Conversations With Celebrity Stylist and Author – June Ambrose
Harlem Fashion Row hosted “Conversations” with awe inspiring celebrity stylist and author June Ambrose at the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture this week and boy was it a treat. Hosted by Brandice Henderson, CEO of Harlem’s Fashion Row guests were able to enjoy June’s candor, poise, grace, and realness for an enjoyable night reminiscent of exchanging old memories with your best friend over wine.
As the evening began, the questions poured in. One of the notable questions that June often gets asked is, “How to create a career in fashion styling?” How did June get started in styling anyway? As a product of a single parent home June and her sister were raised in the Bronx. Her family came to America from the Caribbean when June was 3 years old. June Ambrose’s mother always stressed education above everything else. As a teenager, June wanted to attend LaGuardia High School for their renown drama program but was not accepted and instead attended Talent Unlimited at Julia Richmond. In her sophomore year she auditioned for LaGuardia again, and this time was accepted, but decided to stay with the family she built at Talent Unlimited. When she finished high school she enrolled in Lehman College for Marketing and was working in at an investment bank in the research department. As a 19 years old making $50k a year, June was smart enough to what she wanted in life, built a nest egg for survival and went after it. After quitting her job in investment banking, this opened an entire new world for June and her family was not happy about it.
When asked about her first styling gig she admitted to only showing up with one outfit. “The video called for one look so I came with one outfit” It was for a recording artist on Epic Records. She was just an intern at the time at Uptown Records, Sean “Puffy” Combs was a new A&R and when they began talking about styling it just clicked to her, “I could do that” and why wouldn’t she? A costume designer in high school who was also a drama major she was all about fashion from a young age. Luckily her first snafu at styling didn’t break her spirit or her career. The publicist saw her one outfit and said, “Darlinggggg, what is this? Always come with options!”, lucky for June, the video was for a rapper so the one outfit she bought worked, but from that day forward she knew to always come prepared.
A pivotal turning point in her career? When she got booked to do the R Kelly “Down Low” video with Hype Williams. Originally Hype didn’t was to work with her so she knew she needed to wow him. And wow him she did! “Down Low” was the first long form video, it was much more than a video it was a mini movie. She flew in dresses from Paris and created the entire Mr. Big persona through her wardrobe styling. Her goal was to bring the iconic Edith Head design aesthetic to urban videos and because of that, Hype and June developed a great working relationship from then on.
But we know great success doesn’t come without challenges and when asked what challenges she faced throughout her career, June shared that she was a “weird kid with very bad skin”. She was raised in a time when being West Indian wasn’t cool, growing up in her neighborhood people teased her. She always wanted out and going to high school in Manhattan was her way to escape everyday so when she left her old neighborhood – she left for good.
When asked what advice she would give to aspiring stylists in the audience or those who want to change careers to go into fashion she said, “Before you leave, have a plan, know who you are and what your vision is. Be consistent and authentic. ”
June is a self taught stylist, who always had a knack for fashion, but she read as many books as she could on design and color theory. When she knew she wanted to start a company she went out there and formed an entity, got a tax id and took a number of other steps before landing her first styling gig. She admits that even now at 40 years old she still considers herself under construction, reinventing herself and her brand. She knows a lot of people enter this industry for money and fame, but styling to her was never about making money, “I want to have a good time” and she never worries about the competition although she knows they exist. She also shared that her life is a delicate balancing act that keeps her humble. The world may consider her a celebrity now but she always has to remember that her role is in service and when she is working she still has to tie people’s shoes.
The juiciest question of the night was, will Styled by June be back on Vh1 for a second season and unfortunately the answer was no, but she will be returning to television soon with a project she couldn’t yet reveal but will be launching later this spring. June Ambrose is also in the works on her very own shoe line exclusively on Home Shopping Network with prices ranging from $59-$119 and more. As a mom, businesswoman, celebrity stylist and more, we’re sure to see much more from June Ambrose beyond fashion week, television and we’re looking forward to discovering what she does next!
Do you love June Ambrose as much as we do, tell us why in the comments below!