We spoke with Nicole Pede, who took home the Ontario Hairstylist of the Year award at the 30th annual Contessa Awards.
Tell me about your collection. What was the concept behind it? How did you decide on which colours and techniques to use?
I know that some people have a huge inspiration for their photoshoots, and for some shoots I have, but this one not as much. I took a lot of inspiration from stained-glass pictures that I had seen online, and the way the light would hit the glass would make it multicoloured. So, I would say that that is sort of where some of the colours I chose came from.
I really like a lot of structure and clean lines in my colour placement. The structured bob was very stained-glass-looking in the front, and the placement in the purple one was very structured with clean lines, but the styling was a little more blown-out of the way; the wardrobe had clean lines. I know for the Ontario Hairstylist [category], it’s nice to have a bit of diversity in the looks to showcase what you can do.
A majority of the time, even with my past work, I use a lot of bright colours.
What does winning this award mean to you?
It’s pretty amazing. I feel really honoured. Making it to the finals is a huge honour and accomplishment. To me, I think people win when they enter. To bring yourself to enter and have your work critiqued by people, and to put your style out there—that’s winning in itself. Getting this award is just the icing on the cake. It just gives me an accomplished feeling. But for me, it’s not always about the win. But the win has been pretty cool.
I think your first time [winning] has all the feels. You don’t know what to expect. It was my fifth year entering and fourth year of making it to the finals. It’s always great to make it into the finals, but it’s an extra bonus to win.”
I know that it’s my name on the award and that it was my name that was announced, but I always love to give props to the people that help me. I could never pull these things off without support and help from people; my photographer, my makeup artist, and some of the girls here at the salon. I couldn’t do it without them.
Who is your mentor or someone you look up to?
Mostly, it’s my girls that are on the Schwarzkopf Professional Essential Looks team with me Michelle Finlayson, Rossa Jurenas and Robin Bacon. They are definitely ones that I pull support from; they mentor me. I’m one of the newest members of the [Essential Looks] team, so it’s been pretty cool to learn from them.
How would you describe your style when it comes to photo shoots? Any special rituals/how do you stay on track/what’s in your kit?
The style for my shoots is vibrant, bold and very structured. I do a lot of storyboards that have my inspiration for the colour, style, makeup and wardrobe. I’m a pretty structured and organized person when it comes to this. It keeps me on track. I also give myself plenty of time to prepare and leave room for things to change as I’m going along. When I’m colouring or when I’m at the shoot trying to style, sometimes what I thought it was going to look like takes a whole new direction and ends up being better in the end than what I could have imagined. I always say that it’s nice to keep an open mind—things might move in a different direction and that’s OK.
Generally, I try to keep everything I could possibly ever think of, that I might need, in my kit. Bobby pins, safety pins, lots of wardrobe on hand in case something doesn’t work with the hair. I have a little hair tackle box with things like nylons to put over hangers that help get the structure in the hair.
I do all of my own wardrobe. I don’t have a wardrobe stylist because I personally enjoy doing the wardrobe. I have my own closet at home that has my photoshoot wardrobe that I can mix and match. My mom helps me with it. She’s a very creative person.
If you weren’t a hairstylist, what do you think you would be doing?
I don’t know if I can picture myself doing anything else. I do like the photography side of shoots, so maybe a photographer?
I love my job so much, and I feel like this industry has so much to offer [aside from] being behind the chair. This is a job with so many facets to it. Even if you didn’t necessarily love working behind the chair, you could be working for a company and working on magazine work. There are so many opportunities in this industry that you can never get bored.
What’s next for you after your win? Anything you’re working on or any goals you have that you are hoping to achieve?
For the next month or two, it’s pretty busy at the salon so I’m kind of taking a break from planning any shoots until January. I already have my next Contessa shoot booked for next year. I usually start at the beginning of the year.
I hope that with this award, it can bring me some opportunities to do more shoots. Maybe collaborate with magazines. I would love to do something like that—it would be nice if it could bring some opportunities like that to get my work more published and work with people to do hair for shoots.
I’m looking forward to my new role as an Essential Looks artist with Schwarzkopf Professional. I just signed my contract with them this year, so I’m really looking forward to what next year will bring.
Name/Nom: Nicole Pede
Category/Catégorie: Ontario Hairstylist | Styliste Ontario
Salon: InStyle Salon & Spa, Aylmer
Makeup/Maquillage: Jessica Benner
Wardrobe/Styliste Mode: Nicole Pede
Nail Artist: Jessica Benner
Photos: Paula Tizzard