Meet the NAHA Finalists: HAIR STYLIST OF THE YEAR

By Chandler Rollins | 07/02/2013 1:52:00 PM

 

     HAIR STYLIST OF THE YEAR

It's that time of the year again. The North American Hairdressing Awards Ceremony or NAHA is here. Before we kick off the celebration, get to know our finalists for this year's competition.  These uber-talented stylists invested considerable time, talent and energy into their entries. CLICK the name of the Hair Stylist of the Year finalist (Allen Ruiz, Sal Misseri, James Abu-Ulba, Charlie Price and Alina Friesen) you would like to meet.

Don't forget to tune in on July 14, 2013 at 10pm EST for the EXCLUSIVE live broadcast of the 2013 NAHA Awards Gala at modernsalon.com/naha. And be sure to join the conversations on twitter with the hashtag #NAHALIVE.

 

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                                ALLEN RUIZ

                                     Jackson Ruiz Salon

What did you do when you found out you were a NAHA 2013 finalist? Who did you tell/call first? 

"I was in Vegas on vacation with my partner, Heath. We were having breakfast at The Encore. At 10:00am we logged onto Facebook and went directly to the PBA page to see the finalists broadcast. As I was watching the video announcing the finalists, I was excited and happy to see so many friends being nominated, yet at the same time feeling anxious awaiting for my category. There are five finalists in each category. The first, second, third and fourth finalists were announced and my name had yet to be called. At this point I was literally having heart palpitations and had pretty much convinced myself that it wasn’t happening for me this year. I ended up being the last finalist announced. My partner and I both jumped up and down screaming with joy, not to mention relief. I immediately emailed my photographer Jenny Hands to let her know the amazing news. Two minutes after hitting send, my phone started blowing up with congratulatory texts and calls."

Describe your inspiration, vision and theme for your NAHA entry.

"I tend to draw a lot of inspiration from fashion and pop culture. This shoot was a culmination of many different influences. The catalyst was the super cool 50’s and 60’s- Americana vibe like the H&M commercial featuring singer/songwriter, Lana Del Ray.  I remember being fixated on her full lips, smoldering cat eyes, teased-out hair and perfectly triangular shaped nails. Amy Winehouse and Adele were my other muses. Given the timing of NAHA, Spring Fashion week was also a major influence. The 60’s were clearly an inspiration for many of the designers, Siriano, Michael Kors, Rebecca Minkoff. The Marc Jacobs show in particular affected me. His models paid homage to 60’s icons like Edie Sedgwick and Peggy Moffitt for this whole mod, understated chic look. My vision for the shoot was 60’s 'It' girls come undone. The vision was of women perfectly done up, whose looks gradually unraveled throughout the day for a raw, sultry, dark, almost moody look & feel. I wanted to showcase the hair making it the only thing for you to focus on in the shots. To do so, we put took a minimalistic approach to wardrobe, dressing the models in black turtlenecks and also made the decision to shoot against a grey background. This strategic combination created an almost monochromatic effect drawing you directly into the silhouettes created by the hair."

How has entering NAHA made you a better hairdresser?

"I think it challenges me every year having to re-invent myself and create something different. Regardless, if you end up being a finalist or not, just by submitting an entry to NAHA, you get to have a point-of-view in the industry and it’s very gratifying to feel you have a voice. You have your bread and butter work in the salon, but NAHA gives you a creative outlet that really allows you to express yourself. Competing in NAHA has really helped develop my artistic eye for imagery. In the salon you’re focused on one element, the hair, but with NAHA, it’s imagery you’re creating. It’s the composition of many different facets: hair, make-up, wardrobe, lighting, etc. It really makes you a well-rounded artist. Participating has definitely pushed and helped develop my skills and confidence as a hairdresser."

What is (and when was) the most NAHA-worthy work you have ever created for an actual paying client?

"My salon is based in Austin, Texas, where the city slogan is 'Keep Austin weird.' I’m fortunate to be living in a fashion forward city where I have a very diverse clientele that are willing to let me try new things. I feel that my NAHA looks are very wearable and that was my intention when creating them. So as far as creating NAHA-worthy work for paying clients, I think it actually happens on a pretty regular basis, so it’s hard to narrow it down to one particular client and look."

