18 May 2024

NAHA 25 Years: Sue Pemberton, Hair Color Extraordinaire & 2x NAHA Winner!

NAHA is celebrating 25 spectacular years this Summer, and we sat down with Sue Pemberton, one of the most seeked and greatest hair colorists in the industry, to bring you an exclusive interview of her NAHA experience!

Sue Pemberton, Vero K-PAK Color International Artistic Director for Joico, is highly accomplished in color chemistry, practical and advanced application, techniques, salon artistry, and fashion while also maintaining a keen sense of real world wearability and practical application. Her most outstanding achievements are in color, where she is active as an expert, an artist, a leader, a mentor, and an inspiration among her peers and the industry.

Sue Pemberton is a 2x NAHA (North American Hairstyling Awards) award winner in the Hair Color Category in 2007 and 2013, and seven-time nominee: 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010. Also 2012 two time nominee for Hair Color and Editorial Category.

What does it mean in the industry to win a NAHA award, what changed in your career? “It is a great honor to win NAHA, who wouldn’t want to win our industries equivalent to an Oscar or just to be a finalist in a category I love and have a passion for. It did not change my career as I have been doing what I do for years but it did make me more well known in our industry, especially with editors of magazines, amongst non-hairstylist people in the industry, and of course stylists that didn’t know me before. A word for young up-and-coming stylists who might want to enter: it can be a huge step in your career especially if you are looking at doing platform work.”

How did you feel the night you won the title of Best Haircolor of the Year at the NAHAs 2013? “It is not an easy win, but I felt great. Finally I had won a second time after winning once in 2007 and being a seven-time nominee in the haircolor category. I am proud to hold the record in the Haircolor category.”

What inspired you for your winning collection? “In Vibrant Illusion, my winning 2013 NAHA for Haircolor collection, I explored the illusions that occur when lively, bright and energetic tones are placed in close proximity. Using my signature, back-to-back slice parting technique, I utilized strategic placement and the natural head shape to enhance each haircut. I also gleaned inspiration from the gradations of light to dark found in nature –flowers, etc.– and used that inspiration to advance my own form of traditional ombré effects. With back-to-back slice partings I was able to create horizontal bands of shadow and light from bands of color that artistically expand on the ombré concept.”

What has been your best memory related with NAHA? “I like it when people I admire and know deserve the awards they win and appreciate it when they receive it. I must say the speeches are the best part and I love to go see all my industry friends and fellow artists that have the same passion as I do – it really is a great night!”

From your experience, what do you think you have to do to win the coveted Haircolor award? “It’s hard to say, as sometimes I don’t feel the strongest color won in past years, but that is my opinion and all I would recommend, is to do what you are proud of and if you win and get the opportunity to give your winner’s speech, make it count and thank all the people involved at the winning shoot and the people in your career that have been supportive of you.”

Which artists do inspire you in your work? “The famous artist Claude Monet is my favorite.”

How are you going to defend your title at this year’s NAHA? “I did not enter this year. I feel I have set the haircolor record of two-time winner (no one has won twice in the haircolor category) or been a seven time nominee for that matter either, so I thought I would take a break until I need to get the title back, then I will be there, competing again! But, although, the win is nice or even without winning and just to be a finalist is huge, I do want to say – life is NOT about winning or losing it’s about PASSION.”


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