Sissy Sainte-Marie, Stylist

Sissy Sainte-Marie is the real deal. In an industry that many find impossible to break into, this in-demand stylist is killing it. And the best part of Sissy's success is that it truly reflects the hard work she puts in. This talented creative styles from the heart, avoiding repetitive fashion through authenticity. We have a major crush on her wardrobe and think you will too! Today Lisa Says Gah brings you inside Sissy's stunning Los Feliz home for a convo that gets real about dealing with rejection, rejoicing over triumphs and stopping to smell the roses. Enjoy! 

LSG: We love that you love vintage. Can you speak to the connection you have with it? What is your philosophy around the incorporation of vintage and thrift finds into modern styling?

I’ve been addicted to thrifting since 15. Although I don’t have the time to comb for treasures these days, I appreciate people who do.  I love to pull from Persephone Vintage and Scout.  What they carry looks current. I don't like retro. I’m not into imitating the past. The more I grow as a stylist, the more I like my work to look modern, relevant and timeless. Sometimes I like to style with something just because I like it, not because it’s current season, or trending, or a big name, or a magazine’s sponsor. Styling with vintage allows that freedom. But vintage isn’t my top priority - I get excited by the new and love to get my hands on the latest stuff. 

LSG: You have that magic ability to make fantasy wearable. Your mind must constantly be whirring with inspiration, where do you find it and how do you organize it? 

Thank you! Indeed, my mind is constantly whirring with inspiration. I used to fight it, but now I let it consume me. Lucky for me, I’m married to a photographer, and we are constantly inspired together. We can produce shoots frequently.  I’m more organized than ever these days. I used to hoard books, images, magazine, spend endless hours on models.com & Pinterest, but lately I’ve given that up. My new approach is to flow from the heart, as silly as that sounds. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, but I do want to be original. I want to be relevant. I want to stay ahead without being overly influenced. Things get hackneyed more quickly than ever today. I have to trust I can go to my creative well and source inspiration from whatever I’m feeling authentically drawn to at that moment. 

LSG: A lot of young people interested in fashion desperately want to be a stylist. What does the reality of succeeding as a stylist actually look like? 

It looks like a lot of hard work, being conscientious, long days, heavy lifting, deep knee bending, tucking in shirts and tying shoes for grown adults, being rejected for loans by tacky showrooms and PR companies, being sensitive and making people feel comfortable and beautiful in their clothing, working and communicating well on set with a team, knowing when to check your ego and when to assert your expertise, jumping up and down when your work gets published, feeling over-the-moon when you’ve helped make a beautiful timeless image, crying tears of joy the first time you get to pull Celine, crying tears of agony when Acne says, ‘not this time’. You will run the gamut of emotions with every project. 

LSG: How would you recommend someone with that career goal approach the field? 

Assist an established stylist first to learn the ropes. Don’t take the baptism-by-fire route like me.  Question whether catering may be more enjoyable. haha

LSG: Being self-employed requires some major discipline. What advice would you share with people just getting into self-employment or working from home? 

I’m a workaholic. And I suffer from anxiety. And perfectionism. Not a good combo. Many times, early on, I was ready to give up the pursuit of becoming a successful stylist. One job was particularly taxing emotionally, and I told the makeup artist on set that I wanted to give up because I thought I had an anxiety disorder. He casually replied, “then get ordered,” - just like that - and continued brushing the model's brows or something. He probably doesn’t remember saying it, but for me, it was an ah-ha moment.  I did get ordered after that, and it helped me tremendously.  In addition to being tidy, I have to make time to remember to have fun and enjoy life. I’m still pretty new to this career. I spent the last three years building a styling career by saying yes to almost everything that came my way. Every job was a first-time experience and I was learning something brand new constantly. I never got to feel completely confident and at ease going into a project.  Because of that, I was under a tremendous amount of stress. I never felt I had room to mess up because when you’re a stylist, a whole team of people depends on you to come through and be professional and do an excellent job.  But also, you’re at the mercy of showrooms approving pulls & deliveries making it on time. 

A couple of months ago, when my husband and I booked a job in Maui and took a week of vacation there - a real vacation - I was like “Ooooh, this is why people in LA go to the beach so much. This really is relaxing. I’m enjoying being a human being. I’m actually in the moment” When I got back to LA, on my first job back, I almost had a breakdown it was so stressful. But I had been living under that constant tension and stress for like 1,000 days straight and it was not good for my body or my mind.

My advice would be to literally take the time to smell the roses, enjoy a sunset, a loved-one, a flickering candle, a song, a book, nature, doing nothing, a day trip. The world won’t stop spinning if you take a time-out. But also, it kind of will, so mostly be a relentlessly hard worker and be crazy dependable between breathers. 

LSG: What are you obsessed with right now? 

I am obsessed with weight lifting believe it or not. I guess I like to believe life is fair. I worked really hard to become a stylist and I’m happy with the results. I’m now dedicated to following a formula to physically change my body and it makes me feel strong and gives me a sense of order and fairness. With styling, a lot of the time, I’m at the mercy of others. But with training, with building muscle and eating right, it’s all up to me. I like knowing I can rely on myself to live up to a challenge and be disciplined.  I’m also obsessed with cooking. I want to do a Julie and Julia move and make every recipe in the cookbook Eating at Hotel Il Pellicano. I also am obsessed with statement earrings at this moment. And a new look I’m going for in my styling - I’m calling it “space-age-casual”. 


LSG: How do you think San Franciscans and Los Angelenos approach style differently? Weather is a factor, but what about the general ethos of each city?

 
I’d like to know! It’s been waaaaaay too long since I visited SF, a city that was so inspiring to me when I was younger. I’ll have to come visit. But if the Lisa Says Gah team is any indication, I’d say SF is wiping the floor with us. You 3 are super chic! 

SISSYSAINTEMARIE.COM

INTERVIEWED BY OLIVIA LA ROCHE 

PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANNA-ALEXIA BASILE