Written by: Bobby Milligan
Erwin Gomez is well versed on all things fashion and beauty and, as a passionate member of society, he is inspired by the progression towards a more equal world. He is at the top of the industry with numerous features in major magazines, working closely with countless celebrities and influential people. Looking at his many accomplishments, you would think Gomez would rest on his laurels. Yet, as accomplished as he may be, the feeling of “I made it!” has yet to come to mind for him. In fact, the most gratifying moments of his career are when he is able to see the people he has mentored succeed on their own paths. As someone who grew up with little to no mentorship, finding his way through the beauty industry, while not impossible, was difficult with this lack of guidance. Gomez has taken this even further, with the main inspiration of starting KARMA being to help others get to where he is. KARMA offers a wide variety of beauty treatments and services, so that passionate people with different skill sets have the opportunity to come together and have a sense of direction and counsel.
Knowing exactly what he wanted from a very young age and always being invigorated by art, he began his journey navigating the fields of fashion photography, makeup artistry, and more. While feeling his way through these different areas, one major thing has stayed in his mind: that the fashion and beauty industries are relatively trend-based and fast changing, so it is important to always be on your toes and stay ahead of the game. “You can’t reinvent the entire wheel,” he says, referring to the trends that cycle in and out through time. But, relating it to art, anything can be seen in a different light through another’s eyes or interpretation. Pulling from classical styles such as “Old Hollywood,” Gomez takes into account the importance of being able to take something that has been done before, and make it new once again. With role models like Pat McGrath and Sam Fine, there is plenty of inspiration and knowledge to pull from, with a chance to showcase his own talent and personal vision.
According to Gomez, aside from the trials, tribulations, and triumphs that come along with the creative process, pride and diversity are focal points, especially when expressed through one’s work. The importance of diversity is something that Gomez holds close to his heart, coming from a background in the Philippines. Within the workplace, clients at times ask things such as if their particular hair type can be done, and a main priority at KARMA is to ensure there is a versatile team so that when that question is asked, it is answered with a yes sans hesitation. Representation is a cornerstone of awareness and understanding when on the topic of diversity, and it is more important now than ever to continue this. As far as we have come, there is still a long way to go, and Gomez is leading by example, representing his culture and background at the top of a profoundly vast industry.
Pride is defined on the grounds of celebrating diversity and differences, being confident with who you are and what you put out into the world. “When we say ‘pride,’ it’s because we are proud.” Seemingly self-explanatory, how Gomez defines pride is so much more than what it seems on the surface. Pride is in everyday life, the way that you live, daily normalities, and what you create. All of this is encompassed under the umbrella of pride. To unapologetically live your life the way you see fit and to ensure that quality is at the forefront. Gomez finds that the commonality of constant media consumption is a great opportunity to translate representation and awareness to the masses, even to people who may be less inclined to understand. An example that comes to him is the show Pose. Based on ballroom culture in the eighties, it shows the human experience of navigating pride at a time when it was less accepted than it is now. Ryan Murphy, the creator of the show, is praised for his work that creates an entertaining environment while still commenting on heavy-hitting societal struggles, and shedding light on issues that might otherwise be overlooked.
The arts and creative industries are a quintessential outlet in which pride can be expressed with passion. For Gomez, beauty and pride go hand in hand, and he finds that flawless and consistent execution of his talent is the most effective way for pride to translate into his work. His work is obviously important to him, but guiding his staff and mentees to the completion of their own aspirations and creative expression is yet another form of expressing pride, and more gratifying to Gomez than anything else. “You have to have good taste as an artist,” he says, referring to the idea of expression, without which art would not exist. The human experience is something everyone shares, and while our lives may look different from one another, we can all attest to experiencing some of the same things. Gomez has learned that fame does not last long, and what makes a truly lasting impact is what we do to others, and the effect we have on them.
Everyone must live with pride every day, but there are also opportunities to come together where a larger support system can be felt. Philanthropy is not estranged from Gomez, and he does anything he can to help and contribute to different communities. Though he does not consider himself a particularly loud person, he still sees the importance of attending Pride every year in June, and supporting those who may not experience much support. It encourages people to be proud as they are, and while you can’t reinvent the wheel, you just may be able to reinvent society’s perception and acknowledgement of differences.
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