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Meet Hairstylist Jessica Warburton–a Former Army Sergeant Who Overcame Cancer and Switched Careers!

Making a name for yourself in the hair industry is no easy fete, which is why we fully support events like the Bio Ionic Style Awards that showcase the work of up-and-coming talent. Back by popular demand, the 2017 Bio Ionic Style Awards searched the country for the brightest stars in hair, and four lucky stylists were selected to flex their skills on-stage, live in Hollywood at Club Avalon. The competition was fierce and the stakes were high, but Jessica Warburton from The Butterfly Loft in Studio City, took home the title of Bio Ionic Style Award 2017 winner and received an editorial photoshoot!

Jessica Warburton 2017 Bio Ionic Style Awards Winner(via Mackenzie Lenora)

Jessica, who’s worked with Selena Gomez and Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley from KISS–and even got to touch up Julia Roberts’ lip gloss once, has been making a name for herself in the hair space after leaving the military because of a severe illness. Read on below to hear more of Jessica’s inspiring journey on how she overcame cancer, switched careers, and is redefining success.

When and how did you get started in hair?

I actually never planned to be doing hair. I was in the military for 8 years and wanted to work for the FBI. In 2010, I was diagnosed with a late stage of ovarian cancer. During surgery, I flatlined and stopped breathing as the surgeon removed approximately 12 lbs of cancer from my body. I couldn’t stay in the military so I had to find something else. During chemotherapy, I offered to style a woman’s wig for her. It was the ugliest granny 80’s wig I have ever seen so I took it home. I watched a few YouTube videos and Tabitha’s Takeover, used my grandma’s kitchen scissors (you know… the ones with an orange handle) chopped it up and gave it back. She LOVED it. That was when I decided to go to cosmetology school. 

Jessica Warburton Military

Have you ever competed in a hair competition before? 

I have never done any competition like this before! Honestly, I was shocked when Mr. Fernando Romero called me and let me know I was a finalist. Competing and being on that stage was a real rush. I already felt like a winner just by being there and I firmly believe that all of the contestants there are winners. I personally felt that I overcame a huge hurdle, as my book at the salon says “NO UPDOS!!!” On the front of it. I mostly wanted to create something that I could be proud of, know that I put my all into it, and that I had fun doing so. Mission accomplished. 

How did you come up with your look? 

When I was sick, I was stuck in a hospital unable to walk and at some points, unable to even talk. I had to find things to take me out of my own personal hell because I did NOT want to die and giving up meant death. I still had things to do. So, to prevent depression, self pity and all the other things that come along with cancer, I kept my mind busy and happy. Disney, Tim Burton, Will Ferrell, Quentin Tarantino, artsy video games and music that sparked emotion kept me going. I could escape. A lot of the creations I do come from those ideas. Sometimes, in order to find your happy place, you have to travel back to a darker place and I am okay with that. Anyone can create tangible things but an artist can create emotion. That’s what I want my looks to do for people. Spark emotion. 

Which Bio Ionic tools did you use to create the look?

I used the Gold Pro 1.25 inch curling iron and the One Pass flat iron to give the texture variations I was looking for.

What does winning the 2017 Bio Ionic Awards and becoming ambassador mean for your career?

I have been looking to redefine what success means to me, and this gave me some ideas. I was in a funky rut for awhile and this opened my eyes to some options for creative release. Nicolas French’s work at the show really spoke to me and I had to race out and buy a sketchbook. I would really love to learn how to create art like that! So I have research to do.

What advice would you give to stylists who want to follow in your footsteps?

Put yourself out there. You can’t win if you don’t enter. Also, create something YOU are proud of but take constructive criticism and help when offered. The best advice I’ve ever received though, was to put on my racehorse blinders. Racehorses wear these little blinders that prevent them from looking around at everyone else and forces them to focus on their own path. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing and don’t compare yourself to them. It only brings your spirit down. Focus on the path directly in front of you and I promise you will go far.

What has been your biggest career highlight?

As for career highlights, I knew I stumbled into something great when a client I had during beauty school texted me. She said before she got her hair done she was contemplating suicide. She came to my school and got a complete make over. We cut her hair, colored it and did her makeup. She thanked me for helping her feel better about herself and said she decided to seek out help instead of death. I went home and cried. I still get a knot in my throat when I tell that story. Hell, even as I write this email my eyes are watering up. Damn it’s good to be a hairdresser. 

Keep up with Jessica Warburton @hairhunter, and don’t forget to take a chance, you might just come out a winner!

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