December 2009

How The Smiths Mastered Marriage and the NAHAs


The Smiths accept their Master Hairstylist of the Year award at NAHA 2009

Brian and Sandra Smith, both hairstylists, both single parents, met, married, worked together and started competing in the North American Hairstyling Awards (NAHA) over 20 years ago.

The Smith’s won their first NAHA in 1990 with their Avant Garde Collection, followed with various nominations and another win in 1997 for the haircolor category.

Through the years they continued entering various categories and being finalists. They were up for the Masters, (an invitation only category) four times before winning the award at this years NAHA.

Meanwhile their life has become an adorable love story.

They have love and passion for not only people and their profession but most of all for each other and their family.

Even though they have a great marriage, they admit, like most couples they’ve had their rough spots. A lot of people ask them how they manage to work together as well as play together.

Here is their story…

Brian Smith is from Dunfermline, Scotland and Sandra Hipp Smith (her maiden name was Hair making everyone ask if that was a joke) is from Dalton, Georgia. They met at a hair show in the fall of 1984.

Brian owned a very busy salon in Scotland called “The Ritz,” and even though his salon was considered hot, he had always had the desire to work in America. So, one day he signed with an agent who was eager to showcase his talents in the U.S.A.

Soon he was booked with Revlon – Realistic. He asked his friend, Nicholas French, from London to be his teammate, and they flew to Chattanooga, Tennessee to help launch the new brand.

Sandra had always wanted to improve her skills and achieve more. At the time, she was working in her best friend’s salon plus teaching classes for Revlon/Realistic. She covered five states part-time doing perm classes and worked as an assistant at hair shows.

The big show in Chattanooga was what brought Sandra and Brian together when Realistic booked her as an assistant to Brian and Nick. They were married in 1986.

Brian and Sandra are comfortable with who they are but are always striving to better themselves. You realize both of them are focused and driven. They agree when asked if they are good for each other and that their strengths and weakness balance each other out.

When working on a project like the North American Hairstyling Awards (NAHA), the Smith’s say they don’t always agree. “We both have our own ideas and opinions, so we just have to collaborate and work our differences out. We think that makes our work and relationship stronger.”

They say if one of them starts a project, sometimes the other one finishes it. It’s like a tag team that knows each others moves. So far, that tag team system has paid off.

When the Smiths won the Masters they were honored, but humble and said, “We had an idea, a dream, fabulous models, and a fantastic team.”

Having persistence and courage, they expressed how much fun it was to create a collection. They talked about how it takes a lot of research and brainstorming for ideas, then comes the execution of the collection. Hours and hours are spent on making hairpieces and other items required for that particular collection. Finding the right photographer, makeup artist, fashion stylist, and models that will make your dreams come together in the end. Even if you don’t win the award, it is worth the time you’ve spent. It pushes your boundaries and makes you a better stylist and competitor.

Brian and Sandra now work as Artistic Designers for Matrix and feel they have gone full circle because after 25 years, they now are teammates with their friend, fellow NAHA winner Nicholas French once again. The Smiths say, “they are students for life, it isn’t what you know but what you are willing to learn. The quest to be the best is through education. You are only as good as your last haircut, color, or win.”

The Smiths have a beautiful marriage, which is a classic love story that people can connect with. This couple is very devoted to their family, the beauty industry and to each other. Their relationship is unique; treating each other with love and respect, they are winners and models we can all learn from.

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