"No matter how long I do hair, the most rewarding part of the job is still changing someone's life." 

Despite reaching near-celebrity status on the Vancouver hair scene, Aaron Brousseau still marvels at the transformative powers of the hair he is entrusted to shape. 

"I love that I have the ability to give someone the most beautiful accessory they're ever going to wear. Hair can be life-changing, absolutely." 

Starting out with only tenacity and a strong urge to get snipping, Aaron's been taming locks since a young age. 

"The first haircut I ever gave was on my brother. I must have been about twelve. I took some clippers and started to cut his hair. Then the guard on the clipper came off and left a nice sized bald spot on his head. It was the most wretched haircut. We ended up shaving it all off."

Growing up as one of twelve children in the rural town of Terrace, B.C. may have offered plenty of willing young hair models but it didn't offer Aaron the opportunity to gain formal training as a Hair Stylist.

"[My own Stylist] saw me cutting and colouring for my family and siblings’ friends, and saw that I was getting better. That's when she said, 'You need to go to school for this. You have a raw talent. You're good at what you do, but you need to be trained. If you don't apply for school by September, I won't cut your hair anymore.' So I applied to Hair School."

Top Hair School Graduate Aaron Brousseau

The bright lights of Vancouver were the obvious destination for Aaron and it wasn't long before his research of Hair Schools led him through the doors of Blanche Macdonald.

"I looked into a lot of programs and Blanche was the only one that had everything. I wanted to learn every aspect of the industry and Blanche Macdonald had it all." 

Canada's Top Hair School was just the thing Aaron needed to focus and perfect his passion for all things hair. Embracing the abundant, exciting opportunities both in and out of class, Aaron threw himself into both the Pro Hair program and Vancouver's bustling Fashion scene, gaining every ounce of practice he could.

"School helped me so so so much! Before I started, I would look at hairstyles and be like, 'OK that's how it looks' and that's exactly how I would cut it. I took hairstyling very literally. But when I came here I learned what I needed to do this stuff properly." He laughs, "It also corrected the bad habits I'd given myself! I had a good self-taught foundation, but Blanche Macdonald added so much more.”

Top Hair School Graduate Aaron Brousseau

It is this foundation – bolstered by a wildly coveted patented ombre technique that he has developed over the years – that has allowed Aaron to launch the practice of hairstyling up into a vibrantly-hued art form. Today, he is re-imagining Vancouver’s salon experience as an Independent Contract Stylist at Illusion Studio and Spa. And between the eager rush of clients  (here more aptly-deemed fans) that fill his chair, he acts as Salon Educator for Bumble and bumble., as well as Co-founder of creative group BE Collective. 

As an Independent Contract Stylist, Aaron is afforded the freedom to explore more channels of the industry. It’s allowed him to broaden his abilities, strengthen his talents, and to focus on the development of his brand.

"I've always had 'the mustache followers' because of my crazy facial hair, but when I started doing rainbow and pastel hair with my ombre technique, that took me a lot farther on social media."

Top Hair School Graduate Aaron Brousseau

You'd be hard pressed to find someone in Vancouver who isn't sporting one of his signature ombres or at least familiar with his name as the ombre stylist.  

"My ombre is something that I developed by taking classes and making mistakes, mostly! Though, I’m a huge nerd and I like to study, so I researched and took tips from L’Oreal’s Balayage Collection. Working with companies like Bumble and bumble. and La Bioesthetique helped because those are three completely different styles I was able to merge in my own way. I also stare at people on transit all the time! Sometimes I'll just be like, 'Is that natural colour?' "

Whether it's moving from his hometown or starting up a side career, Aaron has never been one to ignore those pivotal "what if?" moments. It was a holiday in Hawaii that provided him the last inspirational push he needed to take the plunge from drag admirer to performer. 

Top Hair School Graduate Aaron Brousseau

"I always thought I couldn’t do Drag because I would never shave, but Grace Towers, another Drag performer who is one of my idols, changed all of that. I met her in Hawaii and she introduced me to 'Beardy Drag.' I could actually incorporate all my facial hair into a really glam performance. She really inspired me to just give it a try!" 

