Every event I attend, every person I meet and every second I spend working/living/breathing in the beauty industry, I continue to be astounded at the wonderful people who enter my life and the amazing way they are able to forever impact the way I perceive the beauty world.

Today was the final judging day of Matrix Spread the Love competition--and I am so honored, so full of gratitude and joy, that I was selected to be the only guest judge among all the Matrix top big wigs to get the chance to interview the 22 top finalists in the Spread the Love competition.

The six winners of this first-ever Matrix competition get to travel around the country for six months, all expenses paid, visiting schools, salons, traveling with DSCs, attending beauty shows and networking with the best of the industry -- all they need to do in return for the experience is to SPREAD THE LOVE! The winners will be receiving laptops, iPhones, cameras and all the tools they will need to be social networking, industry icons! Blogging, video chats, Facebook and Twitter updates, you name it, these six folks will be typing and taping their way through the next six months sharing and spreading their love for the industry.

Kicking off at the Matrix event in Palm Springs in January, the final six will embark on a city-by-city tour through the nation, each week ending up in a different city. In addition, the six will be paired up to form three teams of two each--so along their journey, they will always have a roommate/confidante/travel buddy to shareand spread the love. Each person will also be paired with a mentor from the Matrix team of designers.

While ALL of the contestants were very impressive, only six could be asked to join the tour. It was a really, really, really tough decision. In the end, I'm ecstatic about our choices and can't wait to introduce you to the SIX MATRIX SPREAD THE LOVE WINNERS!!


(Top row: LaKeisha Michelle, Ashley Hanson, Courtney Guess, Sam Ritter and Joseph Pickering.
Bottom: Alison Shipley (me!) and Kayla McCormack)

I am so excited for you to meet Courtney Guess (cool name, right?) from Xenon Int'l Academy in Evergreen, CO! She is so full of energy and love and life and is just a true industry enthusiast. She has bright pink hair, and loves Marilyn Monroe because she wasn't afraid to be herself. And one thing is for sure, Courtney certainly isn't afraid to be herself. As one of the older contestants (not that 30 is old, but, you know...), Courtney brings a unique offering to the panel of students. She is so warm and friendly and funny with a heart bigger and brighter than Times Square. She has a passion for the industry that she is dying to share with the world and she is so excited about the opportunity to travel for six months and really connect with new people and learn more about this ever-changing industry. Watching her face as she found out she won was so rewarding... tears and laughter and shock and more tears. We just love her! Check her out below when she found out she won. That hair is just incredible, isn't it?  It's Pravana Magenta! : ) It's been pink on and off for about 5 years now.

Matrix Announces Spread the Love winners!

Meet Kayla McCormack from Livonia, MI—a graduate from L'esprit Academy in Livonia. Kayla is AMAZING. She loves to travel and, despite SERIOUS hardships in her life, she is a big-time people lover with a heart bigger than you could imagine. She spent time working in an orphanage in Jamaica and has traveled to Poland.. this girl is just incredible. She so idolizes Reese Witherspoon and looks to her as her fashion icon-slash-inspiration to the point where she almost LOOKS like Reese! Kayla is a Starbucks barista... which I also used to be for four years!, and she is often the very first person a customer sees in the morning. Because of this, she is given the unique opportunity to set the tone for her customers' whole day. If I lived in Livonia, she'd be one of my most favorite baristas ever. Her fav drink is a double tall, nonfat, extra hot, no foam, easy caramel, caramel macchiatto... AND she only had to tell me that once (I've still got it!). She is so full of life and energy and just wants to LOVE. When Kayla is done with her journey on Spread the Love and has grown into a successful and seasoned stylist, she plans to open a clinic for sexual assualt victims. Kayla's bubbly personality and true love for life has inspired me so much--it's people like her who, despite so much ugliness in the world, makes me see the beauty and feel the love! Check out this fun video of her calling her mom with the good news!




Meet Joseph Pickering from Itasca, IL--a student at Bloomingdale's Pivot Point Academy (which, you know, is only the best school ever... just kidding! But it's mine, so I have to represent!). Jo is definitely a man with character. He went from knowing NOTHING about hair to fully becomming a hairdresser, immersing himself in the culture, in just 10 months. He has been an international competitor and placed top ten in Florida at Premiere Orlado as well as being a state-wide competitior and placing top five in that competition. He exhibits this personality that is so cool, edgy and funky... yet he's super warm, approachable, and an all-around friendly guy. He often mentors others in his academy--I am so excited to see him win!

Matrix Announces Spread the Love winners!

Meet Ashley Hanson from Spencer, IA, a graduate of Faust Institute of Cosmetology! Ashley is a gorgeous, loving, talented and insanely friendly hair stylist from Iowa who is busting at the seams to get out there and experience everything this industry has to offer. Ashley is very engaged in social media. Once she maxed out her Facebook friend limit, she started another Facebook page, in addition to launching her own "fan page" to boost her cos business. If Ashley could travel ANYWHERE she would choose Milan because of the strong fashion designers, culture and star-studded experience she'd be sure to have. She is so sweet and full of personality--I can't wait for you to meet her!

Matrix Announces Spread the Love winners!

Meet Sam Ritter from Shreveport, LA--the same town where Billy the Exterminator lives! (If you don't know who Billy the Exterminator is... you've got to check him out!... wild, scary worst.hair.ever!). Sam is such a lover who is SO full of life. As a survivor of Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Sam has an unprecedented passion for life. He is aching to travel and experience everything he can get his hands into. While he was sick, despite being behind his other classmates, Sam made up for lost time and quickly surpassed his peers despite his hardships and graduated from Guy's Academy in the fall of 2010. He has a wide skill set and is sure to be an asset to Matrix and to the industry! Welcome Sam!



Meet LaKeisha Michelle from Dallas, TX! She attended beauty school at Ogie and graduated in August. LaKeisha is a natural-born rockstar... she is a chameleon with her hair styles, has in incredible love and passion for music and art, and frequently travels the country in her band in which she is a singer. LaKeisha prefers cutting over color and styling, but, like most beauty junkies in this industry, she loves it all. She's SUPER engaged with social media and loves technology--plus she has fabulous hair so I can't wait to keep tabs on her as she makes her way in the beauty industry. Her biggest fashion icon is Rihanna because not only of her amazing hair, but also because she experiments with different looks and isn't afraid to try out something new to set the newest trends--similar to LaKeisha!

Matrix Announces Spread the Love winners!