Staten Island, NY — Staten Islander’s Michelle Sweeney McCombs switched gears in 2005 after working for an American company for 18 years to pursue her true passion: hair. Currently, Michelle is her lead fashion stylist for New York Fashion Week, New York Bridal Fashion Week and Miami Fashion Week.
Michelle’s impressive roster of celebrities includes big names like Paris Hilton, Tracy Morgan, Cyndi Lauper, Marla Maples, Bevie Smith, Keke Palmer, and more. She has been interviewed by the late Joan Rivers and is an inspiration to all who hesitate to pursue her passion professionally.
“After years of working in American companies and learning all aspects of the banking industry (municipal bonds, currency operations, management information systems, IT, etc.), I attended Fashion Institute of Technology and majored in apparel production management. A graduate of New York Cosmetology School, “Then I got my cosmetology license while working full-time, and then worked part-time to do what I love: doing hair.”
Michelle has created looks for some of the most iconic and influential designers including Ted Baker, Dolce & Gabbana, Ralph Lauren, Falgni & Shane Peacock, Marc Jacobs, KYE, Jad Gandor and Alice & Olivia. Paul Carroll, to name a few.
“Most of my career has been devoted to session styling, and I’m known as ‘The OG of NYFW’ due to my many years with the team,” she said. “I have created iconic looks for shoots and shows during NYFW and have built an impressive portfolio and client list of leading names in fashion, film, television and music.”
Leap of Faith after 9/11
After the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center tragedy, Michelle decided to become a full-time stylist and opened her first salon in Canarsie, Brooklyn, where she grew up.
Today, she and her husband Lyle, a brokerage specialist, and their son Justin, a professional musician with the band UncleNephew, live in Hamilton Park, Staten Island.
“The adventure of opening my first salon in Brooklyn led to an introduction to executives at 7onSeventh (the seven designers who founded New York Fashion Week, which first started in Bryant Park),” says Michelle. Told. “The annoying Troy Swinney introduced us. He was a New York Fashion Week videographer at the time.
“I became a regular at NYFW, worked with so many talented artists and gained exposure for my advancement in the industry. I got access to trade publications like E-Commerce, Lookbook, and music videos from music legend Nile Rodgers of Chic.”
Publications of her work include E! Channel Fashion Police and online her magazine Elle Magazine, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan.
Anxiety about working at NYFW
Indeed, Michelle initially had a fear of working behind the scenes at NYFW, as working in a salon and working behind the scenes at an international fashion show are “two different worlds.”
“I found my place at NYFW…I had a great knowledge of computers and marketing, so I designed their website,” she said. “That ultimately led to her becoming the lead hair stylist and head of marketing from 2009 to 2019.”
In 2010, Michelle jumped at the opportunity to work on a show team with Eugene Davis at Grand Central Station. There she worked with Matthew Curtis, an “extraordinary hair stylist” who owns numerous salons in the UK. The following season, she became an assistant stylist for her NYFW team.
“Curtis also became my mentor,” she said. “This amazing journey with her at NYFW also led to her becoming an educator for Olivia Garden, a brand ambassador, and an independent contractor as her manager on the trade show. We travel, teach and sell our products nationwide. “
NYFW, the COVID-19 pandemic, and private studios
Unfortunately, Michelle’s experience at NYFW opened many doors for this talented stylist. And then a global pandemic occurred.
“I had to reassess my goals as a hairstylist during the pandemic. I couldn’t work because the world shut down,” said Michelle. “I decided to turn this negative into a positive, taking over her husband’s ‘his cabin’ and turning it into her eco-friendly private studio, Michelle Sweeney Her Hair, which opened in September 2020. . Only sustainable supplies were used. Like natural hair products used in services.
Recognizing that industry and safety issues will affect her future as a stylist as the world changes, Michelle also offers on-site service to clients who are still uncomfortable with the salon setting. Offers.
As a brand ambassador for Olivia Gardens, Michelle’s salon is stocked with all tools and sustainable disposables, including masks, capes, chair covers, personal storage bags and eco-friendly bamboo brushes. increase. developing.
Today, Michelle brings podcast host to her impressive resume as co-host and head of marketing and production for “The Walt Weekly,” a weekly podcast that airs every Sunday on all streaming platforms. add. Their topics are varied, but they have one thing in common. That’s the problem facing the Staten Island community.
“It really takes a village,” Michelle said of her 40-year career. .
“My father was an electrician, but he was also a carpenter and a jack of all trades,” said Michelle. “Growing up, my mom was the ‘Pressing Curl Queen of Coney Island,’ and she also worked as a secretary for NYCHA. They both worked until retirement.”
“I had my father’s tenacity, his comedy, his aggressive nature, and my mother’s familiarity with hair care, and that helped me.”
What’s the best part of your job? “I’m definitely excited about all of my work in magazines and online,” she said. It was a cosmetic challenge, but improved as the demand for diversity in the industry increased.”
“It takes extensive training and licensing to become a licensed practitioner,” she said. “My creativity is due to my passion and enthusiasm for hair and working with others in the industry.”
For more information on Michelle Swiney Combs, please visit:
www.michelleswineyhair.com, Instagram, Facebook @michelleswineyhair
www.oliviagarden.com Use discount code MichelleOG
www.thewaltweekly.com, Instagram, Facebook @thewaltweekly