Artist management firm The Wall Group is launching a six-month mentorship program for aspiring wardrobe stylists, hairstylists and makeup artists with an eye toward bringing more inclusion to their ranks and the industry.
Beginning in January, TWG Incubator will offer guidance for six prospective artists, with an emphasis on underrepresented talent, pairing them with a personal mentor from TWG’s New York and Los Angeles rosters.
The first group of mentors will be hairstylist Danilo; hairstylist and Amika global artistic director Naeemah Lafond; Chanel celebrity makeup artist Kate Lee; makeup artist and Tatcha global director of artistry and education Daniel Martin; stylist and vice president of fashion at Bustle Digital Group Tiffany Reid, stylist xKarla, and Wishi founder Karla Welch.
Applications open Oct. 26 at The Wall Group’s web site. Mentees will be selected through a three-phase process including portfolio review and virtual interview, and evaluated on their artistry as well as their commitment to inclusion.
“Looking at what has been happening politically with the Black Lives Matter movement, and looking at the industry which has typically been so difficult to break into from a diversity perspective motivated us to think about what we could do to help democratize access,” said Ali Bird, senior vice president and managing director of The Wall Group, which is owned by WME-IMG and represents more than 250 artists out of offices in L.A., New York, London and Paris. “Underrepresented talent often doesn’t even get through the door because they don’t know who to e-mail to get on an assistant roster, for example. We want to make that more transparent and drive conversation and change.”
Both the Hollywood styling community and the broader fashion industry have faced intense criticism for being “built on pillars of white privilege and solidarity,” as London-based journalist and stylist Zadrian Smith wrote in WWD in June. He and styling partner Sarah Edmiston joined The Wall Group in September, drawn by the agency’s willingness to address its shortcomings, they said.
“This program aligns with what I want from the industry,” said TWG Incubator mentor Lafond, who is Black, pointing out that challenges for Black hairstylists include only being booked for Black talent, which is historically underrepresented in fashion and Hollywood, further narrowing job opportunities, and not being hired as brand creative or artistic directors.
“When I became one for Amika, I was the only one I knew! And when we are not represented at the table, that’s how mistakes are made,” she said, adding that it’s critical, too, that Black hairstylists are included on panels and in stories even when they are not discussing inclusion. “We consider ourselves artists, period.”
The mentorship process will offer one-on-one coaching, networking sessions and workshops on everything from finance and business management for freelancers, to health and wellness. Mentees will also receive kits tailored to their specialty, including products The Wall Group artists consider “secret weapons.”
Lafond said she plans to share tips on set etiquette, unspoken industry rules and insight into her creative process. “Everything I wanted to know when I was a young stylist.…I hope that this gives more opportunities to young people, but I also hope this program is something that other agencies and other change makers look at and say, ‘we should do something like this.’ The Wall Group is setting a great example.”
The agency aims to eventually expand the program internationally, and offer it twice a year. For now, to reach others aspiring to work in fashion and beauty, it is creating a platform dubbed Wall x Change that will offer monthly virtual talks and panels with celebrities, artists, executives and editors.
Meredith Corp.’s InStyle will be the exclusive media partner of the TWG Incubator, giving mentees the opportunity to work on an editorial shoot. InStyle editors will also join networking sessions, and editor in chief Laura Brown will lead a Wall x Change keynote.