Connect 2013 Part I: Reconnecting with Myself Circa 2007

I spent last week in Las Vegas training with Sebastian Professional at an event called Connect (which included Wella, Nioxin and Clairol). I have written a great deal since Connect, so expect more posts to come, some will be hair related but mostly this was a week of finding myself more as a person and an artist. The energy of Connect and all the fabulous hairdressers attending, seemed to reawaken someone who I once was. It was a similar feeling to my early college years, where art ruled my life and haircuts were done in hallways and bathrooms with my friends wearing ripped up garbage bags as capes. It was electric. It was just the regression I needed, because it is so easy to lose yourself in the day to day and so hard to be on your A game if you aren’t being completely true to yourself, at least for me.

In college you could mostly find me holed up in a corner making crude sculptures or writing on my windows. Most people knew me like this:

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Or this:

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Above I am explicating trash/treasure from a scummy park with the intention of making found art. I remember every RA in the dorm telling me that the nasty shopping cart I hauled out of a hillside was not allowed in, and yet it got to my room and stayed there. For whatever reason people have always just let me get away with things, little and big. I guess because I am small, quiet and have a nice smile? I don’t know.

It is interesting to look at my old work and see how I have always been most obsessed with texture.

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When working on this tree project I could not close my eyes without seeing bark patterns. I nearly went crazy, working 8+ hour days creating the texture out of newspaper and duct tape.

It is so strange, how coming together with the Sebastian team didn’t just inspire me to do hair, it had me writing on napkins again, re-reading my favorite poems, yearning for international travel and reminiscing over the different places my art has taken me in the past.

One of the things I love about Sebastian is that it has a strong culture, a strong identity, and the hair styles emanate from that. Over the course of the last few months I have been re-immersing myself in all of the things I used to enjoy, making time for concerts and writing and the occasional painting. It is invigorating and truly just what I needed. Starting out as a hair stylist I always felt the need to fit a certain mold, and I struggled and found myself generally unhappy. The Sebastian culture, however, is one I feel completely welcome within and I feel the importance of being in tune with the artist I am.

Trilliance Thermal Protectant from Sebastian

Hey Readers! Today I want to talk about Trilliance, a thermal protectant from Sebastian. I use this on pretty much every client, but it is a top seller at my salon for women under thirty. It is extremely light and imparts great shine. It is ideal for use with flat iron or other hot tools for better, longer lasting results. I use it a lot when blow drying, it helps me get the hair to look flat ironed without actually flat ironing. It’s also great for dry cutting. It has a light scent that is kind of like cantaloupe.

I tend to love products that don’t have any product feel to them, which I think is fairly common among my generation, and partly why it is a top seller in my age group. We want hair that feels amazingly soft and healthy. We want shine without stickiness. We want scents that aren’t overpowering.

Trilliance is a pump spray that is activated by shaking the bottle. If it is not shaken it won’t do anything for the hair, because the activating ingredients separate from each other.

If you are in the market for a thermal protectant I would definitely recommend this to most people since it is so light, relatively inexpensive and great on wet, damp and dry hair.

Stocking Noir Catalogue Shoot: Jardin Noir Collection

Hello! My friend’s stocking company has just launched its new collection: Jardin Noir. Check out it out online.

Today I wanted to feature some behind the scenes shots from my shoot with them and tell you what I used to create the looks. Photos by Maria Palermo with Barlow Black styling Elysia’s new collection. Model is Alli Frasier of Taxi Management.

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On her face:
Prepped with Embryolisse and a spritz of De-Slick from Urban Decay
Face Atelier Ultra Foundation, mixture of shades 1 and 2
Face Atelier Ultra Sheer champagne adjuster for brightening
Graftobian Warm #1 foundation palette for highlight/contour
Graftobian cream blush palette
Urban Decay Prime Potion for eyes
Lime Crime China Doll Palette (used black for eyeliner)
Ultimate Face eye shadow palette
Lip tar
All brushes from Sephora and e.l.f.

