Inspiration: For Hair, From Lives

To break up all these “this is what I’ve been up to” posts, I just wanted to take the time to type up something a little more introspective.  Sometimes it feels like one topic keeps popping up or like I keep talking (maybe too much?) about a given issue and I get really pumped about it!  Lately, I have had a TON of educational opportunities which I have taken advantage of from many different lines, including: Sebastian, Nioxin, Sassoon, R+Co and Oribe.  Now for me, classes are not about inspiration, they are about technique.  As I said recently on the Hairbrained forums, I see so many incredible hair pictures everyday from all of my different sources that I am almost immune to their charm.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love seeing the imagery and believe it pushes me to get better and better technically, but it doesn’t usually generate a true feeling of inspiration.  At least, it’s pretty rare.

See, I have always had two competing drives within me.  I have always been a sort of creative free spirit on the one hand and then a total nerd on the other hand.  Classes and hair photos mostly appeal to the nerd in me and I am prone to breaking things down into very formulaic and almost mechanical functions.  This is the part of me that takes comfort in order, in things making sense.  I look at a photo and I see where if the hair were one centimeter higher it would change the proportions of the image, how the shapes could maximize their impact.  In classes I am always wondering, “Why?” and “Could this be done in a better, more efficient way?” and “How would a small change in technique change the final outcome?”

But the other side, that is the side that makes me really love my job.  Yet it is the part of me that is easier to ignore, since it is often hard to know what it needs to thrive.  Throughout my travels it has been the people, the architecture, the art, the subway stations, the weather, the trees of every shape and color, the rivers and lakes and harbors.  It is the people I meet who are very nice, and the ones who can be quite nasty, too.  It’s the artsy youth of Toronto that somehow look so much more British than the alternative kids in the US (they seem to have a better sense of balance and aesthetics).  It’s the way people from the UK say “cool” like it means something.  It almost gives me chills.  It’s the way the vibe of the bar changes when the woman in the corner stops screaming at the pinball machine.  Or when a different song comes on.  It’s how when driving for 8 hours straight you feel a difference in the steering wheel from one CD to the next.  It’s how you go so long between showers you see what your hair really looks like.  It’s seeing a four year old tumbling in the grass near Boston Harbor, trying to compete with the street performers.  It’s stopping at rest stops in Central PA in black denim and black leather and black shades while everyone else is wearing sweatshirts from wherever they came from.  It’s going to shows and seeing the swing of the hair while everyone is dancing in their own little worlds. It’s those friends you have who always twist the same section of hair around a finger when they’re nervous.   It’s seeing a friend in the hospital and her hair is  cascading so perfectly it’s hard to remember she’s so sick.

Beauty Changes Lives Scholarship

Hello Everyone! As most of you know by now, I was one of the winners of this round of the Vidal Sassoon Scholarship. This means a five day course at the prestigious Sassoon Academy, all expenses paid. I could not be more thrilled! As a lot of you know, this was not my first time entering. I am so glad I entered again and that my bud Neil was willing to work the project until we had a winning entry. Thank you so much to everyone who helped me get to this point! Especially Sam, Nita, Maureen, Richard and Elysia for being featured in the film.

Why Enter?

Hi Friends!  I am currently staring right down the nose at my NAHA shoot.  This Saturday I will be heading out to Ohio to hopefully get some killer photos for the North American Hair Awards.  This will be my first time submitting to NAHA and I must admit that I am pretty stressed out.

First off, I have been working a lot on my video for a scholarship competition for the Vidal Sassoon Academy (google Beauty Changes Lives if you don’t know about this!) and that has been incredibly enjoyable but pretty time consuming.  And it has required more teamwork than I am used to, which is fine except for finding time to meet and get footage, etc. etc.  Secondly, I am also starting to lay the mental groundwork for my creations on stage at Intercoiffure in just a few weeks.  On top of that What’s Next Awards just launched their competition so of course my head is spinning thinking about the Alter Ego collection.

Lastly, my NAHA visions came to me in a series of dreams and I am having great difficulty implementing my designs.  And yet, the desired styles are small (though detailed)… but will they be BIG enough for NAHA?  Truly, if I can get across what I’m thinking, I don’t know if NAHA will even like it because I have really never seen anything quite like some of these concepts….  And yet the visual interest and impressiveness (if I can achieve it) will be so subtle.  I always wonder if I waste my time with some of the little things I obsess over.

So, I am writing this fairly lengthy post to tell you and remind myself why competitions are worth the stress!  Here are some of the main reasons it is worth it to enter:

1)  Exposure.  This is not even necessarily about your talent being exposed to the world but about YOU as an artist exposing the world to YOURSELF.  I entered a few competitions with no success before winning the What’s Next Awards.  Honestly, as long as I was satisfied with my own work I didn’t mind not winning.  My first contest was in beauty school and I went all out and it taught me a lot about organizing shoots, working with photographers and models and also about turning my inspiration into a style and finding inspiration everywhere, which are skills that are applicable to salon work, and really everything else.  You learn to activate your brain!

2)  Seriously, What do you have to lose?  This is huge to my life philosophy.  I pretty much just do things unless there is a probably chance of a bad outcome.  When it comes to contests, what is there to lose?  Most are free or can be done on a budget.  I tend to not talk about my work as much as I’m told I should, but when clients hear about “extracurriculars” it boosts their love and they are more likely to refer clients, tip better, come more often, etc., which I would bet would more than make up for any entry fee.  Losing a hair competition is not a big deal.  Most people lose.  And it isn’t always a matter of talent, it is a matter taste and what the judges are looking for.  

3) And if you are worried about wasting your time, seriously, what else are you doing with your time?  Many of the most successful people I know have no time and yet still always find time.  My mentor for the year, Anthony Cress, always finds time to chat with me if I need it and I’ll tell you, this is a busy man!  Works six days in the salon, plays in a band, runs a flourishing beard and mustache club, wins NAHA and places as a semi-finalist in Trendvision and STILL has time to deal with me.  Trust me, you are not too busy to enter a competition!  I mean, obviously you have to really enjoy hair to enjoy doing it and thinking about it when you aren’t at work, but really I think “extra-curricular” hair activities make doing hair in the salon more enjoyable.  It has a way of refreshing your love for hair!

4) You could win.  Hey, it’s possible!  You could!  And the more contests you enter and the more you learn and grow from each one, the better chance you have of becoming a winner one day.  Honestly, entering the What’s Next Awards last year was a great source of stress, and part of that was because I had this huge, aching feeling that if I gave it my all that the What’s Next Awards would change my life.  If I could just create my vision everything would change for me.  And it truly has!  I have received so much warmth and support from Sebastian and so many opportunities I never would have imagined.  So much more than just the award on my mantle.

5) Join the conversation.  Do you ever feel like something is missing, like there is something to add to the world of hair?  Competitions are a great way to join an international artistic dialogue.  Show the world what you’ve got.  And be proud of it.