Love Sick with Erica Boisaubin
Posted on April 07 2019
Erica Boisaubin is a New York native, an impressive stylist who has worked with artists like Solange, had her work up in lights in Times Square, and one of the hardest working people I've met.
We met 6 years ago on LinkedIn when Erica loaned garments from one of my very first collections. Since moving to the city, Erica has become one of my dear friends, cheerleader, and confidante.
She is ridiculously talented and definitely someone to take notice of.
Name: Erica Boisaubin
Star Sign: Sagittarius
IG alias: eboisaubin_
Laurel aka Kee Kee: So Erica, I think the way that we met is really interesting. Do you want to take the lead on that one?
Erica Boisaubin: We actually connected on Linked in six years ago! I hit you up asking to pull some pieces for one of my first shoots and I remember sending you my resume outlining my corporate experience instead of a styling portfolio because I didn’t have one yet. You approved my pull request for the items and told me I had to take care of the international shipping. I was super shocked that you even agreed and felt like I just got away with the only swindle!
We kept in touch over the years via social media but didn’t meet in person until you moved here last year. You moved to BK from LA and we finally met up and had brunch. We got pretty tipsy, good times.
KK: You’re Brooklyn raised, what’s it like growing up in a city like New York. What changes have you seen?
EB: Growing up in Brooklyn was incredible. I grew up in East New York on the Brownsville border; I didn’t really start hanging in the city until 8th grade. It’s a blessing and a curse growing up in NY. When you’ve grown up here, sometimes it feels like it’s impossible to branch out. You're surrounded by the friends you grew up with, the places you’ve always hung out at and the version of NYC that you know intimately. Contrary to the people who move here later in life who come seeking newness and are ready to network with whoever, wherever. If you want to network successfully and have access to any type of upward mobility it requires you to surround yourself with new people, those who will hail from completely different walks of life and it can be intimidating. When I see individuals who come here from abroad they have this magical idea of what the city holds but when you grow up here in an outer borough with little money, it's really hard to tap into that magic because you’ve seen it’s darkest parts up close.
As far as changes go, one word- gentrification. There’s a Starbucks in Crown Heights! I’m still not over that and it was built like 5 years ago. The price of everything has gone up and my quality of life has drastically changed. I often wonder if I’m a hypocrite for hating gentrification for raising the price of damn near everything and causing the closure of small businesses run by POC while benefitting from a lot of what it bought to Brooklyn like café’s, gyms and healthier options for food. Before this wave of gentrification you’d be hard pressed to find a green juice in Bedstuy, now there’s an option on every other corner.
KK: What’s your all-time favorite neighborhood?
EB: I don’t think I have a favorite neighborhood. I just love Brooklyn. Everything is here including cultures. I don’t think you can say you’ve really experienced NYC until you’ve spent some time in a Brooklyn.
KK: You’ve been styling for 6 years in total, only recently taking the jump into freelance. Tell me about the daily challenges you face beside needing to make NY rent.
EB: Some of the biggest daily challenges I face have to be playing my own agent and managing self-care. Those things definitely take the cake.
Some people complain about having an agent but they don’t realize how much of a luxury it is to have a seasoned professional formulate a competitive rate and negotiate deals on your behalf. While I do appreciate that I’m able to book myself on my own jobs and not pay commission to someone else, I have to live in both spaces (creative + managerial roles) on a daily and it is extremely draining.
I had to force myself to become comfortable with discussing money with clients, producing my own creative projects and pitching to brands. I‘m sure this sounds like some amazing shit to complain about, but sometimes I wish I could focus solely on being creative and honing in on my actual craft while someone else handles the business aspect of it all. I didn’t grow up with money, so having to have conversations about it while negotiating rates, especially as a woman of color, was the ultimate catalyst for my anxiety.
As far as self-care, I never know when to turn down work. I really love what I do. I’ve been planning this for the past 8 years of my life so now that I’m finally in it and have the luxury of freelancing full-time the hardest thing is to say no to a project. This almost always leads to me being overworked and constantly on the verge of burning out. Right now I’m living in a space where I’m working quite often so I can’t be the friend or partner I was when I worked a 9-5 and that stresses me out. I don’t want to disappoint the people I care about so on my days off I try to play catch up with friends which are great, but it then I end up having 0 me time. Self-care is definitely something I want to tackle this year, lots of it.
KK: Do you think being a NY native has an influence on your styling and how you source garments for shoots?
EB: Absolutely. 100%! I grew up watching music videos, specifically those of Jay-Z, a fellow Brooklyn head and thinking damn, how cool are these clothes! It was all about getting fly and showing up to parties with the dopest shit on. I didn’t know anything about Vogue or Fashion Week. To be honest, I didn’t even look at magazines unless my mom was checking out at Blockbuster or the grocery store. I never saw anyone on those covers who I could relate to but when I would go to school and see my homies wearing a bomb outfit or chill at home and watch BET I could relate. Looking at those videos made my dreams feet tangible.
To recreate those looks as a teen I had to get extremely creative with how I shopped and reworked the same wardrobe for an entire school year. That included shopping at the cheapest of stores like pretty girl and rainbows and making it look high end. I was always complimented on my style in school, that was my runway, my platform before social media. Even when 8 girls in my class would have on the same sneakers or timbs, I stood out.
