Katie Manselle is a Master Stylist and Color Specialist in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is opening her own salon, Culture Hair Studio, in downtown Durham, NC in July! Her success at the NATVA 2015 winning the Color Vision category was a launchpad for her international curiosity and inspiration.
The 2015 Wella Professionals North American Trend Vision Awards winner is a true lover of editorial hairstyling. This is the reason we asked Katie to honor ESTETICA with an exclusive photoshoot published in our latest COLOR ISSUE (get your FREE digital copy here!). Since ESTETICA was at the shoot, we stole her away from the action to talk about life after NATVA stardom.
What would you say that the NATVA mean to you?
“In many ways you are just doing what you love and I love what I do. It is an honor when you work so hard for something and then get recognition – well, it makes it like a race. You ran this really big race and afterwards it feels so good!“
Had you entered any other competition in the past? And why did you decide to enter specifically Trend Vision?
“The first time I entered Trend Vision was three years ago and I feel like that was when I started to get into becoming excellent. At first I was just doing photoshoots with friends, then one day a Wella rep came into our salon and I loved the idea because I was already taking something and interpreting it in a more artistic way – so I just entered. The first year’s pictures were funny, then the second year they were better and then you start learning how to capture what you’re trying to say.“
What is your connection to Wella and when did you start working with the company?
“I got connected through a salon I worked at in Nashville. I have worked with other companies and I feel like from an artist’s standpoint, I just love the Wella colors. They’re beautiful and they’re vibrant. You really get what they say they’re going to give you, so that was a first for me. And then there’s the people I have gotten to interact with and enjoy. I think that’s just as important as enjoying the product, who you are interacting with.“
Which was the first Wella product that you got involved with?
“It was color for sure. The first memory I have is first year on the floor –this was nine years ago–, and I put all of the Wella vibrants on this girl’s head and she looked like a peacock. It was so beautiful. Some might say it was too much, but yeah. Everyone looked at it amazed.“
How would you say your life was impacted after winning the title as the U.S. winner?
“I don’t know if it’s just my personality, but I don’t really feel I’ve arrived. I want it and I’m grateful and honored, I don’t want this to sound wrong, but every time you pursue excellence, you are never satisfied. It’s an honor though, definitely is. I’m grateful.”
Tell us about the experience that you had last year competing in the Color Vision category.
“The color category is tough, because you are competing against established stylists and established colorists, so this is really the best outcome! Then there were the judges… I get starstruck around hairdressers more than I do with celebrities, so when I saw Eugene Souleiman, I couldn’t even talk. Sonya Dove? I love Sonya, I think she is the most down-to-Earth person. So much fun. She accomplished so much, but I didn’t have any nerves with her, because she’s just so human. If I ever come close to achieving anything like what she has, then that is definitely who I want to be like.”
Did your experience with NATVA awaken any new ambitions that you had not considered before?
“If anything it gave me an international hunger. When I saw other countries, I understood that is the level that I want to compete in. I want to get into other realms that are more international.“
What kind of work would you want to do int he future?
“I really love editorial. I love the idea of magazine work and fashion week as well as color. But I live far away so I am not sure how that would factor in – but dreamwise, I would love to live in Paris or London. I would love to work with an agency doing editorial work.“
What would you say are the benefits and the struggles of being a winner in NATVA?
“I feel like the benefits and the struggles are before winning. I think its the journey of getting there that give you the benefits and the struggles. It’s the benefit of exploring how to create something and you relate that you don’t know how to do it so, you have to figure it out. The struggle is what you are trying to say in your art. After that point it’s all about expectations of what you want to do and your goals. Well, now I have done this, then my ceiling becomes my floor and now I have a new ceiling. I am at this point trying to cast a vision and what that is.”
You mentioned the greats in the industry but who specifically are the ones that inspire you the most?
“So Eugene Souleiman, Akin Konizi… I just love their styling. So you have Tracey Cunningham, who does really natural supermodel haircolor. That is a hard question, I have so many! Trevor Sorbie, and then Vivienne McKinder has her own thing. There are just different people that I get inspired from on different things!”
How would others define your personal technique?
“My specialty… artistic, much of what I do is feeling. And I’m a perfectionist in a left-brain realm. I’m intense. And I am really big at honoring the person in my chair.“
Tell me about the look you created today and the vision (see the image below).
“My inspiration comes from Death Valley – there’s a place called the Artists Palette where the rocks get that organic color. So I’m using Wella Professionals’ Molten Ecaille inspiration, with a lot of coppers and roses. In Death Valley, you have many minerals that oxidize and within that you can find some turquoises and lavender – so I am sneaking in a bit or turquoise and lavender. It is very pretty and not punk.“