On her hair:
1″ Hot Tools marcel iron just to touch up natural curl
Whipped Creme from Sebastian Professional to polish curls/tame frizz
Shaper from Sebastian Professional

What’s Next Awards Part II

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Here is a backstage photo of my model and me

The day of the show I began working on my model shortly before 9AM. I was pacing like a mad woman… going into the weekend I was just proud of getting to the finals and meeting lots of interesting people (and potential role models), but by competition day I was fired up with one singular vision, to win the spread in American Salon.

Starting off, I was hesitant about my design, since it was impressive in more subtle, technical ways and I wasn’t sure how it would read from afar. I knew the judges would spend time up close and I took the gamble that they wouldn’t downgrade me just because the look wasn’t quite as “runway” as all the others. My piece was extremely meticulous and I am the sort of person who uses every minute. I could’ve prepped in two hours or in ten hours and since we had ten hours I spent every minute possible really perfecting every detail. Seven or eight hours in I started feeling frustrated and dissatisfied with my piece. Still, I worked continually until the show began.

It was pretty incredible to see the show. It was very inspiring to see top artists from Sebastian’s Design Team do looks inspired by the same cities we were creating looks for (Berlin, Shanghai, São Paulo, and San Francisco). At the end of it all, I was in disbelief when Carole announced me the winner of the New Talent category. I stumbled up to the front of the stage, and was greeted by hugs and kisses from the Sebastian team. Before I had a chance to let the moment sink in there was confetti and a procession off stage and then off to the black carpet and the inspiration wall to take lots and lots of pictures.

Here I am with the judges and Daniel Lozada, the Professional category winner!

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Sebastian What’s Next Awards: Part I

Hello everyone! I am home from Los Angeles, and, as many of you know, I won the New Talent Category at the What’s Next Awards. I have so much to say about this weekend, I wanted to divide it up into a few different posts. Of hundreds of entries, four New Talent and four Professional finalists from all over the United States and Canada were flown to Los Angeles for a hair-packed weekend. My husband, Richard, was able to make it out and keep me company.

The first night we had a cocktail reception on the hotel’s rooftop garden. Hair dressers, especially successful hair dressers, are so much fun. Such an eclectic, creative and charismatic bunch, and so incredibly approachable. Some of the Sebastian Global Artists were there, as well as a lot of the Sebastian educators, some of the folks from the business side of the brand and, of course, the other finalists. I learned a lot the first night about the brand and the beauty industry, and just generally had a fabulous time. And it certainly didn’t hurt that my stylist friend, Elysia, lent me a killer dress, completely perfect for a rooftop in LA.

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I also met the other finalists, and the more I look back on it, I couldn’t have spent the weekend with a better bunch of people. There was a lot of camaraderie from the very beginning. We were competitive, but we were friends. People lent tools and supplies freely, gave advice and honest opinions gently, and we talked (and laughed) openly. I hadn’t ever experienced something quite like the What’s Next Awards before, but the comparable experiences I’ve had were extremely intense weekends where at the end of everything, you have these intense moments with other people and then you know at the end that you will probably never see them again. The absence of that feeling was (is) one of the best parts of the trip. The idea that whatever “What’s Next” in my life, it will probably lead me back to some of the funniest, most original and most genuine people I’ve ever met.

Day 2 was a full day of practicing on our model and then meeting with wardrobe stylists and makeup artists to complete our look. It was very cool to see everything come together. Practicing was stressful because I am much more stubborn than I realized, determined to do things the hardest way possible and not use hair extensions at all. I was battling with a snake braid most of the day, a very tiny snake braid, which seems foolish for a runway show, but I am extremely detail oriented and also knew that the judges would be able to see all the detail up close before the show. For those that don’t know about snake braids, they are three strand braids where one strand does not move, so you run out of hair on the outer strands very quickly. Once braided the hair on two of the strands has compressed to a third or a quarter of the length. So when going around the whole head with a snake braid you need to add in more hair after every three inches or so. This problem was compounded by the fact that, like most women, her hair was shorter in the front than in the back. In the end I found that I needed to weave long strands underneath her hair to meet up with the snake braid where it ran out and then begin again a few times. At her forehead I used an extension tool to pull the braids into each other, which was quite a task. In the end I had a seemingly seamless snake braid.

