In a job where no two days are ever the same, Sacha Young tells Fashion Quarterly all – on smashing her career, the glitz and the glamour of working in costume and her growing passion for her role.
Name, age, location:
Sacha Young, 29, Auckland
What’s your job title – and how would you actually describe what you do?
Currently, my role is Head Of Costume on Dancing With The Stars New Zealand. Alongside my incredible team – Sammy Salsa, Tash Guttenbeil, Laura Coxon and Georgia Chandler – we dress everyone on screen. Sammy and I style the judges and hosts and the rest of the team and I collaborate with the celebrities and pro-dancers to create their looks for the week.
Can you tell us about your approach for dressing the hosts, judges and dancers on DWTS?
We’re really fortunate to dress people that have a keen eye for style and a strong sense of direction, it’s always a collaboration. It’s an amazing show in terms of costuming, as it’s such an integral part of the creative. We are working within the theme of the week, the genre of dance and the choreography itself. As the turnaround is so quick – a week – so is the reward of seeing what we’ve created on the floor.
How did you get your start in fashion and in costume?
For as long as I can remember I have always had a passion for styling and clothing. I left school a year early to study fashion at AUT, alongside working as an intern at Pumpkin Patch in the design and buy department when I was 17. Fast forward to when I was 22, I had the opportunity to assist Kylie Cooke on X-Factor New Zealand, which was such a dream for me as costume intertwined with music and performance. That is also where I got my taste for live TV, which I’ve been drawn to ever since.
What do you love most about your job?
I really love that my job is extremely creative and I have the opportunity to work with such a range of talented people. I’ve been so lucky to bring together an amazing costume team for Dancing With The Stars, getting to know each other and having a lot of fun whilst working hard has definitely been a highlight.
How do you dress for work?
I try not to overthink what I’m wearing! I practically rotate a few pairs of blouses and pants each week. Most days you’ll find me in a black high-neck blouse, wide-leg pants and sneakers.
Do you remember what you wore to your first job interview?
I believe it was a long sleeve top with a tunic-type dress over the top.
What is your biggest accomplishment at work or a moment you’re most proud of?
I am most proud of the first episode of Dancing With The Stars this year. I had high expectations of what I wanted to achieve this season in terms of costuming. Once we had one episode under our belt I had a lot more confidence in what we could go on to achieve for the rest of the show.
What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome, as it relates to your career or industry?
My biggest obstacle has been myself. When I am challenged, I experience anxiety around my experience and level of skills. I am so grateful for meditating which has helped calm my mind down when I am feeling overwhelmed, and in turn those moments become my greatest times of personal growth.
What’s the biggest misconception about working in film/TV and fashion?
The biggest misconception is that I really, really love shopping. My second home is a shopping mall, so I really couldn’t think of anything worse than shopping for myself in my spare time!
What motivates you?
I’m in love with the concept that clothing and styling is an extension of a character and self-expression. I believe it plays an important role in the overall aesthetic and can enhance the storytelling visually.
What do you believe has been the key to your success?
I’ve been really fortunate to have been given amazing opportunities by producers that trust and believe in my work.
Top three tips for landing a job in your industry?
- Be ready to work hard: at times it’s long hours that are unpredictable, but it’s always worth it.
- Be persistent: reach out to those who are in aspirational roles and ask to assist them.
- Be yourself: no one else has the same skills you do. Hone them and then present to the world what you’ve got to offer.
How do you relax away from work?
I absolutely love comedy and frequent Snort at the Basement as often as I can. Name a better evening spent than one laughing! Otherwise on the weekend you’ll find me at Seabreeze indulging in a good coffee and anything/everything on their menu.
When do you go to bed and when do you get up?
It depends on what job I’m on. Currently, DWTS is live on-air Sunday and Monday evenings so my sleeping patterns are pretty healthy at the moment. Rewind to costume designing ‘Baby Done’ just before DWTS and most mornings I would have dressed the lead cast before 8 am – easily working over 12-hours a day on location, then going home to continue research for DWTS.
Who do you most admire in business? Why?
I’m not sure if there is any one person specifically, however, I look up to all women who are successful in business, lead teams passionately whilst maintaining a balance in their life. Whether they have a family or have other projects and pursuits alongside their career. I feel like finding that balance and maintaining it should be admired and celebrated.
Who do you turn to when the going gets tough?
What are your favourite traits you are drawn to at work or when hiring?
A positive attitude, staying calm and having complementary skills to myself or other team members.
What else are or have you been working on that’s coming up soon?
I feel extremely proud to have costume designed Ahikāroa Season 1 and the majority of season 2, a trailblazing TV series on Maori TV. Earlier this year I also costume designed my first feature film, Baby Done, starring Rose Matafeo and Matthew Lewis.