April’s “La Modelo del Mes” is Sydney. Sydney is from Michigan where she also completed her undergraduate at Albion College. She returned to Spain last year to complete a Master's Degree in Bilingual Education at the University of Alcalá. Sydney now works in Madrid as a Auxiliar de Conversación and has no intent on leaving anytime soon. We were lucky to catch her right after her birthday reaping the benefits of a care package from her mother. We sat down at her apartment to chat about her experience while eating some delicious homemade Snickerdoodle cookies.
Sydney, how are you doing?
Fantastic! It was my birthday yesterday. Lots of celebrating, dinner, went to a Mumford & Sons concert. I’m feeling great.
You’ve been in Madrid for a while, what brought you here?
I studied abroad in Valparaiso, Chile for a year. Before I graduated, I had an extra semester so I decided to head off to Europe to try something new. I studied in Alcalá de Henares. I just fell in love with Madrid and its charm. So I came back to do a Master's degree. I can’t leave, I don’t know what it is, but I am not ready to leave it yet.
How long have you been going to Shimada?
I met him this past November, so not very long ago. My roommate got her hair done and she fell in love with him. She recommended me and after going, I just fell in love with him too. Shimada is so great, I just adore him.
So how did you get involved in his “La Modelo del Mes” project?
I naturally have really curly hair, usually I straighten it. One day when I was having my hair done, he told me that he just loved my hair and he wanted to do something. He had this vision of teasing my hair into a fro. He then asked me if I wanted to be a model for one of his projects. I told him, "Of course, heck yeah!” I was excited, and a little nervous. He told me, “You just have to think you’re the hottest thing around."
Have you modeled before or done anything similar?
Not really. When I was about six years old, I was in a children’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar. You can imagine how that went. I don’t think I had a character, I think I just held the star.
What were you expecting for the shoot?
I don’t really think I thought much of it. He said he was going to fro out my hair, do some makeup, and take some pictures. I was really excited. I just thought, be cute, smile, and work with whatever he needs for the shot.
Were there any issues you ran across?
It was raining and he wanted to get some outside shots and curly hair doesn’t really work well with rain. Shimada seemed a bit nervous about that. It was also freezing. Beyond that, everything ended up going fantastic.
Where did you end up shooting?
He really wanted to shoot outside so we walked to a plaza by the salon. We had to carry the camera, stools, and everything else up these alleyways and into the plaza. Mind you, we’re doing this in the rain with my giant fro. It was so funny, we should have recorded it.
How did you feel when Shimada was directing you?
You can just tell he is really passionate about what he is doing. I love watching him work because his eyes just zoom in to what he’s working on. He’s very detailed about what he wants and he really wants to get it as perfect as possible. Go up, down, make a certain facial expression. His directions were pretty simple and I tried to do my best to give him what he needed.
So let’s talk about the hair, how did you feel about your new “do”?
I have never fro-ed my hair out before. I usually wear it naturally curly or blow dry straight, but giving it volume like that, I had no clue what to expect. But it ended up turning out really well.
Anything that shocked you?
The airbrush makeup. I always thought I had nice skin until he airbrushed it, it covers everything. It’s almost like a pen that sprays the foundation on your face. I have never had my makeup done like that so I felt really special afterwards.
What did you think about the makeup, green and yellow seemed like an interesting choice?
I never ever would have thought to put those colors together with my eyes. I went in the day before just to make sure to bring all the right things. He showed me the makeup and I was a bit hesitant. I really didn’t want to look like a frog or something. But I trust him and the colors really just really made my eyes pop. I would love to do that with my eyes again, but I don’t think I could pull it off doing it on my own.
How did you feel about your final photos?
I stopped by to get my hair done and he showed me the making of video and it looked really good. He got some really good shots. I am really excited to see the rest.
Do you think you’ll go with the fro look from now on?
It was huge. I was a bit concerned as he was teasing and teasing the hair. It was knots and knots, but I really liked the final results. I think I may try it out, although I think I’ll have Shimada do it because I don’t know if I can do it on my own. He really had to wash and condition it after.
Do you think the photos bring out a part of you?
I am very relaxed and carefree. I felt beautiful, but a different sense of beautiful. A lot of girls straighten their hair when they want to look beautiful. Straight is almost the norm. Having him tease and fro it out was awesome. I was having the time of my life, I felt sexy and carefree.
Any other thoughts about your experience? Maybe help for future models?
Just to be open-minded and have fun. Shimada is not picking professionals, which I think gives everyone an opportunity to feel beautiful. He has such a diverse group of clients. I honestly think he can do anyone’s hair and anyone’s makeup. He just has an ability to work with so many people. Going to Shimada is almost like therapy for me. He’s always funny and I always have a good time when I am there.
Overall, was it worth it?
Of course! I had a lot fun, and I was so flattered that he asked me to do it. Unless you’re a model (I am pretty sure we clarified by now that I am not,) most people really don’t have an opportunity to do something like this. I would love to do it again, it was a lot of fun being a model for a day.