Tell us about yourself and how you got your start in the beauty industry. Did you always know you wanted to work with hair?
I joined hair school right after high school, so I’ve been doing hair since I was 17 (I’m 40 now). I’ve always had a flair for hair. Like most teenagers, I liked fashion and music so I was naturally inclined to get into [hair and beauty]. When I was in school, there was a prominent hairdresser who was featured in Salon. The magazine always featured such beautiful hair, so it really got me into it and not just working behind the chair. It made me want to start pushing myself a little bit further.
In the beginning, I was really blessed to be able to go after what I wanted and was fortunate enough to get it. There was a salon I really wanted to work in, so I worked there as a hairdresser before I ended up following a friend who applied to be an educator with KMS. I met with the woman who hired him and she asked if I wanted to blow-dry hair on stage. I started training and became a product specialist with KMS. I received more training, and it went from there. I met more people and was given more opportunities. Now I’ve been teaching for a little more than 15 years. I was teaching for KMS until the last year and half when I joined the Oribe team as an international educator.
When I was 25, I opened my first salon with some partners and a year later, I decided I wanted to do my own thing. My partner and I opened J’AIME Coiffure, which turned 12 [in 2021]. In 2015, we opened a second salon called Bloc, which is more for young to intermediate stylists, whom I train.
You entered the Contessas many years ago but took a break from competing. Why did you decide to return to competing and why did you choose to enter the Session Hairstylist category?
The only area of hair that I don’t have much experience in is session styling, which is why I wanted to enter this category—to see if I could get recognized. It’s the first time I participated in this type of category.
I took a break [from competing] because I opened my salon and had a baby. When COVID hit, I decided to re-enter this year since we were given the opportunity to re-enter a previous collection.
Why did you choose to re-enter this specific collection?
When I look at my collection and compare it to the other work in the category, I felt like it stood out. It’s fresh, clean and minimal yet everything was there.
I felt like it was the right collection [for the Session Hairstylist category] because it looked like it could be a spread in a magazine. The hair didn’t look too [overdone].
What inspired the collection?
I think this collection represents what I like best; I like things that are simple and clean, in all spheres of my life. I like when the beauty of the lines are exposed. For this collection, I wanted a very feminine, strong look to the models. To me, this collection represents strength, with both masculinity and femininity. I like the white clothing without any jewelry or flashy clothes. I wanted it to be about the models and the hair. The hair is very simple, but it’s the shapes that made it stand out, and getting nice movement and capturing what I love about the beauty of women.
I’m not someone who follows trends. It’s not that I’m not interested in it, but it doesn’t rule the way I think. What really inspires me as a hairdresser on a daily basis is people’s lifestyles and cultures—what happens in the world and how it determines how people want to wear their hair, and how they want to look and dress. In reality, that’s what a lot of designers look to. They go to the streets and see what people are into and are inspired by. From there, the inspiration comes for them to create, and I work in that manner as well.
What techniques did you use to create the looks in your collection?
For my short styles, it was scissor cuts with clipper work. There were some barbering techniques and strong graduation shapes. For the blonde model, I played with a variation of lighteners and different types of panelling with pastel colours and a little bit of silver, for a rosy, peachy and pastel look to her blonde.
For the model with the strong bob, I used classic graduation and bob techniques. For the model with the slicked-back and ball at the bottom, that was a marriage of straightening her hair and at the bottom I wrapped her hair around a bobby pin and heated it before brushing it out. This technique was more about dressing the hair compared to the other two that were more about haircutting.
Who inspires you in the industry? Anyone you look up to?
I’m really inspired by the Europeans right now: X-presion Creativos, Mazella, Vidal Sassoon, Angelo Seminara, Darren Ambrose and the Oribe team. There are so many!
I have to say, Angelo Seminara was one of the major artists who did rainbow hair and textures, and really turned hair into an art form.
What’s next for you? Anything you’re working on or goals you have that you could share?
My main focus now is getting back into teaching. It’s something that was put to the side because of COVID. I’ve been able to continue working as a hairdresser and run my business, which is going well. But now, it’s about focusing on education.
Obviously, the fact that I won this award does make me want to make another collection so I can continue perfecting my editorial skills. I think it would be a great way to keep my foot in the door and gain more credibility.
Working in the industry for more than 20 years, I still love working behind the chair. It’s the heartbeat of what I do. It’s really important to me to cater to everyday people. I get a lot out of it.