Buffalo isn’t necessarily known as a breeding ground for fashion icons but Tim Baldon is planning to change that.
Better known as Tim B, the 27-year-old Buffalonian is making waves in the industry as a Stylist. What sets him apart is his knack for hunting down threads that accentuate the distinctive personalities of his patrons. In 2011, Tim established a boutique agency, Epik Style, where he landed Lil’ Kim, one of Hip Hop’s most iconic figures, as his very first client just 3 months after its launch. Since then, Baldon has continued to work with prominent players in the entertainment arena and even expanded his personal brand by making several TV appearances, including LALA’s Full Court Life and BET ’s classic music video countdown show 106 & Park.
Tim’s interest in fashion developed when he began watching rap videos at the age of 13. “At that age I started listening to Hip Hop--I was really into music videos and I would take note of what all the artists wore so I could buy those same items,” Baldon states. “The first thing I made my mother buy me was a shiny jean suit like the one Puff used to wear.”
The modish teenager’s newfound love instantly transformed into a full-blown passion, as he went on to major in Fashion Merchandising at Buffalo State College. During his freshman year, Tim interned for Michelle Ten (former Fashion Editor of The Source Magazine for six years) and fell so in love with the short-lived gig that he quit his college career soon after. Baldon confesses: “I ended up getting an assistant job my junior year so I dropped out, packed my bags and moved to New York City. I felt like hands-on experience was all the education I needed.” Well, his decision sure proved to be beneficial.
I recently sat down with the thriving entrepreneur to discuss his life in Buffalo, wild college days, humble beginnings in the fashion industry and future goals. Check out our conversation below:
FRENDY: First of all, what color was the shiny jean suit your mom bought you?
TIM: It was metallic silver! *Laughs*
FRENDY: *Laughs* No doubt! Besides Diddy, which other Hip Hop artists served as a fashion inspiration for you growing up?
TIM: Kanye West was one of my biggest inspirations. I also admired Pharrell and Andre 3000’s style, but hands down Kanye was one of my biggest inspirations.
FRENDY: Which part of Buffalo are you from? And how was it like growing up there? I honestly thought you were from Brooklyn!
TIM: Everybody says that! I don't know why, I guess I give off that Brooklyn vibe.
Growing up in Buffalo was cool. I grew up in a city on the east side, which was a predominantly African-American community. Buffalo is very segregated; so on the east side you have Blacks, on the west side are Spanish and Puerto Ricans, North & South Buffalo is mostly Caucasian, as well as the suburbs.
Buffalo definitely had its ups and downs but for the most part it taught me many life lessons and made me who I am today. When I was younger Buffalo was full of life--it was a great place to live, but as I got older it started to become a ghost town. But I always made the most of it and I'm glad I grew up there. Best part was College! *Laughs*
FRENDY: Wow, I didn’t know it was segregated like that. Did you experience any sort of racism?
TIM: I've definitely experienced racism! I was always the type to venture off and explore, that's always been my thing. I would encounter racism when I would go shopping in different areas and sometimes at work because I worked in the suburbs. My sister went to school out in the suburbs and we had a situation where she was called a n*gger but me and my father handled that situation. So yeah I experienced it, but never in my community.
FRENDY: Are there a lot of stores in your hometown that provide scorching streetwear and high-end gear? If so, what are your favorite spots to shop?
TIM: Yes, we had a few spots in Buffalo. We had a store called Krudmart, Street Game, and Elmwood Village District. They were all in an area similar to Soho, New York but not as many stores. We later got Urban Outfitters; I worked there for about 3 years.
FRENDY: What are some of your favorite brands today?
TIM: DSQUARED2, Public School, Alexander McQueen, Asos, Maison Margiela, and Hood by Air.
FRENDY: How were you able to gain an internship as a freshman in college?
TIM: We weren’t supposed to be interning but I just felt like I needed to get a head start on my career. I didn't really care what the school said, I was always thinking about my career and where I wanted to go in it.
