Like so many girls, Earl Warren College sophomore Monica Pearce always wished she could be a supermodel. But when she entered to win Clinique’s Fresh Faces Tour, she never actually expected to be selected as one of three winners — beating over 8,000 other college entrants — and scoring a spot in the pages of Teen Vogue.
“I can’t really explain the excitement I felt when I won,” Pearce said. “It really is something I’ll never forget. It was really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The whole time I was like, ‘Pinch me, am I really here?’”
Pearce first noticed the Clinique trailer — parked across from the Student Services Center, — when she saw the winding line of girls it had attracted on Oct. 28. Looking to blow off some steam after midterms, she decided that a free makeover from her favorite cosmetics brand couldn’t hurt.
After standing in line for an hour and a half, professional stylists prepped her hair and makeup for 30 minutes, and a photographer took three snapshots of her. They were then entered into Clinique’s Fresh Faces Contest.
“They actually had a camera crew, and they hooked up a microphone to me and followed me throughout the whole experience,” Pearce said. “That was kind of when I thought that maybe I can win. It felt like I was on a reality TV show… I was like, maybe I should stand up a little straighter.”
Still, Pearce was shocked when she learned on Nov. 19, 2009 that she had made it into the top 25 girls in the competition. She received an e-mail to check the contest Web site, which featured her picture among the finalists. From there, the site stated that online polls — along with a Teen Vogue and Clinique panel — would decide the three winners.
At first, she only told a few friends. But eventually she began recruiting the support of her hometown community in Elk Grove and her sisters in Delta Gamma.
“On Facebook, I updated my status every once in while, asking people to vote for me,” Pearce said. “I didn’t want to overdo it and do it every day, every minute. I didn’t want it to be all about me all the time. That’s why I think my friends [supported me] and were really happy for me.”
Pearce said she also owes some credit to her ethnicity: She’s half Chinese and half Irish-Swedish-Scottish, a mix that according to Pearce, gave her a diverse look that fit the ideals of Clinique’s new “fresh face” campaign.
“They thought that I had a different look,” Pearce said. “In today’s world, you don’t meet someone with one nationality; that’s what’s creating this new fresh look. No one fits a stereotypical model look anymore.”
The prizes for the three winners included a five-day, all-expenses-paid trip to New York — complete with tickets to “Wicked” and a behind-the-scenes tour of the Teen Vogue and Clinique offices. The girls already participated in photo shoots in Times Square and the Teen Vogue warehouse, where they were glammed out by makeup artists, hair stylists and outfit coordinators.
Pictures from the shoots will appear as an insert in the April issue of Teen Vogue.
“[The photo shoot] was a really interesting process,” Pearce said. “I was the only one of the two that hadn’t had any modeling experience. I didn’t know how to pose or do any facial expressions, but they were really nice and taught me how to pose. I just like to smile though. I don’t really like to do the whole serious look. I was just having so much fun.”
With the help of some lights and bass-heavy background music, Pearce said she warmed to the shoot. She said her favorite aspect was trying on clothes she could before only admire as a subscriber to Teen Vogue.
“The stylist who dressed me for both photo shoots gave me some tips on how to dress,” Pearce said. “Because I’m petite, [he] told me what worked and what didn’t for my body type.”
As an urban studies and planning major, Pearce also said she found the business and marketing aspects of her trip fascinating. At the Clinique and Teen Vogue offices, Pearce conversed with company directors about their products and advertising techniques.
“I got to go behind the scenes of Teen Vogue and Clinique, seeing how the companies run and seeing how much effort they put into product and magazine and really how that business is run,” Pearce said. “It was a side [of fashion] that I’ve never thought about before or seen.”
Pearce met many captains in the fashion industry, including the Teen Vogue publisher, health and beauty director and editor-in-chief, as well as the Clinique president of marketing for North America.
“I got business cards form everyone I met,” Pearce said. “I’ve been e-mailing back and forth. I even asked about internships, and they were really open to the idea.”
Pearce is now considering taking up a minor in economics — a tip from one of her newfound business contacts — in case she ever decides to pursue a career within the fashion industry. Still, she hasn’t ruled out modeling.
“I’m actually going to put a portfolio [of my pictures] together, just in case I ever want to model for fun or anything,” Pearce said. “We’ll see what happens. I’m a student for now, but I’m willing to keep an open mind.”
After her trip, Pearce also received $1,000 toward Clinique products.
“What am I going to do with $1,000?” Pearce said. “I let my two friends choose some, as well as my mom and grandma and sister. Even my dad chose out a [bottle of] cologne. They said that it will last a whole year, but I’m probably good for the next five years.”
Readers can contact Jasmine Ta at [email protected]