Name: Stephanie Nolan
Claim to Fame: Nolan worked her way into being into a campaign for one of the biggest sports companies in the world.
Today’s teenagers might be spending their downtime making Joe Goldberg memes, and arguing about the merits of mumble rap but Stephanie Nolan found a way to make her boredom work for her. The model turned beauty entrepreneur told HelloBeautiful about being bored to death “on a warm spring day at the crack of social media dawn,” when she saw an advertisement for the contest that would change the course of her career. “Ebony Fashion Fair at the time had an open call,” said Nolan. “I decided to snap some Polaroids, and submit them online, just to see what would happen. I took physical polaroids, but they were scanned and emailed to Ebony!” Two weeks later Nolan saw results in the form of a formal invitation to Chicago to participate in the second round of the search. She was shocked when the phone rang. “I thought nothing would come of it, I was wrong!” The experience was “bittersweet,” for Nolan who was reportedly told by publishing legend Eunice Johnson that she should complete high school before pursuing modeling full-time. She was disappointed but standing out in the competition gave her a chance to take the possibilities associated with modeling seriously. “I was inspired to continue to pursue print modeling,” said Nolan.
After she completed high school, she met a commercial agent at the Ford agency, who “expressed serious interest.” Nolan became excited about joining the Ford family and following in the footsteps of the models who became household names after springing from their board. Then she got some devastating news. The agent who had been courting her made a “sudden departure from the company,” leaving her without a contract, or even a contact in the building.
She didn’t let the unfortunate timing deter her. Instead she chose to put herself out there and return to submitting herself into competitions and seeking opportunities on her own in between taking Business Administration classes in college. “I decided to freelance, which eventually led me to work with indie fashion brands.” Some of those brands included LaQuan Smith, and Caesar Galindo, designers who were willing to allow independent models to grow with their fledgling brands as they worked their way to the short-list of celebrity staples. “Both designers were a pleasure to work with,” recalled Nolan.
Shortly afterwards she entered a model search for an Adidas Originals collaboration Missy Elliot was doing with Adidas, and this time she was fully prepared to take home the prize. When she was selected she sprung into action to meet all the requirements. “The first person I told was my boyfriend, he is my largest supporter, and was able to travel with me to New York City and Los Angeles for my shoots.” He was the only one that she could confide in, given the privacy guidelines set out by the brand. “The NDA that was signed was standard, nothing could be publicized until all content was released, I already understood these guidelines, so it wasn’t difficult to withhold the news from everyone else.”
It was difficult not to gush around the talent, being a lifelong Missy Elliot fan. “Working with Missy was everything I expected it to be! Her energy was bright, fun, and welcoming, she embraced us! I was already a hardcore fan, so interacting with her on set was authentic and easy going,” said Nolan.
She witnessed the difficulty various stylists encountered in styling hair extensions as she was observing what was happening on set. After seeing how this issue contributed to prolonged prep time and other issues. Seeing, what she considered a hole in the market she used her connections to offer a solution.“I understand that celebrity hairstylists’ have strict prep times, and it makes their experience on set that much easier when they are working with high performing hair to get their clients in and out the chair, and on to production,” she said.
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Watching the logistics of the Adidas collaboration gave Nolan a crash course in how to properly roll out a limited product and she would use some of what she learned to run, and secure talent for her own company XOXO Virgin Hair. “Already being apart of the industry, I had an understanding of the behind the scenes on the surface level, however I did learn how extensive and detailed the production process for visuals can become, which I’ve applied most of the lessons in creating my own visual content!” That visual content has brought her brand before the likes of Solange, Lizzo, and Normani who have all rocked the line for public appearances.
Without her having the courage to pursue modeling after the initial setbacks she would not have been prepared to start her own business.
“For that experience I’m grateful over and over,” said Nolan.
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