Text by Jessica Beech

Taking up a career in freelancing is not all as it may seem. We got the chance to sit down and have a conversation with stylist and writer Carlos Mangubat on his career journey as a freelancer.

Being a freelancer is what seems like a dream job, no set hours, no more early mornings and as many holiday days as you want. While we sit and hear about all the luxuries of the job, no one is there to tell us in fact how hard and tiring it’s going to be. Many of us take that step at trying something so new without properly looking in to it, and while that might end up being the best decision you have ever made, for some it’s the worst.

I recently got the chance to sit down and have a conversation with Carlos Mangubat about his career as a freelancer. And while I got to hear all about the perks of his role, he also gave me some insight on the struggles he faced at the beginning of his career. 

After completing his degree in Fashion Buying, Carlos took some time to gain some experience working as an assistant and interning with multiple stylists, brand and publications. In 2010, he took that leap become a freelance stylist and later in 2012 he also became a freelance writer.

What made you make the move?

Pursuing fashion a career as a stylist in editorial is difficult if you don’t work directly for a publication. Going freelance enabled me to have the flexibility to work multiple jobs whilst pursuing my dream.

What was it like starting up as a freelancer?

The fashion industry relies heavily on networking so to start freelancing you definitely need to know the right people and have a rapport with networks that can employ or potentially employ you in the future. Luckily for me, I approached a lot of people who I met whilst I was an assistant, which helped me because they were already aware of my work ethic and what work I had done.

Further, learning to manage myself as a business, especially with book keeping and chasing clients to pay invoices can be quite confronting in the beginning.

Many look at freelancing as a desirable job. You pick your own hours, you don’t have to do any jobs you don’t want. What has your journey been like?

The freedom a freelance job can give you is great! I once took off five months to travel and I didn’t have to consult anyone about it. However, it can also be quite a high risk. If you are sick, there is no one to cover you. You can’t predict very far in advance where your work is, nor when a client is going to pay you or book you again.

I have worked hard to be in a position to keep constant work flowing however, it doesn’t mean the road is easy. That being said, I couldn’t imagine myself working any other way at least for the next five years.

What do you like best about freelancing?

The flexibility in the job has always been appealing to me. Working in different places has also been great!

What have you struggled with throughout your career?

Monitoring career progression is hard when you freelance. You can’t really validate your work as a stylist unless you show your work to an agent or someone you really respect. Fashion is subjective, so you are only as good as you think (doesn’t mean a client or potential client would agree).

Knowing the right career decisions to make can also be difficult without a mentor. Freelance is predominately a solo journey and the right decision making is important, especially if you are career driven.

Also, having clients pay on time is always a struggle (especially when your rent is due!).

What have you learnt throughout your career?

I definitely know what my work is worth in dollar or pound value. I can now say I’ve reached a point in my career where I can decline jobs that I don’t think will help my career (or my bank account).

I’ve also learnt that it isn’t enough to be a good stylist alone. But you also have to be a person that people want to work with again. Being professional and liable is key to always having constant work. Even memorable I would say!

What advice can you give anyone looking at being a freelancer?

Make sure you save a portion of your money for tax!

Also, always remember peoples’ names and faces – any job could come from anyone you’ve ever met in your life – any network is a job opportunity.