On Owning Your Work and Worth: Stylist and Brand Director Margaret Williamson Bechtold
As we prepare for BABES FEST 2019, we’re sharing interviews with some of the creatives on our lineup. Today, we’re featuring words from stylist and brand director Margaret Williamson Bechtold. You can catch Margaret on Day Two of the festival during our panels and pop-ups at the LINE Hotel.
who: Margaret Williamson Bechtold
Margaret Williamson Bechtold is a brand director and stylist living between Austin and New York and working all over. In her work as a creative consultant, she helps brands of all sizes and types with their look, feel and follow-through. As a STYLIST, she counts clients the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Sony and Girlfriend Collective as commercial collaborators. Her editorial work has been internationally published. In her spare time, she runs a concept shop in an abandoned cement factory in Austin, publishes a zine, and hosts a pop-up communitywith her pals in the desert. She writes a bit every now and then too. Margaret loves new projects and new friends.
How would you describe who you are and what you do?
I'm a human person who gets to make money doing what she's good at and loves, which amounts to: half of the time I style commercial and editorial photo and video shoots, and half of the time I creative direct brands by crafting visions, shaping products and effecting outputs. I split my time between two careers, and between two cities as well.
What are some of your current projects?
I serve as brand director for a new leisure club that's starting in New York next year - that's an ongoing creative direction role I get to play, then I've got a number of shoots in the works that range from online asset creation to full brand campaigns. I'm also crafting the image for a new music project that's being shopped around to different labels - I'm designing a uniform for that artist, setting a direction for all of the collateral that he needs and assembling a team to make it all happen.
When did you start fully owning your identity as an artist/creative? Can you remember any mindset shift you experienced at that time?
I've always been a really creative being, but I also have a really analytical and strategy-forward mind. I've always worked in creative fields and roles, and there was never a doubt for me that that's where I belonged. But I think it was only when I went freelance a few years ago that I remember actively using that term. That was when I needed to start self-defining, and choosing how I want to work, and with what skills I wanted to lead. I feel a sense of freedom now that I didn't know before—I have ownership over the vocabulary that follows my name.
What do you with the general public could better understand about your work as a creative/artist?
I think that making space for ideas is too underrated. We need time and space to think, and then time to walk away from the task at hand and clear our minds. If I could pump ideas out onto a spreadsheet I would, but it just doesn't work that way. Good ideas are precious cargo.
At BABES FEST, we're all about making space. How do you make space for creativity within your life?
I could stand to make more space for myself, for sure. One thing I've very proud of was taking advantage of a transition period in my career last year. For me it was a year of moving from doing a bunch of small projects to fewer, but bigger endeavors, and I found my new free-time really, very, truly disorienting. I floundered for a few months, feeling extremely guilty for having time off. I worked on me, on my issues with self-worth, and my discomfort with free time. That alone was time well spent. By the summer, I channeled my unspent energy into a passion project that I'm super proud of—a pop-up bookshop and gallery called Dontworrybaby that I use to gather folks and platform other artists. Building my own thing was the perfect antidote I recommend to anyone who's in the consulting realm. I thought of a thing, I did a thing; the process was that simple. No decks, no pitching, no compromise. It was so freeing and nourishing to experience. I got busy again this year and haven't been as great about saving space for just me. I'm really trying to find a good rhythm again.
What are some of themes, mediums and/or practices that you're currently exploring in your work?
In brand direction I'm driven to give people better, more beautiful, more inspired ways to spend their free time, to make meaningful connections, and improve their overall daily lives. Instagram has gotten so boring to me. It used to be enough to just scroll and scroll to relax, but now I want to be out experiencing things and actually seeing. So I know other people must be feeling it too. In styling, I've been exploring a magpie look; I want my subjects to have layers and depth, wearing many things collected over time.
How do you approach personal and professional patience?
There's a lot of client servicing in my work, and I approach those relationships with a lot of love. I want my clients to feel seen, heard, and most of all taken care of. It's extremely important to me that they feel that they're in good hands. There's an element of patience needed there, of course. You need to see both sides of the coin, and read the situation from a bird's-eye view, so you can know the angles you need to speak to, and do so with genuine empathy. Personal patience, I've gotten better at. I'm a recovering perfectionist :) A flexible work lifestyle has really done wonders for me -- I'm confronting my weaknesses, leaning into my strengths, and having a nice day while I'm at it.
What's something you unlearned lately that you're grateful for?
I've unlearned that it's impolite to talk about money. A lot of my friends are self-employed, and we have started treating each other like co-workers, sharing advice and talking very frankly about rates and policies. I'm so grateful for that shift, which I really had to actively work to make happen.
If you weren't you—let's say, you're instead your best friend—what would you be most proud of yourself for?
I am so proud of how unconventional my life is right now, splitting my time between places and specialties. It seemed very natural, I was only following my heart and my gut, but looking back I can see that there's a good amount of bravery and confidence involved, and I'm grateful for that.
What are you most excited about for BABES FEST? What do you want to share with those who attend and the fellow artists on the lineup?
I'm so excited to be a part of it this year! All of the Boss Babes events make me so proud to know the womxn behind it. I remember hearing Nina Berenato speak about money at an event a few years ago (come to think of it, that talk was the thing that motivated me to start my unlearning), and it was my first introduction to her and her work. Now her goods were just featured heavily in a Beyonce video. I'm excited to discover new folks I wish I'd known before and follow their rise. Catch me at literally all of the programming.
BABES FEST is an ~ annual convening of minds ~ in Austin, Texas, celebrating and amplifying women and nonbinary artists. As a weekend-long exhibition, our performances, panels, pop-up markets, film screenings and networking hours span music, film, art, creative education and comedy. Our daily schedule, 3-day passes and one-day passes for BABES FEST 2019 are available now.
~ everybody’s welcome. ~