What year did you first enter NAHA? Who helped or inspired you?

"I first entered NAHA in 2007. I had been attending a lot of the major hair shows and getting to meet the award-winning hairdressers, which made me aspire to be like them. Antoinette Beenders was definitely one of the award-winning hairdressers whose work was a source of inspiration for me. Being around these amazing artists and wanting to be like them, I knew this is what I’ve got to do. Prior to submitting work for my first NAHA I actually watched the 'How to Enter NAHA' film. I definitely recommend you check it out if you’re looking to participate for the first time.”

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                            SAL MISSERI

                             Ladies and Gentlemen Salon

What did you do when you found out you were a NAHA 2013 finalist? Who did you tell/call first?

"I jumped from the chair I was sitting in and stood there speechless. I didn't need to call or tell anyone, everyone important to me was already watching the video where ever they were so we all found out together."

Describe your inspiration, vision and theme for your NAHA entry.

"My inspiration almost always comes from the model. I need to see how the model looks, their type of hair and lifestyle to create a look they will feel beautiful in. I don't try and do hair that is crazy or edgy just for the sake of NAHA. If I do something more creative, I do it knowing the model will feel confident wearing it. I never go into a shoot with the hair completely planned out. I may have ideas, but at the end of the day it’s collaboration between the model, the theme and me. The theme for the Men’ Hairstylist of The Year Collection was a modern day mob concept. I wanted the men’s collection to look and feel very expensive. The men needed to look powerful and command respect. I love very polished but still high fashion looks, I didn't want the men to look like boys with no style."

How has entering NAHA made you a better hairdresser?

"I think NAHA has helped me gain more confidence and helped me to see the evolution of my work. NAHA is such a great way of putting yourself and your work in front of everyone in the industry. The competition tests your skills against some of the best stylists around and that is such a great learning experience."

What is (and when was) the most NAHA-worthy work you have ever created for an actual paying client?

"I have the opportunity to work on some very artistic clients due to our salon being located next to the Art Institute of Chicago. A lot of the looks you see in my collections, I have cut versions of on a real paying client. Some of the models I use, I have found from doing their hair and them giving me full creative freedom to do what I thought would look best."

What year did you first enter NAHA? Who helped or inspired you?

"2012 was the first year I entered NAHA. I was inspired by geometry and the coordination between the three primary colors and three basic shapes. I have a team in Chicago that I have trained to help me on all of our shoots and shows. Jen Roskey, who is also a finalist for NAHA Hair Color this year, does the color for my collections and I do the cuts for her."

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                          JAMES ABU-ULBA

                                    Spa Utopia & Salons

What did you do when you found out you were a NAHA 2013 finalist? Who did you tell/call first?

"Funny enough, I was in a three-day educators’ meeting for Davines. I knew that the announcement would be coming and I wanted to check it out on my lunch break. Just before we broke for lunch, one of the team leaders made the announcement. It was a really nice moment. The first person I told was my fiancé as she is the one who encourages and inspires me."

Describe your inspiration, vision and theme for your NAHA entry.

"The name of the collection is 'paradigm,' which is a way of thinking.  I believe that as a designer we always need to be thinking of new ways to see things; to connect ourselves to our past to open new worlds of design. My inspiration came from the 1920's aesthetic. To me, this period was the true revolution of our society; Louis Armstrong, CoCo Chanel and Surrealism. It was a time of doing and not just talking."

How has entering NAHA made you a better hairdresser?

"I believe that by entering it has not made me better, but just different. I was inspired from a company called Allilon based in London. That is when I decided to be a different hair designer, not a better one. If I can share ideas and inspire other designers then I am the designer that I want to be." 

What is (and when was) the most NAHA-worthy work you have ever created for an actual paying client?

"My most Naha worthy haircut on a client? Hmm, I believe that they are all worthy, if the right category existed. I am always encouraging my clients to push the envelope with hair and stretch their limits.

What year did you first enter NAHA? Who helped or inspired you?

"The first year I entered Naha, I believe was 2005, for the salon team category. I have always love hairdresser magazines and followed the awards every year. The next step was to enter. When I became a hair designer, I made a commitment to myself that I was all in."

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                           CHARLIE PRICE

                                           Halo Salon

What did you do when you found out you were a NAHA 2013 finalist? Who did you tell/call first?

