After entering the Contessa Awards for four years, Nicole Pede was a finalist in three categories (including Texture Hairstylist of the Year) at the 2018 Contessa Awards. “Making it into the finals is a huge accomplishment,” she says. “We would all love to win, but making it to the finals is a big deal. The trophy would just be a little extra.”

Small Town, Big Dreams 

Working as a hairstylist for nearly two decades, Pede opened InStyle Salon & Spa in the small town of Aylmer, Ont. in 2007. “We needed a full-service salon that provided a big city feel in a small town,” she says. “It took me some time to build the type of team that I wanted, with people that had the same interests as me, and we all have that drive to do photoshoots and competitions.”

When it came to entering the Texture category, Pede says it was purely serendipitous. “I shot the collection thinking I was going to enter the Ontario and Canadian Colourist categories, but as I was looking at my collection, I thought the photos could fit into Texture, so I sort of fell into it,” she says. “I find that with Texture, you can be super creative because everything needs to be big and really out there.”

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Learning and Growing

Colour was a huge source of inspiration for Pede, who spent time looking at palettes and stained-glass patterns. “You have to have some sort of idea going in or you can get lost within everything,” she says. “I love colour, so I like my collections to be fairly colourful. That’s sort of my personality.”

While Pede now has a few Contessa competitions under her belt, she still recalls the times she attended the awards to support her peers. “One of them was Rossa Jurenas [a multiple Contessa winner and Schwarzkopf Professional’s North American colour director]. She was basically the one who showed me what the Contessas were all about,” says Pede. “I get a lot of inspiration from fellow stylists. I had gone to the Contessas for a few years without competing, and the moment you get there you realize that’s what you want to do.”

“Photoshoots are outside the box of what I do every day at the salon. I love my bread- and-butter clients, but the things you do in a shoot are much more creative and give you that realm of free expression that you can’t get behind the chair.”


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