WEDDING SHOW STYLE STARby Kori Ellis
Bridal shows are an amazing way to get your name recognized as one of the best bridal hair stylists in the business. But before you hear your name on the big stage, there´s lots of prep work. We´ll show you how to find the bridal show producers, what they´re looking for, and a game plan for a workable portfolio.
WHAT BRIDAL SHOW PLANNERS WANT
“We look for stylists established with a local salon that are capable of working quickly with a variety of looks in mind for each model,” says Elisa Fisher of Modern Bridal, one of the biggest names in bridal shows on the West Coast. “We continue to look for up-andcoming salons and stylists that are interested in reaching out to the bridal market,” says Fisher. “When you consider that a bride has many bridesmaids, a mother, and mother-in-law all needing hairstyles for the wedding, and that after the wedding you have an opportunity to gain their business for life, it´s a real win-win for the stylists.” Terese Jetson, who has organized bridal and fashion shows on the East Coast for over a decade, says that in addition toexpert skills, versatility and personality are also key. “You should be able to work quickly and create everything from a classic updo to a modern look without missing a beat. And, I don´t want any primadonnas because shows are hectic as it is. When talking to stylists before booking, I want to see their look book as well as talk to a few of their clients to get a good take on their personality.”Experienced stylists agree and have their own take on what the planners are looking for. “I think that planners are looking fora high level of experience,” says Natasha Sunshine, founder and lead stylist at Byu-ti Salon in Santa Monica, C.A. “They want to see a portfolio of your work. They want a confident stylist to rely on in stressful situations. It´s their reputation on the line as well, so if you make them look good with your skills and professional-ism, they´ll use you more and more.” A great sense of style and people skills are important, too. “Planners seek out stylists who innately know what will look good on a bride — always thinking of classic taste while infusing current trends,” explains Marco Pelusi of Marco Pelusi Hair Studio, Inc. in West Hollywood, C.A. “They´re also looking for stylists who deal well with people and stressful situations.”
GETTING INTO THE SHOW
In the beginning, it might take doing free styles for friends and rela-tives who are getting married to build up your wedding clients and establish yourself as a wedding stylist. “And it doesn´t end there — very often working at the shows is also done in exchange for your brand and name recognition only. It just depends on the organizer,” explains Sunshine.“The best way to get involved with bridal styling is to appren-tice with someone whose work you admire, all the while being business savvy and building your own client base,” says well-known bridal stylist Nicole D´Angio. And you´ll need a portfolio, or ‘look book´ as some planners call them. “The first step is to create a look book of styles that you love and can actually do easily, confidently” says Sunshine. “If you need to up your skill level, take classes, watch videos, assist someone that is already styling brides, or practice on a mannequin until you feel confident with a good variety of styles.” Another great idea is to go to the wedding shows as a vendor, too. “Partner with someone in a booth, get two great looking hair models, and create wedding styles all day long so people walking the show can see your capabilities, take your business cards, and peruse your look book.”So exactly who do you contact to get into the show? “Generallyto get booked for a show, you need to go through the bridal show producer to contact the show choreographer,” explains Fisher. The producer is normally the contact name listed on the event´s web-site and other publications and the choreographer is the person that usually makes the decision on which stylists to use. “Google isa great way to find the larger shows in your state,” says Fisher. You can also locate websites and trade associations like the Association for Wedding Professionals International (www.afwpi.com) which lists shows by state along with contact info for show organizers or Bridal Show Producers International (www.bspishows.com) which has an event calendar as well as a bridal show producer list. It takes a little hunting but the information is out there!
BUILDING BRIDAL RELATIONSHIPS
Most stylists attest to networking within the bridal community as the best way to get into the business. Tell everyone you are interest-ed in providing bridal hair services. Connect with all the bridal ven-dors in your area: wedding planners, caterers, make-up artists, dress boutiques, and photographers. By building a foundation of strong relationships, you will get referred and booked for more and more weddings and shows. “I personally recommend constant, consistent networking for hair services at all times. Visit every bridal business in your area and offer the owner a complimentary hair service,” advises Pelusi. “These people are your partners and coworkers at the hair shows and party events, and can bring you to shows to work with them.”“I started locally and with my own clients and moved on from there,” says Artur Kirsh, owner of two prestigious salons, Stu-dio CL in Philadelphia, P.A., and Rosa Martinez for Studio Artur in Jenkintown, P.A., who has worked on many shows including the Victoria´s Secret Fashion Show, the Oscars, and New York Fashion Week. “I also reached out to photographers who do photo shoots for fashion and bridal shows. The more you work and the more people see and hear about you, the more people you meet and it just snowballs! Everybody does their part. I do hair, they do clothes or makeup…it´s all networking.” No matter how hard you work on anything, there´s always a little bit of luck involved ... or a lot of luck, as some bridal stylists can attest. “Fate did throw me an ace when the beauty editor from Vogue came into the salon I worked at and I did her hair for an event she was attending. She loved it so much that she listed me as one of the top wedding stylists in the city,” explains Sunshine. “Before you know it, I had people offering their private jets to fly me to do their hair for their destination weddings!”