When an all-expense paid trip to Tokyo and a September issue cover photo shoot are on the line, you know the competition is going to be fierce! Five hairstylists have reached the finals for Shu Uemura’s International Gallery of Style hair competition, and will be heading to NYC later this month on an all-expense paid trip, photoshoot, and an immersive brand experience with Shu Uemura. The national winner’s look will be featured on the September cover of Estetica Magazine, have a double-page editorial, and will be submitted to the International competition for an all-expense paid trip to Tokyo for a professional photoshoot under the guidance of two Shu Uemura beauty masters.
The criteria for the competition was tough–looks must be on-brand for Shu Uemura, have artistic creativity and originality, and have impeccable finishing. Below, meet these five talented finalists and hear more about the looks they created!
Finalist 1: Naomi Booth, Bryce Jermain Salon
Naomi Booth started working with Shu Uemura products 16 months ago, and was so inspired by last year’s competition that she knew she wanted to take part! Being her first hair competition, Naomi tells us, “This has been such a crazy experience. I was so proud of the piece I created but to actually make it this far is a testament to how much I love my profession. I’m so excited to head to New York next week to continue in the competition.” For her first piece, she drew her inspo from the Tokyo skyline and some of the major architectural landmarks. Her goal? To defy gravity and create reactions from others.
Finalist 2: Madison Wade, Matthew Morris Salon
Denver-based stylist Madison Wade from the Matthew Morris Salon isn’t a newbie when it comes to high end hair competitions. Back in 2015, she entered the NAHA competition, and has entered every year since! “This particular experience has been so fun,” Madison tells us, “I love being able to be completely creative and to compete in general.” For the “Tokyo-Rama themed” look she created below, she was inspired Tokyo’s new age buildings and modern aesthetic, coupled with the diversity of the city’s landscape. While her final look is going to be a surprise, Madison notes the Gallery of Style competition has been a huge learning experience. “It’s exciting to be able to have full creative control and a chance to compete against so many other amazing artists. I always look at every competition being steep, you never know what the judges are looking for and all the finalist are super talented.” Stay up-to-date with Madison @madeupbyMadison.
Finalist 3: Jaimé de la Rosa, Matthew Morris Salon
“Challenge yourself, challenge the world!” At least, that’s Jaimé de la Rosa’s mantra. Jaimé, a Denver based stylist from the Matthew Morris Salon and member of the Ted Gibson Artistic team, decided to enter the Shu Uemura Gallery of Style competition in order to dig deep down into his creativity and hone in on his talents. “The charm of participating in a competition is that the outcome is up to you and your skills and the satisfaction when you actually master something is incomparable,” notes Jaimé. And for him, it’s all about the competition, “Competing is a learning experience. A support system of peers or mentors can be your best asset! Can I say thank you to EVERYONE at my salon, Matthew Morris Salon and Skincare for being a huge support system. You guys are my biggest career asset and I love you all. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by dreamers and doers and I am very lucky to have all of you in my life!”
Finalist 4: Cassey Lundell, Lunatic Fringe
Cassey Lundell, a stylist at Lunatic Fringe in Salt Lake City, Utah, was ready to try something new. Enter: the Shu Uemura Gallery of Style competition. Cassey was new to the Shu Uemura product line before entering and thought, what better way to learn about this new line then to go all in! “I’m so excited to be a finalist. I’m still learning about the other competitors and I’m looking forward to meeting them and learning from them. Although we are technically still competing for a chance to get to Tokyo, I’m going in with the mindset of competing against myself, improving what I’ve already created, and putting my best foot forward,” says Cassey. For her final look, she is focusing on her original style pictured below and hopes that her time in NYC will inspire her to take it to the next level. As for her experience with the competition so far, “if you put your whole heart into something, and believe in yourself, anything is possible!”
Finalist 5: Kirby Rimmer, Studio Gaven Hair Salon
Meet Kirby Rimmer, better known as @thekirbstomp on IG, a stylist who hails from Nashville’s Studio Gaven Hair Salon. It has always been a dream of Kirby’s to be in an avant garde hairstyling competition or fashion show–and when her salon’s rep brought up the Gallery of Style competition at a work meeting, everyone told her to go for…so that’s just what she did! Now a finalist, Kirby keeps pinching herself with excitement, “It feels fantastic to be a finalist! And I definitely think every person in the top five has an amazing style and brings so much to the competition!” While she’s keeping her final look super hush hush, she did reveal that this whole experience has taught her a lot and, “that if you put your mind to something, you can achieve any thing! I am from a small town, Milan, TN, and I would have never guessed something like this would happen to me! I am very honored to be going to New York for this competition!”