“I don’t like slash-y titles like stylist/artist”, Zara Mirkin says, when asked what she calls herself. But the truth is she does a lot of things: contributing Fashion Director at Oyster Magazine, freelance stylist with clients including Twin Magazine, Love Want, Lonely Hearts, Lorde, Russh—as well as a growing portfolio of photography and creative direction. People who have great opportunity in life often call it coincidence, or in Zara’s words, a life full of accidents. Beneath the surface of these accidents is what’s interesting—because despite a lack of strategy, there’s always something solid. When I say the word faith Zara screws up her face a bit—and spoken like a true Kiwi, she calls it a good attitude. 

“It’s actually pretty easy to do what you want in life, if you stop talking about it and actually do it. People always say how lucky I am to do what I’m doing—but it has nothing to do with luck, it’s about choices. I’m still a very ordinary person with a very ordinary life, struggling to make rent. Moving to New York City from New Zealand helped bring out a confidence and security in myself. It’s pretty cut-throat here, and you see a lot of people trying to be rich and famous, going to cool gallery parties every night.

But the most successful people don’t get anywhere by kissing ass, they get there by hard work.

Having a really grounded upbringing in New Zealand helps you see past all of that, and realize that none of the cool stuff is important. Every day that goes by I become more comfortable in myself, more sure of myself. I’m happy alone, I know who my friends are, I know what I want from life. Being confident in yourself is something gradual that happens in your 20s, when all of a sudden you discover a sense of security that wasn’t there before. It buzzes me out when I talk to far more established and successful people in my field who are so insecure. They’re always trying to get one step further, working with really prominent people who make them feel inferior. I think if you care less about the outcome, you have less insecurity and produce better work. It’s an outlook which prevents you from being disappointed. If I’m up for some big job and don’t get it, I don’t get upset about it, I just know it wasn’t meant to be and something else will come along. Having a life outside of what you do also helps, so if something career related doesn’t work out, it’s not the be-all and end-all.

My career isn’t actually what makes me happy. It’s the people I’m surrounded by.

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I don’t think you can put your opportunity in other people’s hands, or rely on anyone else for anything. I’ve never emailed any of my clients for work. Instead of putting yourself out there and trying to make things happen, do the work. I could be spending my time emailing brands and magazines with my portfolio, but instead I’m taking photos, making things, Instagramming what I do.

The right people will come across your work if you put it out there.

That’s how I think things should work and how it’s always worked for me. If you live like that, you don’t get desperate. You have to trust that whatever you put out into the world will come back to you. If you’re good at what you do, professional, hardworking and have a good attitude—you can’t go wrong.”

Zara’s #OKREALTALK Tips

  • Stop talking, start doing.
  • Make good choices, don't rely on good luck.
  • Success comes from hard work, not kissing ass.
  • Create your own opportunity.
  • Happiness comes from the people in your life, not the things you have done.
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zaramirkin.com 

i. @zaraeloise


As told to Amy Woodside, May 2014

Photographed by Amy Woodside