When Chippewa Valley Technical College Barber/Cosmetologist student Angelica Johnson finished working on her model, she checked out what other contestants were doing and her confidence level soared.
“After I looked around when I was done, I knew I was going to win,” she said.
Johnson’s confidence was not misplaced. She took first place in the Men’s Cut, Color and Style category and received the Most Creative Fashion Award at the Minnesota State InSalon competition Oct. 14.
Johnson, who is originally from Milwaukee, was one of three CVTC students to earn high places in the prestigious competition for student stylists over a four-state region.
Amanda Gildea of Glenwood City placed third in Women’s Evening Look and Lydia Ulwelling of Durand placed sixth in Men’s Cut, Color and Style.
Competition for the awards is pretty intense, according to CVTC Instructor and Barber/Cosmetologist Program Department Chair Becky Hicks. It draws about 80 competitors from private cosmetology schools and technical colleges. It had been about four or five years since a CVTC student placed. Seven took part this year.
Students must develop an original style for the competition, provide a model and complete the styling within a given timeframe. Students generally know what they are going to do when they arrive, and have practiced it a number of times. Any coloring is done in advance.
“We take about a month and a half for training, to practice and get the style down,” said Hicks.
Johnson’s task was particularly challenging because of the ethnic background of her model. Not only does the texture make the hair a little more difficult to work with, a shortage of such models prevented her from getting a lot of practice.
“It was my second ethnic haircut,” Johnson said.
For development of the style, she used some tips her brother provided as inspiration. He attended CVTC before her and is now a professional stylist.
“I was nervous, shaking the entire time. I didn’t want to look around and see what the others were doing,” Johnson said. It turned out the other competitors were the ones who needed to be nervous.
For her Women’s Evening Look style, Gildea used pictures of other styles for inspiration, and invented a style all her own. It was a work in progress even when she first tried it on her model, who has very long hair.
“In the end, what it looked like was totally different than imagined,” Gildea said.
Still, it was lovely, and she was able to practice it several times with the model, though she found she was having trouble completing it in the hour time allowed. On competition day, though, she nailed it.
Gildea was surprised at how high she placed.
“There were a lot of pretty up-dos. I was intimidated,” she said.
Ulwelling’s big challenge was coming up with a new plan when it turned out her model’s hair was too short for her original idea, just days before the competition. She came up with a variation on what’s called a “bald fade” and the judges liked it.
Prizes included trophies and medals, plus $250, $150 and $75 scholarships for first through third places. Perhaps the biggest benefit, though, is something marvelous for the young stylists to put in their portfolios. They are all just finishing their program at CVTC and looking for full-time jobs in the Eau Claire area.
To see photos from the competition, go the Shear Inspiration Facebook page.