Yes, things are weird, and Fashion Weeks around the world have gone virtual—but those models still need their hair done.
Michelle Swiney is a freelance hairstylist, the owner of Michelle Swiney Hair, and an Olivia Garden Educator and Brand Ambassador. For the past 13 years, she has also been a hairstylist at New York Fashion Week (NYFW). Her experience at NYFW has opened other doors; she has been working in film and has built an impressive portfolio and client list of leading names in fashion, film, and music.
With fall in the air, and shows around the world wrapped, we asked Swiney to talk about how being BTS has shaped her career, sharpened her skillset and enhanced her life.
“I have been blessed with my experiences during NYFW, it is not easy to be a part of. It’s all about who you know and the longevity of being on the same team is rare. For me, being African American, it was also not easy getting into these shows without someone believing in me and giving me the opportunity to be a part of their team.
“My journey with NYFW began in 2007 when I joined the 7 on Seventh team (seven designers on Seventh Avenue). In 2010, I sent my resume and portfolio to hairstylist Eugene Davis on Facebook when he was looking for artists to work on his team at NYFW at Grand Central Station. I was lucky enough to be a part of that experience, which exposed me to meeting some amazing people! One in particular, Matthew Curtis from London, was looking for an artist for a few shows the following season – so I took a chance and messaged him to be a part of his team.
“It paid off! I have spent an amazing ten years working on some incredible shows with his team and am still part of it. They call me ‘OG’ since I’m the longest-running stylist on the team. I’ve held the lead and co-lead positions, which led me to the opportunities of Key Artist for designer Galia Lahav for Bridal Fashion Week, Alice and Olivia by Stacey Bennett look book, Texture In The Runway and leading other NYFW teams.
“I was not a ‘Groupie’ bouncing from lead to lead just to say I was at NYFW. I wanted to work on a talented, steady team and be a part of something that allowed me to be me and enhance my craft, working with artists with good work ethics and talent. I enjoy the excitement of NYFW and the rush it gives me to be creative.
“During the last six years in my journey with NYFW, Olivia Garden has been sponsoring our shows with tools and products. I fell in love with their products from day one.
Eventually, I began working directly with their Public Relations, which gave me connections to Olivia Garden’s marketing department. This gave me the opportunity to ask them to sponsor my personal projects. I kept inquiring about working for them directly at every opportunity that I could – IBS, NY expo and meeting co-owner Anne Maza – working closely with them at exhibitions and asking about educational classes at the expos and for stylist outside of the expos.
“In 2017, they started their first educational team and I was a part of it. Needless to say, I was ecstatic and honored as I have always wanted to teach!
“For the last three years, I have been an educator for Olivia Garden traveling throughout the tri-state teaching classes on products and styling. I enjoy it, but as a creative, I still wanted to be more involved in the company’s excitement. In 2018, I inquired for a position to be on the traveling expo team. I love being around the excitement! In 2019, I became a senior lead at the expos with staff working under me.
“NYFW has brought me so many incredible opportunities, from personal connections to becoming a brand educator. It’s a lot of hard work but trust me, it all pays off!”
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