Fashion stylist Ty Hunter has a long list of clients that includes names like Billy Porter, Rosario Dawson, Jennifer Hudson, and Naomi Campbell. However, it was fellow Houstonian Beyoncé Knowles Carter and her mother, Tina Knowles-Lawson, who actually discovered his talent back when he was working as a high-end stylist and retailer in the Bayou City.
Hunter’s new memoir, Makeover from Within: Lessons in Hardship, Acceptance and Self-Discovery, which he wrote with Eila Mell, even features a foreword from the pop superstar. He is hoping the stories he shares in the book will inspire, excite, and heal.
“Houston is where it all started. It’s where I met the most wonderful Ms. Tina Knowles. Houston has a lot of cool thrifting and consignment shops,” Hunter recalls. Through his role as Beyoncé’s stylist for 18 years, he became a major force in the fashion industry who helped shape an entire generation of fashionistas.
Hunter eventually went on to design his own collections, and has shown some of them at New York Fashion Week. He currently collaborates with the accessories brand A.Cloud, and most recently joined forces with Billy Porter as his head stylist and creative director. Porter, who wrote the Makeover from Within afterword, is always one to watch on the runway as he sets and resets the standard for celebrity fashion, time and again. With Hunter’s help, Porter is moving beyond the artificial bounds set by gender, color, and style as he sparks a fashion revolution for men.
Although Hunter is always working with influential women, it’s the women who raised him that had the most significant impact on him, especially in his early years. The first chapters of Makeover from Within focus on his relationships with the matriarchs in his family: his mother, Connie, his grandmother (who he calls “Mama”), his great-grandmother Mama Bea, and his Aunt Ethel.
“What I value and respect more than anything is that they taught me how to respect women, [even though] I loved them so much,” says Hunter. “I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for that strong female foundation. They also instilled Southern hospitality in me. It took four strong women to make me see how to respect people and their boundaries.”
One of Hunter’s biggest challenges has been his commitment to care for his parents, who were both diagnosed with cancer. “I am still caring for my mom, who will suffer from stage 4 breast cancer for the rest of her life. Although it’s a tough time, it’s a blessing to be able to return the love and care they both gave me. During this time, it’s important to leave no stone unturned. It can only make you stronger.”
Each chapter of his memoir closes with “Ty’s Takeaways”—wisdom and life lessons he learned along the way that can help anyone live a more authentic and happy life.
“While our outward appearance can give confidence and be a form of self-expression, focus first on being happy in your skin,” Hunter asserts. “After that, work on [your outer] shell all you want, but start your makeover from within.”
Take it from his celebrity clients. They have experienced first-hand the confidence Hunter can engender in people.
“Ty knows just what to say to motivate you, make you laugh, or give you words of wisdom and encouragement when you need them the most,” says Tina Knowles-Lawson. “This book takes us on an amazing journey of turning lemons into lemonade.”
Although Hunter is no longer based entirely in Houston, he still has a fondness fo
r the city that opened up his world to so many opportunities. It should be no surprise that the one place he remembers the most, and the place he would likely return to first, is The Galleria.
“I used to work in the Galleria mall, and that has a lot of nostalgia for me. I would probably spend most of my time there with friends, now that I’m older,” he says.
And next on Hunter’s Houston to-do list is Pappadeaux’s restaurant, the annual rodeo, and the radio station HOT 97. “Those are some of my favorite things about Houston!”
Hunter’s memoir, Makeover from Within, is now available at major retailers.