"I always get a bit lightheaded. It's a narcotic feeling, the best buzz, better than three glasses of chardonnay. I screamed in the salon like a drag queen at a sports bar, so the first people I told were a room full of people who could have cared less." 

Describe your inspiration, vision and theme for your NAHA entry.

"My contemporary classic and hairstylist of the year entries are called jazz. I wanted the girls to look like they were in a subterranean night club in New York or Paris. The master and editorial collections are called "the dark arts" and are edgy, sexy and laced with a punk/S&M vibe, which is a recurring theme in my work."

How has entering NAHA made you a better hairdresser?

"First of all, it's fun to do photo shoots. It forced me to improve, to hone my skills and develop my eye. Once the judges have spoken, you know definitively if a shoot works or not."

What is (and when was) the most NAHA-worthy work you have ever created for an actual paying client? 

"No way! My clients are prim and proper fancy ladies. I can't reveal their identities, we have written agreements."

What year did you first enter NAHA? Who helped or inspired you?

"I first entered in the early 1990's. I wanted to be cool like my mentor Van Council. Unfortunately, it took until 2002 to get my first nomination and win, but happily ever since, I've been as addicted to NAHA as Nancy Grace is to cheap barrettes."

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                              ALINA FRIESEN

                              A Michael Levine Salon Group

What did you do when you found out you were a NAHA 2013 finalist? Who did you tell/call first?

"My husband and I have a tradition of being together on any awards announcement days. As you can imagine, we were extremely excited to hear about my nomination for Hairstylist of the Year. The first person I called was my mom and dad."

Describe your inspiration, vision and theme for your NAHA entry.

"For me I derive all my inspiration for my collections from the runway shows that happen each fashion week. I find that the clothing textures, colors and cuts all inspire me and influence the hair I do each year. I think it’s really important to think about hair in a context of fashion and style. This year I tried something a bit different and kept the hair simple and clean. I wanted to showcase cuts, colors and styles with a bit of an edge. For the photography I wanted the photos to look almost like comicbook pop art, so we went for a shadowless look that is bright with lots of contrast. In the end, I wanted each element in the picture to stand out but still work together."

How has entering NAHA made you a better hairdresser?

"Entering NAHA has a number of great benefits for every hairstylist; getting the chance to get creative and experiment with hair, learning and trying out new techniques, taking part in trend setting, experience working in studio with a photographer and sharing your work with the world are just a few of the ways that NAHA has made me a better hairstylist." 

What is (and when was) the most NAHA-worthy work you have ever created for an actual paying client?

"I had a great client come in recently. I took her hair dark and did an ombre dip-dye of teal and mint green. She is a fashion stylist for a living so it was fun to give her a blunt bang  and some fashion colors that would suit her style."
 

What year did you first enter NAHA? Who helped or inspired you? "I entered NAHA for the first time in 2009. In the beginning of my career I attended an amazing photoshoot class in New York. This class gave me some of the skills and confidence necessary to start doing creative work and putting together photoshoots.  Having had a lifelong love of fashion and hair, doing photo shoots and entering NAHA was a natural progression in the direction I wanted to take my career as a hairstylist."

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VIEW THEIR ENTIRE COLLECTION BELOW


 MEET THE NAHA FINALIST: Allen Ruiz/Hairstylist of the Year
   MEET THE NAHA FINALIST: Sal Misseri/Hairstylist of the Year
   

 

 MEET THE NAHA FINALIST: James Abu-Ulba/Hairstylist of the Year

   MEET THE NAHA FINALIST: Charlie Price/Hairstylist of the Year
   

 

 MEET THE NAHA FINALIST: Alina Friesen/Hairstylist of the Year

 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chandler Rollins

Chandler Rollins, Associate Editor | Modern Salon | Salon Today | First Chair

Since October 2013, Chandler has worked at Modern Salon Media producing print and online content. For MODERN SALON magazine, she contributes to the Style Watch, Ask the Experts, Modern Man, Face and Body, Product Spotlight and Goods. On modernsalon.com, Chandler assists with posting blogs and articles, the Product section and product reviews.

You can contact Chandler on Google+ or through email at crollins@modernsalon.com

 


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