Hairdressers At Heart: Confessions of a Show-stopping Mentor

Competition season means a lot of sleepless nights, empty coffee cups and moments squinting at a few strands to make sure they’re perfect. Take it from two-time North American Trend Vision Awards (NATVA) gold winner Shirley Gordon: it’s all worth it.

 Every competition can be a learning experience on your path to success, especially with the right mentor as your guide. As a finalist in this summer’s 2017 NATVA competition, stylists to the stars, and owner of Strands Hair Studio by Shirley G., this Hairdresser at Heart knows the secret to success. Spoiler: it’s all about mentorship and education, whether you’re learning from or teaching others.

 Mentorship comes naturally to Gordon, even though she didn’t officially have a mentor while she was in beauty school. In a constantly evolving industry, knowledge really is power. “It’s up to stylists to be pioneers and to focus on education.” says Gordon. She leads by example, entering competitions to keep her creativity fresh. As a 2017 NATVA Finalist in the U.S. Creative Vision category, she serves as living proof of how pushing your creative boundaries will lead you to new opportunities.

Gordon also commits to challenging herself with at least two continuing education classes per month. She advocates for aspiring stylists through education, empowering them to learn and challenge themselves. After more than three decades in the game, Shirley has learned a thing or two about the value of sharing your experiences. Her tip to other career artists? “Make yourself open to the younger generation.” It’s advice she lives by.

 “Focus on the young people and allow them to learn from you. I’ve worked with young people today who are super talented, but I think they need some extra coaching. Any stylist on a platform or higher level should just reach out let them know that you’re there for them. So many of them really want it, but may not know that you’re willing to be a mentor.”

 Today, as a Wella Top Artist, Gordon has mentored and educated countless stylists. ““Hair is a gift for me, and mentoring others allows me to share that passion and connection by helping other stylists be the best they can be. I want others to see the passion that connects us to hair, because it’s truly an art form.” Like most artists, along with her talent, Shirley houses an urge to share her gift with others and help them develop their passion. “I have so much to give, as long as you’re willing to learn.” So far, plenty of up-and-coming stylists have focused on and learned from Shirley. “There are so many mentees that I can mention who have moved on to owning their own suites or salons!”

 While it feels good to take home the gold, the biggest prize for Gordon is leveraging her success to help others achieve their own. “I just really want to give whatever I have to anybody who wants it. I want to see them become a success story!” When passion and mentorship come together, we can redefine success and transform the industry.

Don’t miss Shirley Gordon alongside her fellow finalists as they take the stage in L.A. for the industry’s most prestigious hair coloring and styling competition. Tune in on Sunday, July 23rd to watch the 2017 North American TrendVision Awards live on Facebook. Follow Hairdressers at Heart and Wella Education for more details.



For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.