A League of His Own
Photographer: Angela Karen;
Hairstylist: Jeremy Stephens;
Makeup Artist:Jen Matthews;
Haircolor Product: Keratin Complex Color Therapy
Jeremy Stephens isn’t whistling dixie when he says that he has more work than he can handle as a threechair salon owner and editorial stylist.
“Six years ago, I decided to open a boutique-sized salon,” Stephens explains. “Because my business grew exponentially— both inside and outside of the salon—I soon realized that I needed help, especially with large wedding parties and special events.”
Proving that creative needs can foster brilliant solutions, Stephens eventually founded the Association of Independent Artists (AIA) for beauty professionals that worked at different salons in the region, but were also available for independent gigs, including Birmingham Fashion Week (BFW).
“BFW was the real clincher for expanding AIA,” Stephens explains. “It was established by Heidi Elnora, a competitor on the second season of Project Runway. After Heidi asked me to become the lead hairstylist and artistic director for BFW, it was imperative to grow our fledging association at a much faster rate without sacrifi cing quality work. We accomplished this by holding auditions before accepting new members, providing education for everyone who belongs to AIA and offering special mentorship opportunities.
|Association of Independent Artists Senior Team: Front row (left): Daphne Rush, Jeremy Stephens and John Godsey; Back row (left): Jen Matthews, Brantley Willis, Maryjane Clements and Detra Smith. Not pictured: Meagan Moore.|
“Expanding the scope of our association, AIA also created another layer of talent, starting with BFW fall/winter 2013, which began showcasing young, emerging designers,” Stephens continues. “Each season we now select regional beauty school students to work with these newcomers under the tutelage of our Senior Team. It has proven to be a wonderful way to launch their beauty careers, including receiving one-on-one education, plenty of press, public accolades, and a chance for businesses in our area to see their work.”
What has AIA done for Stephens’ career? “So much that it’s hard to describe,” he reveals. “I love the intimate environment of my salon, while also having the opportunity to work with a larger group of stylists. It has also provided even more editorial bookings for regional publications and stores.