A Stylist's First Time Working Backstage at NYFW

Maggie Mulhern | December 1, 2017 | 10:53 AM
Sarah Shultz and Andrea Krock on break from Aveda's Advanced Runway Styling Course in NYC.
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Jon Reyman and Sarah Shultz
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Sarah Shultz
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Andrea Krock and Sarah Shultz behind the scenes at Leann Marshall, the SS/18 collection at NYFW.
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Dreams can come true, especially if you pursue them. Pursuing is exactly what Sarah Shultz did when she learned about a special course for aspiring fashion week artists. Shultz, a stylist at First Impressions Salon, Fort Wayne, Indiana, did not let her geographic base stop her from fulfilling that dream. She signed up for Aveda’s Advanced Runway Styling Course held at the Aveda Academy in NYC course in hopes of being selected to assist top fashion week lead Jon Reyman. The workshop teaches licensed hairdressers the tips and tricks needed to work successfully behind the scenes at fashion week. Reyman, who has keyed hundreds of shows internationally, guides each student with hands-on training which includes prepping, pinning, wrapping, proper use of product, braiding and the all-important creation of the perfect ponytail.

MODERN first met Shultz on day 2 of the workshop. She and best friend (and Frist Impressions Salon owner) Andrea Krock were perfecting a French twist after having learned how to lock with minimal pinning, which turned out to be one of skills she ended up using when actually working backstage. “Just one of the many,” says Shultz. “There are many more efficient ways to do updos – techniques that were totally new to me.” Shultz admits that although a top artist in her community, things are just handled differently in a fashion environment. 

Reyman had his eye on Shultz throughout the workshop, noting how she grasped all the nuances used in the backstage environment. “If you want to continue to grow as a hairdresser it's imperative to pursue hands-on education opportunities that push you to excel in your craft. It takes time and effort to become good at what you do and if you are willing to put in the work you can take your skills to the next level.”

That, Reyman has learned, is vital for fashion week success.  The artist has keyed hundreds of shows both domestically and internationally for Aveda and for his own Pro RX brand. “You've got to work hard, be willing to learn, take direction and be calm under pressure,” To accomplish this goal, Reyman adds, “It's important to recognize limitations and ask for help.” 

Based on his own requirements, when it came time to select Reyman's team for the Spring/Summer 2018 shows, Shulz was at the top of his list when looking for assistants. When she got the call, Schultz packed up her bags and came to NY this past fall to help Reyman, assisting at several shows including Leann Marshall, Concept Korea, Sacha Cosmetics, A Datcher, Amcon and Calvin Luo. Although new assistants usually end up just handing pins to the lead, Shultz had a meatier experience. “It was totally hands-on with hands in hair! Magical!” MODERN was there as Shultz and Krock created a detailed low fishtail braid for Leann Marshall. The two were not distracted by the heat, pace, cramped space or media that swarmed them as they prepped the hair.

As the shows wrapped up, Reyman made it clear Shultz was an asset to the team. “Sarah was amazing to work with,” he says. “She was open and receptive, a quick learner and took feedback really well. When it came time to do hair she hit the ground running and was a star.” More importantly, Reyman believes the training helped her professionally, adding, “At the end of the training and Fashion Week she came out a better hairdresser.”

True, according to Shultz, who says she has been recognized by her fellow artists, the local salon community and her clients upon her return. “This has changed me professionally in a huge way,” she says. “Our social media blew up.  It put Fort Wayne, IN on the map. All of our guests love asking about it!”

Would Shultz have been as successful without the program? Says Reyman,” If you want to continue to grow as a hairdresser it's imperative to pursue hands on education opportunities that push you to excel in your craft. It takes time and effort to become good at what you do and if you are willing to put in the work you can take your skills to the next level.” Adds Shultz, “This class gave me the structural components needed for the success in creating these looks.  Without that guidance, I can honestly say I wouldn’t have even been halfway prepared on what to bring to the table.”

Reyman believes every salon professional, if given the opportunity, should work behind the scenes at fashion week. “There’s nothing like the amazing energy and camaraderie that you experience working backstage at Fashion Week,” he says. “It’s something that makes you better at your craft.” 

For Shultz, this is not the end of her fashion week journey.  “It’s really just begun,” she says. “It’s truly been a dream come true!”

Aveda Advanced Runway Styling Course details:

-Runway Styling Workshop: 2 days (there is also a Makeup workshop as well – 2 days)

-Offered 3 times a year – 2 times in NYC, once in LA

-Class size is capped at 20.


-Graduates are guaranteed to work 2 NYFW shows, but some artists get to do up to 10 shows.

-This course is open to any licensed professional.

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