to our new podcast, Who Who Wear With Hillary Kerr . Consider it as your direct line to the designers, stylists, beauty experts, editors, and tasters who shape the fashion and beauty world. Subscribe to Who What Wear With Hillary Kerr on Apple Podcasts and Spotify .

In this week's episode of Who What Wear With Hillary Kerr, our fellow founder spoke to two of the most vibrant women in the fashion and beauty game.

Meredith Koop became a household name after Netflix released the documentary Michelle Obama Became . The stylist has spent more than a decade acting as the former First Lady’s fashion advisor. She has been the mastermind behind countless iconic fashion moments including Mrs. Obama in his pants at President Biden’s recent inauguration and Balenciaga boot moment. She talked to Hillary about how she fell in her career, how she approaches her unique line of work, why she chose to work with emerging brands, and her plans for what might be. we expect from him in the future.

Our second guest needs a little introduction. As the founder of not one, not two, not even three, but four companies (including our own Who What Wear), he faces familiar faces with readers old and new. Recently, she launched the minimalist beauty brand Merit. She shared her story of how the brand became, why having a clean formula feels important, and some tips on launching your own business.

Read on for some highlights from Koop and Power's interviews that will inspire you the week ahead.

HK: I was curious if you could talk a little bit about how you started your relationship with Mrs. . Obama and for the first time you worked together.

MK: So I met Michelle for the first time in Chicago. I met him through a former employer. I worked after college at a high end fashion b Boutique and through it, I met Mrs. Obama. I really formed that relationship with him over time. Crazy how time passed, but I guess it was about 10 years. I started as an assistant stylist and then at the end of 2010, I became the main stylist. He has always been very kind to me and, for whatever reason, has a sense of confidence in my skill set and my gifts that I don’t have. I kind of borrowed that from him. So when she asked me to take a dress and take and build on the fashion footprint she has, I borrowed that confidence to believe that, yes, it ' s something I can do. And I ' ll try as hard as I can to make it the best I can.

HK: Do you remember one of those early looks that you were responsible for you finally felt like, "Okay, I do it, I can do it."

MK: It's very hard for me – and I know it's probably something that other people feel too – I'm such a critic. No man, no troll, no blog, no reporter who can say something more critical of my work than how I feel, even if everyone is like, “Wow, we love this, amazing -surprised, “It’s a mistake of mine that I have to keep working on. I can find things like, "But it could be better. I should do it, I should choose that belt, I make sure that's right." The dress is a very moody medium. It shrinks and crumbles, stretches and you just go, "Can you just touch? Can you please just stay where I put you?" My personality is always like, "Okay, how can I get better?" I honestly feel like it wasn’t until the very end, when he wore that Versace that I wanted, alas, okay. It was probably the closest I felt like everything worked exactly as I thought from the makeup to the earrings to the shoes to the fit to the draping. one This is one of my all time favorites. It’s such a cool process and I love working with that team. It was a wonderful, wonderful moment.

Photo: Michelle Obama wearing Versace at the 2016 State Dinner.

HK: So let's talk about another wonderful, wonderful moment, that the total of 34 tours of the city by Mrs. . Obama for his memory, which is clearly recorded in Became and he talks about how he uses fashion as a tool to cite him. So tell me about the approach that went into her image, the fashion, the collaboration process, because that was an enormous amount of work. T sock looks are clearly relatively independent with a few more risks involved. Do you have a favorite of them all? And is it Balenciaga?

MK: I really love the Sergio Hudson suit he wears in Atlanta. It was just so much fun working with him. I really think he is wonderful. And yes, I’m so excited about those Balenciaga votes, I really think, there’s no way he’s going for it. But I was like, okay, let’s go, we’re doing this. We are in Brooklyn. Let's go. I was so excited. At the time, I was sitting backstage and just watching it on screen. When you’re out of the audience, you get a lot of feedback. You hear claps, and you hear shouts, and you hear “Whoo,” but I hear nothing. So I just went back there, how would it be accepted? Not so, the end will be everything, but it was a weird moment because it was such a big striking look and I just sat in total silence.

