Beauty Business: NAHA Winner Geneva Cowen on the Importance of "Who Knows You"

Ever hear of the saying “It’s not what you know – it’s who you know?” Well, in the beauty and fashion world, it’s actually “who knows you” that really matters. It’s a stylist’s reputation that opens the doors to projects that money can’t even buy.   Geneva Cowen, Artistic Director for Sam Villa, is a 2014 NAHA Winner in the Editorial category, and it all started 5 years ago when she made a goal to work with Pascal and Jérémie.

As a salon owner and educator based in Anchorage, Alaska, Cowen believes big things happen in small places every day. “I have grown up in Alaska and have a big family I want to stay close to, so I had to find ways to do what I love locally. I believe anyone can be artistic, have a creative outlet, do beautiful work and get noticed right where they are, and photo shoots are a great way to get your name out there. If you network and collaborate with the right people - makeup artists, photographers and fashion stylists - opportunities open up,” explains Cowen.

The inspiration for her NAHA shoot came from images that photographer Martin Tremblay saw where models were levitating. So, they decided to turn their own models upside down and put them in a strange location – China Town – to make it intriguing and wonderful.

“I collaborate with many talented local people, but I would have never had the opportunity to work on a project of this magnitude had I not made it a goal to work with Jérémie and Pascal. The first time I met them I told myself I would work with them and they would LOVE me. It is important to find artists that get you and understand your creative mind, then the magic happens organically,” adds Cowen.

There are certain things that Cowen believes any stylist can do to promote organic growth, including:

  • Cultivate relationships with people that are stronger than you in their craft so it is a learning experience for all involved.
  • When opportunities are presented (even with friends), think of them as a job interview, be your best self - you were probably referred and someone has vouched for you, so make sure their referral is honored.
  • Always come prepared, on time, grounded, ready to work hard and check your ego at the door.
  • Hair is only one element of an amazing image. When asked to make a change, make sure you understand what is entailed and advise if it is possible to do in the allotted time. If not, offer another plan.
  • Always trade contact info and keep in touch with EVERYONE you meet on set to keep yourself top of mind for the next project.

Cowen urges stylists to ask themselves, “Who knows you?” and, if the answer is not many or not the right people, get out there and network. You can even offer to work for free simply to gain experience and develop relationships. The rewards do not always have to be financial, they can be spiritual and creative as well!

Photography: Martin Tremblay
Co Art Direction and Stylists: Pascal & Jeremie
Photography Assistant: Guillaume Lepine
Retouching: Visual Box and Pinch
Model: Cath C.
Hair: Geneva Cowen
Hair Assistant: Stephane Legros/Sam Villa Creative Team
Makeup: Marie-Laure Larrieu/Joëlle Boucher

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