After winning her first Contessa award for Texture Hairstylist of the Year in 2015, Julie Vriesinga won her second award last year—this time for Session Hairstylist of the Year. We chatted with Vriesinga about why competing in the Contessas is important to her and what advice she has for new hairstylists.
Salon Magazine: Why did you decide to enter the Session Hairstylist of the Year category?
Julie Vriesinga: I chose to enter Session Hairstylist of the Year because I love that category. I have always admired the finalists and winners, and have never entered it before. Session hairstyling to me is the whole package. I love creating a story or a theme when I shoot and I think that is so important in session styling—it tells a story and that’s what I tried to do.
SM: How would you describe your style when it comes to your photo shoots?
JV: For photo shoots, my style is pretty moody and kind of darker. This shoot was a bit softer but I tend to gravitate towards the darker, moody feel.
SM: Where do you get your inspiration for your collections?
JV: From so many things—it can come from the weather, the seasons, an outfit I saw at a runway show. It can come from anywhere. That’s the fun of it. You don’t know where it’s going to come from until it hits you.
SM: Why is it important for you to keep entering the Contessas, even after you’ve won?
JV: It has taken me a number of years to get on that Contessa stage and it was amazing! I keep entering because I love it and I have a couple other categories that I will keep trying for.
“Be passionate. Go with your gut and just keep going.” ~ Julie Vriesinga, Contessa 2017 Session Hairstylist of the Year
SM: Who do you consider to be your mentor?
JV: I’ve had a lot of mentors over the years. Heather Wenman was one of the first people I worked with. She kind of took me under her wing and taught me everything I knew about photo shoots when I started. She was a huge part of bringing me into that world. Also, Guylaine Martel and Matthew Collins are some of the people I get to see a couple times a year and learn from.
SM: Why is education so important for hairstylists?
JV: I just don’t think we ever know enough. I always think there is something you can learn from every class you go to. I learn from the girls and guys at the salon, day to day; I learn little techniques that I’ve never thought of.
SM: What advice do you have for new hairstylists coming into the industry?
JV: Just be passionate. Go with your gut and keep going, especially in the competition world. I’m a good example of that; you don’t always get there in one shot. It has taken me a long time to win and I’ll keep going. It’s worth every second of it. For me, it was never really about winning. I wanted to see my name up there and compete with the people that I look up to.
SM: If you weren’t a hairstylist, what do you think you would be doing?
JV: It’s so hard to even think of what else I might do besides hairstyling. I have worked in a salon since I was 15 years old. I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else.
SM: How do you relax when you’re not styling hair or entering competitions?
JV: If I’m not at work or planning a shoot, I am always with my kids. I have three little boys and every other minute is spent with them.
SM: What is the next milestone you would like to achieve?
JV: Someday I would like to win Canadian Hairstylist of the Year. That’s definitely a goal of mine at some point. I want to keep competing. There are a few awards I would definitely like to take home from the Contessas, so I’ll keep working on that and hopefully someday I will.
Contessa entries are open! Fill out an entry form or access the rules and regulations here. Hurry! Entries close August 2, 2017.