Countdown to nD Fest: What It's Really Like To Be a Hairstylist/Makeup Artist in Nashville

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The nD Festival starts tonight, folks! And today we're hearing from Renae Morton, Nashville native, hairstylist, makeup artist and owner of midtown's Lucy Pop Salon.

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Country Life: How long have you worked in the local fashion industry?
Renae Morton: I've worked as a professional hairstylist / makeup artist for 15 years, but have been actively involved in the Nashville Fashion scene as a freelance artist for the last 6-7 years.

CL: Do you feel that there are more opportunities for the type of work that you do now compared to when you first started out?
RM: I definitely think that the Nashville fashion industry has grown in the last several years because of national media attention and the influx of more young, independent designers, so I would have to say that there are more opportunities to provide hair and makeup for fashion related events and jobs.

However, even though there may be more opportunities to "work" unfortunately the "work" isn't always paid, and I haven't seen as much growth in the availability of fashion related jobs or gigs that have enough of a budget to substantially compensate hairstylists and makeup artists.

CL: What do you think is the hardest thing about or the biggest barrier to working in the fashion industry in Nashville? What would need to happen to overcome this?
RM: From my point of view, the hardest thing about working in the Nashville fashion industry is the fact that most hairstylists and makeup artists can't focus on doing the independent or freelance fashion related jobs full-time because of lack of budgets for gigs, and have to rely primarily on income from working in a salon. This can cause a conflict of interests — you may be offered a freelance job, but if you are scheduled in the salon that day and know you would make more money there, then you have to make a decision.

I think to overcome the problem, everyone involved needs to get on the same page and realize that the fashion industry is a business and not a hobby. We are all passionate about what we do to contribute to the fashion scene here, but everyone needs to be compensated for our time and efforts if the work that we are producing is to continue to evolve and get better.

CL: What is the biggest complaint you hear about Nashville’s fashion community?
RM: The biggest complaint I hear about the Nashville fashion community is how unwilling a lot of people are to push the envelope and step outside of the box with their image. If more people were willing to be fashion-forward in their dress and look, then Nashville's image could evolve into something more cosmopolitan than the general perception that we are all a bunch of honky tonkin' rednecks or conservative housewives.

CL: Alternately, what is the best thing about Nashville’s fashion community?
RM: The best thing about Nashville's fashion community is the independent spirit and raw talent of so many people involved. I think we have a ton of people in the community that have really great taste and really are helping the image of fashion in Nashville evolve like Heidi Jewell of Under the Guise, the guys of Tidwell & Perryman, Amanda Valentine of Valentine Valentine, and Marcia Masulla of Nashville Fashion Week who so actively supports local designers and boutiques.

CL: Do you feel that, at some point in your career, that you’d want or need to move to a larger market such as L.A. or NYC to explore more work opportunities? What would keep you here in Nashville?

RM: I absolutely think that to be a full-time freelance hair and makeup artist working primarily in the fashion industry that I would need to seek out opportunities in larger markets like NYC or LA. What keeps me here in Nashville at the moment is mostly my family, my business (Lucy Pop Salon) and all the dynamic characters that I've been able to work with and call friends.

CL: What is the biggest misperception that outsiders have about the Nashville fashion scene?
RM: I think the biggest misperception that most outsiders have about the Nashville fashion scene is that there isn't really a Nashville fashion scene, or that we are two years behind the fashion trends.

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