In an attempt to recognize rising talent in the beauty industry, The North American Hairstyling Awards (NAHA) added a new category last year for 2012, the Newcomer Stylist of the Year. The category is meant to bridge the gap between Student Hairstylist of the Year and Hairstylist of the Year. This year, we invited the last year’s 2012 Newcomer of the Year finalists Sal Misseri, Ray Hornback, Nick Hemsley, Valeria Amirova and Jasmine Gibbs, to share with us their experiences after NAHA and how it changed their lives.

Did you enter NAHA this year?

SAL : I did enter NAHA this year. I entered Hairdresser of the Year, Men’s Hairstylist of the Year, Contemporary Classic, and also a team entry. I also cut and styled the hair for a color entry for my teammate and colorist, Jen Roskey.

RAY: Yes, I entered three categories this year. I was very inspired after becoming a finalist in 2012.

NICK: Of course! Between putting together my own images and sharing them and seeing everyone else's, NAHA is my favorite time of the year!

What has happened in your career since your experience with NAHA last year? How has NAHA influenced your accomplishments now?

SAL: After winning NAHA last year it really allowed me to expand my teaching career and get noticed by a lot of great stylists. It has given me the opportunity to lead our salon’s and school’s Artistic Team as the Creative Director.

RAY: I think I gained greater respect from my co-workers as well as clients. I've gained more confidence as a stylist and moved up a level in my salon.

NICK: Becoming an educator and being able to share what I love. I have been able to teach the classes I wanted as a future professional but couldn't find anywhere.

VALERIA: The experience I had with NAHA last year awoken my creativity. Since then, I have been doing lots of photo shoots and working on different creative projects.

JASMINE: Since winning I've gained much more recognition within the industry. The experience has affected the way I see photography. I have a keen awareness for what makes a photo awe inspiring. I've also grown technically in foundation and finishing skills.

What are you working on now?

SAL: At the moment I am currently planning a show for Aveda Congress in Minneapolis this October. Our team won a contest that allows us to be guest artists and perform a show in front of the entire Aveda network. I’m very excited about it. 

RAY: I have been working on consistency and speed in the salon. I am usually booked back-to-back with color and cuts all day and have to stay very focused on what each client needs. I'm also working on ideas for NAHA 2014!

NICK: I had one more session for NAHA that I wasn't able to get to this time around so I am still working on that for 2014!

VALERIA: Right now I am working on a creative project with my team. I am also planning to take advanced hair cutting classes this summer with Daniel Benoit and some updo/styling classes with Antoine Vadacchino. I am also working with my team on a creative shoot for a future competition.

JASMINE: I'm currently working on a bridal collection.