We chat with all the ABA Young Talent winners to hear about how taking home the trophy influences their budding career in hairstyling.
1) Why did you enter the ABAs?
Jeni Chounramany, Artline Salon, Kitchener, Ont.: “This is the second time I’ve competed; the first time that I competed I came in third place. It started when the owner of Artline, Lina, spoke at my hair school, St. Louis Adult Learning Centre, and encouraged us to compete. Entering competitions pushes me to become a better stylist, and I couldn’t have just done the 9–to-5 behind the chair. I needed to push further.”
Nana Cihanyan, Salon Trends, Laval, Que.: “I got into hairstyling to compete and for the fashion shows. I worked as an assistant at Salon Trends while in hair school at Académie de coiffure Sophia, and seeing stylists create all these updos inspired me very much. Then at hair school, our teacher asked what our goals are, and that’s when I realize it is to compete; to be creative.”
Desiree Cardinal, Cabello Salon and Spa, Vancouver: “Originally, I entered Skills Canada competition and trained for three months with a trainer, but there were too many entrants and my entry was withdrawn. But I was really stoked from all the focused training, and it was then that my trainer suggested I enter the ABAs. She said I had potential, and all I had to do was find a model. My school, Vancouver Community College, actually took a field trip to the ABAs when I was competing, and I was nervous and excited but they were all there. I didn’t expect to win!”
Alyssa Shearer, Twisted Banana Hair Studios, Sherwood Park, Alta.: “Competing is always something I’ve wanted to do. My hair school, Marvel College in downtown Edmonton, was very involved in entering the ABAs, so I was around that culture of competing. I loved competing.”
Vicky Myers, Sylvia & Co., Sherwood Park, Alta.: “I entered the ABA competition because I have always loved the crazy cuts and colours from previous years. It’s the kind of stuff that you don’t really ever get the chance to do in the salon, so it really lets you express yourself in the work you perform.”
2) How does winning in the Young Talent category benefit your career, at this stage?
Jeni Chounramany: “It’s a drive to do better that is hard to explain … when I’m at the Contessas and sitting next to all the talent in the industry, you get a feel for what drives them. With hairdressing, you can go one way and look at it as a job, or you can make it your career, your life. I’ve chosen to make hair my life.”
Nana Cihanyan: “I’ve won twice so far: once at Hairapalooza in September 2011, and now at the ABAs. It really boosts my confidence in my work. Especially because I wanted to be able to do funkier cuts, competing lets me do more than just cuts and blow-dries in the salon. It gives me the creative license.”
Desiree Cardinal: “Although I couldn’t compete in the first hair competition I initially entered, I was assisting one of my friends in his prep work, and together we did it in half the time. My trainer saw my work ethic, and she hired me just at the end of my schooling. After winning, I have to say I thrive on the experience of doing hair on-stage in 45 minutes! I was inspired by all the imagery and energy at the ABA and this industry, and seeing what other hairstylists create.”
Alyssa Shearer: “It gives me a head up, because not all stylists compete. People who compete have the chance to get out of being behind the chair, and I like the creative component of competing. It also builds my portfolio, and I keep pictures of my work around my station and this gets clients excited. Then, they see that hair can be more than being behind the chair and they start asking questions.”
Vicky Myers: “Before I had even started competing, I had a lot of encouragement from many of the guests at the salon, so after I competed there was a lot of recognition. I feel that this has only helped me as a young stylist to get my foot in the door, and build up an even larger clientele.”
3) What are your future plans?
Jeni Chounramany: “I’d like to train others; to give back what Artline has given to me. We really want to be able to train others to compete, and this is still a growing dream. Lina is an amazing mentor and she’s very driven, so I want to share that kind of training with everybody.”
Nana Cihanyan: “In five years, I’d like to move to LA and start working as a celebrity hairdresser. I love Kim Kardashian’s hair, and Jennifer Aniston’s too, and my favourite celebrity hairstylist is Vidal Sassoon. He’s amazing.”
Desiree Cardinal: “I would love to own a small shop, something local and family-friendly. I’m very observant, and I watch how my boss at Cabello Hair manages her salon. I’d also like to teach hairstyling.”
Alyssa Shearer: “There are so many avenues you can take in our industry. I’m only a few years out of hair school, but one day I’d like to open a salon, I’d like to work for a colour or a product company as a platform artist, and maybe go into education. I see a need to update the curriculum that I went under, and offer a different outlook for students.”
Vicky Myers: “In the future, I hope to compete worldwide, and I am definitely competing this year in April for Edmonton ABA! Being my first experience ever competing, I feel I can only do better next time. It’s hard not to find flaws in your own work, but you’ve just to strive to do better next time. Hope to see some familiar faces in this new year!” Myers also plans to register with Marvel College in May to take part in the apprenticeship program, and then complete the exam to become a licensed stylist.