Jeremy Stephens and I at the BFW 2013 Rising Design Star Reception

Jeremy Stephens and I at the BFW 2013 Rising Design Star Reception.

Hello, wonderfully fashionable readers! I have a fabulous interview to share with y’all today…the interview with the amazingly talented Jeremy Stephens-owner and master stylist at the Association of Independent Artists in Hoover, Alabama. So, without further ado, I introduce to you, the spectacular interview with Jeremy Stephens!

Jeana Fleming. Heidi Elnora, Jeremy Stephens, and I at the BFW 2013 Kick Off Party (Gus Mayer-Birmingham, AL location).

Jeana Fleming. Heidi Elnora, Jeremy Stephens, and I at the BFW 2013 Kick Off Party (Gus Mayer-Birmingham, AL location).

  • Tell us a little about yourself!

My name is Jeremy Stephens, founder of The Association of Independent Artists, Inc.  (AIA), Owner of AIA: The Salon in Hoover, AL, and Artistic Director and Lead Stylist for Birmingham Fashion Week.

I’m also a field educator and platform artist for Keratin Complex.

I have been working in the fashion and beauty industry for over 13 years. I am a hairstylist and makeup artist specializing in wedding/special events, photo, film, runway and couture hair and makeup.

I am currently a Tuscaloosa resident (Roll Tide).  I share a home and my life with my partner Brian Avery, owner of The Brian Avery Salon in Tuscaloosa, AL.  I’m also a working pet parent to a precious little fur-baby (Chihuahua) named Rupert.

  • What inspired the creation of the Association of Independent Artists?

The Association of Independent Artists was an idea that developed from a need for talented freelance artists in the hair and beauty industry to supply the growing demand for local talent.  My wedding and freelance clientele had begun to grow beyond my scheduling capabilities.  Therefore, I began to network with other stylists and makeup artists working in the Birmingham market in order to meet the growing need for their artistic abilities and respective areas of expertise.  In my search for a resource for local artists, I realized that there wasn’t really an established database of freelance artists in the local hair and beauty industry.  So…..I decided to start my own!  Recently, we’ve also begun to add photographers to our database of artists.

Heidi Elnora, Jeremy Stephens, and Jeana Fleming at the BFW 2013 Kick Off Party.

Heidi Elnora, Jeremy Stephens, and Jeana Fleming at the BFW 2013 Kick Off Party.

  • Tell us a little about your AIA Board of Directors.

AIA Associate Artistic Directors are my core group of hairstylists and makeup artists with whom I have previously worked with on freelance projects.  Not only are my AIA Associate Artistic Directors extremely talented artists, but they are also all established professionals with their own clientele.  As we build the AIA Brand, this group of individuals will form the founding Board of Directors.  One of our primary goals is to gain the resources and facilities to provide opportunities for advanced education for other professionals working in our respective industries.

  • When and how did you become involved with Birmingham Fashion Week?

I’ve been a part of Birmingham Fashion Week since the inception.  When my life-long friend, Heidi Baker (Heidi Elnora), approached me with the idea, I couldn’t resist.  After seeing continued success with her seasonal collection releases, she began to be approached by other local business owners and charitable organizations who were interested in working with Heidi on producing a larger event.  She and co-founder, Jeana Lee Fleming, basically said that they thought we should give it a whirl and offered me the opportunity to jump on board.  After all…..what is a fashion event without hair and makeup?!

We started with one-night preview event in April of 2011.  The entire event was planned, funded, and organized in seven weeks.  The primary benefactor of BFW 2011 was Camp Smile-A-Mile.  Unfortunately, the April 27th tornadoes struck the state three days before BFW’s maiden voyage.  Thanks to the encouragement and support of our community, we not only hosted a sell-out event, but (in addition to Camp Smile-A-Mile)  we also raised THOUSANDS of dollars worth of donations for the victims of the tornado outbreak.

We knew from that first event that BFW was going to be something special to the community.  We provide opportunities for local business owners to showcase their individuality, we offer local aspiring designers the opportunity to earn funding and support to peruse their career goals, and we bring world-renowned designers to share in the hospitality and beauty of the great state of Alabama.

