Photos: Behind the Lens – @brittanyalamillohair
Tiffany Bernard (left) and Jamie Gonzales (right)
North America Trend Vision Awards… This is my 5th year entering Wella’s biggest competition, and Jamie’s 4th year entering. It all started back in 2013, We met 6 years ago, at our previous salon in South Pasadena, Jamie being a stylist and I was there as an assistant. I entered the student category, and Jamie was in the “Young Talent” category now known as Creative Vision. We both made it to the Top 7 Finalists in our category taking us to compete live in Las Vegas at the Mirage.
Tiffany Bernard Student 2013
Jamie Gonzales Young Talent 2013
I always like to share my story of going up on stage competing with some of the best, talented hairdressers across North America. The journey getting to that stage wasn’t easy. I lost my model the week of the competition and it was when I felt the most defeated. In that very moment I just wanted to give up. Who am I going to find in a matter of days to shave off the side of their head, and put 7 different colors in their hair? Sounds unrealistic right? Well, it took a lot of sleepless nights on Instagram and hashtagging.
One night at 3 am, I came across Charity’s Instagram page, @charitykjohnston, and saw she posted a picture with the same type of texture, and was just in a wishful thinking mood, hoping she would respond to my DM and email. She was out that night with one of her best friends who was a hairdresser, and got convinced to do it by her friendsaying it was a huge competition. I mean, who wouldn’t want a free flight and hotel to Vegas, and get paid to get their hair done? Well, sounds all amazing till she had to find out I was cutting her hair off and coloring it like a rainbow. The next morning I sent her exact details, she agreed to it all. I had Charity come in to see how she walked with music and heels, because that is always key. Next thing you know we are shaving her under cut and lightening her black hair. There was also some crazy malfunctions through the process. I had to literally redo color in my hotel room as soon as we flew in.
I custom made my outfit, so It was a sheer body suit that couldn’t be worn with any undergarments; however mother nature decided to come visit and luckily I had extension thread packed for back up and sewed the bottom of the body suit to make sure it did not unsnap! At this point it is competition time, prep day passes, it’s now showtime. I practiced and worked so hard for this moment that I just gave it my all. The motivation to be able to see my coworkers cheer me on at the sidelines and all kinds of hairstylists taking pictures was a surreal moment. All the sweat and tears lead me to winning GOLD in the student category. This is truly what changed my career; the late Fabio Sementilli shared my story of losing a model the week of competition time and that is a moment I will never forget. Ever since this journey I always pushed myself to inspire others that when you think it's falling apart, it's really a stepping stone to something great.
In the mist of it all, this is where Jamie and I fell out, not intentionally, but because there was some miscommunication along the way; the same individual that was helping me put together my outfit stole an idea from Jamie’s wardrobe without me knowing, which created drama. It’s a competition and each master mind works so hard to put a vision together, so I totally understand where she was coming from. I was blinded by everything and didn’t know what was going on. We stopped talking for almost a year.
Jamie left salons in 2014 and started working at Union Salon South, which was literally about 7 minutes down the street. After not talking for a year, we reunited again at TrendVision in Los Angeles. We briefly talked about how me missed each other and how it shouldn’t have went the way it did but that was about it. We exchanged text messages about it and moved on. At the end of 2014, I decided to ask Jamie if Union Salon South was hiring. I was ready to grow as a stylist, and luckily since it was a new salon there was open chairs. November 2014 is when I started my career at Union Salon South in Pasadena.
Creative Vision 2015 Tiffany Bernard
2015, I was again a finalist back in Vegas at the Aria. Top 7 in the Creative Vision category. Can’t forget my model-- she was like 6’5 in heels and little me walked beside her. It wasn’t until around this time going into 2016 that Jamie and I were getting a closer bond and friendship beyond hair. We traveled to New York Fashion Week and did some dope hair and ever since then we have been inseparable. Jamie and I have a very small circle of friends, we slowly had to discover each other because friendship to us is so important. Things you share with people significant to you is opening your soul, and letting them into your life. I then started to realize we were the same exact person inside literally; she might be the organized one, but I am the organized Mess. There has to be some balance, right?
