For Eloise Chiew, the path to hairdressing wasn’t so clear-cut. With interests in art and working with her hands, she explored a culinary career in baking, specializing in wedding cakes, and learned skills that—unbeknownst to her—would help her in her hairstyling career.
“Baking teaches you about proportion, structure and composition,” she says. “And understanding that helped me with my hairdressing, too. It all just builds upon it.”
Foot in the Door
After realizing she had a passion for hair, Chiew enrolled in the apprenticeship program at Suki’s Academy in Vancouver. Upon graduating, she attended a class led by Vivienne Mackinder in New York. “It was incredible. Seeing the way she works; she’s very calm and intentional with everything she does. She likes to play with the hair and see how it moves. Nothing is set in stone.”
Whether it’s observing the work of a master stylist or teaching students, Chiew says there’s always something new to learn. “Education is everything,” she says. “Even if you can’t use something directly, it can always influence something you do in the future.”
Finding her Way
Chiew has enjoyed participating in photo shoots and competitions, especially since working with Suki’s, a salon with several Contessa entrants.
As her first Contessa entry, Chiew says she drew inspiration from nature and hair’s movement in the wind. “I wanted to be a little more dramatic, so I did it in black and white, and focused on the silhouette and movement of the hair,” she explains. “I played with the hair to see what it wanted to do.”
For her fellow new hairstylists looking to get their start in competitive work, Chiew says it’s all about being proactive. “Just do it and learn how to be very organized. Look for contests and opportunities to do a photo shoot. Even if there aren’t opportunities, create your own photo shoots for your own portfolio.”
“It’s a chance to be creative, because we don’t really get a chance to do that type of work in the salon on a daily basis,” she adds. “If you’re more of the creative type, you should find a way to [channel] that.”