Editors Blog: Palma N’Sheluvzit & Her NAHA Story

Kelsey Murray here, the new digital editor at American Salon magazine. This is my first job in the professional beauty industry, so follow along as I navigate my way through beauty shows, brand events, photo shoots and interviews. This blog is a behind-the-scenes look at my first year in the industry. 

As I begin to prepare for my first summer at a series of beauty shows and events, I’ve begun to research what each entails. Given that the North American Hairstyling Award (NAHA) nominees were announced this month, I’ve started to do some research about them, but up until recently I didn’t realize that each collection might hold a deeper meaning. I’ve also begun interviews with NAHA winners and learned about their experiences so that I can truly understand what it means to be a NAHA winner.

For those who don’t know, NAHA is a competition. The industry’s greatest talent in hair, nails and makeup continue to push the boundaries of trend-setting style year after year by creating inspiring collections that are photographed and submitted for judging. Drawing from leading editorial, celebrity and platform artists whose work graces top fashion and beauty magazines, runway shows and red carpets, NAHA is the culmination of style, beauty trends and sheer artistry. NAHA trophies are awarded in 14 distinct categories including Avant Garde, Contemporary Classic, Editorial Stylist of the Year, Haircolor, Make-Up Artist of the Year, Master Hairstylist of the Year, Men’s Hairstylist of the Year, Nail Professional of the Year, Newcomer Stylist of the Year, Salon Design, Salon Team, Student Hairstylist of the Year, Texture, and the highest and most coveted award, Hairstylist of the Year


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Recently, I had coffee with Palma N’Sheluvzit, a hair designer from Toronto. She told me about her entry for NAHA. I could tell she was nervous, anxious and excited about the collection she submitted, but I pressed her about her inspiration and the process of creation. She said that the past year or so had been particularly difficult. When creating the masks in her collection, she wanted them to reflect the stages of emotions she had been going through. “The masks symbolize the emotions we all hide behind,” she said. “The hair is an expression of our emotions.”

She showed me behind-the-scenes photos of the masks: black for sadness, brown/blonde for confusion, brown for melancholy, red for anger and white for peace. Each mask was braided and sewn together. I was incredibly impressed and when we parted I wished her luck.  

A few days later, I received a call from Palma. I could hear the excitement in her voice. She had been nominated. All of the hard work and hard times she’d gone through now held validation and meaning.

When I cover my very first NAHA awards on Sunday, July 12 at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, I will get to meet all the talented individuals nominated in every category. And I will get to ask them about their story, inspiration and sacrifices. What excites me the most is that each of them will have a story, a hardship, a triumphant tale to tell and hopefully, I will get to share some of those stories with you.

About: Kelsey Murray is Digital Editor of  American Salon. She holds a B.A. in English and Film Studies from Salve Regina University in Boston and an M.A. in Journalism from Northeastern University. Prior to joining American Salon, Kelsey worked as lead fashion stylist and digital media coordinator at Kyle Alexandra Wardrobe & Style Consulting. She currently creates content for her own fashion and lifestyle blog Tickle Me Pink (ticklemepinkstyle.blogspot.com).