My first internship was amazing. I interned with Michelle Ten--that experience gave me so much knowledge of the fashion industry and its inner workings. It was a lot of work, but after interning with Michelle I knew that styling was exactly what I want to do.
FRENDY: So she didn’t care about your undergraduate status?
TIM: She did care, but I convinced her to let me intern with her. After my first summer with Michelle she hired me the following summer to be her summer assistant.
FRENDY: Damn, your work ethic must of been epic! (no pun intended).
TIM: *Laughs* I did everything she told me to do with a smile, even when I was tired to the point I couldn't keep my eyes open. I was so hungry to learn and gain knowledge about the industry.
FRENDY: What was your first job when you moved to New York City?
TIM: When I first moved to New York I was working with three stylists at one time Michelle Ten, Julie Matos and Crystal Street. My duties included: emailing and contacting showrooms to pull clothes, picking up and returning clothes, organizing fashion closets, managing budgets, scouting shoot locations, managing interns and sitting in on meetings.
Basically, my job was to make by boss’ job easier so they can focus on the creative side and not worry about all the other details that goes into being a stylist.
FRENDY: When did you meet Lil’ Kim?
TIM: I met Kim in 2011 at her rehearsals for a tour she was doing in Africa. We have a mutual friend so she invited me to sit in on the rehearsal.
FRENDY: What set of events occurred that allowed you to work with her?
TIM: We clicked from jump! I think it was because we had a mutual friend so she already had an idea of my personality. When we initially met, we joked around about a few things and she invited me to come out to a party with her. We’ve been friends every since. A few months later she ended up parting ways with her stylist and my friend suggested that we try working together.
Kim gave me the opportunity to style her and my first gig was to dress her for her mother's wedding--let’s just say it didn't go so well! But she gave me another opportunity to work with her on her birthday and we have been working together off and on every since.
FRENDY: How long have you guys worked together?
TIM: It's been five years now.
FRENDY: Are you currently working with the Queen Bee?
TIM: I do still work with Kim on and off. Right now I’m doing commercial work for Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s.
FRENDY: Speaking of grinding, you did a great job on 106 & Park. How did that opportunity come about?
TIM: Thanks man, I was so nervous! It was my first time doing live television so my nerves were all over the place. A friend of mine named Sonya actually referred me. she was apart of Kim's PR team at the time and the producers at 106 were looking for a stylist to host a style segment on the show. She sent my portfolio to the producers and fortunately they contacted me to do a segment. After the first segment they brought me back for two other segments. *brushes shoulder off*
FRENDY: What does a stylist’s portfolio consist of?
TIM: A stylist portfolio is like a tear sheet of all of the work you've done. It's like a resume but with pictures.
FRENDY: How did you prepare for your big 106 debut?
TIM: I actually had no prep time! When they scheduled me the first time they canceled a few days later and when they rescheduled it they told me a day before, so I kind of had to wing it, and that made me even more nervous because I was reading off a Teleprompter and cue cards.
The first segment was a prom fashion show. 106 set up the fashion show and I gave style tips and spoke on what each model was wearing. For the other two segments it was more about celebrity fashion, what's hot/what's not and critiquing trends very similar to fashion police.
FRENDY: What does your boutique agency offer? And where can people reach you?
TIM: We offer celebrity, editorial and commercial styling, personal shopping, and closet cleaning. I can be reached at: EpikStyle.com all of my contact info is listed on the site.
FRENDY: Who is on your wish list of people you would absolutely love to work with?
TIM: I would like to work with Bruno Mars, Drake and Odell Beckham Jr. That's who I'm currently after right now.
FRENDY: Your parents must be very proud of what you’ve accomplished thus far. Were they supportive even in the midst of your decision to drop out of school?
TIM: They were very supportive because they knew I had a plan. They told me that I would have to work harder if I don't have a degree, but I already knew that.
FRENDY: If fashion wasn’t an option, what would be your career of choice?
TIM: Fashion is the only option! I love making my clients feel good about themselves and being the best person they can possibly be.