After responding to a job posting on Twitter from top stylist Pam Quinones one fateful day, Cath Sobrevega has since been on a fashion-filled adventure one can only dream of. She didn't know anything about fashion then, but she took a leap as an intern and has been in the industry ever since.
She, together with Maita Baello, made up Pam's original Team Pam Q, which eventually became Qurator Styling Studio. Back then, they got to really learn from one of the best and see how she operated. Eventually though, they did get a chance to formally study the craft at the prestigious Central Saint Martins in London.
Nine years later, Cath is now operating her own styling team, working on the biggest campaigns and editorials with her stellar clientele, and also co-owns local jewelry label Nami.
Even though the now 30-year-old had a serendipitous start, staying relevant in the fashion industry has proven to be a whole other challenge. In an environment as cutthroat as the one she's in, Cath knows that having grit and backbone are both essential in surviving. "It’s as simple as staying true to my vision and having a strong conviction with the decisions I make. I just have to own them."
But even with this strong mindset, she's taking a cue from her mentor by being always kind to the people she works with regardless of their positions. "If there’s one thing that I'll always recall, it's what Pam used to say all the time: Be nice to everyone you work with, from the PAs to the production staff, because you don’t know when you’ll work with them again. This industry is so small and the only other thing you have that you need to take care of is your reputation."
Here, Preview.ph pauses a for one-on-one with the stylist where she recalls how she got hired by Pam, when she knew it was time to do her own thing, and her advice for aspiring stylists.
Earning Her Stripes
How did you start as a stylist?
"It all started when Pam Quinones tweeted that she was looking for assistants one night. I was still fresh out of college trying to figure everything out when I saw the tweet and thought, "Why not?" and sent my resumé. I didn't hear back until two weeks later, I suddenly get a text message from Pam asking me to to pick-up a gown for an awards night and to meet her at a hotel room. That served as my interview. I trained for a month until I finally became part of Team Pam Q."
Where did you train to be a stylist?
"I learned everything I needed to know about styling from my mentor, Pam Quinones. When she took me under her wing, I had little to no experience and knowledge in fashion; I basically observed and absorbed everything Pam did and taught me. Her guidance and influence have been instrumental in my growth and I couldn't have asked or wished for a better mentor."
When did you realize it was time to go on your own?
"Working with Pam day in and day out for eight years would make anyone inspired to do things for themselves as well—and so I realized I wanted to build a name for myself, too."
How would you describe your aesthetic as a stylist?
"My style is easy, effortless, and classic so when I look back 10 to 20 years from now, I won't be regretting any of the work I've done."
A Stylist's Life
What's a usual day like for you?
"What I like about this job is that there is no routine. My day could go a few different ways; it's very unpredictable. One day, I may be attending a meeting; the next, I may be pulling out or sourcing clothes or bringing the wardrobe to a shoot. One thing's for sure, though: As a stylist, I am always busy and work is demanding. So, if you really want this job, you have to give it your time."
What's in your styling kit?
"Hollywood tape, nipple tape, a sewing kit with thread in every color option, measuring tape, stain remover, lint rollers, extra innerwear such as boy-leg shorts, bandeaus, and seamless underwear, and a portable garment steamer."
What are the challenges you often face on the job?
"Problems in styling are common, but fashion emergencies may be averted with a thought-out and fully-equipped styling kit that we should have with us at all times. Most clients usually pose great expectations, that is why we always encourage proper fittings before events and appearances to prevent last-minute crises. Of course, I've experienced having an unhappy client, but I've learned the way out—as a stylist, you have to move quick and be quick all the time so you can move forward with solutions. There is always a middle ground between meeting the client's expectations and your own."
Who are your usual clients and what projects do you style them for?
"I am so blessed to work with several empowered and influential women that inspire me to keep going and do better with my job—Alex Gonzaga, Julia Barretto, Maja Salvador, Angel Locsin, Gabbi Garcia, Sarah Geronimo, Denise Laurel, and Jasmine Curtis-Smith, just to name a few. I also style Robin Padilla, who is such a hardworking and respectful man. My clients come to me when they need help dressing up for an event, a guesting, a personal trip abroad, an endorsement shoot, or a red carpet event."
Where do you get your styling inspiration?
"I love immersing myself in new and different cultures and experiences around the world. Inspiration’s everywhere—from travelling, architecture, art in museums, fashion shows, to even images I see on Instagram!"
What is the best part about your chosen profession?
"The best part about my job is being able to meet and collaborate with all these geniuses—from the photographers, hair and makeup artists, fellow stylists, to agencies, and of course, the celebrities I get to work with. Everyone is so hardworking, successful, yet grounded. They all inspire me each and every day."
Mentee to Mentor
You have your own styling team under Styled by Cath. When did you start taking stylists under your wing?
"When I started my own company, I just knew I couldn’t do everything on my own. My goal was to have a great team that all my clients and I can trust, even when I am not around. I now have three hardworking and efficient stylists under me: Riri Verano, KT Landingan, and Jem Arboleda. It really takes a village, and I am grateful for mine."
What kind of services do you offer?
"My styling studio offers any and all styling services, really. We do personal styling for our clients attending events and appearances, to even their trips and vacations. I do pre-nuptial styling and personal shopping too, but my bread and butter are advertising shoots—print ads, TV commercials, and campaign shoots for brands."
What's a practical piece of advice you can give to those who want to be in the industry?
"If you want your foot in the door, start with an internship. Nothing beats first-hand experience and making an effort to do the work and know the industry you're getting yourself into. Follow the people you want to work with, and who knows? One day they might post that they’ll be needing your help, too."
How can people book you?
"They can always send me a message through firstname.lastname@example.org!"