Shelly Willis is a hair stylist and makeup artist working in the film, print and commercial industries. She's one of the industries best and brightest. And, although she works with some of the biggest names in the industry -- Apple, Pandora, Chrissy Teagan, MTV, and even David Hasselhoff -- she doesn't let that get in the way of being a humble, kind, and generous human being.
Tell us about yourself.
I started out as a shy, quiet girl from Texas, raised by a single mother who encouraged my ever-growing love affair of art and the diversity of culture. I was fortunate that she made traveling around the world possible. It was through those experiences that I recognized a desire to connect with people through art, but I didn’t quite know how. Over the years, I tried countless avenues in an attempt to find my own self expression. Some of these were a success and others were total failures. This process eventually led me to the world of makeup and hairstyling. Something that fuels the passion my mother originally exposed me to, an art form that varies from culture to culture.
How did you get into the Fashion/Beauty Industry and what do you love about it?
Initially I began working as a special effects makeup artist for film; however, I quickly noticed people don’t necessarily feel good about themselves when covered in fake blood or prosthetics. Sitting in my chair wasn’t particularly comfortable for them. I wanted to contribute more positively to their experience, so naturally I gravitated away from zombies and headed towards the beauty side of the craft.
When someone sits in the chair of a professional stylist, they often judge themselves and begin to point out flaws. This is an intimate space and a place of examination. I take pride in creating a place free from judgment and helping my clients feel good about themselves. I’ve been able to find joy in expressing myself while empowering others. The best feeling is when that person leaves my chair a little bit taller. When they walk away looking and feeling incredible, we’re both winning.
I also love the unpredictability of this job. Not knowing what I’ll be creating or who I’ll be working with next. I’ve had a blast working with Glass Animals among the Joshua trees in the desert, with Chrissy Teigen and Jamie Chung on the beaches of Mexico, and even got to shoot guns with Navy Seals during a down day of filming. There was a moment in time when I was cutting Travis Pastrana’s hair as a car literally jumped between us and the sunset on the set of a Dodge commercial. These are the moments I pinch myself. I’ve hung out with Landon Donovan on a soccer field, watched David Hasselhoff light up a room with his boundless energy, and even worked on set with Roman Coppola as he directed Melissa McCarthy for an Old Navy commercial. The adventures seem endless.
What is your advice for someone getting into the Fashion/ Beauty Industry?
I suppose my advice would be to try and stay positive when you’re struggling. Don’t be too hard on yourself, or as my mom would say "don't sweat the small stuff". Making mistakes along the way ensures your growth. Nothing will ever be perfect… and if it is, it’s boring.
#WOW | Words of Wisdom
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
by Marianne Williamson from A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles
Did you want to know more about Shelly?
Did you like this interview?
There's more where that came from!
Sign up for the newsletter, so you don't miss the next one!