Ask any stylist and they’ll agree, competition work is a team effort. Each team works differently, has their own process, and never forgets their first collection. Which is why we feel so honored to feature this collection, a first for the students of The Hair Lab Detroit Barber School. The school is directed by industry icon Rodrick Samuels who has a wealth of knowledge in the industry as a Barber, an Educator and as a Competition Artist. Championing his students, it only seems natural that they would feel inspired and motivated to follow in his steps. We chatted with a few of the students involved in this collection – titled Reyning Queen – about how they came to be hairdressers, their inspiration, and what it was like to work on this project together as a team. Offering insight into their teamwork, we are left ultimately inspired by this group of individuals who definitely have bright careers and endless amounts of potential when it comes to hairdressing!
Q. What was the inspiration behind this collection?
Brit: The inspiration for this collection was varied for each of the artists. For me, I knew I wanted something powerful. I wanted something that felt strong yet beautiful. We all saw our model in different lights when it came to planning, but something we all agreed on was that this piece needed to make a statement.
CaSandra: For me, the inspiration for this competition was definitely a strong, androgynous African queen.
Meadow: We wanted to really show off how androgynous our model was and really emphasize her natural beauty.
Tia: The inspiration from our collection actually came from all of us wanting to step out of our comfort zone and use our creativity in a different way.
Sarah: The inspiration for the project was texture, color and creating a "wow" factor. We wanted to really showcase the connection between barber and stylist.
Q. Tell us more about you as an artist:
Brit: I find that most of my creative energy comes from nature and the things that surround me. I’m often influenced by music, fashion, textiles, and architecture. I like to push the limits and to create one of a kind pieces.
CaSandra: I enjoy creating relatable pieces. Styles that have everyday appeal with a little twist.
Meadow: I find inspiration from all over before I start any project. I really love using different textures and fabrics to create really cool contrasts in all of my projects.
Tia: I’m the kind of artist that’s always willing to try new things or come up with new ideas.
Q. What do you love most about hair?
Brit: Hair for me is so many different things. It’s a creative outlet, its community. It’s brought me security, safety and allowed for me to just be me.
CaSandra: I love that hair is versatile. It can make or break a look or change appearances completely.
Meadow: I love that you can do anything with hair, it’s such a versatile tool.
Tia: I love that hair can be expressed in many ways, it tells a lot about a person.
Q. How did you decide to study hairdressing/barbering?
Brit: I have been wanting to be in the beauty for as long as I can remember, but life’s circumstances didn’t at first allow me that. What really set my soul on fire was sitting in a friends chair shortly after her finishing cosmetology school. She needed a model and was working on creating her professional portfolio. I was fresh out of a very long and severely abusive relationship. I had no self-value and no confidence in myself. She and I spent hours together for multiple shoots and different hairstyles just talking about all the things we knew about the industry. Not only did she give me my confidence and worth back, but she also allowed me to see the beauty industry from her eyes. It was everything I thought it would be and more. I just had to figure out how to make that career move. It took a couple of years, but I had an ah-ha moment while working my desk job and then was let go a few months after that. Every day I thank the universe for pushing me in directions I really couldn’t imagine.
CaSandra: I have always had an interest in helping people, but in a creative way. I was thinking about barbering for the last couple of years and when the school opened up down the street from me, it was a sign to go for it.
Meadow: My mom actually was a licensed hairstylist and I already loved to play with hair. It was always a backup plan for me, and it became one of the best choices I’ve made.
Tia: My mom and dad inspired me to do hair. They both are hairdressers and I’ve always loved getting my hair done and how it made me feel.
Q. What does this collection mean to you?
Brit: This collection means everything! It was an incredible feeling to work with other creatives and to watch our imagination come to light. Collections like this solidify the sacrifices I’ve made in the last couple of years and really show me that all things are possible when you believe in YOU.
CaSandra: This piece was my first creative competition submission and also my first hair based
collaboration. It was a great learning experience and a lot of fun.
Meadow: This collection means a lot to me. This was my very first collection and I am so happy I got to do this amazing photoshoot with a stellar group of women.
Tia: Being a part of this collection means so much to me because I never been apart of something like this, so it was a great first experience.
Sarah: The school is an was a huge part of our work with the project. Being surrounded by Lauren and Mr Sams work played a huge part in the development of our look.
Q. How did you grow by working on this collection as a team?
Brit: My biggest growth from this experience was realizing that things don’t have to come together perfectly, as long as they come together.
CaSandra: Working as a team on something so creative was definitely different for me. It was helpful to learn how to put everyone's differing ideas into one look.
Meadow: Working with this team was a very great experience it was a fabulous way for all of us to work with a diverse group of opinions and ideas. It taught us how to put or egos aside and accomplish the same goal, together.
Q. What was the team’s biggest challenge/greatest accomplishment while creating this collection?
Brit: I cannot speak more highly of the artists I worked with while creating this collection. We had our fair share of challenges while working on this project - coordinating ideas, schedules, etc. When push came to shove, we got down to business. This team was all about creating a fierce look, I believe we accomplished that.
CaSandra: The biggest challenge was time. We had one day to cut and style her hair and look without having met her before. I think our greatest accomplishment was how well we worked together to get it done in a small time frame.
Meadow: Our biggest challenge would have to be getting all of the braiding hair to basket weave around the wreath form.
Tia: Our biggest challenge was all agreeing on a theme. Our greatest accomplishment was bringing everything to life we all worked together and played our part.
Q. Were there any products/tools that were key to creating this collection?
Brit: Dollar Tree was key! We were each coming up with different ideas and I kept envisioning circular forms. I went next door to the local dollar tree and bought everything that had circular form. I love being able to touch textiles and that’s where I get most of my inspiration from. We all played with different figures and forms and eventually came up with our concept.
CaSandra: I think the Moxie line was critical for her look, giving her needed moisture and definition.
Meadow: The wreath form was our biggest tool for creating this entire look.
Tia: We used Moxie brand!
Q. What was your biggest takeaway?
Brit: To keep trying! We didn’t win and I’m okay with that. My team showed up and showed out. We all learned so much about each other creatively and ourselves. I know I will take this experience with me.
CaSandra: My biggest takeaway was that I enjoy competing in this format and look forward to doing more things like this in the future.
Meadow: Winning isn’t everything.
Tia: My biggest take away would have to be us not making it to the finals, but still feeling good to know that we have potential to win. Just wasn’t our time at the moment.
Brit Wheeler @detroitbarberdoll
CaSandra LaRue @barberandbrains
Sarah Soyk @barberbosslady313