Fatima B. is laying on a fluffy shag carpet in a high-rise penthouse apartment in Harlem getting ready for her photo shoot. As the stylist behind some of the most fashion-forward men in the music industry, it is not uncommon for her to spend most of her days on set but today is different: she's her own client. She wears a thermal long sleeve, soccer mom jeans, and a fresh pair of white Reebok Classic Leathers, which live up to their name. "You can find the everyday woman who's going to work at the hospital to a girl sitting front row at a fashion show in a pair of Reebok Classics,” she says. Though she seems at ease, Fatima—who prefers not to use her last name—is not used to being in front of the camera. Despite an Instagram feed full of flashy club-bound looks and behind the scenes festival style, she is a self-professed “aunty” who stays glued to her couch whenever she can get away from work. The daughter of a translator mother and a United Nations-affiliated father, Fatima spent five of her formative years growing up in Tokyo before breaking into the fashion world in New York.

Getting her start in styling proved to be a game of strategy and sheer fortitude for Fatima. Working as a receptionist at an accounting firm in the early aughts, she began to think twice about her career decision when one of her coworkers offhandedly mentioned that Fatima should consider styling since her personal style was so exceptional. “I was like what does a stylist do? I knew of styling, but I didn’t know anything about the business side of it,” she says. Like most others working in the field, she made her way into the industry through assisting and interning for established stylists, trading free labor in exchange for hands-on lessons in the craft. Back in the nascent days of social media, Fatima used Myspace to hit up stylists and offer her services as an assistant. In 2008, she got her big break, becoming the assistant to Brandon Atherley, who was styling Missy Elliott at the time, and getting to dress Missy’s backup dancers for their performances.