In 2012, while attending college and working a part-time job, I walked into the office, meeting a new employee, Alayna. I remember when we first met each other, we were quiet towards each other (like most Aquarius are), until we found out we had the same birthday. Since then, not only have we've been close friends, but we've watched each other grown and excel in our perspective careers. With that being said, I've witness Alayna Bell-Price take her love of fashion, and took it to Hollywood...literally. No really, after we graduated from college, Bell-Price move to Los Angeles, and after a chance program opportunity, she started working as a costume stylist for various shows (some of which you guys probably watch). I got a chance to interview the hard-working, fashion loving young lady about her rise into the industry.
1. Tell us about yourself, where you're from, what type of person were you in school.
I’m Alayna, I’m 24 years old, I live in Los Angeles, but I’m from Glenview, IL, which is about 30 minutes north of the city of Chicago. I attended Clark Atlanta University for two years after high school, but didn’t see it as the right fit for me. So, I transferred to Columbia College Chicago as a junior and found my niche. I started my own company in which I provided styling and wardrobe consulting services to local Chicago socialites and celebrities. With that being said, I wasn’t the best student academically, because I was very focused on my company. However, I was very active in the Columbia community by joining the Black Student Union, becoming a peer mentor, and attending many events and supporting my peers as much as could. Those experiences and interactions where more rewarding to me than anything.
2. What was your first creative experience as a child?
Growing up in a Christian household, it was very important to look your best every Sunday for church. I remember watching my great grandmother wake up early Sunday morning to pick out and iron her best attire. Being that I’ve always been very opinionated, I would say things like “I’m not at a fan of that” or “Let me find something better for you.” My great grandma believed in me so much that she would wear whatever I would pick out for her. A few years later, she had to have both of her legs amputated and needed more help. So my contribution was helping her put looks together for church, the doctor, or wherever she was going. I would iron them out for her the night before and hang them up in her closet. To me, I was just helping her in the way I knew how. Later on in life, I realized that those early experiences were the foundation for a two passions of mine: styling and helping others.
3. When did you first realize fashion was your passion?
I didn’t realize that you could even have a career in fashion until my junior year in high school. I was taking a class in interior design and we had a representative from the Art Institute talk to us about the many different majors. She mentioned how many of their students have interned a different fashion magazines and brands. That sounded like a dream to me. I immediately went home researched different careers in fashion and I saw an article about fashion merchandisers and what they do. After reading a ton of articles and books, I knew that is truly what I wanted to do. How did I know? Because I spent more time researching the craft and figuring out the next steps than I have on any other career. I became obsessed with it to the point that people were tired of me talking about it. Haha
4. After high school, where did you take your love for fashion? What was your college experience like with fashion? What challenges did you face?
After high school, I attended Clark Atlanta University. I wanted to get out of suburbia and go to a school that was completely different than my high school. I was a fashion merchandising major with a minor in French. As much as I loved attending CAU and meeting so many new faces, the fashion program was not right for me. I just didn’t feel it. So I left after two years and came to Columbia. Columbia is a school like no other. I wanted to be involved with my major and they have so many classes that really submerge you in it. This school inspired me to just get up and “live what I love” (as the school motto says), so I decided to start my own business. The challenge I had was getting my professors to understand that I was not the average student and my business required me not to be so involved in the class as students should be. I completely understood where they were coming from because school should always be the first priority but once my company got in to full gear, there was no slowing down or turning back. I was never a bad student, but I felt like the biggest challenge for me was the balance between academics and my business. Now I realize that I could have done better academically and still thrived in my career with more effort and faith in myself.
5. After college, you moved to LA, which is major move for anyone. What made you make that decision to move to LA? What feelings and thoughts were going through your mind?
Columbia offers a semester in LA program and when I learned of it, I knew that was the opportunity I needed to advance in my career. Once I signed up and paid the tuition, I had the most anxiety I have ever experienced. So many things crossed my mind, but the biggest thing is that so many people were rooting for me and I couldn’t let them down. The semester in LA program is one of the most pivotal moments in my life. I went into it thinking I would excel because of my styling background, but boy was I wrong. I was in a class with girls who were so talented and could sketch, construct garments, and so many things I couldn’t. For a moment, I wanted to give up, but after having some guest speakers come in and give words of encouragement, I knew I could do it. And I did!
6. Being that you're fierce, I know you've worked on some fierce television shows. Can you name some of the shows you've worked on? What were some of your favorite people or scenes to work with?
Thank you for saying I’m fierce even though I beg to differ. Haha. I have been so blessed to work on over 20 shows and films within 2 years of my career. I’m not going to list them but each show I work on, I grow as a costumer and as a person which is more rewarding than the fact that I’m working with the stars. My favorite thing I’ve ever worked on was a show based in the 1960’s because it was the most challenging thing I have ever had to do, physically and emotionally. I left that show so much stronger than when I started and for that I am forever grateful.
7. How did you get into costume and wardrobe for television shows?
I would’ve never guessed 10 years or even 3 years ago that I would be working as costumer. The semester in LA program opened my eyes to this career and I fell in love with it. During the program, I interned on a show that was really hands on and taught me so much and I knew I never wanted to turn back. Working hard during that internship and doing anything they asked of me is what really opened up the door for me. My bosses believed in me and would constantly refer me to jobs after the show ended. I’m so grateful and blessed to be where I am now without all of those experiences and some determination.
8. What are the best and difficult perks that come with the job? What's the craziest or the most fun outfit you had to put together?
The best thing about being a costumer is meeting so many new people and making friends with your film crew. Even though Hollywood may seem like a huge place, it’s small and you end up working with the same people again. I have met some of my closest friends on some of the shows and it makes every 12+ hour day enjoyable. The most difficult thing is the high stress level. The costume department, or any department for that matter, works tirelessly to make sure everything is up to par. We wake up early and stay very late night to make sure the end product for consumers is perfect. The pressure for everything to be at its best can cause a high level of stress, which is something I am still learning to deal with. The advice that has been given to me is find something to do outside of work that will relieve the stress. For an example, yoga or mediation or some people do creative things like paint. It really will help in the long run.
9. For those out there wanting to do what you do, what is your best advice for them?
Do it! If this is really what you want to do, then don’t let anybody stop you, especially yourself. Sometimes we are our biggest hindrance when we need to be our biggest fans. Don’t doubt yourself and come on! Take as many classes as you can that help you in the long run such as sketching, garment construction, textiles, or costume history. Having more tools to build your foundation only makes it stronger. Intern or volunteer at a theater or on a show as much as you can. Also, if you are at a school that offers a film program, connect with those students and offer your help. That’s the best way to learn. I am here for anyone that would like so help or advice, so feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to help where I can.
10. Where do you see yourself in the future and what impact do you want to leave on fashion?
I love where I’m at now and I am looking forward to working on more shows and developing as a costumer. I am open to God’s plan and whatever he has set aside for me so who knows what I’ll being doing in the future. As I said before, I also have a passion for helping others so that’s what kind of impact to leave in general. I want to leave this Earth knowing that I helped make a change in some way or I inspired someone. That to me is best impact anyone could ever leave.