Zaria Yong on her way to the show
Zaria relocated to Gatineau on March of 2018 and was quick to advertise zariayong.com on Kijiji. Needless to say, great things come from strange places. Like any business owner would, I constantly checked for the number of views on my Kijiji Ad.
Then came an email notification from Kijiji. “Oh wait, I have a new client”, I said to myself. Without hesitation, I checked my email. “Hi! Will you be interested to work for a fashion show? Hair-styling for models? It is a non-profit event. Let me know, Kerry, Show Producer” the email read. It would be the AEC Interfashion Show.
To be honest, my immediate reaction was “I knew I was ready a long time ago. It wasn’t just HIS own time yet” as I always say. Finally, I had received an invitation to the kind of event I have wanted for years. I have always searched and thought of ways to give back to the community. My plan had been to assist cancer patients for example in any way I could. But this was an opportunity to be part of a show whose goal was/is to help artists gain exposure for their businesses while contributing to the livelihood of underprivileged children across the world, this time orphans in Oneheke, Namibia. I could not be more grateful and excited to contribute my part.
Preview of runway
Some Models posting at the event entrance
The event would take place at the Crown Plaza Hotel, Gatineau, Quebec on April 28th 2018 starting at 6:00 PM. This worked perfectly for me. I later learned from the show producer who the attendees would be: Sarah Perry – Miss Universe Canada Delegate 2017, the Ambassador of Indonesia, his Deputy Chief of Mission & his Minister Counselor for Information and Socio-Cultural Affairs accompanied by their spouses, Elder Evelyn Commanda (Kitigan Zibi), a daughter to Grandfather William, an Algonquin Band Chief of the Kitigàn-zìbì Anishinàbeg First Nation, Second Secretary (Press, Information & Culture) & High Commission of India to Canada with his entourage, Cheryle Dias, Managing Director of Dubai Fashion Week & Fashion Designer.
Some Models taking photos at the event entrance
The show would also feature fashion shows, art exhibitions, fashion films and runway presentations from great designers in the Toronto, Montreal and Quebec areas including: Leny McDonnel, Narcisee, Mith MT, Gipsy, Prinzo Tan, Karla Briones & Adriana Rincon, Amesika Beckley, Fathia Mohammed, Melissa Daigle-Dow, Classy Kids, SOUCAMELIAS and Samra & To among others. Also featured were Aboriginal dancers, African Authentic drummers, Eastern dances, Bollywood and about 80 top models.
Zaria and Alaha Balouch were responsible for hair-styling. I arrived the Crown Plaza Hotel at 10:38 AM on Saturday 28th of April, 2018. “Please take the lift to the third floor” said the receptionist. On arrival in the styling room, I saw part of the beauty team already set up and looking forward to the event. I introduced myself, greeted my fellow team members, quickly set up my hair tools at the corner of the room and excitedly waited for the models. As I quickly learnt, the hair team will be styling about 60 models before the start of the show at 6:00 PM. “How are we going to pull this off?”, I wondered.
Zaria and beauty team on stage during the event
Then came in the first group of models, each with average hair length of about 30 inches therefore requiring longer styling times. Interestingly, most designers had pre-selected styles for their models but with models required to present for more than one designer, this was going to be a difficult task. We therefore went for simple classy and elegant Kardashian free-flowing curls meanwhile the gorgeous models anxious to have their hair and makeup done so they could move on to the dressing rooms waited in line while we jingled between combs, hair sprays, straighteners, curlers, hair clips, hair pins and a glass of water to quench our thirst. “I am wearing a fitted dress tonight and looking for a princess look”, said one of the models. “My pleasure” I responded. “She is wearing a very big dress tonight so it is important we keep her hair out of her face” said one of the designers once her model sat on my styling chair. “Okay” I responded with a smile on my face. “You will achieve great things” said another model when it was her turn with a very warm voice, head turned around and looking up towards me. “Thank you”, I responded.
The runway looks and Model stage moments as created by Zaria Yong
I was fortunate to have on my styling chair a handful of the gorgeous models including the above mentioned who participated at the event. Below, I present pictures of some of the other the models.
Zaria at work during the event
The moment I shared with the model above was my most memorable moment of the day: She had not had her hair done for quit a while because she dedicated her time for her loved ones and family. She decided to accompany her daughter (one of the models) and model for a great cause! It was fun styling her hair. She was fabulous on the run way next to her daughter.
