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manolo3What do you get when you combine a life lived in the fashion industry with a creative eye and lots of ambition? Complections graduate Shawna Lee! A former model with Elite, Shawna always enjoyed the process behind the photo shoots and runway shows. “I spent a lot of time on set since the age of 13, working in the US and in Europe, so I was always around it, watching the makeup artists work, and teams collaborate.”

Hearing about Complections from another model, Shawna decided to redirect her career. “I chose to take the eight week Total Fashion Make-up Artist Program…as it was outlined as more fashion and television focused, and those were the areas that I wanted to work in,” she says. “I had a good teacher, Dino Dilio, who is super talented and was very honest about the ups and downs of the industry and maintaining a freelance career, which I appreciated.”

Shawna’s focus has paid off, and she has been involved in both fashion and television since her graduation. Her editorial clients include Elle Canada, Flare, Dress To Kill, Eye Candy and Interview magazines, and she has worked with directors like Sean Turrell, Drew Lightfoot and Matt Eastman on music videos for Sum 41, Stars, K-Os and Alexis On Fire. Shawna has also worked on advertising jobs for Coca Cola, Suzy Shier and Virgin Mobile, as well as the campaign for LG Toronto Fashion Week in 2009.

Much of this client work has come from Shawna’s agency, Judy Inc – one of the leading agencies in North America. “My favourite job since graduating would have to be when a team of Judy artists and I all went to Miami (South Beach) to do hair on one of their seasonal collection launches. We started working at 5:30AM, but by noon we were done and headed to the beach for a swim.”

It all sounds like lots of fun, but Shawna knows the hard work and research involved behind the scenes. She offers this advice to Complections students and graduates: “Learn hair well, learn about lighting, [and] keep a good file of references. I collect things that keep me inspired, like films, European fashion magazines and high-end photographers’ work that I like.” After all, following these guidelines herself has made Shawna a true Complections success story.