Few people would appreciate being told their new hairstyle was inspired by rocks, moss or dirt. Fewer still would request any of the looks Jessica Barber recently created, inspired by those very things.
Barber’s goal wasn’t to produce something her clients would want, but to push the limits of creativity to the point where hairstyling meets art. The looks she came up with are entries for Eufora International’s stylist of the year competition, in the avant-garde category.
Eufora is the product line used at Carolyn’s Coiffure in Elmira, where Barber works. Last November she travelled to California to take courses at the company’s Global Connection event and saw the winners of last year’s competition unveiled. It looked like something she wanted to try, and she decided to enter this year.
“Eufora’s an all-natural company, so I wanted to stick with something along the lines of a more natural theme, but I didn’t necessarily want to do what most people would think of for natural,” she said.
Barber eschewed the expected flowers and greenery in favour of things that aren’t typically considered ‘pretty.’ Each look took between three and four hours to create, and very little of it is the model’s natural hair.
Barber has loved hairstyling since she was little, but says she wasn’t one of the kids who tried cutting their own hair.
“I was one of the kids that cut the neighbours’ hair,” she laughed. “My poor mother had to deal with some angry neighbours. ‘Let’s play hairdresser’ and off comes the ponytail.”
It was her mother who first suggested she could make it a career, commenting, “You know, you’re not that bad.”
Barber did a high school co-op term at Carolyn’s Coiffure and then studied at the Voila Institute of Hair Design in Kitchener. She returned to the Church Street salon after graduation, where her specialty is colour.
If she hadn’t become a hairstylist, Barber says she would have done something science-related. It’s a subject that still holds interest for her; she’s currently enrolled at the University of Waterloo, working toward her bachelor’s degree.
“It definitely helps with hairstyling a lot, more than people would think,” she said. “It’s a science-based industry; you’re working with hair, the scalp, which is all biology, and then colour, which is all chemistry.”
Last year Barber took part in the Skills Canada hairstyling competition. That was a very different sort of competition, involving more conventional cuts and colours under a set time limit, with people watching.
For the Eufora competition, Barber recruited her coworker Candice Dunning and friends Emily Zimmermann and Connie Allison to be her models. When she finished doing their hair and makeup, she took them to Calla Studio, where Tina Weltz took the photographs that will be submitted for the competition.
Barber said her creations attracted some stares on the way to the studio: Zimmermann sported three large hair-wrapped balls at the base of her neck, and Dunning was festooned with moss.
“She looked like she came out of Pirates of the Caribbean,” Barber laughed.
All three of her designs can be viewed on Calla Studio’s website, www.callastudio.ca.
Barber said that despite her interest in science, she loves what she does and has no intention of changing careers. This competition gave her the opportunity to experiment with more ‘out there’ looks and styling for a fashion shoot, something she’d like to do more of in the future.
“It really stretches your creative side.”