It was thanks to a fateful New Year's Eve, that his social media and career now incorporates another majorly cool, colourful and artistic side of his personality. Aaron’s newest role is a star Queen on the drag scene running the popular monthly “Sweet N Sticky” show.

"Evita Versace and I were going out in drag last New Year's Eve and a few of the servers at Displace Hashery in Kitsilano wanted to see me all dressed up, so we stopped by and the customers went crazy! They kept asking if we would perform for them, and of course, I'm in drag so I get all sassy and go, (with a hair flip of course!) ‘I'll perform when you book me a show!' I was totally kidding, but then the owner actually reached out to me about it, and "The Sweet N Sticky” show was born!" 

Combine Aaron's rainbow ombre fan base with his sprinkle-topped sundae of a drag persona (“I'm basically a cartoon version of a real person. I'm a hot mess. A big, colourful hot mess!") and you have a social media explosion. 

"When I started posting a lot of drag looks and pictures, I lost a lot of followers, but in no time, I've gained a whole new set of followers. My social media community now is a meld of things that I love the most and it's all come together to make a big splash!”

Top Hair School Graduate Aaron Brousseau

Aaron has become a Master of his craft and a highly respected expert in the competitive Hair industry, and he’s done it by striving for the top of a niche he created for himself. He’s seamlessly integrated the full gamut of his passions – from Pro Hair to Katy Hairy – into one vivid and flourishing career. Following his love of hair has taken him to amazing positions and opened countless doors of opportunity that Aaron never even considered for himself at first.  If there ever was an example of letting your heart and dreams lead the way to success, Aaron is definitely it.  

“I wanted the freedom to create the magic I wanted to create without rules and boxes because I specialize in not so run-of-the-mill type stuff. I’ve developed my own artistic style, so when I get to show people at another salon how to do that and then they put their own twist on it, it’s super fun. Especially when they come up later and go ‘I taught the Aaron ombre and it was amazing!’”

Thu, 24 Sep 2015 00:00:00 PST
Gloria Kim, 시드니 IMATS에서 대 성공을 이루다. Canada's Top Makeup School IMATS Winner Gloria Kim from Korea

글로리아 김은 그녀의 삶을 바꾸어 놓게 된 메이크업 세계에 뛰어들게 된 날을 기억합니다. 물론 그녀의 가족들도 잊지 못하지요.

“잠자리에 들기 전 항상 메일을 확인하곤 했어요. 새벽 2시였죠. 저희 할머니는 제 옆에서 주무시고 계셨어요. 그때 전 IMATS의 Heather Wisner로부터 메일이 온 것을 확인했어요. ‘축하합니다: 당신은 시드니 IMATS의 최종우승자로 선택되었습니다’. 전 너무 놀라 소리를 질렀고, 저희 부모님이 달려오셨죠. ‘무슨 일이야!’”

이 꿈만 같은 일은 이제 막 시작되었습니다. 한 달 뒤, 글로리아는 시드니의 무대에 서서 IMATS 뷰티/판타지 부분 최고상을 수여하게 되었습니다. 그녀는 이 대회의 '시대를 통한 예술'이라는 테마에서 시간과 장소의 느낌을 살려 한국의 전통 가옥인 ‘기와 (Ki-Wa)’를 재현해 보았습니다.

“모두가 제가 상을 타게 될 거라고 말했지만, 전 크게 기대하지 않았어요. 제가 우승을 했다는 결과가 발표되자, 전 기뻐서 눈물을 흘리기 시작했고 제대로 서 있을 수조차 없었어요! 믿기지 않았죠. 카메라 플래시가 여기저기에서 터지기 시작했고, 그때 느낀 행복은 이루 말할 수도 없어요.”

Canada's Top Makeup School IMATS Winner Gloria Kim from Korea

돌이켜 보면, 그녀의 우승은 당연한 결과라고 해도 과언이 아닐 듯합니다. 한국에서 태어나 15살이라는 어린 나이에 캐나다에 오게 된 그녀는 자신의 예술영역을 다른 캔버스에서 펼쳐 보겠다고 마음먹었을 때 이미 뛰어난 화가였습니다.

