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Sep 01st
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Stylist to the Santa Cruzans

stylisttothescWhy local stylist Tina Brown keeps you in tip-top fashion shape

Well-known stylist Rachel Zoe probably has a day that unravels like this: A celebrity calls her up and says, “Hey Rachel, I need you to revolutionize my ‘look.’” Or, “Hey, Rachel, I’ve got an awards show coming up.” Or, “Hey, Rachel, I’m going shopping—please come, STAT.” In Hollywood, that’s likely the life of a stylist to the stars. But in Santa Cruz, it’s not that much different for our fashion guru, Tina Brown. The only thing she might do differently than Zoe is charge a more manageable fee for her services, and help us “normal people” in need of a wardrobe overhaul. Meet Brown, owner of Ilka, a one-woman company that offers shopping and styling services. She’ll uproot your closet, kick out the bad stuff and help you see a brand new ‘you.’ Or, she’ll take you shopping to update things, do your colors, analyze your body and give you a new ‘look’ and a new perspective.

It’s a quirky business to get into, and as far as Brown knows, there’s no tried and true career path for becoming a stylist. For Brown, she sort of fell off the runway and into this industry. This was in her post-college days, following graduation from UC Davis, and a move to San Francisco where she worked in the city’s famed textile store, Britex Fabrics. While there, she crossed paths with someone from Macy’s who told her about a charity event that was in need of assistance. From there, she began to secure freelance work for runway events and photo shoots, working as a stylist—someone who oversees the clothing—on these projects. About eight years ago she relocated to Santa Cruz, was pregnant with her first child and was no longer working the San Francisco stylist jobs.

She took a break from the industry until a year-and-a-half ago when a friend asked her to “take a look at her closet,” Brown says. From there, she decided to go back into part-time work and launched her business, Ilka; the company is named after a Scottish word that means “each and every” as in each and every individual style.

Nowadays, Brown offers her services for $75 an hour for a two-hour closet makeover, and a written profile for $150. The profile includes a binder full of information geared toward that client, to assist that person in choosing flattering clothes, colors and styles. In addition, she offers a 20-minute free consultation to prospective clients.

But does she try to create replicas of herself and press her own style on others? “I really try not to,” Brown says. “I don’t want everyone walking around looking the same. It’s about their personality.”

Yet it’s sometimes also about stepping outside one’s comfort zone. And that’s what Brown is particularly good at helping people do. Whether it’s in the closet or in a store, she’ll help her clients move their wardrobe selection in a forward and new ‘fashion,’ while still maintaining their identity. “Style is always evolving,” Brown says.

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