11 Questions With Stylist Erica Mer
Former child actress, Erica Mer, is a multifaceted LA based stylist that began to explore and understand all aspects of the film industry from an early age. At the age of 18, Erica moved to LA from New York City, where she developed her passion for creating within the wardrobe department. During her time in LA, Erica further explored fashion and focused on costume design, commercials, and music videos. Her ability to create a distinct feel to every project has her work desired by widely known directors, photographers and stylists, such as Mattel and viral sensation The Fraternal Twins. Erica’s background in production, costuming, and fashion styling can be viewed in the pages of Vanity Fair and Marie Claire, as well as Toyota and Dairy Queen commercials.
Erica Mer goes in depth with us about her start in wardrobe styling and gives us insight on what it takes to make it in the industry
1. When was it that you first learned about Wardrobe Styling?
I was thrown into the wardrobe world. I was a production assistant on set and began PAing in the wardrobe department. That was a little over 4 years ago, wow!
2. At what point did you realize wardrobe styling was something you wanted to pursue as a career?
I learned very early on that I wanted to be in wardrobe because it combined two things I love, clothing and organizing. It’s also fun because I’m able to create characters based on what they wear. I think for the most part, you can understand a person by their garments, whether you see that as a good or bad thing.
3. Were there any mentors/inspirations that pushed you to get started?
Every person I work with, both in the past or present, shape me in this field. Whether it was positive or negative, I learned from it. And believe me, the negatives can educate you more. It proves the saying, treat others the way you’d like to be treated. Two women stand out. Dawn B and Nra Kudelka. They are two incredibly talented, strong, knowledgable women and I owe so much to the both of them. They have the biggest hearts and TRULY take care of their team, no matter the conditions. I love them dearly!
4. Early on in your career, did you find yourself doing a lot of free work/test shoots?
Man, I still do free work and test shoots. I think it’s so important as artists to constantly create! I have collaborated with some of the most talented people, at the beginning of their careers and now they are getting deserved credibility! Sup Chris Delorenzo! Also, in the grand scheme of things, we have the capability to all help one another out. If I test with an incredible photographer or make up artist, heck even wardrobe stylist, you better believe I’ll recommend them. And it goes both ways. Now in our society, making money is important, and living in Los Angeles, even more so! However, money is not everything and it should never hinder you with work.
5. Tell us a bit about some hurdles you faced pursuing this career at the beginning?
Freelance is a challenge in itself. I’m solely in charge of my career and the pressure alone can be a major hurdle to jump over. Personally, there are moments when I don’t have jobs lined up, I feel frustrated and in return, question my ability. It’s very important to quickly get out of those places and stay positive. In our society and especially our generation, we are extremely hard on ourselves and feel like we’re not doing enough. It’s so far from the truth.
6. What has been your biggest work that you are most proud of?
Wow, that’s a difficult question. I am proud of so many projects, honestly, both as an assistant and keying, (head of the department). Assisting one of the most talented designers Michelle Tomaszewski for the “Just Hold On” Drake music video! Creatively, this job had everything a stylist looks forward to. The definite highlight that I constantly talk about is when I was in charge of putting ice packs down Asap Rocky’s crotch so he didn’t overheat in his Valentino coat. He then introduced himself and I never knew love existed like that. Oh man.
The biggest job I did on my own was a Delta commercial with Serena Williams. I flew out to NYC and worked alongside my two best friends Janelle Ginestra and Willdabeast Adams who directed the gig. Their creative direction was explained to me, and with their trust, I was able to be free with the costume vision. In addition to creating the dancer’s looks, I was the costume designer for Serena William's, which is huge in itself. I was given the task of explaining what we envisioned directly to Serena's stylist, which is extremely humbling as her stylist is well respected!
7. What is the communication process like between you and a photographer/director when planning a shoot? How important is it to stay in touch with the team?
Communication is key throughout the project, but especially in the beginning. As the wardrobe stylist, we have to understand the vision firsthand so everyone is on the same page. On my jobs, I always have a discussion with the director/photographer then make mood boards before I shop. At the end of the day, we all want to bring a vision to life! There’s no I in team.
8. Is social media an important medium for you and your career as a stylist?
Good question. As my friend Will says, it’s so important and something I personally suck at. Haha. It’s something I work on the daily! Here’s my challenge, when I started out, jobs came because of your resume. Social media was not relevant. Yes, I know it’s 2017 and things have been different for a while, but sometimes old habits don’t die. Ok, back to your question….as a stylist, yes we are behind the scenes for the most part, but we are selling a brand. And if that brand is not displayed, how will the world know what you’re doing? Also, be proud of your work and showcase it to others!
9. Who are your top 3 favorite stylist of all time?
1. Patricia Fields….Sex and the City, hello!
2. Rachel Zoe
3. Colleen Atwood (not of all time, but she’s legendary in the costume world)
10. What advice do you have for stylists who are just starting in the industry?
Honestly, I ask every person who says they want to style, are you sure? Haha. It may come across aggressive, but I think it’s important to be honest and most don’t know the real world of styling. Many think because I shop for a living, it’s fun and glamorous. Yes there is for sure truth to that, but on the flip side, it’s more grueling than you think. Also, be a hard worker and remain driven. Always think ahead, whether you are an assistant or the boss. The best advice I can give and my assistants know this for a fact, if you are given a task, take care of it before asking questions. Unless you are truly stuck, we are capable human beings and it doesn’t hurt that we carry a computer in our pocket. Never think you are too good to do something. I will still steam a garment or return $1,000 at Target. I think it’s very important to remain humble and push aside the ego!
11. What is your biggest Styling pet peeve?
BEING LATE. In general it bothers me when people are late. I also grew up with a video tape editor Mom. So being late was never an option. And it’s one of the best qualities I obtain. My advice, be fifteen minutes early. It’s professional. That leads into another huge pet peeve, unprofessionalism. It blows my mind how little respect some people have and make it apparent. No matter your rank in work or life, be kind to others!