A Talk With Chris Rushton 2014 NAHA Newcomer Stylist of the Year

Man on Fire

Chris Rushton was named Newcomer Stylist of the Year at the 2014 North American Hairstyling Awards (NAHA) and hasn’t looked back since. Before winning, the stylist traveled with Goldwell, learning the ins and outs of the beauty industry from top professionals like John Simpson. “It made me realize how important it is to brand yourself, to build awareness around the artist you want to be,” Rushton says.

Rushton grew up in Chicago and attended the Aveda Institute in Washington, D.C. As a kid, he suffered from a medical condition that temporarily caused partial deafness, an obstacle he used to his advantage. “Since I wasn’t able to hear, my eyes and mind made connections for me that my ears could not,” he says. Two years before his NAHA win, Rushton was working roughly 70 hours a week—the graveyard shift as a freelance stylist at CNN, and the remainder of the day at Logan 14 Salon Spa in D.C. He would spend his nights preparing for NAHA, and was also shooting tutorials for his popular YouTube channel (ChrisRushtonable) as well as regularly doing editorial work to keep his brand relevant. “My dreams fueled my energy,” he says.

Rushton says being at NAHA was like an out-of-body experience. “I technically wasn’t the best hairdresser there, but I had the most originality,” he says. “I stopped trying to find inspiration in others’ work and I created something unique to me.” He now
works as a hairstylist and makeup artist at Varuna Salon & Spa in Annapolis, Maryland. His advice: Work outside your comfort zone. “If you throw a knife at a comfortable person, they’re going to get stabbed,” he says. “If a person is in the moment, intense, focused and sharp, they’ll be able to dodge it.” —Kelsey Murray, digital editor