Aspiring Stylist Chooses Passion over Job

If only people could spend their life doing what they love instead of doing what they have to do in order to pay the bills.

If only charging hundreds of dollars on a credit card, dressing models, putting together looks and assisting on photo shoots could only be a full-time job for one Washingtonian.

Tara Papanicolas, 32, has grown up loving every aspect of the fashion industry. From photo shoots to designer fashion shows, she was born with a passion for fashion.

Her personality sparkles through her bedroom. From a vintage dresser to an antique vanity,

Tara Papanicolas, above, tries on a bow tie for the men's photo shoot

Papanicolas brings her classic yet detailed aesthetic through her interior design.

Stacks of fashion magazines on top of her two miniature coffee tables, two forms with huge chunky necklaces piled on them and a vanity that has a headband for every color of the rainbow. Even her mixed terrier puppy is dressed in designer doggy apparel.  Looking at the amount of apparel and accessories she owns, you can’t help but wonder, what doesn’t she have?

“A job,” she said. She may have a degree in fashion merchandising from Marymount College but with the state of the economy and the fact that she is what some may call, working in the “wrong” city.

“I love New York, don’t get me wrong, I travel there on a regular basis but I could never live there.”

Papanicolas, who currently resides in the Washington, D.C. area hopes to bring a more fashionable aesthetic to the capitol.

Papanicolas definitely brings a glam rock style to the “business suits district” with her studded handbags, knee-high slick boots and colorful cropped jackets.

“I want to be the Rachel Zoe of D.C.,” she said.

While Papanicolas served as a freelance visual merchandiser for Macy’s and Banana Republic, she also was a buyer for a small boutique in Georgetown.

Papanicolas, currently works at the Betsey Johnson boutique in Tyson’s Corner and bartends on the weekends while she does freelance styling for photo shoots and other events in the Maryland, D.C. and Virginia area.

“Sometimes I get paid and other times I don’t but overall it’s good experience to have.”

The amount of freelance styling she has done the past two years have transformed into two portfolio books that she carries with her at all times.

“You never know who you might run in to,” she said with a smile. Papanicolas also carries personal business cards that her best friend and graphic designer, gave to her for her 30th birthday.

On a Sunday afternoon, Papanicolas is in style action on the set of another photo shoot and is surrounded by an aspiring model, makeup artist and photographer.  All of whom are working together to develop each of their portfolios.

Jehan Zep, 23, does modeling in his free time while he maintains a full-time “typical business job.”

“I have to be practical, I need a good job to pay my bills,” Zep said as he was getting his hair done.

Using Violetta Markelou’s studio that was just recently purchased, they spent the first four hours there before they ventured off to a model home in Capitol Hill for a more formal attire shoot.

“This is the first photo shoot taking place in my new studio… I’m really excited,” Markelou said.

While some may think fashion shoots are all fun and glam, many don’t know about the real labor for fashion.

Papanicolas and Markelou were listing and placing lighting around the studio to make sure everything was set.

Papanicolas is always willing to make the financial sacrifices necessary to help her career. Like the $700 she charged on apparel and accessories from Urban Outfitters for the photo shoot.

“My family thinks I’m crazy to go into such a competitive industry like this, but I think I would be crazy to let an opportunity like this pass me by,” she said.

Check out the slideshow below to see behind-the-scenes footage of the fashion shoot.

One Response to “Aspiring Stylist Chooses Passion over Job”

  1. tokyostargirl Says:

    Passion – I love it!

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