Stylist, personal shopper, and business owner, Regina Wabuko, commonly known as @stylebyray, recently celebrated her first anniversary by launching her first-ever graphic t-shirts, “Dope kama Dopamine.” Regina, a mother of twins, fell in love with styling at a young age growing up in Webuye. She would always style her outfits differently from her siblings to suit her personal preferences.
Like the rest of the world affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, Regina decided to launch her online business, Style by Ray, to muddle through the challenging period. She is thrilled she created the platform as it has enabled her to put so many smiles on her customers, primarily women, and learn crucial lessons of running a business.
Please read on as Regina Wabuko sheds some light on her career as a stylist, personal shopper, and business owner by giving us her best advice to all the young women looking to build a career in this industry.
Who is Style by Ray, and what inspired you to start your brand?
Style by Ray is a brand created and owned by me, Regina Wabuko. I am a stylist, personal shopper, and I run an online clothing thrift shop on Instagram – Style by Ray. I have always had a love and passion for fashion and style. I started it as a way of making ends meet at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. During this period, job security was a concern, and I had to keep my creative mind active. It was a lovechild born out of my passions and background as a digital influencer and education in the hospitality industry.
Are you a full or part-time stylist?
Full-time, whether for personal or commercial shoots, commissioned shoots, individuals, or my thrift shop.
How has it been balancing your career and being a mum?
How do we balance breathing and living? We do, right? It’s the same. I’ll wait to see how men answer this question, lol!
When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career as a stylist?
When we were kids, my mum made our clothes, and I’d specify what I wanted, which was primarily different from my siblings. Being a stylist means playing with outfits on other body sizes, and I did that on dolls, my sisters, and my friends before I decided to be serious about it last year.
If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career, what would it be?
I need to shut out the impostor syndrome and trust myself a bit more; I’d also tell myself not to overwork myself because burnout is a thing.
What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when just starting?
I didn’t have clear boundaries on reservations and payments for orders made by customers. Customers would ask to reserve an item and not pay till days later after delivery. It was a massive challenge in restocking new things as well as calculating profit margins. The delays, which might seem inconsequential for a customer, are massive, especially when someone is just starting.
What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?
It is the most significant catalyst and most influential medium in the fashion industry. Every trendy season outfit is shareable on social media, and that’s how fans and customers find and discover them. Social media has also democratized access for everything and everyone, brands, customers, stylists, bloggers, the entire clothing, fashion, and styling ecosystem. Before it was a very closed industry for the elite, now a young girl from Webuye like me can aspire and dream about making it in this space that was once totally inaccessible, thanks to social media.
What is your favorite part about being a stylist?
Seeing someone’s face light up because of a piece I have gotten for them fits. Most times, it’s always something they never knew they could pull off. Every client I’ve had will tell you one question I always ask if we are getting out of the comfort zone because most times, the definition of comfort zones to people is their fear. Do more, see a difference. Additionally, seeing the joy on customers’ faces because they trusted my intuition and interpreted a chat or an idea into an outfit that works for them.
How do you want women to feel when wearing your clothes?
I want women to know that all body sizes are dressable. We don’t look good because of sizes; we look good because of the outfits and how we style them to our bodies as they are currently not as we hope they will be or how they were before. Clothes make one’s mood switch to elevation, to feel like such a badass.
What advice would you give to young stylists starting who feel pressured that the market is saturated but hoping to make it in the industry?
Don’t be shy; the first step is always to start! We don’t tell kids who want to be doctors not to think of it because there are many doctors already. Just believe in your craft and stay up to date. Also, practice a lot. I have a dummy in the house where I practice some of my looks on. Learning is endless.
What is your ultimate dream?
To have a shop as big as LC Waikiki, but also deals with consultancy on specific wardrobe woes that a client is facing. I’m looking to do a lot with plus-size girls, mainly to have them feel included.
Don’t be afraid to try. Be daring enough with that dream, that idea. Many doors open with confidence.