More on the style and the rest of the event on Friday!

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Sebastian What’s Next Awards Competition

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Hey folks! I am about to head back out to L.A. as a finalist in the What’s Next Awards Competition. Here is my award-winning piece! Wish me luck as I fly out tomorrow for the event. They are flying me out, with a limo waiting for me in L.A. I am looking forward to an elegant rooftop reception the first night and two days of intense styling, followed by seeing my work presented on stage at the What’s Next Tour’s L.A. show.

Thank you again to Lexi Nicole and Mark Brosius for making this picture possible!

Black Ops, Pittsburgh

Yesterday I went to Sebastian’s Black Ops event in Pittsburgh held at Capristo in Shadyside. Sebastian sent in Design Team member Will Bostock in from Philadelphia to teach a few cuts, a short cut from the Nightshade Masquerade collection and a medium length cut from the Urban Explorers collection. I was thrilled to see the short cut because, after seeing it on a Sebastian video earlier this year, it inspired me to start growing out my top and undercutting the bottom. I love the versatility, the movement, the texture… I can’t imagine having any other haircut at this point in my life. (Although I say that every time I really love a haircut.)

Will had a similar cutting philosophy to the Dove’s, so it was a nice follow up to my class two weeks ago. I really like the intuitive, organic approach to hair, although it is interesting to have someone else explain it because it really is about how you see hair and how you visualize it. Will has a very soothing disposition and it was refreshing just hearing his passion for hair. He talked a lot about staying present within one’s craft and about staying energized and attentive in between those energizing moments we all feel. Something about the way he talked seemed to resonate and connect with many moments in my past with all of the different art forms I’ve dabbled in. Almost spiritual, and reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest, though he is a Philadelphia native.

Sebastian is all about texture, shape and feel. At the class, they went over a lot of different texturizing techniques with a razor, scissors and texturizing shears, as well as an overall approach to cutting where texturizing and creating shape go hand in hand from the very beginning. Here is my cut from the class:

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Since becoming a finalist in the What’s Next Awards, I have been sent numerous interviews and I keep getting different variations of: What do you want out of your career? That question has also come up a lot with friends and family. My husband finishes college at the end of the year and we are no longer tied to Pittsburgh. It isn’t that we want to move, but simply that our world opens up a little bit. So all these questions of my future have been bombarding me the last several months. And I kept wanting to say, “I will know by the end of April,” with a frightening certainty. This month has taught me a lot about myself and the beauty industry. A little bit of travel has helped me think realistically about the kinds of cities I will feel most alive in. And I am on track to having a pretty good idea what I want from my career by the end of the month.

Sebastian What’s Next Competition

Hello! It has been awhile since my last post, mainly because I have been extremely busy in the salon! But I have a lot to tell you all about the first part of my year so keep your ears perked up.

Most importantly, I am working on becoming a finalist in Sebastian’s What’s Next Competition! It has been causing me a lot of stress because a small part of the final score involves getting votes and the page is coded in such a way that you can’t vote from certain devices, which I know is hurting my ability to get votes. I have this fear welling in me that I just won’t get enough votes and that will be the difference between becoming a finalist or not becoming one.

I know how style judging is subjective to a degree, but I KNOW my look is very different than a lot of the other styles and I KNOW that the look, while very odd in some ways, is not so advante garde that they couldn’t use it alongside their commercial work. I tried to stay true to Sebastian’s aesthetic, the theme “Nightshade Masquerade,” and Sebastian’s current shine kick. I worked with Mark Brosius and model Lexii Nichole for this style and they both did a fabulous job. My work is notably different in both silhouette and detail from that of my competition.

In short, I believe I have what it takes to get into the top four. I really do.

Making the top four would mean that Sebastian would fly me to LA to compete on stage against the other finalists. That in itself would be an incredible achievement and I would get to meet with and get a mentor from the Sebastian style team. If I were to win that, I would get a photoshoot in LA with the style team and win sponsorship to NAHA, which is one of my next goals, and I would be flown to New York Fashion Week to help style there. It would give me a chance to see a whole other side of hair.

Please, friends and followers, please vote for me! To see my look and vote click here.