We are thrilled to partner with the Professional Beauty Association (PBA) to promote all the amazing artists who are finalists for the 2015 NAHAs (North American Hairstyling Awards), the most prestigious hair and beauty award in the country. We loved being able to catch up with one of our favs, Danielle Keasling, a finalist in this year's “Editorial" category. Check out our exclusive interview with Danielle to learn more about her collection and what fuels her passion for hair.

Tell us a bit about your nominated collection this year. What was the inspiration behind the looks? How did the creative process unfold?
Savannah is one of the most haunted cities in America. The city was built to be a perfect utopia and the design was based on magical symbols. It is a city with a ghost in each square and almost every home, restaurant, bar, shop and hotel. A city of Southern Elegance and dark mysteries, Savannah is like no other.

I wanted to capture something that fascinates me with mystery, yet at the same time, combine it with my love of fashion, freedom and hair. I wanted to tell a story of mysterious beauty. Beauty in Savannah is found on so many different levels; from the people, to the magical gardens and the preserved historic buildings on Riverstreet. We choose to shoot at one of the most haunted retreats in Savannah; above the Moon River Brewing Company. Needless to say, we saw some ghosts.

Were there collections in other categories that you found inspiring or particularly appealing?
I LOVED every category, they all had finalists with an editorial feel to their collection. I felt the collections were more fashion forward this year, as opposed to years past. I'm always partial to my Matrix family: Chrystofer Benson, Franco Della Grazia and Nick Stenson. Also, my CBC collective family, Greta Coston.

Congratulations to all the finalists and congratulations to everyone who entered and pushed themselves to create. I also especially loved Erica Keelen's color collection and Robert Grimes.

How will you celebrate a win this year?
Good question! I need a vacation!!!! I can’t believe it’s already been a year since I filled this out last year…. Where does the time go???

Hopefully I will get to celebrate in Vegas with the team that helped me create this beautiful story. It would be amazing if they could all be there. Everyone on set that day created an amazing energy and clearly it shined through. I have a great Matrix support system, plus I have amazing talent around me in Savannah and South Carolina.

If you hadn't found Hairdressing, what do you imagine you'd be doing instead?
I started college for a career in Marine biology. I love scuba diving and marine life. I also taught ballroom dancing for 6 years after growing up with a dance background.

At this point, if I had to change careers I think I would go into photography. I love this competition and when I watch the details that go into the lighting, locations, and set design, I relate it so much to what we do as stylists.

What is the most valuable thing you take away from the artists you look up to? What do you hope to pass on to the artists looking up to you?
The most valuable thing I’ve taken away from artists I look up to is to do what you do and do it well. Believe in yourself and believe in your work. Sometimes, I have a hard time trying to do things the way others would do it. We are all artists and we are all individuals. Sometimes, perfection can be achieved with different implements and tools. We all interpret things differently and we may have a different way to get there. That’s how we discover brilliant mistakes.

I hope to pass along to other artists that with a little dream and A LOT of hard work, you can achieve anything you put your mind to. This industry is full of open doors with many different opportunities. Go grab whatever it is you want to do.

If you became Queen of the entire Hair Industry tomorrow, what is a new change you would bring, or initiative you would start?
I have so much passion for teaching and I think that this industry starts with the schools. I think schools are starting to make changes, however, I think there could be so much more growth in that area. I would love to see the heart of this industry really be nurtured and supported. I don’t know what exactly that would look like, but imagine one day, if all beauty companies were required to pay back something each year into the cosmetology schools. Why not start supporting the next generation of hairstylists from the moment they start their journey in this industry?

What draws you to competition work?
I’m competitive in nature. It’s a challenge to myself. I am always trying to beat my best.

What is your guilty pleasure? I LOVE to travel and if I could find a way to be a gypsy and explore every country in this world, I would.

Looking back at NAHA last year, how do you think you’ve grown in the last year? I did a lot of shooting this year and worked with many different photographers. I think that my eye for details is getting more refined and I'm already looking forward to creating collections for next year.

What is the one tool and/or product you can't live without?
The only tool I can not live with out right now is the C Comb from Chrystofer Benson's CBC Collective line. It’s a multi purpose clip, comb and accessory all in one. I have them all over the salon. No one can steal my clips anymore without going unnoticed!


Be sure to Stalk Danielle Keasling to see the rest of her absolutely stunning hair art, and wish her luck at the upcoming awards!