Name: Najeen Pierce
Agency: State Management
Claim To Fame: Pierce is one of the faces of Fenty cosmetics. She was also featured in a major spread in Elle magazine.
Najeen Pierce grew up in the college town of Binghamton, New York. “I started modeling, actually, in my hometown, I was, doing fashion shows for this university out there,” she told HelloBeautiful.
The model, who would go on to be featured in campaigns for Target and Fenty, attended a party there where she met someone who introduced her to the manhattan arts scene. “I met my best friend Delly and he introduced me to the city lifestyle, him and his family,” she said.
Pierce would go on to be a guest at their home, giving her the opportunity to network and find a mother agency to establish her footing outside of upstate. Models frequently stay with friends or in promoter or agency apartments when they are starting out. “They opened their space up to me in the Bronx, which was really nice,” she continued. “I was with them for about a year until I got my own place and I signed with an agency.”
Getting signed was a tough process.
“So when I first came out to New York, I went to all the big agencies, like New York models, Major models, Wilhelmina and you know I wasn’t quite what they wanted at the moment,” she said. She thinks she was held back by more than industry trends. Her hometown was less than three hours away but its aesthetics and talent pool was light years away from what New York considered to be industry standard. “It was also because it had such a poor book coming from, you know, my small town upstate and to the big city,” she admitted. Pierce worked to create a book that would help her find work. “I was constantly taking digitals and submitting myself to different agencies,” she said. “I was able to establish some really good, uh, some really good relationships with photographers and I would reach out to them and, you know, just do test shoots here and there.”
She felt so defeated by the repeated rejections she considered abandoning her pursuit until a quick trip to Topshop totally changed her career.
“I kinda was going to give up on it and then I was out shopping with one of my friends and a scout came up to me,” she said. “I was in Topshop downtown in Soho at the time. I was just hanging out with my friend and he came up to me.”
She soon began booking through her new agency. She was chosen for a number of national campaigns and multi page spread in ELLE where she worked with a close friend. Her family was excited to see the manifestation of everything she had been working on. “My mom is ecstatic. You know she’s, always calling me, every time she sees my picture, whether that be Fenty or target or Elle she calls me with the same response, her screaming with joy and excitement,” said Pierce. “She’s very, very proud and I’m proud to make her proud.”
Pierce plans to eventually step behind the camera and aid in the production process by becoming a culturally competent hairstylist, something sorely needed in fashion and entertainment. “I’m actually on a journey myself to become a hairstylist for women of color being onset,” she said. Models including Dujonette ‘DJ’ Smith, and Myori Granger have spoken out about the lack of stylists equipped to deal with a variety of hair types.
She’s been experimenting with protective styling in her downtime. “I’m getting into braiding and natural hairstyles, protective styling, just because you know, me being a model and going into these jobs a lot of the time, you know, you have a person that’s not of color, touching your hair and not really too sure exactly how to do it or, you know, they’ll just come in and they’re like, ‘Oh, like you’re all, you’re all set’. I kind of want to be one of the few hairstylists to help out in that way.”
Pierce is also easing into entrepreneurship. She is in the discovery phase of developing her own line of hair jewelry and accessories. She is actively researching the history and cultural significance of the items she designs. “I’m still in the early, early stages,” she said. “I’m making my own prototype.”
She isn’t letting her interest in beauty pull her away from the spotlight completely. She has high hopes for her modeling career.
“I also see me doing bigger things.”