Hailing from the islands of Hawaii, you can typically spot Taylor Okata gracing the streets of fashion week or styling behind the scenes for clients such as Highsnobiety, SSENSE, HYPEBEAST, Vogue, and more. We’re still thinking about that legendary Dior croc jumpsuit he put Evan Mock in for Paris Fashion Week. Although things are different at the moment, Taylor is adapting to creative ways of digitally continuing his passion, and prioritizing support for other freelancers. For this latest installment of On The Line With… we caught up with Taylor Okata from his NYC apartment to discuss how he’s adjusting and what remains important during these times. Read Up.
Describe what you do for a living and how you’re adjusting to social distancing.
I’m a freelance stylist and consultant. It’s been seven weeks since I started sheltering-in, and it definitely has been a challenge. I’m very grateful I have my health and my own apartment to keep safe. Last week, I had a magazine cover shoot with a client where I selected pieces digitally, had them shipped directly to the photographer, and he executed the shoot himself. Webcam styling – the new normal. It was a strange feeling to not have control over how I want something to look, because I obviously couldn’t be there in person. Though, I’m so excited to see how this one turns out – I know he killed it.
During this time of social distancing, people are leaning on things such as streaming services, puzzles, at-home workout classes, etc. What activities are you using to take your mind off of things?
The main thing that’s been keeping me going is exercising, which I aim to do 5-6x a week. My friend in LA has taken her fitness club (@kongfitclub) on Zoom, so now I can take the incredible classes she curates almost daily. The HIIT classes are my favorite. I also do my own workouts (with free weights & resistance bands), as well as jumping rope on my building’s roof when the weather is nice. I also received a puzzle from my friend in Hawaii, which kept me busy for a minute. Aside from that, I’ve been cooking more than ever, listening to music, reading a ton, and watching lots of films and shows on every streaming platform possible, haha.
What is keeping you grounded/balanced at the moment?
Honestly, exercising and FaceTiming with loved ones. We’re really restricted in New York City, so making sure to move my body everyday has been extremely helpful – It’s definitely not easy though.
How do you stay connected to friends and family during this time?
Mostly FaceTime – a few of my best friends FaceTime me daily and we’ll be doing our own thing, not even talking, haha! A lot of my loved ones are actually outside of New York, so I’ve always been used to having to chat on different time zones. I have a group chat with a ton of friends back home in Hawaii so someone usually initiates FaceTime – whomever can join will join, and we just hang out – it’s really nice.
How do you typically start your day? What daily rituals are you practicing?
Once I went freelance, I created the habit of getting properly dressed every morning, even if I had no where to go. It helped keep me sane. That habit over the years has been extremely useful during this particular time. I wake up, make coffee and get dressed. I figure I can at least look good for all these FaceTimes, haha.
How are you staying productive while at home? Any useful tips?
I can’t emphasize enough how important exercising at home is, to get your body moving. Even if you’re dancing in front of the mirror, get at it! I also have a number of close friends (who are all freelance), and there is constant communication on what we can do, and to simply just vent. It helps to have a community where you can express the good and the bad. I also have an ongoing list of things I’d like to complete, from hanging that artwork on the wall (that’s been sitting there for a while) to clearing out my inbox.
What advice would you give to someone who’s struggling in isolation right now?
I’d be lying if I said I haven’t struggled during this time. I think it’s important to not pressure yourself to be productive every day, or to look online and compare yourself to others. Rather, find those you can dialogue with, that can relate and encourage you. Make a list of what used to bring you joy pre-isolation and create alternatives where possible. Everyone’s situation is different, so I can’t preach – But, please reach out to someone if you are struggling. There is no shame in that and your mental health is more important than ever.
What accomplishment or new project are you most proud of while social distancing?
After much procrastination, I finally have started to spring clean, from clothes to papers, it’s been really cathartic purging things I’ve held onto unnecessarily.
What are you most looking forward to once this is over?
I’m looking forward to seeing my close ones, especially my nephew.