Sometimes it takes a while to find your true calling.
After a few twists and turns Nick enrolled in beauty school, because he figured why not, then he fell in love and hasn’t looked back since.
barber + hair stylist + educator
sebastian pro | kadus pro | wella pro master colorist
Salon Afif | Toronto ON
I always do research on people I interview, and I noticed that you studied business at Conestoga College. So how did you make the transition into the beauty industry?
Well after attending business school and hating every second of it I dropped out and went back into the family business of construction. I was actually an electrician for about 5 years.
My father always knew that construction wasn’t for me and encouraged me to find my passion. We looked into culinary school and beauty college to name a few.
Soon after, he got sick with terminal cancer and eventually passed away and I continued along my path of being an electrician, until one day I realized I couldn’t do this for another 40 years, enrolled in beauty school, because why not, fell in love and haven’t looked back since.
In order to have a long and successful career as a Stylist – you need to have technical/artistic ability and passion. But, I think that you need people skills as well as a basic business sense, even if you aren’t a salon owner. Do you find your background helped you with your career?
I think my background in construction, business and all the other 600 jobs I’ve had have really help me realize what I truly want to do with my life and really appreciate how amazing our industry is.
Working alongside my father from such a young age taught me the work ethic and drive one needs to excel in their career.
After nearly 10 years doing hair I finally feel I’m starting to achieve some success both behind the chair and behind the camera but still have a long long way to go to call myself a success.
You won silver at the CreativeVision 2017 Stylist at the North American Trend Vision Awards. How do you find the level of competition has evolved over the years?
OMG!!!! It’s gotten so good. Each and every year I see work that I’m like “how am I gonna compete against that.”
The creativity and execution year after year keeps stunning me. Just when you think it’s gotta plateau, BAM there it is better than ever.
The new talent the industry is churning out is incredible. Like the student/apprentice winner at this years Contessa, her winning collection can hang with any of the veterans and heavy hitters we’ve seen year after year.
I’ve interviewed many stylists over the years. Some prepare weeks in advance for their look, some none at all and others take inspiration from their model. What was the inspiration behind your TrendVision look this year?
I always have a ton of ideas floating around in my brain that I just put in the shelf until the right time to pull them out.
The lattice work has been something I’ve been wanting to try now for some time and after seeing the 2016 trends (PastForward/Optical illusion) I knew this was the right time.
You are also competing in the Sebastian Professional What’s Next Awards. Wella and Sebastian artist tend to be very different – which one do you identify with most?
It really depends on the day and what exactly I’m doing. I really like all the creativity and boundary pushing styles we see with Sebastian Professional and love the technicality and “pretty” hair Wella Professional put forward year after year.
Because the brands are so different I feel they both encapsulate what hairdressing is as a whole and that’s what I am first and foremost is, a hairdresser.
From ready-to-wear to editorial looks – what inspires you as an artist?
It all inspires me. Everything. From the texture of a wall, to the color of flower and the shape of scribble my son does.
We’re very fortunate to live in the times we do because of social media and the internet.
There is an endless supply of content available through Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook.
All of my social media feeds are littered with hair and these artists are very keen to share a formula, what camera they use, how the did a certain style or whatever else you may want to know. You just have to ask.
What is the experience like being backstage at a fashion show?
Backstage at a fashion show is busy. That’s the one word I would use to sum it all up. There is a lot going on all the time.
Everyone is there to do what they are there to do. The only time you get to second to breath is when it’s all done. It’s amazing I’ve been blessed to have been given so many opportunities to be backstage and the experience such a different side of the business.
Fabio Sementilli was a passionate and inspirational leader. Education was something that was very important to him. As well as being a stylist and barber, you are also an educator. How has this role changed you as a Stylist?
Being an educator is something that motivates me to no end. I love this business and I love that I get to help inspire and elevate the industry through teaching.
It’s something that I believe helps me be a better stylist.
When your teaching someone something you really need to break it down into its simplest form so that it’s super easy to understand and that they know why they are doing, what they are doing. Once you start doing this it really forces you, as a hairdresser, to really understands each and everything you do and why.
You also get to learn new things all the time. In short it has made me a better stylist.
Who are some of your industry idols?
Where does one even begin…
Vidal of course. The way he disrupted the industry and his methodology. Genius.
Omar Antonio is someone I’ve looked up to for years. The things that guy does with hair is incredible. There are things going on in that brain that is mere mortals will never be able to understand.
Jason Fournier is someone who I look up to immensely. Not only is he an amazingly talented hairdresser but the way he conducts himself in both his professional and personal life is something I try and model myself after.
Jamie Sea aka @prettylittleombre is another. She’s an incredible colourist who’s built this brand over the past few years selling herself and technique. I’ve learned so much from her.
Fabio of course. I don’t even need to expand on that. Anyone who knew Fabio knows words can’t do him justice.
I could go on and on and on and on. There are so many people in this business. These are just a handful of people I look up to and who inspire me but there are like 612 more I could name.
How was it like meeting Stephen Moody?
Meeting Stephen Moody was a dream come true. He’s such an interesting person. Super down to earth and humble, even though he doesn’t need to be. Talking with him is like talking with your equal. Even though he’s this ICON he just makes you feel like you belong in his company. Super cool dude. Can’t wait to take some courses with him next time he’s in Toronto.
What has been the proudest moment in your career so far?
I’ve had many proud moments so far in my career. Each year they seem to get bigger and better. Up until now it had to have been taking Silver at the North American TrendVision Awards this summer.
I took a break from competition for a few years due to my son, Thor, being born and it was just so special to come back after all that time away and fair so well.
Next year look out though. 2018 is gonna be a big year.
You have quite the impressive beard. How long have you been growing it?
Thank you. My beard is about 4 years old. It started as a way to get my moneys worth from a birthday present from my love (the best straight razor shave in the city) and kinda got a little out of control. We don’t even know what my face looks like anymore.
Do you have any beard grooming tips you can offer the men out there?
Guys don’t realize that having a beard is work just like the hair on top of our head he need to take care of the stuff on our face also. First off, a proper beard wash needs to be used. You need something that’s going to take care conditioning and hydrating the hair as well as moisturizing the skin underneath. I love Jack Black Hair Face and Body Wash.
Next after you dry the beard use an oil to keep the hair soft and in place. An oil is also going to fight against humidity and keep the skin underneath from drying out. My two favorites are Sebastian Dark Oil and Kadus Velvet Oil. Lastly be sure I get it trimmed and cleaned up regularly.
There is a fine line between manly and homeless.
Once every 3-4 months should do you. Oh and make sure to check for food after every meal. Trust me you don’t want to be walking around with a piece of lasagna in there.
How would you define your personal style?
My personal style is kinda a miss-mash of whatever I’m feeling that day. Sometimes I like to dress my age and sometimes I like to dress very trendy. It all depends on what kinda mood I’m in. I’ve been trying to not dress in head to toe black lately and it’s always funny when clients notice. I have a lot of custom tailored suits and am always looking for an occasion to pull one out. One thing you will always see me wearing though is a pair of 511 Levi’s. I have like 15 pairs.
Some men have a collection of watches, baseball caps or ties. Do you have anything that you collect?
It’s gotta be sneakers. I have too many to count. I spend a lot of time looking at shoes throughout my day I can’t be stopped. I have a problem that’s trickling to my little family also. My two year old is amassing quite the collection. And if anyone out there wants to get my some pirate black Yeezys I wouldn’t charge you for a haircut for like a year or two.
Finally what three words describe you best?
Happy. Confident. Focused.