Jeremy and Heidi having fun posing at the BFW Kick Off Party at Gus Mayer.

Jeremy and Heidi having fun posing at the BFW Kick Off Party at Gus Mayer.

  • What is the best advice for aspiring stylists/artisans?

The best advice I can give to aspiring stylists/artists is to take advantage of every opportunity you can to work with people who inspire you.

I work more now than I ever have in my life, and I’ve never been so motivated.  The more opportunities I have to work among my peers; the more I want to excel in my craft.

I believe that you will always be successful if you are working in a career that you love.  When work feels like play-time, you don’t mind putting in the extra hours.

There are no short-cuts; however, if you are willing to stick with it and work hard, you can achieve any goal that you set for yourself.

  • What should we expect from AIA at Birmingham Fashion Week this year?

AIA is the official sponsor for hair and makeup for BFW 2013.  Our partners are MAC Cosmetics, Keratin Complex, Matrix, and The Aveda Institute of Birmingham.

In addition to my AIA Artistic Directors, we will also be working with hairstylists and makeup artists from around the Southeast!  BFW 2012 Top Stylist, Detra Smith, has also organized a design team from local cosmetology schools and junior colleges through a mentorship program by Matrix called “Spread The Love”.   These students will be the hair and makeup team for the Emerging Designer competition.  While you’re at the event, be sure to check out the AIA Spring 2013 Collection: “The Sky is The Limit” in the BFW Lounge.  For contact information and information about AIA Artists, check out our website at www.thesalonartists.com!

Jeremy Stephens and I just being fabulous at the kick off party at Gus Mayer.

Jeremy Stephens and I just being fabulous at the kick off party at Gus Mayer.

  • When you are not making people beautiful, what do you enjoy doing?

When I’m not making people beautiful, I enjoy time around the house with Brian and Rupert and LONG dinners out with friends.  With such a CRAZY work schedule, I have come to really appreciate the rare opportunities I have to spend quality time with my family and friends.  I have such an amazing and loving support system in my life, and there never seems to be quite enough time to show them just how much I appreciate them.  Also, when I do have free time, I like to rest and recharge my positive energy reserve!

  • In your opinion, what is the best karaoke song?

In my opinion, the best karaoke song is, WITHOUT QUESTION, “Bohemian Rhapsody”  by Queen.

  • VIP QUESTION: What is one item you would never toss out and why?

The one item I would never toss out is my smart phone.  I know it sounds so superficial and silly, but I am a slave to portable communication and am addicted to internet search engines. (I’m sort of an information nerd.  I like to know the “why’s” and “how’s” of pretty much everything.) I’m sure I should have said The Bible, but I can download it on my Kindle app from my smart phone, so that’s still in there too!!

Krista Collins, Jeana Fleming, Heidi Elnora, Jeremy Stephens, and I at the 2013 kick off party.

Krista Collins, Jeana Fleming, Heidi Elnora, Jeremy Stephens, and I at the 2013 kick off party.

To learn more about Birmingham Fashion Week, take a gander at their website: www.bhamfashionweek.com. If you are interested in purchasing tickets for Birmingham Fashion Week, click here.

Like BFW on Facebook to keep up with the latest media coverage and runway updates! www.facebook.com/bhamfashionweek

Twitter: www.twitter.com/bhamfashionweek HASHTAG: BFW2013

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If you cannot get enough of the VIP, check out my articles in The Real Story! The Adventures of the VIP in the Lifestyle section! www.realstorypublishing.com

The VIP is also on The Real Story YouTube page! Check out the first Adventures of the VIP video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Uhx3yMCDh4

Check out the latest issue of Town and Gown Magazine! You can read online @ www.issuu.com/townandgownmagazine!

Like the VIP on Facebook to keep up with the latest VIP news and sneak peeks! www.facebook.com/vintageinspiredpassionista

FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/vintageinspiredpassionista

TWITTER: www.twitter.com/abbysauce_

INSTAGRAM: www.instagram.com/vintagepassionista

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Stay Fabulous,

Abby Hathorn

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