Sha’ Summerlin – AKA Mama PRIMP – is a vibrant personality. A fast talker. A go getter. And any other phrase you can think of for someone who’s unstoppable. She has a knack for making dreams come to life. Not just for herself, but others as well. Living in Alabama, she is not always necessarily surrounded by a fashion-forward environment of the likes of New York and its’ bustling creative scenes. But thank goodness she had the vision and drive to make her dreams come to reality and for others.
Not many of us have had enough insight to know what we’ve wanted to do with our lives at the tender age of 12, but she had a clear vision of herself walking with her briefcase and having beautiful women working for her as models. She recalls her father asking her what she wanted to be when she grew up and she stated boldly that she wanted to be a model. When he responded as a concerned parent would with the question “what if that doesn’t happen?”, she quickly returned with the answer that she wanted to be a business woman who had her own models and put on her own shows.
“When I was in the fifth or sixth grade, I had the vision for a group of women who would be models. And they would be MY models for shows that I would put together and they would have hair and makeup done by MY people. I saw it clear as day. I didn’t even know what it was called.”
Having a dream is one thing but bringing it into fruition is another and the beginning to bringing her dream to life was getting her cosmetology license by the time she was 19 years old. It had been nearly a decade since that little girl was given a vision of directing her own modeling agency. Today she has the modelling agency where she directs runway shows, hires all makeup and fashion staff as well as host modelling boot camp classes for the ladies before considers taking them into PRIMP. Her model’s ages range from 19 to 38. It’s a tough process but she encourages them all the way through. She makes sure that they ladies knows that modelling is more than a pretty face and a fierce stride. It takes a tough exterior as well as interior. Something she knows about firsthand.
Since she created the PRIMP Agency in 2009, she’s been directing the vision, branding, staff and careers of numerous models and beauty staff (including makeup artists and stylists) that have travelled to walk runways and beat faces all across this country. For a little 12-year-old black girl her dream often felt unmanageable but she always knew she could – and would – do it and she isn’t easily shaken. Which comes in handy when you have to convince publications to hire your models as well as keep the confidence of those models on a healthy level in a career that could be full of rejections until that YES arrives.
She’s had her fair share of no’s and rejections but she just keep pushing through which is a lesson and mindset that she instills in her PRIMP beauties. She assures them that they are worthy and are valued highly no matter what the publications and companies say. “I submit their photos]to magazines and for marketing purposes,” she explains. “So they can see themselves on websites, blogs, marketing material and billboards.” The purpose of PRIMP Agency is to introduce beautiful young ladies to modeling opportunities, both may not have considered the other. Sha’ plays the role of bridging the two together.
For her 10thanniversary next year, mark your calendars to see Sha’ and her models in a city near you as she is planning a tour in the style of the old school Ebony Fashion Fair runway shows of the 1980s and 90s. “I plan to go to five cities and I’m in pre-production right now,” she brags.
I’m convinced that these shows will be epic. They will soar from the beauty of the women and, if nothing else, the sheer enthusiasm and energy of Mademoiselle Sha’ Summerlin.