Grad Reah Norman Has Helped Redefine Plus Size Style
Stylist, fashion expert, and consultant Reah Norman was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where she attended Washington High School. She received a B.S. degree in Merchandising and Photography from Northern Arizona University (NAU) before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a Professional Designation degree in Visual Communications. “I was drawn to the curriculum and the LA campus, as I knew that I wanted to be in the photography/advertising industry, and that there would be a lot of opportunities for these types of internships and jobs in LA,” Reah said. After working as a product stylist for a department store, the 2005 FIDM Graduate launched Styled by Reah, and added fashion styling to her services, specializing in the plus size niche. We recently caught up with the Los Angeles-based alumna, who is also a popular digital influencer, to learn more.
What were the most valuable lessons you learned at FIDM? The importance of interning and assisting people who have the career that you are working toward. There is no better experience than working side by side with someone who is seasoned and willing to teach you. Also, the importance of networking within the specific niche of the market you have interest in. Don’t wait until after you have your degree in hand to take steps toward your career goals — put yourself out there and be willing to work hard and continue to learn. Finally, utilize the career placement resources at FIDM. I worked closely with my FIDM Career Advisor, who helped me get my first interview at Robinsons-May, and landing that job has shaped my entire career.
What have you been up to since graduation? My first job after graduating from FIDM, which I was referred to through FIDM’s Career Center, was as a product stylist for the department store Robinsons-May in Los Angeles. I had the opportunity to style several different merchandise categories daily, including jewelry, home electronics, men’s and women’s accessories, and soft goods for their advertising campaigns and direct mail catalogs. After Macy’s bought Rob-May, I stepped out and built Styled by Reah as a freelance business. I continued product styling, and expanded to fashion styling, focusing on the plus size niche.
I have worked with clients in lots of different styling capacities, including editorial, e-commerce, advertising, special event, personal, and special event styling, as well as on-camera hosting, fashion show coordination, fashion writing, and consulting. Over the past few years, I have also stepped in front of the camera as an influencer, which is also now a huge part of my business. Currently, my styling business is shifting to more of an online educational approach, as well as moving more into a lifestyle space focusing on my life in LA, including being a dog mom, and sharing my knowledge and usage of crystals, essential oils, and holistic wellness in my everyday life. Dog rescue has also become a huge part of my life over the past few years, so I am including this part of my life in my content as well.
How has plus size fashion changed or evolved since you've been working in the industry? The plus fashion industry is completely different than it was when I began working in the industry over 15 years ago. When I started styling fashion, I chose to concentrate on the plus industry because there was a need for a stylist who understood, and most importantly had an interest, in dressing models with different body types outside of the “straight size model” standards. At the time, plus size industry was very small, and I knew several plus size models who would tell me horror stories about arriving on set to a job and the stylist did not have any clothing that fit them, and they were squeezing into things that were several sizes too small for them, or asked to bring things from their own closet to accommodate their size.
I began building relationships with plus size designers and clothing companies, and cultivated a reputation on being able to assess and dress women of all shapes, height, and weight, which, in my opinion, is very important for all stylists, especially now that the beauty norms in mainstream media have (thankfully) shifted, and we are seeing people of all shapes and sizes being represented.
What is the most rewarding part of what you do and why? When it comes to styling product and fashion, it is very rewarding to make something or someone “picture perfect,” and to be able to bring my clients' creative vision to life. As far as my personal styling clients, it is very rewarding to work one-on-one with clients who are experiencing “fashion roadblocks,” or just genuinely feeling uninspired or overwhelmed with fashion. I often call my personal style sessions “dressing room therapy” because so much of how we dress is tied to how we feel inside, and oftentimes working through those issues can improve how we feel about our personal style.
Learn more online at styledbyreah.com and on Instagram @StyledbyReah.