We spoke with Dorothy Tsang from Ottawa, who took home the Session Hairstylist of the Year award at the 32nd annual Contessa Awards.
Congratulations again Dorothy! What’s it like being the 2021 winner of Session Hairstylist of the year?
I’m really happy to get it again from last year! It really showed our work can get recognized by the people, so I’m really happy.
You’ve entered and won Contessas before – your trophy pass video was amazing. How many wins does this make?
Four or five wins I think!
What’s it like working alongside your husband and competing together?
He is one of my mentors. We spend so much time on the collections. We don’t normally enter the same category, so we work together and we really help each other out. When working on a collection, it’s not only one person who can do it. We’re really complementary to each other.
I saw how supportive you were when your husband won his award Sunday night – how did it feel to see him win? What about Michelle Nahmad, who works at your salon, Blushes, as well?
It’s really nice to see him achieve his goal and reach it. I’m so happy for him. My kids were beside him too. We are all happy for him.
For Michelle, it was really nice to see the young talent win. Someday we will have another wave coming. Young talent like that needs to have the passion and the goal and they need to accept your opinion and want you to help. I am really happy for her—she worked so hard for that. I think for her to learn from me is nice. I always tell her she needs to be patient. Patience is really important. When working with hair, if you don’t like it or don’t have patience, it’s not going to work.
You have to practice all the time and be patient. I show her step by step and I tell her to focus on her patience and to remember everything she learned, so she can create her own style.
What has this year been like for you and your salon? What have you learned through running a business during the pandemic?
It’s a really strange year and it’s been really difficult. First of all, finding all the PPE at the beginning was really hard and retraining all the staff on cleaning and cleaning all the time was hard. Business has definitely dropped but at least we’re working. We need to be patient. You have to be positive.
Your collection is amazing! What inspired this collection? What are some techniques you use to achieve these looks?
The collection was inspired by women and their courage to break new ground and blaze a trail for others to follow. It’s something I’ve never done; I never cut hair that choppy before. The bright colours and creative textures celebrate the bold strides and innovations of women.
Does your collection have a name?
How do you source photographers? What are some tips on how to bring your collections to life?
Silas does—he likes to work with Andrew O’Toole. The two of them read each other’s minds when they work together. Andrew has a really great team of styling people. He and Silas decide to use the outfits to do it. They’re the experts. And Kylie O’Toole who does the makeup—I always ask her opinion because she’s the expert. It’s perfect, we trust them.
What do the Contessas mean to you? Why do you continue to enter?
I always say it’s a really good opportunity for all hairstylists to get together and show their talent and work. You need that energy for yourself or else you’re just cutting hair. You have to keep yourself motivated and your clients motivated
I keep entering because I want to keep up with myself. If you don’t get into the competitions, you don’t move forward—you move backwards.
Name/Nom: Dorothy Tsang
Category/Catégorie: Session Hairstylist | Styliste éditorial
Salon: Blushes, Ottawa
Makeup/Maquillage: Kylie O’Toole
Wardrobe/Stylisme: Ella Murphy
Photos: Andrew O’Toole