“블랑쉬 맥도날드에 다녔던 친구가 이곳에서 제가 아티스트로서 직업을 구하는 데 도움을 얻을 수 있을 거라고 말한 적이 있어요. 이 메이크업 학교에서는 같이 수업을 듣는 친구들이 마치 가족처럼 서로를 지지해주곤 했어요. 모든 강사분은 학생들의 시간 관리에는 매우 엄격했지만, 굉장히 친절했어요. 수업을 들은 지 반년이 흘렀을 즈음 전 제가 패션이나 TV&영화 쪽으로 전공을 살리게 될 거로 생각했는데 에어브러슁 수업을 듣고 나니 이게 바로 제가 원하던 거라는 걸 알게 되었죠! 바디페인팅이 바로 제가 찾던 예술이에요!”

글로리아는 그녀의 강사들로부터 영감을 받곤 했습니다. 그녀 또한 캐나다에 온 지 얼마 안 되는 아시안 학생들에게 영감을 불어넣어 주는 대상이 되기도 했습니다.

Canada's Top Makeup School IMATS Winner Gloria Kim from Korea

“저희 교실에는 영어 실력이 조금 부족한 대만인과 일본인 학생들이 있었어요. 그들은 메이크업 전문용어를 이해하는 데에 어려움을 겪기도 했어요. 하지만 저희는 그들이 도움을 필요할 때면 어떠한 문제라도 극복해 낼 수 있도록 도와주곤 했답니다. 강사분들도 그들이 궁금한 점이 있을 때면 직접 상세하게 보여주면서 이해시키려고 노력하셨어요.”

글로리아는 블랑쉬 맥도날드 경력지원팀의 도움을 받아 호주로 가기 전까지 신부 화장, 졸업 및 졸업파티 영역에서 메이크업 커리어를 쌓느라 매우 바쁜 하루하루를 보냈습니다.

“여러분의 메이크업 기술을 향상하는 데는 경험을 쌓는 게 가장 중요해요. 열심히 일하면서 바쁘게 지내는 게 가장 좋죠!”

지금 그녀는 IMATS 우승자로서 그녀의 커리어 시장은 급성장 하고 있습니다.

Canada's Top Makeup School IMATS Winner Gloria Kim from Korea

“시드니에서 돌아온 지 얼마 안 돼 유명한 한 웨딩 사진 업체 관계자들을 만나게 되었어요. 그들은 이미 제 이름과 우승 메이크업에 대해 알고 있었고, IMATS 에서 최근에 우승했는지 물어보더라고요. 캐나다로 오자마자 더 높은 임금의 직장을 얻기 시작했어요! 그들은 제가 일을 잘해낼 수 있다는 걸 알고 있고요.”

글로리아는 그녀의 고객들에 대한 자신감도 있으며, 미래에 대한 계획 또한 탄탄하게 세워 놓았습니다.

“저는 나중에 저만의 아카데미를 차리고 싶어요. 고객들과 메이크업 수업을 위한 뷰티 공간과 포트폴리오를 만들 수 있는 스튜디오가 있는 그런 아카데미 말이에요. 그게 바로 제 최종 목표에요!”

Canada's Top Makeup School IMATS Winner Gloria Kim from Korea

Canada's Top Makeup School IMATS Winner Gloria Kim from Korea

Wed, 16 Sep 2015 00:00:00 PST

One could argue that the most MUST Kit Must-Have is the kit itself – which is why we've been lusting after Stilazzi's covetous pro cases since we first opened shop. We pulled some strings, called some FRENDS and made it happen, now making us the ONLY brick-n-mortar store to carry them this side of the coast. That makes us feel pretty darn special. So, to celebrate and to welcome them to the CurliQue Beauty floor with zazz, we're offering up a debut deal of 30% off both styles – the 'Gone Topless' and 'The New Yorker'.

Stilazzi Pro Cases 'Gone Topless' and 'The New Yorker' now available at CurliQue Beauty Boutique

Stilazzi is THE supplier of supplies to Pro Makeup and Hair artists across the globe and a Superstar of industry events. Their durable wonders are strong, reliable and completely customizable so that you can kit up your goods like couture, making them easy favourites of industry Pros looking for top class quality at an easy cost. We have a major case of the swoons welcoming Stilazzito the CQ family – get in here and build your dream kit with us!

Organize your kit with Stilazzi!

