I interviewed / photographed / hung out with 17-year-old Julia Tomasdottir during my trip to Iceland this summer. She's a young assistant-stylist and blogger based just outside of Reykjavik and probably one of the friendliest people ever. (It also shames me too admit that she knows more about british TV than I do). I asked her about her experience in the fashion industry and what it's like growing up and making art in the small and close-knit community that is Iceland.
So what do you do fashion-wise?
I'm an assistant stylist so like what that involves is that I have to go to like stores and pick out the clothes I want the models to wear and then dress them and return the clothes. That's like kind of what I do fashion-wise... - and also I help people do street casting so I like go down-town and find some people who I think are pretty and maybe go and cast them. So that's like really funny. It's a good way to meet guys. Stop the cute ones!
How did you get into doing this?
I kind of grew up with it like my mum is a stylist and she has her own company. It's a casting company and she's the biggest stylist here in Iceland for commercials. We do like 85% of all commercials. So, I kind of grew up with it there are like pictures of me, five years-old, sleeping on set like on some stairs. So that's how I kind of got into it. When I was 13, I think, I started like assisting her and doing my own jobs and like fashion shoots. So that's really fun... and I meet lots of people there.
So what do you most like about it?
I think the people. You get to know a lot of people - like if you're not in school, it's hard to meet people so this job's great because ya'know you work with so many like different people and there's no like same work day. Like one time you're doing something for a band and the next time you're doing like a bank. It's really funny.
Would you say there are any disadvantages?
Umm.. the work hours probably. Sometimes it's like 16 hours a day. And the food on set is disgusting, it's just you know hotdogs and candy... But no, not really! I think it's mostly great just the work hours probably.
So if you like doing it then it's worth it...
Yeah exactly, because it's really fun because it's not like going and working in a store or something like that. And yeah, sometimes the people that are playing in the commercials are not the funnest people but you know, that's life!
So what would you say your favourite shops and brands are?
Umm... here it's probably Spúútnik - the secondhand shop. Umm but Urban Outfitters, most of the stuff... everything's perfect there! Like it's so hippy and just amazing. And fashion-wise I think Marc Jacobs is doing like a really great job. He always does something like chic but still beautiful. And ... I don't know if I could have someone's closet it would probably be like Kate Moss. She has like a perfect closet - everything Topshop! That's pretty cool.
Can you describe your favourite item of clothing that you currently own?
Uhmm I have this one favourite item, I think I've used it once, it's like a pink tulle and it's like really pretty because I used to be a ballerina for six years. So like when I got it, it was the most beautiful thing ever! I felt like a princess. And we still have it, it like hangs in my dressing room.
Is being a stylist something you'd consider doing in the future as a career?
Um no, not really. I want to be an actress. So I'm going to go to school in New York and study that. I'm gonna try - I think next year - I can start applying for it... so that would be what I'm going to do. But I think like being a stylist here, it brings like a lot of advantages and I know what everyone does in the crew. Like I know what that cameraman does, I know what the runner does, I know everything so like when I'm going to be an actress, I know it's not just me; what I'm doing, everyone in the crew is doing something important so I think that's good...
So currently you're working on a collaborative blog, can you tell us how that started and what it is you do?
Yeah! It started when me and my friend, we met, and we both did something in the fashion industry. She was doing something for a magazine called Nude Magazine, it's like a fashion magazine here. And I dunno... there are a lot of kids here, like at the school I'm in, there's a lot of artists who don't get the advantages I have because like I grew up in this. They don't have it they just like draw in there notebooks and no one knows about it. So I kind of - well my idea was I really wanted to give them the platform, like show like there are very good artists here that are young but don't have the connections. So we kind of thought because it's called like Skapandi Sumarstörf which is like where in the summer, you get some creative people and you get paid for doing like... something creative! So we brought the idea of doing a blog and... kind of doing that and showing the artists - young artists - in Reykjavik and just like their life here and what's like fun. I also wanted to do like a blog because the blogs here are not the greatest. It's either you talking about yourself like "Oh I bought this today and I wore this lipstick" or like "How to loose pounds!" and "How to be thin!" and I didn't think like young girls who are like younger than me they'll look at a blog... I wanted them to have something to see that's like just artists. Like how Basquite became famous not just like how you're supposed to look, just like [to] learn something and thats the idea that I have.
So less superficial and more important things?
Yeah Exactly! More important things like Art and History and something that could help them know what they're going to do when they grow up not just look-wise.
Are there any Icelandic groups or people who you're particularly impressed by at the moment?
Umm... there are a lot of kids here that are doing great. Especially Lord Pusswhip. The Icelandic music scene is amazing. So it's such a small country but everybody knows each other and [they] do this amazing collaborative music. Umm... I think... umm... oh my God I can't think of one that's awful! Like the best one... umm... Retro Stefson are doing great things. They're like pretty cool. And... ok, wait... I'm trying to think of some artists and stuff... Oh yeah! Alma Mjöll. She draws like these cartoonish of like Picasso and stuff like that it's really funny. And also, it's called Lóabratoríum, she makes photos of Icelandic culture and how if you go to some other country and go to H&M and meet some other Icelandic people, how we'd like hide because it's like the most awkward thing in the world.
Lastly, is there any advice you'd give to young people wanting to get into styling and this sort of business?
Just believe in yourself. Like really. You could get really bad criticism with people like "Why are you going to do this? Why don't you go and work somewhere else which is easier?". Really just believe in yourself and you can do it, even if you don't have those connections just make them. You just have to work really hard for it. And I know it's a really cheesy line to say but like don't give up because you never know how close you are to actually achieving it like you could like quit today but tomorrow you could actually have made it. So don't quit.