Last year in 2017, we both decided to enter TrendVision one last time, this time taking the TrendVision Editorial Class at the Wella Studio in LA. We really wanted to dissect the trend and get more of an understanding of what the judges look for. We mood boarded together at Panera, bounced off ideas and literally created our visions together. At this point it wasn’t a competition any more. It was the simple fact that both of our creative brains can work together and create dope visions. We had the privilege to have Oliver Shortall mentor us through the journey of the photo shoot. It was the best investment we had ever made! I had the opportunity to make the cut to compete in Chicago for the Regional TrendVision Awards.
2017 Chicago Regional Trend Vision
Then again we were top 7 finalists competing in Los Angeles, Jamie being in the Creative Vision Category, and for the very first time me entering in the Color Category. This was such an exciting moment for us. Back competing 4 years later, but on a different mind set. We stood by each other's side through the whole journey and learned each other's visions to help one another out. Before competing live, We workshopped with Oliver on styling and really getting a visual feel on how we were going to make our image come to life!
Between our hectic lives behind the chair we also live in the gym. Literally would always train at 7 am, hop on the stair master and talk on the phone about what we would going to do for TrendVision to make time pass. 2018 was a tough year for both of us, peronally and emotionally in both of our lives. Not many know this about us, but we were at our lowest points and lost all motivation. We even debated not doing TrendVision. Every day we would ask each other “Did you register for the TrendVision Class at the Studio?” until finally one day I was like alright, I’m registering. Back again, we both took the class, and got mentored by the best studio artists Oliver Shortall and Victoria Thurman Hall. By far taking this class was the best decision we have ever made.
Prep & Photo shoot day:
I wasn’t all there, emotionally disconnected, and couldn’t get my mind right. I actually wasn’t 100% happy with my look until I actually started shooting and kept seeing the images pop up on the screen. Photographer Nick Berardi knows what it takes to catch that perfect shot, so him being behind the lens was amazing.
After Day 2, it was such an emotional feeling, the fact that we did it, got our shots and the last step was entering and waiting for the semi- finalists to be announced.
Semi- Finals announcement... ugh, can I say, so stressful. We must have refreshed @wellaeducation a million times waiting for the announcement. TOP 10 for both of us making it to semi finals was almost unbelievable. We knew there was one more cut, and the anxiety was real. Two weeks couldn’t come any faster.
The Phone Call: We already know every year, that phone call is around 2-4pm that you are a finalist for TrendVision. I don’t know if it was a bad thing or a good thing that I knew. I was in the middle of doing a balayage behind the chair, Jamie was at my station and we were talking about the phone call. All of a sudden I see an 818 area code calling me, so told my client I would be right back and ran out to answer. Sure enough I was TOP 5 in the Color Category and I couldn’t believe it. To know I was nominated along with some of the most talented was super humbling. Every year it gets harder, this year being my hardest emotionally, going through a personal life changing moment, and being able to know deep down inside I worked my ass off for this. When I wanted to give up, Jamie didn’t let me because she knew this is what we live for. Jamie left the salon being so anxious…then maybe one hour later she called me, the first thing she says when I answer is “I didn’t make it, still no call.” I responded with, “I don’t believe you, you’re lying.” Few seconds later she's laughing saying, "JK, we’re going to VEGAS!" I just wanted to cry for joy--my best friend and I were both in the TOP 5 out of 3,400 entries in North America. That something that’s in movies, but yet it was our reality.
Tiffany Bernard Color Vision 2018
Jamie Gonzales Color Vision 2018
It didn’t stop here. We prepared and practiced for competition day, we planned our wardrobe back and forth, texting in a group chat with Victoria. Bought a platinum doll head on Amazon, cut our style on the head. We went to the studio two weeks before Vegas, color swatched with Victoria to make sure we had good formulations for stage. Practiced styling, tool choices, and product order with Oliver. Two days before flying out to Vegas was practicing color placement on our doll head until 1 am at the salon. Toning each other's hair, and night before flying out, it was mood boarding and packing till 4 am for me. Of course, we stayed on the phone with each other, and Jamie was having technical difficulties with her printer not working.
