Mel Brady first captured my attention over three years ago at an exhibition. Her style and grace attract attention from men and women from all walks of life. I just had to get know who she was, and after connecting, I found out she was a Melbourne based stylist and model. I have watched her journey through social media over the years and wanted to learn more about her and celebrate her beauty and power through portraits.
How did you get into the career of becoming a stylist?
I’ve been styling since I was in my early 20’s, long before it was actually a job description. I sort of fell into it. I wasn’t prepared then and quite frankly sometimes I still think I’m ill prepared ;) but, I take each day as it comes without fear...so, I think I run with the ball pretty well.
What has been the biggest challenge or fear you have had to overcome in business and how did you manage this?
I’ve had so many challenges over the course of 35 years in business, too many to mention really; but if forced I would say falling over and smashing my wrist some 8 years ago.
I had to have an extended break from work to learn how to use my hand again. It was very challenging financially and emotionally.
But, through that recovery I came out the other end rather fearless. It was during that time I shaved my head and grew out my silver hair, which is whats lead me into modelling as a naturally ageing 50 something and consequently, writing about embracing age rather than defying it. So my biggest challenge it appears was my ‘sliding door’ moment.
When you are running your own business, how do you achieve balance between relationships, work and personal needs?
Truthfully I don’t question how I do this..I just do. Those I care about know very well how important they are to me...so they understand when work is busy I keep focus and don’t socialise much..when it’s quiet I make sure I balance my relationships books.
What have you put in place as a reminder to nourish your body and take time out for yourself?
I don’t ‘do’ anything regularly to nourish myself, for me it’s more about finding the zen in everyday tasks.
In the beginning, how did you attract your first good clients?
In the beginning as I recall I was happy enough to have clients ..as I said stylists were few and far between.
The trick really is not to ‘try hard’ to attract them, if you are good at what you do, passionate and thoughtful they will come; if you go above and beyond in fulfilling their brief, then the trick is to make sure they keep coming back to you.
In my line of work, even then, chances are eventually they will move on to someone else, so it’s important to remember to not take this personally. In life doors close, doors open all the time. The only constant I’ve found is change.
What does a typical day look like for you?
No day is typical..I could be in preproduction for a shoot sourcing props designing or building sets. Styling a shoot..or, If styling is quiet I might be organising a shoot for new shots of myself to go with my writing, or writing.
What do you love most about what you do?
Ha, that each day is different ;)
Who are your biggest role models or influences that have impacted your career?
None that I can think of really..there are plenty of women I admire like Diana Vreeland or Coco Chanel but I wouldn’t say they are role models nor would I say anyone has influenced me..
I’m a maverick I suppose.
If you weren't afraid and had no limits, what would you do?
I’m not afraid, but life still has limits no matter who you are.
But…If I didn’t have to think about paying my bills then whatever I did it would be helping others to see they have nothing to fear…fear holds us back, worrying about what others think is often many peoples fears.
Life is too short to worry about others judgements. What other people think of you is their business, don’t you think?
Tell us something we may not know about you already?
I photograph cats for a shelter (it’s a long and sad story how that all started so I will leave that part out) The end result is my images show their personalities and adoptions are up since I’ve been doing it these past 6 months…it feels good to help. (always looking for cat wranglers too..so put your hands up anybody, if you want to donate some time to wrangle for me)
Any words of wisdom or for those thinking of taking the leap?
Working for yourself is not for everyone..my journey is probably quite different from many peoples as I’m a lone ranger, I don’t employ people aside from freelance assistants occasionally. This has its benefits and its downfalls. Benefits being I don’t have the worry of making sure everyone I employ is okay..downfall is I can be a little insulated.
How has working with Prue as your photographer contributed to your business?
She understood my brief which was paramount to me, I don’t want to be retouched in any way..so it was important we shot with daylight to address my mantra of being natural.
What are you listening to right now?
Quote that keeps you inspired?
‘The only constant is change' & 'Every problem has its own solution’
What are your values?
Oh gosh..really? I could write a book. Instead I will say something my mum said to me a million years ago..which has really stuck and goes to the core of who I am.
‘I am not better than anybody else..and no one is better than me.’