If you want to work at Culture Hair Studio in Durham, North Carolina, you’ll be told in the employment interview about an unusual requirement: every stylist must enter a major competition each year. So far, the team members have chosen to compete in Wella’s TrendVision competition, but North American Hairstyling Awards (NAHA) is another option they may try in the future.

Owner Katie Manselle established the mandatory requirement because she values the professional development benefits of competition. She should know—Manselle entered along with the rest of her team, and she took gold in the Color Vision category of NATVA, the North American level of the TrendVision awards, in both 2015 and 2017.

“Our team members love doing TrendVision,” Manselle reports. “They get so excited even though they’re nervous. You get so many good skills from entering a competition, and I am there to help them at every step. I make sure they find a photographer, model and makeup artist so they each have their own team. Even if they don’t win anything, they have the photo they can be proud of. They can post it on Instagram and get a lot of ‘likes.’ Last year we made big posters from all of the final photos and showcased them in our salon window. I was so proud of all of our stylists.”

Even when she’s not competing, Manselle gets her own photographer, model and makeup artist together for photo shoots. “I love collaborating with other artists,” she says. “This is how I keep my creative—I call it ‘playing’ because it’s just for fun.”

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