OLIVER SHORTALL, TIFFANY BERNARD, JAMIE GONZALES, VICTORIA THURMAN HALL
It was a fun, wild ride getting to Vegas, preparing for show day, and just trying to control our nerves with it all. Sunday: Walked through rehearsal, was super pumped, and we flew through prep time. Not only did we get to be finalists in the same category together, but how cool is it that our numbers were right next to each other and we got to walk out together and compete next to each other. Everything couldn’t be any more perfect, I am so grateful to be able to experience this with my best friend. Sunday night we mingled at Meet & Greet and Jessica grabbed both of us to tell us that Anne Moratto from Modern Salon wanted to speak with us. A couple weeks back, I spoke to Anne at the studio about my journey looking for a model, she remembered and wanted to meet with us and do a small interview which is what inspired me to share my story with the world, how you are never alone trying to enter for a big competition, there are people out there like us that still struggle to compete. So to those people who are scared, or doubt their talent, please enter next year! Take a moment to watch our interview of how we got to TOP 5 with Modern Salon.
After this interview we ran to our room, did a wardrobe change lol, and went to XS Night Swim to celebrate with out girls who traveled all the way to Vegas to support us. We told ourselves we wouldn’t go hard because tomorrow was the big show day. Welp, you know how that goes… we worked so hard for this moment that all we wanted to do was live in the moment and celebrate. Couple shots, and cocktails later… it was 4 am, we were in our hotel putting on our alarms, and just thinking to ourselves omg, how are we going to do this!
Our call time was 8 am, and alarm times was 6 am. When I tell you it took us two hours to slowly get up into the shower, get ready, and do our makeup, it really did, we felt like zombies, didn’t want to talk to anyone with the most MASSIVE headache. We couldn’t even eat breakfast because we were so nauseous. It was now competition time. Within the first hour of competition we took a 5 Hour Energy Shot to reboost our energy and pulled through vibin’ out to Drake. Thirty minutes before cut off time, all of a sudden I was hot, got a fever, and thought I was going to pass out. I had so much anxiety I seriously thought I wouldn’t make it to the judging point or to stage. Since we were the last category to get judged, I lay down on the chairs that were set up for competition. I told Jamie, “I’m going to sleep, wake me up when the judges get closer.” Slept for 20 mins, and I felt slightly better. Presented for the judges, happy it was over, and tried to eat a little dinner.
SHOW TIME: Getting to see our finished work on the platform while other artists and our family see what we are made of was seriously the best feeling in the world. The very end the show was our COLOR category. I was the first one to walk out for US, right behind me was Jamie. Instantly I started tearing up seeing her model walk down that run way. Tears of happiness, living in that very moment, knowing that we both struggled so hard to be there and we did it! With them announcing BRONZE winner first, hearing Jamie Gonzales my heart dropped, this year was for her-- I instantly hugged her!
Of course, this is a competition but this year it didn’t feel that way. At the end of it all, one of us had to win gold in my mind. Even though I didn’t place this year, I was so happy to know and be able to witness my best friend is the TOP 3! Top 5 is pretty dope, but TOP 3?! That’s on another level.
This TrendVision will always be a special one in our hearts, and we encourage every artist out there to do what they love. Invest in what you are passionate about, and know that its not about winning. It’s about the journey, the experience, and the moments like this that you can never forget.
I got lucky that my best friends is an artist like me, we vibe and think alike and no one can ever understand me like she does. We always talk about our career, life, and our future. We speak about goals out loud and let them be known in the universe. One of our goals and dreams in our career is to be on the West side, doing hair in the heart of LA. That’s something we always just spoke about but never really knew when it would happen. We were scrolling on Instagram one day, and saw that THE HARLOT salon on Melrose was hiring two stylists. All I can think of to myself was, that’s US. I told Jamie I’m reaching out, I have to. This was also after I taught a class at The Harlot, talked to Marylle Koken, the owner, heart to heart, and got to inspire and be around such an amazing group of individuals.
Let me just tell you when I first started doing hair, getting introduced into the #Wellalife, I remember always seeing this group of artists always in ALL BLACK, dope style and I always wondered who are these artists, where did they come from, where do they work? Till one day, I was at a show and saw the Sebastian Artists perform and was like, mind blown on how they go up there for seconds and just jam out and create a dope master piece. That moment is when I discovered Marylle and that group of dope artists, her tribe. I just always was inspired by her performing on stage, and wanted to be apart of her culture and seen how passionate the individuals were behind her.
With that being said, Jamie and I have been through a roller coaster. I couldn’t be more proud of us, and happy to announce we will be those girls wearing all black walking down Melrose into The Harlot. Everything happened so fast, this isn’t something we planned, just something we always dreamed of. We want to thank Marylle from the bottom of our heart for taking us in with open arms, we are ready to CREATE, and can’t wait to be a part of The Harlot!
XX, Tiffany & Jamie
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