Thu, 10 Sep 2015 00:00:00 PST
SWEET ON SWEDEN - BMC AMBASSADOR EVELINA HELGESSON OF GOTHENBURG With thousands of artists soaring into our halls from around the world each year, our classrooms have become dynamic global communities under the unitedly diverse banner of our Blanche World – a UN of creativity! In a glorious culture clash, our International students import a vibrant collection of new customs, insights and inspiration that colour our world in exciting new ways. The leap from their home countries to our corner of Canada comes with big change, courage and incredible journeys. Speaking in the international language of passion, we sit down with our global talent to talk the dreams that brought them here, the challenges they overcame, and all about the power of being an artistic representative in a new country. Meet our BMC Ambassadors!

Top Makeup School Student Evelina Helgesson from Sweden

“Italy, Paris… the big Fashion cities! I want to get to that point when I’m the one that people call when they need a look for the runway, for photo shoots – all of that High Fashion work.”

Blanche Macdonald Global Makeup student Evelina Helgesson is not one to mince words when it comes to voicing her goals. After all, she’s made big moves to be here in Vancouver, studying at Canada’s #1 Makeup School. Growing up in small town Gothenburg, Sweden, Makeup was a distant, but eager dream for Evelina ever since her pre-teens.

“My mom gave me this blue eyeliner when I was twelve, and I put it all over my eyes,” Evelina laughs. “People kept saying that it was good and even though I knew it was probably bad, I thought, ‘Oh, maybe this is my thing.’ You go through that period where you’re just trying it out and it looks like hell but you do it anyways. After a while, I started doing Makeup on other people and really enjoyed it.”

It was a visit from an international agent at her high school that planted the idea that she could study beauty as a career – she’d just have to be willing to leave her Gothenberg nook.

“I asked what the best program would be, and they were like, “Blanche Macdonald – no question. Go there.’ ”

That was all it took. Her small town sent her the eager 19-year-old off, thrilled with her grand plans (so much so that they ran a full article about her adventure in the local paper). It was her first time away from home, and her new journey took her halfway across the world. Upon arriving, Evelina’s fierce energy and high ambitions charmed International Admissions Director Lina Lee, who recognizing in her also the uncertainty of starting in in a new city alone; she decided to take Evelina under her wing.

“Lina was my first friend here, and would take me out in the city to show me around. That was really great because coming here, I didn’t know anyone or know where to go, what to see or what to avoid. And she gave me that whole package, just for me. It’s been great. She’s been so helpful!”

Top Makeup School Student Evelina Helgesson from Sweden

Since then, Evelina has not only learned her way around the city, but has been expertly navigating the creative community, working with top photographers on private and commercial shoots, and making new friends.

“It’s a really pretty city and there’s a lot of outgoing people. I’ve had people ask for my number right away after meeting them because they want to hang out, which I still think is kinda weird (that’s not how we do it in Sweden at all, we’re really hard to get to know!), but I’m a really outgoing person and I love to make new friends, and to talk about their experiences, so it’s great!

“I’ve been meeting and working with a lot of photographers lately too. There are a lot of art and photography students in Vancouver that are looking for Makeup Artists, but you still need to stand out. I’ll email a few times telling them that I really want to work together, asking them when we can collaborate. I just keep e-mailing until they set a date. And once you get that one connection, they all start flowing in.”

Evelina is glowing in her accomplishments, as she rattles off a slew of her latest, most exciting projects. Though, she’ll admit that things didn’t feel quite so bright and easy when she first started in at Makeup School.

“I was really nervous. We learn English from second grade all the way through high school, but there are so many words that you don’t learn. After my first class I was crying and in a really weird spot, wondering, ‘Why did I think that I could do this?’

“Because of the language barrier, getting myself out there for volunteering was definitely something that was really hard for me in the beginning too. I didn’t even know what to write in an email to these people. I was just really scared of having them judge me for not being able to speak English, or that they wouldn’t know how to use me. But then, a few months in, you start to feel like, ‘OK, I got this.’ I’m more secure now with what I’m doing in Makeup. In the end, you just have to try it out. I was really really scared but I just did it and after that first time it wasn’t so bad.”

