Kimberly Cheatham is looking forward to expanding her horizons when she works as a hairstylist during Baker Motor Company Charleston Fashion Week, March 18 to 22.


“I want to venture out because this business is so much bigger than standing behind a chair in a beauty salon,” she said. “I'm a very creative person, and I get bored easily.”


Cheatham, 33, is the owner of Kreative Kimistry on Park Avenue. She got the idea to audition for a job during Fashion Week from one of her clients, Kimberly Hightower.


“She had modeled there before, and she told me it was really big and it was a good way to get exposure,” Cheatham said.


Last fall, Cheatham applied online. She had to submit a resume and photos that provided examples of her hairdressing skills. Cheatham made it past the first round of the tryouts, so she went to Charleston, where she was asked to style the hair of three different models.


“I had to do an updo style, a down, textured style and a sleeked-back ponytail,” Cheatham said. “They sent me photos so I could practice doing two of the styles beforehand, but one of them, the ponytail, was a surprise so they could see how you worked under pressure. I had 10 minutes to do it.”


Cheatham was pleased with how she performed, but she was a little bit intimidated because many of the other candidates that she met had styled the hair of celebrities and worked at other Fashion Weeks.


“There was a girl there who did American Idol winner Candice Glover's hair, and there were people who had worked in Paris,” Cheatham said. “I was the only person from little old Aiken, and nobody knew me. I had just done local stuff like pageants.”


Cheatham found out the result of her audition two weeks later by email, and the news was positive.


“I was so happy,” she said. “I woke up everybody in the house because I was so excited.”


Cheatham will be going back to Charleston for training in late February.


“They'll show us the different styles that they want us to do,” Cheatham said. “They'll also teach us different techniques – little shortcuts and tricks – that will make us be able to work quicker because everything during fashion week is so fast-paced when you are styling the models' hair.”


Founded in 2007, Charleston Fashion Week showcases emerging model and designer talent. More than 35 runway shows are scheduled, and chic after-parties will be held throughout the city.


“I know I'm going to get to do a lot of different things because there are so many shows,” Cheatham said.


Cheatham began styling her friends' hair when she was a teenager. Soon after she graduated from Ridge Spring-Monetta High School, she earned her cosmetology license.


“I always knew that I wanted to do hair,” she said.


Later this year, Cheatham, her husband, James, and their three children will move to Florida, and she hopes her experience during Fashion Week will open up new opportunities.


“I want to work at photo shoots for magazines and commercials, and I want to style hair for movies,” Cheatham said.


Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since January 2013. A native of Concord, N.C., she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.