How Audree Lopez is Helping Students Break into the Fashion Industry
By: Mariah Thomas
For NYC-based fashion and celebrity stylist, editor, and consultant Audree Lopez, networking played an extensive role in her career growth. From growing up in a small town in Arizona to moving to New York City with $100 in her pocket, Lopez went on to create three companies that continue to flourish today.
“My parents are blue-collar, hardworking people in Arizona, and fashion was so removed from our life,” Lopez said to Madame Blue. “I think what has helped me is just working hard, showing up, being nice to people, [and] putting myself out there.”
Named Alexa’s Top 100 NYC Influencers in 2018 and Arizona’s Top Stylist in 2015, Lopez started her fashion career at Arizona State University— graduating with a Bachelor of Science in marketing and a Bachelor of Arts in journalism. Realizing the university’s lack of fashion resources, Lopez framed her senior thesis as a proposal to implement assets for students who yearn to dive into the field. A big believer in the power of making your own opportunities, Lopez would style her friends for photoshoots before starting her blog to build her portfolio. She later founded Arizona State University’s fashion merchandise major and minor program.
“Networking is so important, but it doesn’t have to be unattainable and exclusive,” Lopez said. “So, I think starting out, really focus on just building these friendships with your community and your peers, and that’s going to kind of give you that confidence and that already built-in community around you.”
Throughout her undergraduate studies, Lopez had over 5 internships— including Redbook Magazine, Sorority Secrets, and eBay— focusing on editorial work and marketing.
It wasn’t until after graduation when Lopez received an opportunity that would compel her to move to the Big Apple. After connecting with a fashion assistant at Glamour for an informational interview, Lopez was able to intern for a week during an editorial shoot. Through her connection, she learned that Glamour was hiring a freelance assistant for NY Fashion Week. After her phone interview, Lopez was invited to meet in person for the next steps. The same week of that phone interview, Lopez made a bold decision: to make the official move to New York.
“At first I was like: ‘Oh my gosh, I’m moving to New York. It’s such a large industry—I’m going to be that small fish in an ocean,’’ Lopez said. “And I realized that everyone is somehow connected.”
After working with Glamour for a month, Lopez became the fashion assistant for other companies, including Oprah Magazine and Editorialist. She also branched into corporate retail careers as a public relations assistant at J.Crew, the freelance merchandise assistant at Swarovski, and the international merchandise Market Week assistant at Club Monaco.
With an extensive career freelancing in the industry, Lopez learned the skills she needed to launch her own company: Audree Kate Studios, a styling, and creative studio. Alice + Olivia, Elie Tahari, L’Oreal, Tommy Hilfiger, and Covergirl are only a few brands part of Lopez’s clientele.
“I always knew that I kind of had an expiration date of working in editorial magazines,” Lopez said. “I think I just knew that I wanted to do more than just the same routine every single day.”
In 2012, Lopez launched her fashion, beauty, and lifestyle blog Simply Audree Kate. The blog is the ideal destination for fashion-forward creatives. Readers receive tips on how to style accessories and prints, career advice, updates on trending beauty brands, and ways to personalize their style.
Lopez also created a bi-yearly digital, shoppable magazine on her blog and recently published her Summer 2020 Issue. With more than 200 pages, the magazine is directly shoppable and features fashion, beauty, hair, and nail lookbooks. Columns feature the must-have skin products and go-to summer recipes from industry professionals. The pages are vibrant and you will fall in love with the looks that Lopez puts together—a personal favorite is the fun and colorful summer-night-out vibes radiating from Look 5. The most exciting and shocking aspect of the process: everything was shot in the living room of her small New York apartment.
“I think it’s probably our best issue yet,” Lopez said. “I think it shows the creative power of my team and what they were able to help me do—which I’m really proud of.”
In 2018, Lopez launched her digital course and community for fashion students, Fashion Fundamentals, where she shares her career story, key steps for success, and how to break into the world of fashion. The goal: to create positive change in the industry.
The digital course offers students access to more than 30 career chats with industry experts, ranging from editors and makeup artists to stylists and account executives. Those who register also learn how to perfect their brand, utilize social media and build a professional portfolio.
“I’m kind of there as this personal mentor to the students,” Lopez said. “So, it’s this growing course and community for students that was purely built because I wish I had this when I was a student.”
For students of color, breaking into the fashion industry can be a challenge. Financial barriers, social obstacles, colorism, and racism play significant roles in the lack of diversity in the industry. Lopez wants to break those barriers.
This summer Lopez started The Fashion Fundamentals Foundation, a scholarship, and mentorship program within the course for students from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented communities. The program runs twice a year and 5 recipients are chosen every semester to receive free lifetime access to the online course, and monthly one-on-one mentorship sessions with Lopez.
“With everything going on in the past couple of months, I knew in my heart I needed to start the scholarship program and focus on students who are in these underrepresented communities and are from diverse backgrounds,” Lopez said. “I hope that they gain the confidence to break into the industry.”
What’s next for this fashion icon? When asked, Lopez laughs and exclaims: “taking over the world!” While the COVID-19 pandemic changed the process of a few plans, Lopez is taking this time to be creative and listen to the community to build content catered toward them.
“For so long you look at the fashion industry and it looks like The Devil Wears Prada, or Sex in the City or Gossip Girl, and all these things that seem so unattainable,” Lopez said. “My goal is to help bring in this new class of fashion professionals who are diverse, and talented, and creative, and deserve to be there.”