We caught up with past Contessa winner, Anna Pacitto to find out how her wins have impacted her career, and what she’s up to these days.
Anna Pacitto, Pure, Montreal
Number of Wins: 11
Contessa Record: First woman to win the Canadian Hairstylist of the Year award (1998).
What was your most memorable Contessa win?
In 1998, I won Canadian Hairstylist, Master Hairstylist and Avant Garde, and my makeup artist [Charlotte Vezina] won for Makeup Artist. To say that I was overjoyed, overwhelmed
and over the moon is an understatement. I remember that no woman had ever won one of the bigger awards [Master or Canadian Hairstylist] and that was absolutely crazy to me. I
had participated in other competitions before, but nothing changed my career as much as the Contessas. I give a lot of the credit to participating—winning is a big highlight, but it’s really the whole journey and how it transforms you from being an ordinary hairstylist to wanting to constantly better yourself and raise your own bar.
What do you most enjoy about competing?
Shooting hair collections is my favourite part of hairdressing. To be able to see your work in print or online is an incredible feeling; when you show your clients what you are able to create, it takes on a new dimension and importance. It’s what I enjoy the most in our industry.
What has been your favourite Contessa moment from the cocktail party or gala?
It’s always special. You meet so many people from the industry. By far, was in 1998 [after being the first woman to win Canadian Hairstylist of the Year] and having so many women come up to me to congratulate me. Our industry is still at around 70 per cent women and 30 per cent men, and I think it took almost 10 years for a woman to win [Canadian Hairstylist of the Year], so to have so many women congratulating me, it was a moment that stands out to me. It was surreal.
From your experience, what can winning a Contessa do for someone’s career?
It has a tremendous impact. I think it’s what really changed my career. In 1998, I was offered [the position of] artistic director for L’Oréal Professionnel Canada, and I don’t think it would have happened that quickly [without the Contessas]. We also opened our salon [Pure] in June of 1998. The Contessas can open up incredible opportunities for you.
What are your goals now?
Right now, I’m concentrating on my work with Davines. I’m very passionate about what they stand for. I think it changed my lifestyle and changed me to the core. It gave me back an incredible spark, and I feel 15 years younger, and want to move mountains.
Are there any Contessa categories that you’re still hoping to enter and win?
Elite Master, and maybe Avant Garde again. Those are my favourite. Also, Salon Team. I would say the Salon Team award is what can most [impact] your business. The people around you—your team—it’s the most fun to win. You don’t win by yourself; I always feel a little guilty when I win an award that only has my name on it because I didn’t get there by myself. When you win a Salon Team award, that is when magic happens and you can celebrate wholeheartedly, because it just feels right. It takes a team to win any award.