Top Makeup School Student Evelina Helgesson from Sweden

Today, Evelina’s pronunciation is cool and confident, and she urges that those coming here with English as a second language keep their head up, and feet out the door throughout their stay.

“Everyone actually thinks it’s cool that I know a second language! People here don’t judge you because you don’t know a word. That helps a lot. You just have to get out there; even if you don’t know the word, just try to explain it. You learn to live with it, and pick up words as you go.

Looking back, I would get out there much earlier. I would get right out there in the first weeks. Every volunteer opportunity that I could find I would do. It’s so important to get out there and get that experience – even if I do have that experience now, I could have had twice as much if I had started earlier.

If she had a late start, she’s making up for it with a vengeance. In school, like out in the creative community, Evelina has been doing exceptionally well, impressing her instructors with resolute artistry and diligence in learning.

My favourite instructor so far is Sydney – he’s just so helpful and he’s kind of like a diva. He’s GREAT. I just love him. And Leanne. she’s an amazing teacher; she really gets in there with the Special Effects! You might be wondering how you’re going to get through something, and she’ll be really patient throughout. She’s good at telling you when you’ve done something wrong, and when you’ve done something great, which I really appreciate.

Top Makeup School Student Evelina Helgesson from Sweden

Instructors aside though, her favourite course, she says, is and will forever be, “Fashion. I am a Fashion girl. This is where I want to be. I want to go to Paris! I want to work on runways!”

With her boldness in dreams, and her initiative in making industry connections, she’s already well on her way. She’s been recording her journey on a blog these past months, filling in her portfolio with creatives in the hopes of one day presenting it to international clients. Evelina is eager to take on more daring moves, but for now, she’s proud of the one she made in choosing to study Makeup alone in a new country.

“I’ve definitely grown a lot; when you move away from home, you start to get to know yourself. At my age, you’re just trying to figure it out, and sometimes you try to be something you’re not because people expect you to be a certain way. Coming here and feeling like my instructors and new friends were seeing me for me, instead of who they wanted me to be, has been such a great experience. I’ve been getting to know myself and learning how to be comfortable in myself, how to be proud of what I can do. I’ve learned to step back and tell myself, ‘Ok I did this well. This is a good Makeup.’ ”

Wed, 02 Sep 2015 00:00:00 PST

As we nestle into the clients’ lounge of Barbarella Hair Saloon with Blanche Macdonald Pro Hair graduate Nessa Pineda, the six-chair corridor-style layout is sunlit and buzzing. We start in, and the other stylists chirp in intermittently as they frisk by, plucking product off the shelves, whisking bowls of yummy pastel pastes, laughing through the hum of dryers. Some come to lounge with us in between clients, their hair twisted up into bows, or tinged in toothsome hues. The atmosphere is vibrant and blithe for so early in the morning. And yet...

“Well, I believe that the salon is haunted,” Nessa declares, eyes glinting from behind her signature thick black frames. “So there are definitely some crazy things that have happened. A few weeks ago the manager, Erin and I were opening the salon and we hear this noise. In our back room we have two sinks, and the one for the colour bowls was completely turned on…

“And my hairdryer turned on by itself yesterday!” proclaims Haley, another stylist, with an ominous look as she struts back to her station tailing her customer from the sink.

We can only speculate as to the spooky origins of the salon’s omnipresent client, but one thing that can be stated for certain is that Nessa loves being a Stylist at Barbarella. Ghost or no ghost.

“We see so many different clients here! Our services are very colour heavy, and we’re always trying something new, so it doesn’t get boring. 

“It’s a great team and the owners really emphasize on teamwork. It’s nice to come into an environment where there isn’t that competition, and where you feel comfortable sending your clients over to another stylist when you’re away because you know that they’re going to do an awesome job.”

Top Hair School Graduate Nessa Pineda

Nessa has been stationed at Barbarella for four years now, and she’s somewhat of a veteran of the Main Street hair hub, which sees multi-hued youth and unique-seekers of Vancouver flocking for seats. Those that plunk down at Nessa’s station are never disappointed – she loves what she does, and she does it with brilliance.    

“I love the freedom and the creativity of hair styling! I’m not an office person, so it’s nice to be exposed to new things every day – it’s never the same! And I love making the client happy, giving them what they want. People are investing their money into this so it’s really important to make sure they adore the outcome; that you’re putting a lot of work and care into it.

