In a Guns n’ Roses shirt with her adorable adopted PomChi, Roxi, looped under her arm, Nessa is pictured on Field Trip Hair’s website as a self-proclaimed “Mane Painter”. Mount Pleasant’s Wes Anderson-inspired salon let the stylists decide on the titles that best reflect what they feel they do: “I’m known for blonding and unicorn hair colours. My other name around the salon is ‘Bleach Slapper’. It’s my bread and butter—I’m constantly foiling and bleaching.” In her nearly nine years of experience, Nessa Pineda has worked at most of the places on a whos-who list of the best salons in Vancouver—even taking her skills to Ottawa for a brief stint living in the nation’s capital city. Let’s just say, your hair seriously needs to meet her.
I’m known for blonding and unicorn hair colours. My other name around the salon is ‘Bleach Slapper’. It’s my bread and butter—I’m constantly foiling and bleaching.
Let’s start with your move to and from Ottawa! What made you move and what made you come back?
I moved to be closer to my family for a while but I learned a lot too and my time away helped me find myself and the path I wanted to go on doing Hair. I came back because I just straight up missed the West Coast! Even hair-wise. Where I was working was downtown and a lot closer to Parliament. It was a lot more maintenance work than creative work, just because Ottawa is a government city. When I came back, it was for my love of the West Coast so I was excited to come back and do photo shoots and be super creative and have more autonomy with the clients I have. Beyond that, I really want to get to the place where I could become an educator—maybe even at Blanche Macdonald! I’ve started to educate the team at Field Trip, which has been such a great place to start.
And how did you end up at Field Trip Hair?
It kind of worked out funnily actually! I would pass by the salon when it was under construction all the time on my commute to the other salon I was working at. When I saw the sign I didn’t even know it was a salon, I was just so curious about it and the name! When they revealed it was a salon I was like ‘What?’! It was always in my peripheral it seemed. Then suddenly a mutual friend-of-a-friend of mine said they knew the owner and connected us and it just worked out!
All of the in-class teaching and info was so broken down and understandable, that I felt prepared when I was ready to go into the field as a professional. It’s a really full year and it’s so intensive and very detailed...To me, it was university for hair school.
How cool! Tell us about the vibe of Field Trip and why you like it so much.
It’s a very unique team in the sense that we’re all such individuals—exactly like the characters in the Royal Tenenbaums! But while we are so different, we can still rally and support each other when we need to. It’s a great space to be in and the vibe truly is very rare to have in the workplace. So much credit to the owners because they really came to create a space that feels like you’re not just there to work, it honestly never feels like going to work. I never wake up being like ‘Ugh no’. We often stay after just to hang out and talk with each other. I think I spoke to my team more than my friends during COVID!
And how has COVID-19 affected everything for you?
Honestly, for most people in the industry I’ve talked to, none of us has been able to work and to go from working as hard as stylists work, to a complete full stop is so hard. It was such an interesting transition to be told like ‘You can’t go to work.’ In that time for me personally, it was a much-needed break I didn’t realize I needed. It forced me to stop and breathe and realize how hard I’d been working to build up my clientele since coming back from Ottawa. It allowed me to be creative in other ways I wasn’t so active in anymore.
As far as clients, the conversation post-quarantine has shifted to longevity and less maintenance. People are looking at cuts and colours that won’t cause such panic if there’s another shutdown. Our industry is based on retention and having people come in as much as possible so now that we’re doing work that will last a lot longer where clients can go 3+ months, that’s actually helping us learn new techniques. No one has any control over what’s going on so I’m just trying to learn the lesson and make the best of it.
You have to be determined to succeed. It’s not like you leave Hair School and have all the clients. Check-in on yourself and hold yourself accountable for the things that you wanted out of your career.
That’s such a good attitude. Now that you’ve been in the business for nearly twenty years, how do you feel your time at Blanche prepared you?
It prepared me so well! Having the work experience especially aided me in knowing what to expect going to a salon environment. All of the in-class teaching and info was so broken down and understandable, that I felt prepared when I was ready to go into the field as a professional. It’s a really full year and it’s so intensive and very detailed, but that’s why I chose it. To me, it was university for hair school.
Do you remember your first day in the school’s student salon?
I do! My roommate came in and we were only doing scalp treatments and then styling their hair but it was the first live person’s hair I’d ever done and I was SO nervous. I had such wash anxiety about spraying my roommate down and not knowing what I was doing. We’d practice on each other in class but it’s so different when it’s not a classmate!
What’s your favourite thing about doing Hair?
Honestly, it’s the relationships we build. The creative part and painting unicorn hair is fun, yeah, but it’s such a unique career in that your clients become more like family sometimes. They share things with you they don’t necessarily share with their family members. It’s really special.
What is one trait you would say that is crucial to success in the Hair industry?
Determination. You have to be determined to succeed. It’s not like you leave Hair School and have all the clients. You have to constantly be working and be really determined and set goals. Check-in on yourself and hold yourself accountable for the things that you wanted out of your career.
You get to choose the salon’s playlist for the day so you choose:
I would play The Weeknd radio, or if I could get away with it, the Myspace Emo playlist. It definitely wouldn’t fly—but a girl can dream!