The Social Impact Heroes of Social Media: “Don’t expect it to happen overnight.” with Andrew Fitzsimons and Candice Georgiadis

Don’t expect it to happen overnight. It’s always going to be a slow crawl to getting your cause and contribution to where you see it going. You have to be persistent, unwavering, but also patient. As a part of my series about social media stars who are using their platform to make a significant social impact, […]

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Don’t expect it to happen overnight. It’s always going to be a slow crawl to getting your cause and contribution to where you see it going. You have to be persistent, unwavering, but also patient.

As a part of my series about social media stars who are using their platform to make a significant social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Fitzsimons, a celebrity hairstylist with more than fifteen years of experience known for his work with Kylie and Kendall Jenner, Kim, Khloe, Kris and Kourtney Kardashian, Joan Smalls, Janet Mock, Susan Sarandon, Ashley Graham and more. Born in Ireland, Andrew splits his time between Los Angeles and New York City for client work, and is a vocal advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I owe becoming a hairstylist initially to my mum. She got me a job at the local salon when I was 13. What she didn’t expect was for me to fall in love with it; I actually ended up leaving school to work at the salon and do my apprenticeship! Since then, it’s been a series of events, last-minute lucky chances, one-off celebrity bookings that have led me where I am today. In any career, you have to figure out how to take advantage of an opportunity and put yourself in situations to build strong relationships.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?

The first time I met Kendall was actually completely by chance. I was shooting in a NY studio with a photographer friend and after the shoot he asked if I wanted to shoot a “new face” coming to town for her first season. I said “yes” and it happened to be Kendall’s first test shoot in NY as a model! We got on great and I knew she had something really special and would go really far. The rest is history!

Ok super. Let’s now jump to the core focus of our interview. Can you describe to our readers how you are using your platform to make a significant social impact?

To me, having a voice means also having a responsibility. If you have any kind of platform where people are listening to what you say, it’s very important to be careful and be responsible with your communication. My focus is always inclusivity, community and connection. So when I founded the Trans Cosmetic Donation Program, it was as important to me to highlight the trans community and incredible organizations that support them, as well as foster a sense of community within the beauty industry by enabling them to give back and help people who really need it.

Wow! Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by this cause?

We’ve gotten hundreds of thousands of donations from beauty brands, influencers, makeup artists, celebrities and so on — this impacts the lives of countless individuals on a daily basis. So many of us take for granted the simple luxury of self-care, whether it’s taking a shower, basic skincare, haircare, even brushing our teeth — we don’t even realize we take this for granted. Every person that goes to the LALGBT Center or Trans Wellness Center is able to take advantage of our donated products and go out into the world a more confident version of themselves.

Was there a tipping point the made you decide to focus on this particular area? Can you share a story about that?

It’s well-known that our trans siblings — especially trans women of colour — experience the highest levels of discrimination in the country, which actually puts their lives at risk. According to one survey, one in four transgender people have been assaulted because they are trans. The majority of deadly attacks against transgender people are against women of color. They also experience much higher rates of police harassment and assault. This is not even to mention the difficulties of discrimination in housing, employment and day-today life. I knew it was important to be aware of these facts and to commit to being an ally.

As a hair stylist with a platform, brands often send me products to try, which I’m very appreciative of. However, the influx of products got to a point where it was overwhelming — there wasn’t enough time to unpack all the boxes, let alone test everything. I spoke with my colleagues in the industry who felt the same, so I knew something could be done with these products that would benefit people in need. I love that the donation program allows for anyone — not just those of us in the beauty industry — to education themselves on the needs of the trans & nonbinary community, and also to make a physical contribution that will have a real impact on someone’s day — we see them and we care.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Get out and vote. We need to rally around the democratic presidential candidate, whoever that ends up being. The current administration is stripping away LGBTQ+ rights seemingly on a weekly basis. The power is in our vote, so let’s use it to move back in the direction of love.

What specific strategies have you been using to promote and advance this cause? Can you recommend any good tips for people who want to follow your lead and use their social platform for a social good?

I’m very lucky to have very supportive peers in the industry and clients who have been very self-motivated to help with the donation program. I think the most important thing is to talk about your cause and how it impacts people as much as possible, so it becomes part of peoples’ consciousness. For me, discrimination isn’t something that people have the luxury of being able to avoid, so I don’t give my followers the luxury of avoiding the truth, so if you’re following me, you’re going to hear what I have to say!

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

Don’t expect it to happen overnight. It’s always going to be a slow crawl to getting your cause and contribution to where you see it going. You have to be persistent, unwavering, but also patient.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! I’m not someone who calls in favors or asks for help very often, but when it comes to a worthy cause, I do believe it’s a good reason to reach out and ask friends, family, peers, colleagues — humans want to connect to other humans. The more you talk about it and reach out, the more impact you will have and the easier the process will be.

Show people the humanity in whatever you’re doing. Sometimes with charities and special causes, the reality can be very heavy, but your communication doesn’t have to be. Try to get across your message in the most positive way you can so people will be able to see the hope and empowered to make change.

Utilize social media. Particularly if the cause is something very close to your heart, talk about it! Go Live on Instagram or Facebook, record a discussion on the topic, start a conversation online, post about your experience with your cause. Chances are if you’re passionate about your cause, someone else out there is, as well.

Learn about the needs of existing organizations. There are so many organizations (both local & national) that are set up and don’t receive government funding. Research every organization you can and find out what their needs are. A lot of the times, organizations don’t just financial help, they need donations of time, awareness, etc. Instead of just adding a link to a website or a GoFundMe, think about reaching out to organizations to see how you can help in a creative way.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love for people to get behind improved legislation in order to protect the trans and other marginalized communities — especially in terms of housing, employment, healthcare and physical safety. We should all be seen as equals in the eyes of the law and protected equally. I think that’s the first step in order for us to set a strong foundation to build upon.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Feel the fear and do it anyway” — sometimes it can be overwhelming to put yourself out there and march with a mission, but one thing that I’ve learned through my life and career is if you feel passionately about something and feel any anxiety or resistance: acknowledge it, push it aside and move forward. A lot of the time, we’re only limited by ourselves. Be strong and do what you have to do — you will never regret it.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would love to be able to sit down with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Not only is she such an inspiration by using her intelligence & strength, but also restraint, to move us forward, but it would be a great opportunity to talk about the needs of the LGBTQ+ community and to hear her vision as an ally for the future of our community in this country.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I’m on Instagram at @AndrewFitzsimons

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

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