We spoke with Norm Wright from Toronto, who took home the Multicultural Hairstylist of the Year award at the 32nd annual Contessa Awards.
Congratulations again, Norm! How does it feel to be named the Multicultural Hairstylist of the Year for the second consecutive year in a row?
It was great! This year was tough, but the Contessas kept me going, especially in this industry where people were starting to lose hope. The three-and-a-half-month deficit and hiatus were a big ask for all of us. This gave me purpose and something to look forward to.
You won with a re-entered collection due to our second chance rule! Why do you think that rule change was important this year?
These photoshoots aren’t cheap and when you’re not bringing in a penny for four months, that’s hard. Without that new rule, many people would have had to put [the Contessas] on the back burner.
I truly applaud Salon Magazine for going through with it. Without it, we would have nothing to look forward to.
Your collection was amazing and obviously the judges thought so as well. What inspired it?
It’s from working with Jean-Baptiste Mazella, a Sassoon alum from England, who sometimes comes to Toronto. He came here for a show five years ago and asked me to do the colour for it. I got to watch him cut an afro and while I’ve been a colourist for 35 years, he made me want to start cutting hair.
Does this collection have a name?
Yes, it’s called “Frolific.”
Why do you think this category is important and why do you choose to enter it?
Afro and ethnic textures need to be brought into the forefront.
Why do you think it’s so importance to represent diversity in the beauty industry?
Canada has a large multicultural presence and excluding ethnic texture from the equation is not representative. I think a lot of people are losing out. If you can hone your skills and work on these textures, it makes you a well-rounded stylist. Some black women will ask a stylist if they do black hair and in a lot of cases, the answer is still no. That’s a travesty.
Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for those in the industry just starting out and may be intimated to enter the Contessas?
If it’s any sense of reassurance, it’s still intimidating to people who have been doing it for years. I’ve been entering for years and it’s still intimating to me. But you have to use that intimidation as your fuel. No matter win or lose, you’re never going to win every time, nobody does. No matter the outcome, you’re going to be producing the best work you’ve ever done each time. The person I compete against is myself. Canada has the best stylists in the world. You can’t assume you’re going to win every time, but you just need to use that as your fuel. Don’t think the most important thing is winning. Getting up the courage to shoot and create and enter the collection is enough; you’ve won already.
My best advice is never deviate from your mental picture. If it comes from the heart, it’s always right.
What does it mean to you to end off the year with a win like this?
It’s huge, it’s absolutely huge. I was so proud of the work this year. I was not expecting to win a title two years in a row. I sincerely didn’t expect this win. It was really the cherry on top of the sundae for me!
To come out of this year with a win is just more than I could ever ask for. Watching the virtual Contessas made me feel normal. In all the chaos, it gave Canadian hairstylists this small sense of normalcy and I will forever be thankful for that. So much of our regular day-to-day life was already taken away so if the Contessas were taken away too would be terrible. That was a little strand of hope that kept hope alive.
Name/Nom: Norm Wright
Category/Catégorie: Multicultural Hairstylist | Styliste Multiculturel
Salon: Taz Hair Co., Toronto
Makeup/Maquillage: Katie Foster
Wardrobe/Stylisme: Melissa Stetski
Photos: Natasha Gerschon