December 2013

Steve Sleeper

Snips and Clips Around the Northwest | by Sinnamon Harris


Northwest Beauty Professionals Receive Sassoon Scholarships

The Vidal Sassoon Professional Beauty Education Scholarship has been awarded to 10 aspiring hairstylists as well as 10 licensed beauty professionals by the Beauty Changes Lives Foundation, continuing a commitment by Wella, the salon professional division of P&G, to fund 200 scholarships between 2013 and 2017.

The $1.5 million scholarship grant established by Wella's Hairdressers at Heart program and administered by the Beauty Changes Lives Foundation, honors the legacy of the late Vidal Sassoon and his belief in continual learning throughout the professional hairstylist's career.

The basic scholarships are awarded to individuals seeking a career in hairstyling and cover 50 percent of tuition at a qualified cosmetology school, up to $10,000. The advanced scholarships, awarded to licensed hairstylists, cover a five-day course at one of the North America-based Sassoon Academies, plus travel and accommodations up to $5,000.

Two scholarship competitions are held annually and winners are selected by a panel of beauty and wellness professionals. Each applicant is required to submit a video or essay that addresses how he or she will change lives through the art of hairstyling.

Basic scholarship winners of the Fall 2013 Vidal Sassoon Professional Beauty Education Scholarship Program from the Northwest region are Gabrielle Cusmir, Kelsey Knutson and Vickie Price. Advanced scholarship winners from the Northwest region are Alison Mermel and Natalie Schulz.

The basic scholarship winners were asked how it felt to win one of the Vidal Sassoon Professional Beauty Education Scholarships as well as what was their favorite part of the beauty industry.

Kelsey Knutson, attending Salon Professional Academy, Puyallup said, "The moment I found out I won the scholarship I felt shocked, blessed, and extremely honored. It had confirmed for me and my family that this is the right career for me. I have dreamed of beauty school for years and winning the scholarship proved the timing was right. I firmly believe had I not started beauty school now, I never would have. I also appreciate all of the love and support from my family and friends. There is no way I could have taken this big of a risk on my own. The beauty industry has the power to change the world. As cosmetologist we are given the opportunity to transform people and help them discover their own confidence. We also have the ability to do good for others through our words and actions. The beauty industry is one where you have compassion for others. That is what excites me the most, the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of others. The creativity is just an added bonus; what really matters is making people feel good about themselves and transforming their appearance to reflect their inner beauty."

"I am very grateful to those whom allowed me to apply and even more humbled that my essay was chosen," said Vicki Price, who attends Mount Vernon's Northwest Hair Academy. "Being announced a winner was reaffirming and invigorating. I have had some anxiety about starting over in a new career at my age, whether or not I would fit in or be able to learn the skills necessary to have a career in the beauty industry."

About her favorite part of the beauty industry Price was enthusiastic, "Discovering that I love make-up and esthetics, barbering, and more has been so much fun! I have enjoyed my experience and surpassed my own expectations. This award has bolstered my energy, and in the spirit of its namesake, I will succeed and carry on the legacy of helping others feel beautiful. That is why I am here."

"To be able to win the Vidal Sassoon Professional Beauty Education Scholarship is a life changing experience," exclaimed Gabrielle Cusmir, who is enrolled at Northwest Academy in Everett, Washingon. "I'm so grateful to have been one of the ten finalists. I hope my entry inspires others who are considering an opportunity in the beauty industry."

"My favorite part of the beauty industry," Cusmir continued, "is the way cosmetologists can change a person's day by taking the natural beauty they have already and transforming it into something even more beautiful. For example, changing their hair color to complement their complexion, or creating a beautiful haircut that works well with that person's structure. After doing this, the joy that person has is what's the most fulfilling to me."

The advanced scholarship winners were asked what they were looking forward to most at the Sassoon Academy and their favorite part of the beauty industry.

"After 10 plus years I have always been stronger with my color skills," explained Alison Mermel owner of Idol Style Studio in Seattle. "I'm so excited to take a cutting class at the academy. It is such a great opportunity to get such prestigious training at this point in my career. I've always described the salon as being similar to high school art class," Mermel continued. "Everyone is working on their own project and concentrating while talking and having great conversation the whole time. I love my craft and I love seeing all my different clients every day."

Natalie Schulz, hairstylist at the London Hair Studio in the Valley River Center in Eugene, remarked, "New inspiration and passion as well are what I look forward to the most when I get to the Academy. This is such a huge opportunity and I want to take in every moment including the artistry, diversity, and transforming ability. I believe I am working in the best industry in the world. As a stylist I get to be an artist, creatively transforming my client not just in how they look, but how they feel. When a client sits in my chair my hope is that when they get up they feel encouraged and confident. I feel successful when they return saying they have fallen in love with their hair."

The Vidal Sassoon Professional Beauty Education Scholarship Program is a five-year educational partnership between Wella's Hairdressers at Heart program ( and the Beauty Changes Lives Foundation. The application window for Spring 2014 Vidal Sassoon Professional Beauty Education Scholarship submissions begins January 28, 2014 and runs through April 1, 2014. Additional information on scholarship opportunities, including application rules and deadlines, is available at

Sinnamon Harris is a freelance journalist who has written for Portland's former Our Town, LifeStyles Northwest and East County News. She also wrote NW Stylist's Oregon Board News articles from Oct 2011-2012. To be featured in an upcoming issue, please send an email to