NAHA Top Takeaways Part 1

It’s been a week since the North American Hairstyling Awards, and the amount of Instagram DM’s I’ve received inquiring about how to start, what advice, and other related questions, got me thinking that maybe this is something valuable I could share with our community. If not, maybe I could save myself some time and copy paste this link for whoever may find it relevant. Topics in part 1 include; Why even try? Why not try? Finding my personal esthetic and how I began. Then some emotional hurdles and random rant. Part 2 (will be posting in 1 week); things that equalled a successful shoot/experience, money, time, and building a team. I’m still sitting here in utter shock, and am not certain it has even registered that the collection has received this honor.


I must say that winning the competition is a wonderful dream come true.  I also have to voice the fact that I have no idea how one could ever decide, because to me all of the work is so extraordinary and different and at the end of the day, its all subject to opinion. The concept makes it fundamentally weird to participate. This is a great lead in to my initial resistance to entering.


The images that lit my soul on fire when considering becoming a hairdresser, usually sent me to the link People have been asking, why did you enter NAHA? That is the main reason. I love what I do behind the chair, but art, creativity and making things that spark emotion, is what makes my heart beat hard. NAHA could be a way that I could meet some of the people I most admire in the industry. Maybe I’d even have an opportunity to make relationships with them for collaboration or inspiration. NAHA has given people credibility, distribution, visibility and an audience. NAHA helps people become masters, learn about photography, and how to visually distribute your work. NAHA gives a different perspective on what the people I most admire went through to get where they are currently in their career. NAHA will make you grow technically, and on the inside as well. NAHA is also put together by an association that has integrity, a mission to keep our industry safe, standardized, and gives a platform for us to connect, participate, share our work and push boundaries.


Why not enter, seems the more undiscussed question, but the one that loomed in my mind for years. Full transparency on all the things that crossed my mind on excuses I used to not try. “It’s rigged”, “It’s political”, “Its a photo shop competition”, “It’s $10k”, “I don’t have time”, “I’m not good enough”, “I don’t have enough experience”, “I don’t know anyone”, “I don’t have a mentor”, “Failure”, “It’s all been done before”, “I could never compete with _____”, and “What if I win”


Here are the things I said to myself to fight these questions. Blanket statement for all of them, “Is it true? Really true? You know for a fact that is the truth?” Every one of them I could not justify that they were facts. The truth is, these thoughts never really left me, although I had the conscience awareness they were probably a load. Having clarity on my why and my purpose was so deep and meaningful, I was able to just let them all dance around up there without giving them the relevance I used to.


The process of finding my personal esthetic has always been a struggle because of fear that if I choose, then I’m stuck in that box. That was another silly belief that lurked around in my mind without having full comprehension it existed. This is probably going to sound so corny, but my beginning process for developing the collection started with a vision board. I took piles of magazines, most of which had nothing to do with hair, and ripped out, (without judgment) anything I was attracted to. I then laid everything out and found commonalities like color pallets, shapes, themes, and concepts. It was fun and helped give me some clarity. I was also able to transfer to ideas for social media and marketing. I used my perceived weaknesses as a catalyst for the concept of my shoot. For details of this click here:

Come to find out, NAHA isn’t rigged, because I literally know no one, and was at the top of the heap from a skeptic perspective. The number one question people are asking is how do I prepare? RESEARCH!!! I know for a fact, this is the reason my experience and results were positive. Given that I don’t know any past winners to the point where I would feel comfortable calling them up asking for advice, I dove into all of it heavily online. A piece of advice/RANT… NAHA is known as the Oscars of hair. Most people in our industry are incredibly generous with advice… All of them are successful, busy and hardworking individuals who earned their authority and although they are usually kind, you can’t imagine the amount of people asking for help. I don’t think there is anything wrong with asking for help but so many people are too lazy to research the questions themselves, when there are countless articles, videos, and content that exist, and lots of it is right on the WEBSITE. I also would advise that if you have the need to reach out to someone asking for anything, you should try to figure out a way to add value to their life. Respect peoples time. These leaders have spent tons of time, energy and money into creating their success, and I think we all agree that no one likes to work for free. Figure out what you can do for them that would add some sort of value to their life and they are much more likely to support and answer your questions.


Some tangible ways to add value… I have offered multiple things to people in exchange for advice, experience and their expertise. If they are close enough I have offered to assist them for free, sweep hair, clean their stuff and hold their pins. If I am unable to physically be there I can support them in many ways. Social media and participating in their growth has helped people be willing to talk to me. Lets face it, everyone wants followers, so how can I support. Stylists supporting stylists elevates us all as an industry, and I swear there is social karma as well. Level of engagement, likes, views, comments, reposts, inspired by posts (as long as the work is good) and getting my friends to follow them as well. WIN,WIN.


This blog is getting lengthy, so stay tuned for the more practical in Part 2. Should be up within the next week. Feel free to comment with any questions, or topics you would like me to elaborate on. I hope this adds some sort of value to you, and thank you so, so much for the amount of love and support. It really has blown my mind, and makes me excited about the reality of stylists truly supporting stylists. Heart emoji.



2 thoughts on “NAHA Top Takeaways Part 1

  1. Sandra says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write this Chelsea. Although I know this was an avant garde shoot and not haircolor I would love to know if you have any advice for finding models for a haircolor shoot. I am striking out with the modeling agencies in my city. They don’t let their models do shoots that change their haircolor.


  2. biboubelle says:

    Sandra, I know your comment was to Chelsea, but my advice is to skip the modeling agencies when you want to do fun color, because like you said, they often won’t let you change anything. Put out ads on – there’s lots of people trying to get in the biz there who aren’t signed yet. Walk around college campuses or hair schools. Ask your friends for suggestions. Walk down the street, even! Newbies can be coached. 🙂 Have fun!


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