Tyler Okuns is a New York-based fashion stylist who is the definition of being “up next.” Born in New York but raised in southern California, Okuns decided to head back to New York after graduating high school to attend LIM College. While in college, Okuns did what most students do and started interning at various publications and brands like Marie Claire, NYLON, Elle, V Magazine, and Marc Jacobs. Upon graduating college, she landed every fashion intern’s dream job as a fashion market assistant at Allure magazine. After a few years at Allure, Okuns decided to go freelance and gain more knowledge in her field. She began aligning her expertise with legendary stylists such as June Ambrose and affixing herself to style projects associated with style icons such as Missy Elliott and Rihanna. Being well equipped in styling as well as an eye for ready-to-wear and accessory markets Okuns is a force to be reckoned with.
EBONY: Where did your interest in fashion begin and did your upbringing play a part in it?
Tyler Okuns: Well, I think my fashion story starts like most people—my parents. They both really loved getting dressed and taking pictures in their New York apartment. So growing up, I saw the best images of them traveling and in stylish clothing just living out their best lives. I feel like that really shaped me. Then my mom started letting me dress myself in elementary school and just allowed me to be me.
You’re from California, what made you move to NYC?
I moved to NYC to live out the dream! I kept telling everyone I grew up with that I was going to graduate and move to New York City and work in fashion—and that’s what I did! My parents were a huge influence. They always talked about their time in New York while I was growing up in California. They encouraged me to see the world, move to a big city, and leave San Bernardino, where I’m from. I thought New York was where one made it! The grunginess of the 80s and the glamour and innovation of the 90s that my parents lived through just always looked so glamorous to me. I also knew fashion was bigger in NYC than in California.
My first few years in fashion were insane! They were life-changing. I got a random opportunity to intern at Marie Claire as an accessories intern and it just took off from there. I was obsessed with this crazy, exciting fashion world. I felt like I was a part of something, even though it was rare for African Americans in these spaces. But I didn’t care. I knew what I wanted. From there on, I interned at Nylon, Marc by Marc, V magazine, and Elle. These we’re intense years:-a part-time job for 3 days, at school for 4 days, internship for 3 to 4 days. I was so extremely focused which allowed people to see my talent and hunger. It pushed me to be better; it was an amazing, yet exhausting time.
Do you enjoy freelancing for multiple brands as opposed to working on one brand?
I do miss working for one brand but I do like working with multiple brands more. Working on a new experience, different projects, and with different people is a new challenge. There’s not much of a safety net like working corporate team, but it’s still exciting.
What are some of your career highlights?
I’ve gotten the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing stylists in the game. I was able to work with June Ambrose for the VMAS for Missy Elliott for her Vanguard Award. I got to work with Jahleel Weaver (Rihanna’s stylist) for Fenty Skin’s first beauty campaign in Malibu (that one with A$AP Rocky and everyone). I got to style my first tour with Amaarae, her first US tour ever, this year. I’ve gotten to work on my first TV series this year along with music videos, and NFTs. I’ve gotten to be on set with the uberstylist Alex White and the legendary photographer Patrick Demarchelier, which was a fashion highlight for anyone who knows their names. It’s been a lot of amazing moments.
When did you feel like you made it?
I wouldn’t say I’ve made it just yet. I think I’m still growing, improving, and learning. To be honest, I’ve had amazing highs and lows in my career so far, but I know my time is coming and I’m ready for it!
Where do you hope to be in the next 5 years?
In the next five years, I hope to be able to manage and build more amazing stories for the world. I want to be a part of more amazing teams and work with more amazing people to create magic. I want to feel proud of how I’ve grown and where I’ll continue to go. I see myself with new opportunities such as theater, movies, TV, art, editorial—all of it!