We chatted with Joey Marchese of Bob + Paige salon in Toronto—the winner of the Ontario Hairstylist of the Year award at the 32nd Contessa Awards.
Congratulations on winning your first Contessa award. What was that like?
The day before the Contessas is my birthday, so I always feel like I might get an early gift and this time I did! I’m used to it being around my birthday and it’s usually a really fun weekend with my birthday, Contessa and a hangover on the Monday. I like that it’s around my birthday because I get to celebrate another year and seeing everybody at the Contessas is usually the best part.
We had an amazing time. Not to say that I didn’t miss being there with everyone. It’s something that I look forward to. Usually, when you run into people it’s business, business, business. But when you see them at Contessa, we’re all just friends having a good time. I do wish that could have happened. But I don’t know if I would have made it up on stage, I probably would have been crying in my chair (laughs).
You’ve been entering Contessa for several years. What do you most enjoy about competing?
I’ve been entering for eight to 10 years with multiple collections, and for every year (except for one because I wanted to regroup). This was the perfect one for me. I had this collection sitting in my pocket, so I decided to enter.
In our industry, these are the things that make us push ourselves to inspire other people and inspire ourselves. If we can inspire ourselves, which in turn inspires other people, and really put out how we feel about hair and it inspires other people, that’s the greatest part about it.
Tell us about your winning collection and what inspired it.
We definitely used a vision board and had a lot of back and forth. Originally, we thought it would be very colourful and the [wardrobe] styling was going to be the same colour as the hair. Instead, we went in the opposite direction and went for white to let the hair tell the story. It was a process, but a fun one. It’s always fun getting to turn the vision you have in your mind into reality. It’s something that I don’t think many people can do, but as a hairdresser to be able to do that, we’re a very different breed.
Fashion-wise, my style is very minimalistic yet futuristic at the same time. I’m very simple; all-black, usually oversized, but nothing too crazy or with logos. I really wanted to show that in the hair.
Do you have a name for your collection?
I called it Nu-Punk—a minimal, futuristic vibe with block-colour. I love block-colouring, but when we were doing the colour, I wanted it to be simple and flow together. I didn’t want it to be a super-white, simple background with crazy splashes of colour everywhere. I wanted to keep to the theme of simple, futuristic, clean, minimal—exactly the way I like things.
If you notice in my collection, there are these little flicks, and the hair isn’t super smooth. There’s lots of movement and texture. I wanted that, and I saw that I needed to have that; seeing what works on a camera and what doesn’t.
What was your favourite look?
The one with yellow hair is probably my favourite one. My favourite colour is yellow.
For my third look, Mandy, who I’ve worked with so many times, I had a couple of slick looks with her that I really loved. This one with the colour and styling, I took time to really detail the styling to bring out the colour.
Tell us about your team, and how they helped you bring this collection to life.
Connor [Lange], who helped me out on this collection, and I have a very similar style in terms of fashion, so when I was talking to him about it, I just said, let’s do “us.” Let’s not look at last year’s collections or our past collections, and let’s just do what we want to do and have fun. It turns out that’s the one that ended [winning].
Two of my models were my co-workers, and one is my girlfriend. We all work together, so when I was coming up with the ideas the whole team was involved. I work with six other educators from all different brands and all different walks of life. I have the most inspiration every day, and I’m very thankful to Bob + Paige for that.
You’ve entered the Contessas multiple times throughout your career, and this is your first win. How did you continue to be motivated and not get discouraged by not winning?
You can’t be discouraged by not winning. The best part about this is that you learn a lot about yourself. You educate yourself on things that you’re great at and things you want to work on, and these are things you learn while doing this whole process—from storyboarding, to the actual photo shoot day, to the planning. From when I started, I learned to put up a photo of the look I’m trying to achieve in front of each model. It’s the little things that you learn every time you do a photo shoot that makes you better at it and your eye gets better with the camera.
I remember the first collection I ever shot, and I made finalist four times with it, and I lost every single one. Between the education I received from it, I had Rossa [Jurenas] who’s a close friend of mine—it’s always good to have a mentor. It’s good to have people around you. We all say we want to do it all by ourselves, but having a team around you to help you, support you and push your vision and make it better. It’s all of these positive things you get from it that outweigh the bad of not winning or not winning for a few years in a row—I’ve been there for the last 10. Keep going, have fun and do it. Make sure it’s something you want to do it, and not something you feel you need to do. Good things happen.
The growth I’ve had as an artist, from where I work and pushing myself to enter competitions, and being a great educator, is probably the most important thing out of my job. It’s all about that—the education more than anything. I can’t wait until we can get back into the salon and do the nitty-gritty, hands-on training. I think that’s the key to this whole industry.
What has this past year been like for you?
This year has been a year of reflection and change for everyone. It’s been a crazy year—I can use other words, but you can’t print those. We made it through and have done our best—just trying to stay positive. Seeing clients leave the salon and are happy to have their hair done is a really nice feeling.
I’m still getting a lot of what I got before, but it’s taken away all other outside fun—socializing with friends, going to the Contessas. It was ok, but now everything is going crazy again. I just want this to be over. I miss educating. I want to get back out there. It’s the soul of our industry—spreading the love we have for it. The technicality of it as well, but our energy and passing that along so other people can excel and grow and learn. I hope people will appreciate it and not take it for granted.
Hair/Coiffure: Joey Marchese
Makeup/Maquillage: Kelley Cloney
Photos: Ivan Otis