Photo: Michelle Obama wearing Balenciaga ballots while stopping to tour the book for her memoir Being.

HK: Okay, so you ' t work with emerging designers and you work with established designers. How can you make that decision about who to go with, because I just think everyone in the world wants to dress her up. You also hold someone’s wealth, just as you can do their business with your choices which is a huge power and responsibility, and imagine the pressure. So how do you type a needle thread?

MK: I'm serious about doing this. I take this seriously. I don’t have any hard and fast rules. Like I said, I rely heavily on instinct, I try to keep up with what’s happening. And not only is that happening at fashion week in New York, it has to be international. I had to train myself to be on social media more so that I could find new and emerging designers who weren’t necessarily represented at the big events we see. I’m really trying to just keep and consider that there are definitely some people with great stories and people I want to raise. And know that a lot of people in fashion come from many sources — nepotism, favoritism — it’s too expensive to work in fashion. People are like, "I want to be a designer." Just so, to get your foot in the door, you have to have the money to get the fabric, the marketing. God forbid you want to put on a fashion show. All of that is very expensive. So I think it prevents some deserving individuals. Really unlucky. So if I could be a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny part of the lift of someone who probably wouldn ' t be featured on, etc., I would do that. C change slightly gatekeeping. I hope something will affect.

HK: Speaking of impact, can we talk about the glory that Mrs. Obama looked like for the latest inauguration? How did you know that this Sergio Hudson looked right? And also, I’m interested in your thoughts on color because you took to social media and gave us an amazing breakdown of thought and process and all that, but you’re very clear that it’s not purple, it’s wineberry plum . So why that color?

MK: I just did that but yeah, that's the color we're going to go with. Sergio, like I said, I’ve worked with him twice before on book tours. Aesthetic, construction, vision, dressing of women with different body types; it's all there. And it was clear to me when I received that first dress, I was like, oh, okay, yeah, bam, we’re great. Working with him was just a real pleasure. At the upcoming inauguration, he was someone I had in mind, someone I wanted to work with again. And one of the things that people don’t fully understand is that the inauguration is in January. In Washington, D.C., it’s cold. And when I say it’s cold, you don’t know if it’s going to be 10 degrees, 20 degrees, 40 degrees. Will it be sunny? Will it be cloudy? Is it raining already? Will it snow? And will all of those things? Lots of solvable, sitting outside for two hours not moving, just sitting. I don ' t know the last time I did that so I ' m very sensitive to the fact that we need a really solid coat, we need layers, we need options. And you know, just looking for a very nice coat, when I looked at Sergio’s collection, I saw the particular coat we came across. I just look beautiful, well made. I loved the runway look with a skirt, but I wanted to do the pants, so I partnered with her. We ' re on the same wavelength so it ' s not a difficult process. He sent through sketches. We went with our companion, we customized it, we thought of all the details like this whole concept of sewing someone into a dress. You need to check the zippers, make sure you make sure the zipper is the right quality – all those details will make sure that the day is very calm.

Photo: Michelle Obama wearing Sergio Hudson at the 59th inauguration of the presidency.

HK: So obviously, you have an incredible amount of knowledge in the galaxy. What will you do next?

MK: Ever since the White House ended, I've been thinking about some of the things that inspired me and how I wanted to translate them, and how I wanted to reach an audience in my job, and some new things I offer. I developed a show that I hoped would land on a streaming network. It really became interesting for me because I grew up as a big fan of House of Style . It was very effective and very innovative for me. I feel there is a huge opportunity in our content space for new, fresh perspectives on fashion.

HK: You know I love Merit , so much I hope you can share a little bit about the brand for our audience, perhaps with someone who has never heard of or is not familiar with me.

