Haylee Ahumada, the stylist and creative director behind some of your favorite Rico Nasty looks is passionate about what she does and who she wants to be. It’s more than just putting the clothing together. It’s about telling a ‘based on a true’ version of a story and bringing her clients vision to life. Its so authentic that when she talks about it, the hair on her arms, neck, and possibly back, start to stand up.
“I kind of feel like that’s what I wanted to do around high school. I was always super into fashion — wanting to put cloths together, accessories (especially up my arms). Matching flats — flats in every color, it was always important to me to be fly.”
Although it was clear Ahumada’s goal was to translate her love for fashion into a career, having super traditional parents, deferred the dream for a split second.
“I knew I wanted to do styling sophomore year of high school , I went to a vocational high school so you got to pick a “major” sort of to study all 4 years of high school and I chose medical arts because I wanted to be a vet, but sophomore started changing that.”
But even as she landed the dream profession, what you see is not always what you get.
“I wish I knew how much people don’t give a fuck about you in this industry. I’m a very passionate person — I don’t come from money, from the hood; Patterson, NJ, the way I operate is off of passion.”
Read below for the full interview.
Having a fashion sense
Having parents that may not support
To having parents who now see the vision …
Some challenges you may face
Doing anything for clout
People are not as nice to women in the entertainment industry
Eventually, at the beginning of the day, if you want to look over me, you won’t feel like that at the end of the day. Their mind set has changed because of what I do, what I put forward and how I work. 99% of the people that has worked with me can vouch to the fact that when I pull up to work, I pull up to work.
Managing to work with Joey Badass & Rico Nasty
That was through one of my friends, Joe at Atlantic Records. He was at the time working with Rico, I believe. Brianna, was also on her team at Atlantic. I don’t remember how they found me, it was a while ago. This was a the time that no one knew too much about Rico — at least her hometown (Maryland and DMV) were crazy about her, but it wasn’t like NY and the crazy buzz she has right now. I didn’t even know who she was.
They reached out to me to style for her and I went to Maryland and did her video “Block List” — that was the first time we worked together. It was just great, we had great energy. So I would just go out there all the time and style her. Then throughout her career, we always drifted and found each other — drifted and found each other again, but every time we do that, we ask each other why do we even drift?
Applying yourself through social media
I would say social media is good and bad — for me. I don’t even post outfit pictures, but I definitely have gotten a lot of work through Instagram. It’s a tricky thing.
Sometimes even with the best work that I put out, it can be discouraging. We see these girls that just post a picture everyday and get invited to all these shows and events that you’ve worked your ass off to get invited to. And at the end of the day, you’re still not invited because you don’t have a “k” at the end of my followers. However, the people that do follow me are super elite. I probably have everyone’s favorite rapper stylist, or magazine editors following me.
I may not have a blue check, but if you check everyone following me, they all have blue checks.
I’ve never been the type to ask or hint to clients tagging me in photos. But I’ve been very grateful for those two crediting my work.
Traditions before and during styling
1. Find out all the details I can
I try to speak with my clients team to see what events are going on, who’s involved. If it’s a music video it’s important to know who’s the featured artist. It’s good to know because you have to get these brands to want to work with you.
2. Emailing Showrooms
I put together an email any stylist would. It’s called a “pull request.” All my emails start with URGENT. I write who I’m working with, who’s involved in the project, what dates I’m requesting for, etc. They either approve or don’t.
3. On Site Help + Photos
I gather assistants to help me pick up from showrooms and organize returns. And this is with every job. Once we get all the samples in, I take pictures or have the interns take pictures of everything that came in from that brand.
Because once fashion week is going on, we’re just pulling cloths here and there. When it’s over, we use the pictures as a reference to understand which pieces are from what brand. Then pack it all up, re organize and send it all back.
What does self care look like for you
I used to be more of a person that likes to go out, but I’m working so much more.
I love watching trash tv, it’s my queen! Like 90 Day Fiancé, Love After Lockup, Love and Hip Hop, Basketball Wives, Black Ink Crew, Teen Mom — all the versions!! I would watch the spinoffs of all and 16 and Pregnant shows as well. TLC is one of my favorite channels.
I also like to just like to chill at home with my boyfriend.
I’m also into skincare — face mask, double or triple cleanse, sleeping mask, all of it. Or I’ll just go out and get drinks with some friends, but you’ll never catch me at a party.
Advice for interns interested in fashion + working with you
When I was an intern, I always said “yes.” That’s not to say you have to accept everything because you have to do what’s right for you. But, I was so eager to learn and be out there, that whatever you needed I was going to do. I wouldn’t even ask where, what time, or what are we doing.
I never wanted anyone to feel I was engaging only for a specific reason.
10 Do’s & Don’t Of Styling Joey Badass
- Do have a fresh pair of Air Force 1s
- Do find pants tapered to the ankle
- Do have multiple options for him. He likes to see though a lot of things
- Do always have suggestions on how to pair something or piece the outfit together
- Do always hype him up in front of the camera; It helps him get in his zone and also with getting a great effortless shot
- Don’t dress him in anything tight
- Don’t touch his socks or the bottom of his pants — his cuff is his world
- Don’t touch his hair or fix his updo. That’s his thing and that’s how he wants it done
- Don’t get anything that’s bright blue
- Don’t get him any Chelsea boots