Tell me about how you got your start in the hair industry.
I’ve been in the industry for 13 years now, but I was previously working in the hospitality industry. When I was younger, I was always encouraged by my stylist to get into the industry, but I always put it off and didn’t really ever consider it. One of my friends at the time told me he was going to hair school and I was looking for a new career because the hospitality industry can be a hard industry to be in.
I took a leap of faith and signed up for hair school, I had never done it before and never thought about it, I was even horrible my first day, but here we are today.
What did it feel like when your name was called as the winner of this category?
Surreal is the word to use. You have to set yourself up to not win and to be proud of being a finalist. It’s been a career goal of mine to win and just to hear my name being called was definitely the highlight of my career so far.
Tell me a little bit more about your collection, what was the inspiration behind it?
I’m from the United Kingdom originally (I was born in Leeds), and I wanted to have this East-side London vibe from the 1990’s.
Fashion has its trends, so I was inspired by the streetwear of London at that time. It holds a special place close to my heart because I’m from there. There was a lot of freedom in the ‘90s and I think people were adapting to having a lot of individuality at that time.
I know when we spoke at the Contessas you mentioned that you wanted texture and diversity in your collection. Why are those two things important to you?
With a black and white photo, I think it’s really important to show texture because it adds more depth to the images. I also feel like we as the trendsetters and leaders in this industry have to make sure we’re setting an example. Texture is where we’re going, and I think embracing natural texture is so important.
It’s our job as society and as an industry to represent and celebrate all diversities and backgrounds. The industry for the longest time was a very Caucasian driven industry and I think we need to celebrate all diversities. Texture has no race and I think that was also part of my collection, because I wanted to celebrate that and encourage people to embrace their natural texture.
As someone who has been a semi-finalist and a finalist before, why is it important to keep entering even if you don’t win?
It’s important to never give up. When you’re shooting a collection, putting all of this time and effort into it and giving it to the industry, you’re putting yourself in a very vulnerable position because you’re showcasing your emotions, feelings and artistic background. It’s a very vulnerable space but it’s also a very rewarding space and I think if people haven’t entered before or haven’t won or placed, never give up. Hopefully their time will come and if not, I still think it’s very important to give yourself that artistic freedom. Creating collections is different than working behind the chair or on set because it allows you to have a different freedom of expression. I think that’s one of my favourite things about entering the Contessa Awards.
Last year I shot a collection that I thought was my best work and it didn’t even place, but I didn’t give up. I knew maybe they didn’t get what I was trying to portray. I’m still very proud of that collection because that’s how I wanted to express myself at that time. As long as you stay true to yourself while you’re shooting, you’re already winning.
You mentioned in your speech that your mom attended the Contessa Awards with you. What did it mean to you to have her there for your win?
To have my mom there to celebrate the success of my collection and my career was a once in a lifetime opportunity. It meant the world to me especially after the past three years because we didn’t really get to see each other. For her to step outside of her comfort zone and to come to the gala was so special to me and to her.
I think something we should all be proud of as Canadians is the level of talent that we have here and the artistry we have in our roster. It’s incredible and I think we should all celebrate that.
Of course, the past two years of Contessas have been virtual. What was it like being back in a room full of your peers and what was it like to win an award in front of them?
It elevates the win to the next level. I wanted to make sure I had my team and family there. Of course, there are differences between a live and virtual Contessa Awards, but we did what we could as an industry during those times, but to hear it in person in front of 1500 of my peers was absolutely incredible.
Do you have any goals or anything new you can share with us?
Obviously, we own FastFoils and we’re working on some new things. We have some new products launching soon as well as shows coming up so I’m really happy and excited about that.
As for personal goals, I want to enter the Contessas again and enter more categories to start pushing the boundaries in different categories as well as continue to build the brands we own. I also want to celebrate the success of where we are because I feel like people keep on pushing through, but I think it’s important to celebrate where you are.
Salon: JustB Salon, Toronto, Ont.
Makeup/Maquillage: J Ladner
Wardrobe/Stylisme: Ben Barkworth
Photos: Parker Burr