It has definitely shaped how I approach my work today! When I do shoots now I approach it in that very same way. I’m crazy resourceful and can always make something out of nothing. When you first start out you don't have many designers or showrooms willing to loan clothing so you have to really figure out how to supply garments for shoots so I’m very grateful for those experiences, I think it's one of the main reason I'm able to see a hundred possibilities while someone else sees none.
KK: You’ve done quite a lot of photo shoots that I’m proud of, what are some of your favorites, or craziest experience, etc? Also no need to be biased, I know styling my campaign was your career highlight lol.
EB: LOL I actually do list that as a highlight! I think it’s so cool that we did that together after all these years. Creating with friends is always a pleasure.
Another one of my highlights had to be pretty recent. My first billboard in Times Square. That was pretty fucking insane. I used to sneak to Times Square to do absolutely nothing in like 8th grade. I remember I was in this group called the Get Fresh Hunnies and we would meet up and take pics. It’s pretty insane that all these years later I have a billboard there.
Working with Solange was also sick, she is incredibly unique. She was on set setting up lighting and communicating at she wanted to the team directly. To see someone of her caliber so motivated at 2 am in 25(F)-degree weather in the middle of a dirt field was extremely humbling and inspiring. Some people think hard work is no longer necessary in this era focused on instant gratification, but it’s really not. The real bosses are getting their hands dirty, literally.
KK: We do a lot of industry talk together, and both find the struggles of being taken seriously as a woman. What’s it like freelancing as a woman?
EB: Man ... it sucks. I’m the last to be listened to in a meeting and the first to be cut off. Women aren’t taught to be go-getters, were taught to be graceful and soft spoken which can be great traits in the right setting but in business, those same traits can be looked at as weaknesses. One thing I do love about being from NY is that I’m naturally a bit more aggressive than the average person so when these things happen I can tap into that side very quickly and pull cards. I’m getting my point across before I leave any meeting that’s for sure.
KK: Let’s add race in there, can you expand on the racism that happens on freelancing?
EB: How much time do we have? LOL
One of my biggest pet peeves is being in a meeting and sharing a super dope idea and it’s not received well and then a male or a white colleague paraphrases that same idea and the room goes wild as if that individual just invented sliced bread. I could go on and on- when I show up to showrooms for pulls, people automatically think I’m a messenger. They’ll be super polite via email because I’m about to get a brand they rep some exposure, but then when I show up to collect they’re not as nice as they were days prior and it’s clear I’m not the “Erica” they were expecting. There are so many instances and a lot of them involve a lot of non-verbal interactions that can be hard to understand if you’re not a person of color. I’ve been on a set with a crew totaling to 63 and have been the only black woman and while this particular group didn’t necessarily acknowledge this sad fact out loud, they found other ways to remind me.
KK: I know both your sides, your extremely professional workaholic side, and your silly, fun playful side. I know on set we’re only going to get Pro Erica. How do you approach unprofessionalism on a job when there’s a team member is being racist?
EB: I have to be real, I still haven’t mastered communicating these things on set. There’s still this fear of not being booked again even if you are simply advocating for yourself. What I try to do is stand my ground, communicate my needs and creative input with confidence and think about the individuals who busted their ass for me to be in the position I’m in. There are so many times I want to cry or lose it but I think about my ancestors and how much shit they endured just so I could be able to have the ability to even stand on a set. Even with being 1 out of 63, that alone really helps me get through the toughest of days.
KK: Not only while you’ve been freelancing, but while you’ve worked for some world-renowned brands, this sort of unprofessionalism has occurred. Which pisses me off, but aside from that, do you think that its leveled up how you are as a person professionally? Like, does any positivity’s come out of this kind of amateur behaviors from your coworkers?
EB: 100%. Naturally, I'm super impatient and I’m not someone who can hold their tongue. I always got into trouble because I truly believe in being honest, no matter the occasion which isn’t always appropriate. These situations have taught me how to practice patience and control my impulse to curse someone out. I’m becoming great at remaining unbothered (or at least pretending to be), which is necessary when you’re working in an industry built on subjectivity.
KK: What advice would you give a young black person starting out in the fashion industry?
EB: Belief in yourself, even on the dark days.
This may sound ridiculously simple for such a complex circumstance, but it’s really the hardest part. I don't want anyone to think this is coming from a negative place either! There will definitely be people who celebrate your victories and tell you-you're great, but those same people will also get tired and overworked and caught up in their own lives and none of it will be personal. You have to be your own biggest cheerleader in case your support system happens to get benched by their own life full of their own set of issues.
KK: Where do you see yourself in a couple of years in your career? Who would you want to be working with?
EB: I honestly don’t know, I’m kinda figuring everything out of as I go. I’m a very intuitive person and I tend to go with my imagination versus mapping out a solid plan. So I guess we’ll see. Wherever I end up, I hope I'm in a space where I'm able to achieve inner peace.
KK: If people want to hire you, stalk you, check out your previous work or all of the above what’s the links?
EB: Instagram is @Eboisaubin and my digital port is Boisaubin.com
KK: Always love talking shit with you. Thanks for taking time out of your hectic schedule to fit me in. Love ya lots sis. Xx
EB: Of course boo! Always. Thanks for having me. <3<3<3