KP: Merit has been something I've been working on for over four years now. When I got pregnant with Sebastian, my son, I used all my normal lip products and I immediately felt sick. It doesn’t matter if it’s a lipstick, a lip oil, a lip crayon, fragrant, not fragrant, whatever it is I’m going to be nauseous. That was the first time I really thought, "Hey, maybe I need a cleaner product." I’m not the first to run down the clean hallway or really look for that because I’ve always wanted my products to work and I wanted their really beautiful colors that I used to be used to. But that was really an eye -opening experience for me. I remember someone sent me a collection of these tint lip balms. They are all natural, organic. I remember using one and going to a meeting, maybe with you, and 30 minutes into it I thought, “I don’t feel anything, I don’t feel nauseous,” and I feel nauseous every time I put something on my lip. So I don ' t think this product is natural or clean or however they are marketing it. So I ran out of meetings when we finished with the beauty editors and I remember I asked, "Okay, what's the deal with this? What's really in the lipsticks and what does it clean? What do I really need to know because my body is obviously having a chemical reaction of some kind? ”That was really the beginning of my journey to knowing more about how cosmetics are made and what is clean versus not. It just made me want to go out and buy cleaner products. And when I started shopping, I really felt like I didn’t fit anywhere as a shopper. There are new clean brands emerging, but I don’t necessarily connect with those brands. Many of them felt like they were focused on someone younger than me or someone who wanted a fuller heavier makeup look. I really miss the kind of natural looking brand that I have celebrated and worn for many years. So I thought. You know, I have to have a brand that I will have an emotional connection to that feels like this is my style, with cleaner products, beautiful colors, makeup that performs.

HK: Let's talk about that process of testing and creating. So you have an idea, but what are you actually doing to get it started? And you also plan to launch it before Versed, right? But that was the first to come out so what what happened there?

KP: Yes. So as I mentioned, I really want Merit to live on for over four years. It started like the start of many of our businesses – from a personal need I had. The first thing I do when I have an idea for something is I try to talk about it. I talk about it with friends, I talk about it with colleagues, and I just started to get it out there and see the reaction of people to it because I want to have the feeling that other people are also seeing this white space ? So once we went out and talked to everyone and understood that there was an opportunity, we started to put it together. For me it always starts with brand naming. I’ve said this before about once I give it a name, it starts to take on a living self. So, Merit comes pretty easily. That one of the hardest things in building a business is choosing a name because it needs to represent the brand and feel good, but it also needs to be used from a trademark perspective and a web domain perspective and [19659012] social handlers, [19659011] and all just fell into place with Merit.

HK: This is your fourth business now. You have Who What Where, you have the skincare brand Versed, the clean wine Avaline, and now your fourth business on Merit. Any studies at this time? Like what do you know now that you didn’t know in 2006?

KP: I think every time something is launched, we learn. I think Who Who Wear, I’ve said it before, is the most amazing business school we’ve ever been to. So now just at the point where you can accelerate commercial success, you save costly mistakes. I think I totally agree with you on the timing and all sorts of things going on when this happens. It’s a very common thing in my life where some things just last. I’m a real go-getter, as you know, so I know when I’m just kind of noodling into something or I’m just taking time, I know there’s a reason for it and I give my time to myself because it always turns out to be in a better place. We’ll launch the merit in 2020, in the middle of the year, and with everything going on it doesn’t feel good. Fortunately, we are in a position where we can say, hey, let’s just start quietly building a community and let’s wait, let’s get out to 2020 and wait until the beginning of 2021. History, you’ve been told not to launch a brand in January. This is not the perfect time to do that for consumer behavior reasons, whatever it is, but for us, it ended up being the perfect time. I’m so glad we did it in January which has been a bit more hopeful month. We’ve all rallied around this idea now a little more. We’ve learned in the last 12 months that we don’t need much. We got used to our bare nails, and natural hair texture, and turned off our lashes. I think Merit is really set for success and I think it’s clear that our customers are just waiting for something like this.

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These interviews have been edited and compiled for clarity. Next, check out our first episode featuring Law Roach and Sergio Hudson.

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