5 March 2024

NATVA Coloring Heroines: 2015 Winner Julie Richard Talks about Life after Winning the Gold

Julie Richard won the Student Category in Vegas at the Wella Professionals 2015 North American Trend Vision Awards (NATVA) last year, conquering a prize that recognizes top skills of pioneering stylists with an inherent sense of originality.

During the ESTETICA USA – NATVA’s Exclusive Photoshoot published in our latest COLOR ISSUE (get your FREE digital copy here!), Julie took the time to sit with us to share her experience and inspire others to take the leap… don’t miss out:

Your story is quite amazing.
Yes, originally, I was on the business side of the salon, I did everything that included payroll, paying the bills, etc. When I went to school, I actually started out in fashion merchandising, I liked more of the wardrobe styling, so when we decided to open the salon together with Brenton Lee, I was just there so much and it took over my life a little. So when I did graduate school, I got to do some fashion merchandising, and I did most of the business of the salon. I was there for a while and there was nothing creative that I could do, so I started cutting hair. Brenton walked me through it and I really liked it. He told me I was doing well too, and I remember one of my stylists asked me to put a retouch color on her roots and no one could do it. I told her I couldn’t do that but she taught me how to and it was so much fun. That was probably three years ago. I feel like I did everything on steroids since I did everything so fast. Watching everyone works all day everyday helped because I am a visual learner and I caught on pretty quick.

So NATVA was your first competition ever.
Yes. That was my first one ever. I don’t do stuff like that… and then I won!

Why did you decide to compete?
Brenton started doing this competition since 2010 and I was always his assistant, doing wardrobe and a little bit of makeup. When I decided to go to beauty school, I joked around and said, ‘Oh, I am going to sweep it up the first time.’ And he took me seriously, so that got me to really sit down and study. I’m a very introverted person, so the competition is the scariest thing for me. I wanted to do something out of my comfort zone. I wanted to see if I could do it, and I did. I don’t know how, but to win it made it that much better. I feel like I can do anything if I want to. A lot of confidence came from Brenton – he’s an amazing mentor for anybody. I watched him grow and he’s watched me grow and it’s awesome to do it together. We bounce ideas off of each other.

It is nice to see you as an outsider and I notice you are constantly smiling. You are enjoying what you are doing.
Doing anything, you have to enjoy it. When I changed from fashion to hair, I knew that I had to love it. And I knew I did like it because I would get to go with Brenton to many advance hair courses that most people who are in the hair industry didn’t get to go to. I grew an appreciation and respect for hair.

When did you start collaborating with Wella products?
Brenton started as an educator with them, and in the salon we started carrying Wella color and the Wella Professionals line; and from there every class that he’s attended I’ve been there. Nothing performs like Wella. Luxe Oil is my favorite product – especially since I do a lot of ethnic hair. I know, most people don’t think I can do it because I’m Asian, but when it came out I would mix it with the masque and it was amazing, so much shine and so much moisture!

How would you say that your life has been affected by winning NATVA?
It changed in a way that it boosted my confidence. To be honest with you, my confidence level was always there, like I’m the shadow and behind Brenton. I am very good at helping other people but it made me realize that I can do it too. I can do what I have to do for myself, and be able to succeed by depending on myself without feeling that I need to hide behind somebody. Also, now with my clients I have a lot of knowledge about color and cutting because when we were training for Trend Vision it was a lot of practice.

What do you remember from those days and practicing with a mentor like Brenton?
It was  funny because it got to a point where it was more like competing with each other but in a fun way. He has taught me so much. And when it was after a long day with clients, we knew that we had to get ready and have a switching party to find the colors. It’s a lot of late nights followed by a lot of constructive criticism by him because I needed it.

Did the experience with Trend Vision awaken new ambitions for you?
Yes definitely. I don’t know if I want to enter the competition again, only because it was a lot of work and I want to work behind the chair for now, but it  did open up a lot of new possibilities for me. I am more confident with my clients, and it’s nice to tell them the winnings and the projects that I have. Like, ‘Oh, she’s doing a magazine.’ I like to let them know that!”

Tell me about your experience during the 2015 International Trend Vision Awards in Berlin, what did you learn from the other competitors?
Oh my God, they are out of this world! Their creativity and technical skills are off the charts and it was mind blowing for me. Berlin was so much fun it’s like a whole other world of hair that you didn’t even know exists. It’s different from the U.S. I want to go to each of those countries! Especially the Asian countries: Japan, Korea… they are on top of their competition. It’s so nice to see everyone get together for the passion of hair!

The funniest memory of the experience?
I suffered a lot actually because I was having issues with my model. I think it was more dramatic for me. She was being really difficult in going to Vegas and being present for the second part of everything, so Brenton and I actually laugh about it now. For the first color she was fine, but when it came to doing the competition she struggled. I feel like blood, sweat and tears went into the competition, and in the end everything was good. We were very happy.

My last question is about the look you are doing today (see below).
My inspiration is Bronde Luxe because I can relate to it so much. I like to do high fashion but I don’t want to sacrifice my comfort. Some say beauty equals pain, but I don’t agree with that. So Bronde Luxe is very luxurious with comfort mixed together. So what I did with my model today was a lot of balayage at the ends and I mixed a lot of stone colors together. Clients want to feel comfortable but beautiful – and that’s exactly what this is, luxurious and effortless. Everyone wants that grey, everyone wants that blue, so it’s pastel but toned down!”


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