Sourcing the right props and wardrobe is perhaps the key in what I do, but staying organized with all the paperwork involved is just as crucial. This helps especially with the returns and also eventually the final billing for the client, which needs to be clear, transparent and easy to understand. Some of my peers in the industry hire agents or accountants to do this for them, however I have been lucky enough to be able to manage it myself - I think my love for math and numbers helps!
While prepping each job, there is always a lot of shopping involved. Styling often requires that you bring a variety of options in order to meet (and exceed) the clients’ needs on set. This usually means that numerous items will not actually end up being used and will have to be returned to stores, or costume and prop houses. Here’s where it’s important to keep all that paperwork well-organized. It’s easy to lose receipts, especially when working on big projects that span multiple days. I usually divide receipts at the very start of the job - rentals separately from purchases, etc. From the beginning of a project, I’m therefore able to keep track of the expenses and monitor my budget easily. If I’m working with assistants, they know to hand over receipts promptly after shopping, so all paperwork is together, consistent and we can organize it for the returns.
I use Google Drive to assist with my invoicing and compiling all the components. On the physical receipt, I accurately number each one and write the amount that was actually spent on top of each receipt, since this may differ from the bottom line if there have been returns. Each invoice that I submit to a producer has a cover page with itemized expenses, which detail how the given budget was distributed. I consider billing a very important aspect to my job as a stylist!
By Elwira Miezal