Surprisingly, some highly sought-after fashion, nail, hair and makeup professionals are based in Lansing — not just New York, Los Angeles or Miami.
Many of these industry creatives are coming together for the first-ever Olvr Brwn’s Fshn Mxr (or, with vowels, Oliver Brown Fashion Mixer) on Sunday (May 15) from 7-11 p.m. at UrbanBeat in Old Town. The carefully curated event showcases fashion and makeup industry experts, and includes a DJ, a signature cocktail, art, live music by The Corzo Effect and networking with local businesses.
Celebrity makeup artist Kierra Lanice is quick to shy away from the “hometown hero” label despite her cosmopolitan life experience. The humble makeup artist currently resides near REO Town, and will be in attendance at the Fshn Mxr event.
Lanice, a Lansing native and graduate of J.W. Sexton High School, studied cosmetology at Douglas J. Aveda Institute in East Lansing before moving to Houston. After landing a contract with ViacomCBS (now called Paramount), she became a go-to makeup artist working on sets and projects for TV shows, awards ceremonies and red carpet events like the BET Awards. She is an industry-recognized beauty expert, makeup artist and beauty educator whose work has been showcased in Glamour and Essence magazines, on Times Square billboards, in New York Fashion Week events and on red carpets for the Grammys.
Despite a thriving career in Texas, she missed her home in Lansing and her supportive network in “the 517.”
“Here in Lansing, you can’t go to a Quality Dairy without knowing somebody you went to school with, or somebody that knows your family, your mom, or your grandparents,” she laughed. “I really missed that, so I moved back January 1, 2020 in hopes of really re-establishing myself back home.”
After spending much of her time in other cities like Los Angeles and New York, and living the often-glamorized metropolitan city life, she aims to help people realize that “you don’t have to live in a big city to get the ‘big city break.’”
She hopes that by sharing the highs and lows in her career thus far, she can motivate and inspire others. She has volunteered her time to speak candidly with students at senior seminar days at Sexton High School. She believes it’s important for young people to have representation, discover their passions and relentlessly pursue their purpose.
“You have to remember where you came from and who you were before you started,” Lanice said. Not long ago, she was a little girl who loved fashion and frequently went to the library to look up style books and magazines and read the latest issue of Teen Vogue.
“I remember not having representation, not seeing people that I could look at as mentors, or not having exposure to that kind of lifestyle,” she said.
She recalled career days at her elementary school where the students heard from lawyers, doctors, state workers and GM employees.
“I wanted to be a fashion designer, but I didn’t have people that were coming to the school who spoke or resonated with me and what I wanted to do,” she said. “I think it’s important to give back so that you can speak to that 10-year-old version of yourself, and be that person that can be that representation for them.”
For Lanice, it’s not about fashion or any particular career or lifestyle, but about finding purpose in life. “Makeup is just a platform for it,” she said.
She believes events like the Fshn Mxr are needed to help Lansing celebrate the talent that grows here. “I think one of the biggest things we’ve all heard is, ‘oh, there’s nothing to do in Lansing. Nobody’s from Lansing. There’s nothing here.’ But no, there’s actually a lot here. Lansing may be very quaint in the grand scheme of things, however, it has birthed some of the most profound leaders and the most skillful artisans.”
Many sought-after professionals who regularly work on editorial shoots and projects are from Lansing, or have returned to the Capital City. Highlights include celebrity loctician (expert in the artistry of dreadlocks) and owner of The Dread Bar Tamaki Gaskin, who has worked with NFL players. Editorial photographer Alfield Reeves will showcase and selling his work, which has also been shown in galleries and museums across the state. Contemporary artist Faness, also from Lansing, will be there too.
“She designs some of the most amazing, insane concepts on the hands of some of the most amazing people,” Lansing-born professional stylist and event host Oliver Brown said. (For more on Brown, see p. 10.). “She’s also been able to translate that same nail art onto actual art and canvases.”
Both Kierra Lanice and Brown hope the city can continue to cultivate and celebrate Lansing artists, shaping the way people perceive the capital city’s talent.
Brown also hopes the annual mixer event will become part of a bigger picture. “My goal is to bring a fashion show and gala here to Lansing,” he said, “giving people a look into the mind of a stylist, and how a fashion show and styling can really tell an amazing, compelling story through art and fashion.”