“My favourite is when someone wants to cut their hair off, when they come in saying they want a transformation. Making people happy and seeing their face light up when they’re going through that change is so fun. I love that aspect of my job.”

Nessa was quite nearly an office person. Growing up in Ottawa, Ontario, she’d had her heart set on Law School, but it was during a reflection on the straight-ahead track of this career that she realized she needed something more dynamic. Coming from a family of hairstylists, Nessa thought she might try out a Hair program first; at the least she could use it to pay her way through Law School later on. She hunkered down for some Google-ing, but Blanche Macdonald’s Pro Hair Program link was the first, and only, she needed to see.  

“I’d been to Vancouver before, and it was a great reason to come back out this way. I had heard nothing but amazing things from this school; Blanche Macdonald has a great reputation. One of my friends from high school had moved out here at the same time, so it worked out perfectly!”

Top Hair School Graduate Nessa Pineda

When Nessa finally did arrive to her first day at Hair School, she was taken aback by how fulfilled her cravings for study and challenge could actually be in such a creative field.  

“A lot of people have these misconceptions when it comes to doing hair. I definitely did. I thought that I was going to come in, learn how to cut hair and that was it, but there was a lot of knowledge to it. You have to be very studious, very on point with everything that’s going on. It can be fast-paced, and you have to put the work into it to keep up.  

“It’s definitely an amazing program, even if it does ask a lot of you. There will be days that are hard, and there will be days that are great. Just keep your head up and really put your best effort into it. And get a part time job at a salon while you’re in school if you can! That way you’re already starting out on that outside-of-school education too.”

It’s advice that comes from experience. Through Blanche Macdonald’s Work Experience program, an internship network built right into the Pro Hair curriculum, Nessa started on at Barbarella Hair Saloon, and the Owner was so impressed with her technique and ethic that she hired her on immediately after. Nessa was handed one of few slots in one of Vancouver’s most coveted hair nooks, and she hadn’t even graduated yet.

“As soon as I started working at Barbarella I was like, ‘Forget Law School!’ I realized then that I am a creative person and wouldn’t have been happy staying in one place my whole life. I like the movement of where I’m at now.”

Top Hair School Graduate Nessa Pineda

And she’s active in keeping her momentum going; between the steady streams of snips and shades she doles out at Barbarella, Nessa also finds the time to collaborate with local creatives on editorial photo shoots, work the behind-the-scenes of runway shows, and beautify brides as a freelance stylist. It keeps her on her toes, and always learning.

It’s good to keep well-rounded with everything, and connected. A lot of people tend to just focus on one side of Hair, but the nice thing about our world is that there’s so much you can do. In such a broad industry, being able to do bridal and to do editorial is an asset. It keeps things interesting, and so that you’re not necessarily stuck to the chair.

It’s so important to keep educating yourself because it keeps things fresh and keeps you relevant in what’s going on. It broadens your spectrum in how to be the best stylist that you can be. Once you stop learning, and stop updating yourself, is when you get bored.

Top Hair School Graduate Nessa Pineda

Keeping to the vanguard of the industry is something Nessa is familiar with. She’s lucky to have bosses that support her in her personal boundary pushing, sending her to the Vidal Sassoon Academy a few years back, and nominating her Salon Ambassador for their sustainable beauty line, Davines. She’s discovering that her love for learning is only one leg of a cycle that she’d like to propel.

I get to go to classes with other Ambassadors and Educators around the city. We get the first look at new collections or products that the brand is putting out, so that we can then bring back this knowledge to our salons to educate our co-workers and clients on what's coming up. It’s something that I really enjoy, and that speaks to where I’d like to be in the next few years.

“Eventually I’d like to move into education. I feel like there’s a lot of mentorship being made available in this industry, and I would really love to be able to be a part of shaping up-and-coming stylists.”

For now, Nessa is happy keeping Vancouver in fine chop and saturated hues. We leave her to prep for her first client, parting through the bright bustle with furtive glances over shoulders, in the hopes of spotting the elusive specter of Barbarella Saloon.

Nessa Pineda Q&A

Mon, 24 Aug 2015 00:00:00 PST