Olivia Smalley (@OMGARTISTRY)
FOR A BUSY BRAND STORYTELLER AND SOCIAL MEDIA STAR LIKE OLIVIA SMALLEY @OMGARTISTRY, TRAVELLING ALL OVER THE COUNTRY AT EVENTS WAS A WEEKLY OCCURRENCE. LAST YEAR PUT A STOP TO THAT. SHE TELLS US HOW SHE FOUND A SILVER LINING TO 2020.
In a ‘normal’ year I would never miss the Premier Orlando show, for one, it is the biggest show, and it’s close to where I live. I feel like lots of the hairstylists near me also go to that show, and it is a huge networking opportunity. That’s where I met half of the brands I have worked with over my career. It’s a networking opportunity for me from the point of view of stylist to stylist and also stylist to brand.
For other shows, I would say it’s a hard, even, slate between ISSE and ABS Chicago, both of which I would usually attend.
This year is my first year as a NAHA judge which is so exciting. When I saw that PBA was looking for submission for judges for NAHA, I thought, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. People have very different goals in life and I have a very specific path I want to follow. Eventually, I want to be on the PBA board, I want to embed myself into the cosmetology industry, as a salon professional and as someone who can consult these companies. I do a lot of consulting for influencer programs, that’s my specialty. Being a NAHA judge is another milestone for me to solidify my place in this industry.
I came from a photography and videography background and I feel like I could contribute a different angle with that photography background, as well as hairstyling. I think other judges would only look at the hair, but with a lot of these submissions, it is not just about the hair, it is about the colors, about symmetry and balance, and overall performance. As a judge I went through at least 500 photos, it was really hard, and you have to be really picky.
I don’t have figures to know exactly whether the entries are up or down on other years, but if I had to guess, I would imagine there would be less entries given the current environment. People have concerns about being safe and it’s more difficult to do photo shoots. I do hope this does not negatively impact the event this year. I always try to look for the silver lining and the ones that were usually too busy to enter might have had the time this year, so that will be interesting to see.
In a perfect world if all gets back to normal it would be nice to engage in that red-carpet experience, it makes a difference to the buzz of the show before you get there, and while you are there.
Last year at ISSE, they rolled out the red carpet, brought in the press and were doing interviews; I think that creating the Grammy atmosphere is really cool. To create the right buzz, it has to have that star power, It’s awesome to feel special, and our industry deserves that treatment. I know personally that I want to dress up, I want somewhere that is Instagrammable, where I am there with all my friends having a great time, adding all those elements together is huge for events right now.
Also, Behind the Chair has really contributed to bringing the industry together. They work with a lot of celebrity stylists and editorialists, and through social media, we are all friends now. Things have changed, people that were editorialists weren’t really famous on Instagram because it was influencers who had all the fame, but even just four years ago, no one knew what an influencer was. When the effects of 2020 hit, everyone was confused, and we were all not sure of what would happen next. I’m an optimist, I feel like this life has already been lived before, so what’s going to happen to us was already in the plan.
This year, I realized I had more time than ever. I was away every single Friday to Monday, and then at the salon the rest of the time. I found that everything I ever wanted to do, I could just start doing.
A part of me was bummed I couldn’t see my friends, but the other part was so excited I could work on myself for first time in a long time. I have a lot of personal goals for @omgartistry that don’t surround the brands I work with. I was getting on zoom, meeting more people online, I built an education platform for my social media, there were so many passion projects I wanted to start. That’s when I started doing my lifestyle brand, looking at bikinis, that’s been wildly successful because of the consistency of my presence online.
I was meditating every morning during the pandemic, that was the one thing that kept me calm. And I felt I wasn’t really too wrapped up on everything that was going on. And I’m a control freak, a part of control is in getting something that I want right now in that immediate moment, but when I knew that there was no rush, and we are all in same playing field, I could relax.
When it comes to smaller events, I’ve realized that I haven’t included any in my diary, unless I have been specifically invited to them. And I’ll tell you why. When I was on the road, it could take up to four days of preparation and planning for one hour on stage. Do you know what I could achieve in four days? I’ve decided that if a brand or salon wants me, they have very capable people that can get things set up and I can rely on them coming in the day before instead.
My goal while this pandemic is happening is that I want to be home. I love being in my beauty room, I am a constant creator, I never wanted to go on the road, it just happened like that. It was amazing to meet people in person, and I realize if I could combine both of those things, even in front of a phone screen or computer screen, I am combining both loves without going anywhere.
What will change the game is if the intention of going to an event is different, and that would be because I was invited by a brand or a salon. Am I going to plan it for myself? No. Because I love my life, I love constantly creating, love interacting, but I can do that from home. And even though I am not giving in-person access, I can still give them online access.
Looking ahead people will start moving and shaking, it’s not really if, it’s more of when & that’s inevitable. The downside to not getting back to normal is people losing their livelihood and their passion that helps change other peoples lives.
Getting back into action as safely and effectively as possible in everyone’s goal. I am a part of all of these forums, and I see people saying I have been a stylist for 20 years, I am not inspired, but you know what, when we love what we do, we forgive certain parts of our job, the sanitation, the mask wearing, but if we can start getting inspired by hair techniques, client communication, creating video content with clients in the chair, that is what is going to keep the stylist going. I fear for half of these salons that are shuttered, that the stylists will never come back.
To have a positive outlook, the movers and shakers will start moving and shaking it’s just a matter of time. Whether that’s continuing the visual era with smaller groups all six feet apart wearing masks, whatever it takes. Having these in-person events to support our stylists and inspire our community are vital to the health of the industry. Nobody thinks we should be at a complete standstill. It’s the fear of being judged. If out of ten people, nine want to go to a show and one person says something converse online then we cancel it? That is a dangerous precedent that will have long lasting negative impacts.
For my own followers, I am in the process of streaming my own television show. Called omgbeauty, it’s a hybrid of entertainment live, QVC and my @omgartistry Instagram page. It is a formatted 22-minute episode, which will go over my tips, tricks, hacks, and hair myths. I am building a campaign for people where they can send in their own hair hacks and tips, tag @omgartistry and #beautybestie and submit their hacks to me to feature. I will feature them, create a reaction video and recreate the hack myself. I am also going to be throwing in my beauty pranks in there, to keep the entertainment aspect alive.
An important part of the show will be before I wrap up, I will have this empowerment bomb. I will focus on one of a few different things, and it could be talking about mental health, empowerment, body positivity, even entrepreneurial advice, so people know that yes, I am showing tips and hacks, but it is also about how we can make each other feel. That’s the real nice bow on top of it all, that emotional take away for people to be empowered. Tune in!
Catch it on Bspoke network, on the Stirrapp, which is available on Roku and AppleTV, so if you have a Smart TV you can download the Stirr app, and it will be aired mid-February or beginning of March, every other Thursday night at 8.30pm.
Head to Olivia’s website to find out more: www.omgartistry.com