Diana DuHaime of ONLO Beauty Agency
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Diana DuHaime of ONLO Beauty Agency countless times during the “getting ready” process of wedding photography. ONLO provides hairstyling, makeup artistry, grooming, and massage services.
When the idea of creating an inclusive network of Philadelphia-area wedding vendors popped into my head, she was one of the first people who came to mind. Find out more about how Diana works to represent Philadelphia while making it feel seen and why the wedding industry itself is such a special thing.
Shannon: What are the diversity challenges you face, within your business or as an individual?
Diana: The beauty industry has always been very woman-focused — in its standards, speech, and services. There is also a lot of pressure in the wedding industry, specifically in beauty, to look/act/conform to a certain ‘bridal’ style. Additionally, white, cis, heterosexual couples are put on a pedestal.
All cultures, races, sexual orientations, genders and humans in general should be open to celebrate ceremonial joining of one another’s lives however they see fit, and with that should have resources for safe and accepting hairstyling and makeup if they wish to have it as part of their celebration. We also wish to add more diversity to our team, as it’s important to have artists that look like our clients available to do services for them.
Shannon: I think that’s so important and something that I rarely hear discussed within the wedding community. As a photographer, clients are often asking me for beauty recommendations, since photographers are typically booked early on in the planning process. When I visit the beauty “team” page of industry leaders’ websites in Philadelphia, I’m often met with an entirely white team. It’s almost as if they’ve decided they’ll work with what they know, without any interest in attracting new clients by expanding their team to include POC or Black artists.
I find it really refreshing that ONLO goes against that by not only actively adding diversity to your team, but being completely transparent about why it is so important on social media and the FAQ section of your website. Your focus on real life experience and education is something that I see lacking in lot of industry leaders. All of that is to say, what has your experience been like navigating shoots and styling within what can often be viewed as a predominantly white space (the wedding industry)?
Diana: We have had multiple (sadly, multiple) instances where we have had to do things like say no to or pull out of photo shoots and explain our stance on cultural appropriation or tokenizing. We have quite a few vendors in the area who will no longer talk to us, won’t refer us to clients, and don’t like us anymore because we speak openly about it when the moment arises. The saddest part is that a lot of times these shoots are put together by highly sought after vendors, blogs, magazines, or people attached to local publications and they should be setting the standard. It is absolutely our job as professionals to call out the issues and find ways to set the bar higher all the time overall. We are in no way saying we are perfect! There is just work in unlearning and trying and you have to stand up for what is right, even when it’s uncomfortable.
Shannon: What is your experience with working with LGBTQ+ clients?
Diana: We hope to neutralize hair and makeup services in a sense so that they are just as fluid as our client could be. Some things ONLO hopes to work on this year is non-binary hair and makeup looks and showcasing more diversity (always) in our portfolio.
We love our LGBTQ+ clients, and hold space for them in as many ways as we know how (and look to learn more and more always). We have done a lot of classes for transgender folx looking to ease their transition or find a new sense of style — from young teens to older. We work with same-sex marriages and create wedding day looks that feel true to the clients, and we hold space for clients of all ages, races, genders, sizes, and ethnic backgrounds so that whoever sits in our chair knows we can help them feel like the best version of themselves.
Shannon: I love the idea of making your services as fluid as your clients, which is so important. I think society wants us to believe that non-binary has to be a certain look. It’s why Apple released “non-binary emojis,” in an effort to be inclusive. Or why Mattel created a non-binary Barbie line. But, a non-binary person can have a multitude of gender expressions, from feminine or masculine presenting to both, or neither. As much as Apple or Mattel might want us to believe that non-binary has a look, these emojis or dolls are reinforcing a fixed idea of what non-binary people should look like (typically androgynous).
I think it would be eye-opening to explore a beauty series of all of the ways real, non-binary folks in Philadelphia actually look, to dismantle some of those stereotypes. What are some ways we could represent the rejection of social constructs through styling, makeup, and hair? This is kind of a rhetorical question, but I’d love to explore the idea further in the future if you’re ever interested in collaborating.
Diana: Agree, it’s refreshing to see small changes, even when we have a way to go. We are SO, so down to show off the beauty of all people! Always!
Shannon: If you have a physical business space, how have you made it accessible to the community (for disabled people, neurodivergent people, and LGBTQ+ people)?
Diana: We have a studio space located in Germantown, and we are continually working on making it as accessible as possible. It is on ground level, has door openings that are handicap accessible, and we changed our seating to be size-inclusive, so there is as little discomfort as possible while getting services with us.
Shannon: What are some tangible actions you’re taking as a wedding vendor to be more inclusive of underrepresented communities, without tokenizing them?
Diana: We would really like to learn more about making our website more accessible to visually-impaired or blind web users. Our storefront is wheelchair accessible and restrooms open to everyone. Our space is by appointment only, so when clients need accommodations or something special, we have the chance to get it ready for them before they arrive for appointments.
I feel very strongly about opposing tokenizing. We believe all of our potential clients should look at our portfolio and see a broad sweep of hair and skin types and remain focused through the photos on hair and makeup inspiration. This means, to us, not focusing on gender identity, sexual orientation, the cultural differences, etc, so that what remains at the forefront is hair and makeup services that make the person feel confident and like the best version of themselves without any convictions. We hope that what they see is versatility, the ability to provide high-quality services for anyone, and a team that welcomes all clients with warmth, awareness, and kindness.
Additionally, we ALWAYS pay our models and collaborators (as well us diverse models and collaborators) when doing photo shoots. This is something we believe in as the ecosystem and overall support of our locality is dependent on all people being valued as they should be for their time.
Shannon: What’s your favorite part about working in the Philadelphia wedding industry?
Diana: The Philly wedding industry is robust, diverse, and full of really incredible venues, vendors, and clients. We have people come from all over to get married here because of personal connections, accessibility, options, and close proximity to so many other amazing cities. I feel like this really gives the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and be immersed in cultural differences that showcase the beauty of people from all around the world. There are not many industries that can say they do such a thing. Also, being involved in weddings can seem stressful to some, but really being involved in a celebration of love is seriously one of the best things to do for a living.
Shannon: What are you listening to?
Diana: Music: Harry Styles and indie folk revival radio (always); Podcasts: How I Built This, Hidden Brain, The Moth, This American Life, and Revisionist History. And every morning, Up First by NPR and The Daily by The NY Times.
Shannon: What’s a pop-culture plug you’d like to share?
Diana: Reading: Salt to Sea by Ruta Sepetys; Watching: Schitt’s Creek and The Pharmacist