Model (Tawny Martin) and front view look of the day
Before I knew it, it was 5:30 PM and we were to ensure everyone was ready for the runway by 6:00 PM. “Round up everyone and gather on the second floor” (show area) said one of the coordinators who later will be the last to have a touch for my curling wand.
Model (Tawny Martin) and side view look of the day
Everyone had left and I was hastily packing up my tools when a male model walked in. “Please do you mind applying some spray on my hair?” He asked. “I will like to use my fingers to flip the hair in all directions” he continued. Without hesitation I asked him to take a sit. Quickly, I pulled out my straighter and curled his one-inch long hair. He rushed to the mirror to take a glance at his new look while I chased him to savor the curls with some hold spray. “What will the spray do for me”? he asked. “Add some shine to your hair and keep the curls intact allowing you to manually flip the hair around as you desire” I responded. He then let me apply the spray, thanked me and rushed off to the show room.
Headshots of Model (Mylee Batista)
Model - Kahsennine Nelson's look for the day
Selfie moment with Model in between stage appearances
Kandisse C Dise (Hair by Allaha & Zaria)
Model on stage
Mariposa Modela posing for the cameras
Mariposa Modela on the runway
Model: K. Diabo
Other Models on Stage - Natasha Mss
Selfie moment with Model (Natasha Mss)
More head shots of Model on stage
Zaria's stage moment
Break was soon over and it was time for the hairstylists and makeup artists to walk the run way. This would be a special moment for me. After a brief introduction of the hair and makeup teams, we all walked up the stage proud and happy for a job well done.
Zaria's selfie moment with Elder Evelyn Commanda
I repacked my tools, took a deep breath, had a glass of water and proceeded to take the lift to the second floor where my family was waiting in the show room. At this point in time it was already about a quarter past 7:00 PM. I watched both the kids, male and female models rock the runway with their elegant hairdos, makeup and designer outfits. Within 30 minutes of my being seated Elder Evelyn Commanda, the daughter of grandfather William came by . “Great show” she said with a smile on her face. “Yes, it is” I responded. “I am sorry I missed your speech” I said. “Oh, it is okay. You all did an amazing job”, she continued. “Do you mind me taking a selfie with you?” “Sure” she responded. I quickly pulled out my cell phone and captured a selfie. She then gave me a peg on the forehead before she was joined by her husband.
Meeting the Event Coordinator - Marnie Tyerman
A few more models walked the run way and it was break time. I had run out of charge on my cell phones and camera so I decided to return to the third floor to recharge my electronics. “Do you mind getting me some curls”? Asked one of the show coordinators behind me. Turning around towards her I responded “Sure. I just need to connect my phones to the wall, heat up my curling wand and it will be my pleasure”. While styling her hair, got acquainted with each other and had a couple of laughs. She did a great job coordinating our efforts. She will be the last model to have a touch of my magical hands at the event.
After a few more presentations, it was closing time. The MC introduced the show producers who then thanked everyone for their contributions towards the event and for being part of an event intended for making the world a better place for the under privileged. Everyone was then invited to an after gala dance.
It was 11:00 PM, I had done my part, I was tired and I headed home.
My Take on this experience
We should never underestimate even as small businesses and individuals, our power to contribute to our communities. By blogging about this event, I am inviting and encouraging other small businesses and hairstylists to get involved in any way they can to improve the world today. I am also inviting other event organizers to feel free to contact our services for similar events. I am also inviting persons who have interest in helping orphans in particular to reach out to the AEC organizers for assistance. I am inviting anyone in the Gatineau/Ottawa area, Ontario and Quebec as a whole who is in search of a quality hairstylist, wig maker, hair extensions provider be it for events, personal purposes, photo-shoots etc. to feel free to contact our services.
Heartfelt thanks to the show producer (Kerry), models and everyone (credited or not credited on this blog) who made this day memorable for our business and most importantly for contributing to the well-being of Namibian orphans.
Please share and comment below to encourage others to contribute in their own ways to making the world a better place for all through the AEC Interfashion Show and others. Also connect with zaria yong on all social media – handle is @zariayong
Event: Arc-En-Ciel (AEC Inter-fashion), 2018 Edition.
Photography: Mike Giovinazzo Photography & Zaria Yong