Leave it to Cardi B to drop some insider business knowledge between sips of a strawberry margarita. On the heels of BET Awards weekend, the Grammy-winning rapper came out to the Beverly Center’s exclusive Room Service membership space in Los Angeles on Monday night to support her fashion stylist Kollin Carter at a discussion he held with Creative Jenius Report founder CJ South.
The event included an exhibition of some of the most epic Cardi B looks, such as her Christian Cowan-designed “Money” watch outfit (with pieces still ticking) and an accompanying chain-fringed hat as well as Met Gala looks and various magazine covers.
While the musician modestly insisted that she didn’t need to sit front row in a reserved seat, no surprise that Cardi B had the last word, offering five minutes of uninhibited business wisdom for the rising creatives and stylists in the intimate crowd, which included her makeup artist Ericka La’ Pearl and “Money” video director Jora Frantzis. Here are the top five takeaways.
Don’t overcharge. “Know your budget, boo. Know your budget!” Cardi said on being reasonable when charging clients. “Come on now, you need to know your artists. You need to know that your It girl or your It guy probably makes like $5,000 to $10,000 a month. Don’t come over here trying to charge them like $8,000 to $9,000 to style them. You got to be realistic. You and your artist built yourself together and don’t be like, ‘Well this stylist charges this so I’ma charge that. Yeah, but you’re not them!… You’re not going to charge somebody $10,000, $15,000 dollars and you’re putting them in Fashion Nova [the affordable fashion brand that Cardi B has collaborated with]. That’s not how it works. You, little by little, build [your artist] and both of you build together. Some people have a budget to be styled for $100,000 a month, $70,000, $60,000, $50,000. Well, I don’t have that. So [Kollin and I] built together.”
Challenge your client. Though Cardi and Carter have created fashion magic together, they don’t necessarily always see eye to eye. “Try to convince your artist to wear something, because sometimes they want to wear clothes, but they want to wear some shoes that just don’t go with it,” she said. “You gotta slowly but surely convince them why these shoes go with these clothes and with this hair, ’cause everything might just fuck up an outfit. Not every dress goes with a hairstyle. Not every dress goes with a shoe or the lip color. And you as a stylist should know that. Stop trying to please your artist. And lie to them. And say they look good!”
The audience applauded, as she continued: “Sometimes I be wanting to wear certain type of things but, me and Kollin, we go through our debates and we raise our hands. ‘Raise your hands if we all agree that this shoe might go with this hair.’”
For his part, Carter told THR: “There is no ego. [But] we do shoot each other’s visions down sometimes.”
Spend to build. “Sometimes you gotta tell your artist, ‘Listen, you gotta spend some money,’” Cardi explained about first getting recognition from major designers. “For the BET Awards, the first time I went, my Givenchy suit cost about five to six thousand dollars. You gotta tell your artist, ‘Listen, I know it’s a lot, but you’ve got to spend this so they could notice you. Little by little, they notice you.’ And you get noticed.”
Take baby steps. Both Carter and Cardi acknowledge that neither was a prominent fashion figure out of the gate and the process to reach that status was a long one. “It took us a while to get accepted and sometimes we used to be like, ‘Damn, when are we going to get invited to these shows? When are we gonna sit front row at these shows?’” she recalled. “And remember, you might get invited to a new designer’s show at fashion week. Don’t ever think, ‘Oh, but that’s so little. Well, who is that? I never heard of them.’ Attend. And make sure you dress nicely and bossed up.”
It takes time. “When me and Kollin started together, I wasn’t really the super-popular girl. ‘Bodak Yellow’ wasn’t even out yet. So a lot of people didn’t want to lend to me. I felt like a lot of stylists don’t really understand us sometimes,” Cardi said in regard to collaborating with designers. “Givenchy, Dolce and Gabbana, these big houses — sometimes you could be a really big, big artist but a lot of these fashion houses they’re still not going to lend to you because you’ve got no style,” she said, as the crowd erupted in laughter. “It’s true! You could be the hottest and they just don’t want you in their clothes because you just don’t got that style. So it’s like you gotta prove to them that you got that style. You’ve got to keep on proving. We built together. And together y’all become rich, y’all become iconic, y’all become y’all look.”
This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter.