Meet The In Demand Celebrity Fashion Stylist With An Easy Approach To Beauty

Solange Franklin Reed and her envelope-pushing team regularly “break the internet” with their progressive shoots with stars like Laverne Cox and Gabourey Sidibe.

By: Marjon Carlos

Photographer: Quil Lemons

We’re only moments into fashion stylist Solange Franklin Reed’s “Beauty of the Week” shoot and it’s clear the in-demand creative and Fashion Fair are a perfect match. 

Popping out her sleek tube of Fast Finish foundation in the warm shade of “Brown Sugar”, the 29-year-old begins applying just a few brush strokes, immediately creating a seamless finish. Stepping back to examine herself, Reed is pleased. When she nods her head approvingly, the white wooden beads she’s recently woven into her braids, click and clack. “This is it!” she smiles, continuing to brush the buttery mix across her face. 

And since Reed has made a career out of discerning good product, we know she’s sold. 

After all, as the former assistant to W Magazine’s larger-than-life Contributing Fashion Editor, Giovanna Battaglia, Reed worked closely with the biggest names in high fashion and beauty (Patrick Dermarchelier, Peter Lindberg), helping piece together major editorial productions for four years. Striking out on her own in the last two, Reed has applied her vast expertise to her own booming styling career. Check out her Instagram on any given day and you’ll find she’s whipped up page-turning looks for mega-wattage stars and brands. Y’know, like Susan Sarandon’s cover look for November’s ELLE UK. Gabourdey Sidibe for Refinery29. Teen Vogue. H&M. Stuart Weitzman.

Gabourey Sidibe

Solange's styling work as seen with Gabourey Sidibe for Refinery29

Lavern Cox

Solange's styling work as seen with Laverne Cox for Paper Magazine

Then there is of course her work at Paper Magazine where she works as the the publication’s Fashion Editor-at-Large. She and her envelope-pushing team regularly “break the internet” with their progressive shoots with stars like Laverne Cox and Gabourey Sidibe. 

Solange with Susan Sarandon

Solange on set with Susan Sarandon for ELLE UK cover shoot

Bat Gio and Norman N Shay

Solange on set with Giovanna Battaglia and NormannShay

Still, while swiping a clear coat of Fashion Fair’s Lip Moisturizer across her lips, you get the feeling, despite all the luxury she surrounds herself in her 9-to-5, the St.Louis-native is still wildly down-to-earth. Buttoned into a graphic printed vintage frock and plopping down on her couch, barefoot, she has an easy beauty. Surrounded by plenty of books, art work and her beloved cat, in her cool, loft-styled Bed Stuy apartment, Reed reflects on make-up, women’s empowerment, and the rich history of Fashion Fair.

Fast Finish® Foundation Stick - Brown Sugar

When faced with obstacles, how have you overcome them?

Sometimes sideways and passively, sometimes bluntly and head-on; both styles have served me in different ways. As a relatively shy person, I've taken full advantage of our digital age. It's much easier for me to advocate for myself in writing than it is in person. In regards to payment, being direct has helped: giving a breakdown of exactly what people are expecting for the rate they've offered has often made people see that they are undervaluing or underestimating the work. Asking questions that people don't want to give the answer to is also useful: "So you'd prefer to use an all-white cast for this?"

Who are some women that inspire you and why?

I love the way Essence fashion and beauty director Julee Wilson champions black women both in the pages of the mag and behind the scenes in our careers. Her unabashed and tireless love for us is pure heart-warming motivation to keep striving. My best friend Gabi Gregg (Gabifresh), plus-size blogger cum powerhouse media influencer and designer, has led publications, brands, and consumers to push for size inclusiveness. She brought the world the "fatkini" and through her Premme clothing line is now creating modern clothing for larger sizes. She's such an intersectional beacon for championing women, boosting their representation and self-worth.

What would you tell young women trying to break into your field?

For the long-term, remember this is a business. You should be compensated for the value you're adding to companies and clients. It's easy for folks to feel like a fitting is playing dress up, so the work it takes to execute one is not real or befitting of proper pay. That said: Apprentice, apprentice, apprentice. When you're just starting, information and experience is invaluable and your compensation may be just that -- the experience. Figure out how to make it work and don't forget the power of thoughtful, professional correspondence with the people you admire. While Instagram and Twitter make it seemingly easy to get in touch with industry insiders (it is!), they are not your girlfriends and should be treated with seemingly old-school respect even if you're using new-age technology. We're still businesswomen even when we're having fun.

How do you stay empowered and positive during these difficult times?

A commitment to justice, action, and self-love. I don't always succeed and I can always increase my involvement and awareness, but I feel pleased with the energy and concrete change I contribute to my city. Thoughts are certainly powerful and in many instances do suffice, but I find it most comforting when I get out and vote or when I buffer time for yoga. Once it's scheduled and there’s a real plan, I feel comforted.

How do you network and build community with other women in your field?

Mostly through genuine connection on the job. I'm an introvert, but my job forces me to meet what feels like 10 new people a day: on-set, at press appointments, in a client's office. Also friends of friends on Instagram. Mutual admiration and respect will bring folks together and I've gotten better at making sure to verbalize the compliments I internally give to so many independent women doing insanely creative or bold things.

Fast Finish® Foundation Stick - Brown Sugar

Do you have a beauty trait that you’ve come to love about yourself?

My long lashes and big, to-the-sky hair!

“Desert Island scenario”: What’s the one beauty product you just couldn’t live without?

Jergens Ultra Healing Lotion.

Did your mother pass along any great beauty secrets you still use today?

“Less is more” and “Hydrate”. I think and talk a lot about hydrating, but I consider it a major character flaw that I just can’t seem to stay on top of my water consumption. Rectifying that is my continual New Year’s resolution.

What’s the one beauty item you always splurge on?

Not an item, but a nice mani-pedi at [New York nails salons] Jin Soon, Ten Over Ten, or Sakura. I call it therapy because I reconnect with girlfriends, or I put my phone on Airplane Mode and reconnect with myself.

As a black woman, what are some obstacles you’ve come against in the beauty industry?

Aside from just being a beauty minimalist in general, the lack of authority and options made me shy away from experimenting. It just didn't seem worth the trouble to mix eight foundations to find my perfect foundation match.

How has Fashion Fair rectified those problems for you?

I love that Fashion Fair distinguishes between cool and yellow and warm tones. There was instant recognition when I looked at the color swatches. I’m really grateful for that ease.

Fast Finish® Foundation Stick - Brown Sugar

What does Fashion Fair mean to you?

Growing up I remember seeing a few products in my mom's vanity. Like me, she is a true beauty minimalist, so seeing items there and then just knowing the name as a heritage brand has familial esteem in my home.

How does makeup or beauty products help you face the world?

No one likes to be ashy. I will not leave the house without lotion. I'm not afraid to look tired or for you to see my “worry lines” because ultimately, that's just who i am in the moment (or, seemingly forever). With makeup i vacillate between "I'm just being my best self" and "Why do I feel like I need to hide?" I'm grateful I have the tools for basic makeup and beauty, because I do feel ethereal and lovely when I have the right foundation and mascara

What do you love most about being a black woman?

Pride and assured beauty. We hold the world up and inspire men and women to be like us in our resilience, creativity, and motivation. I cannot imagine wanting to be anything or anyone else.

Get the look!

Inspired by Solange Franklin Reed’s beauty?

Shop the look with these Fashion Fair essentials!

Fast Finish® Foundation Stick - Brown Sugar

Fast Finish® Foundation Stick - Brown Sugar

Multi-purpose use: concealer, spot cover, and contour.

Our foundation stick glides on like a dream and dries to a smudge proof semi-matte finish.

Liquid Eyeliner - Black

Liquid Eyeliner - Black

Fast-drying, water-resistant formula won’t flake, smudge or smear, leaving dramatic color that stays put for hours.

Ideal for all skin types.

Oil Control Loose Powder - Sugar

Oil Control Loose Powder - Sugar

This ultra-fine loose powder perfectly sets makeup for longer wear with stay true color that never cakes on the skin.

The special skin conditioners minimize and soften the appearance of fine lines without leaving skin dry.

Lip Moisturizer

Lip Moisturizer

Eyeliner Pencil

Eyeliner Pencil - Midnight

This multi-tasking liner defines and contours the shape of the eyes. It also smudges to smooth or blur color, creating a soft, smoky look and in lines with precise control, creating a dramatic look.

Lipstick - Just Cool Matte

Lipstick - Just Cool Matte