Sebastian Professional Announces the Winners of the Annual What’s Next Awards

Sebastian Professional announced the 2015 What’s Next Awards winners during the live finale event this week. Professional category finalist Oliver Shortall and Student category finalist Samantha Peters were named winners in the competition for their fearless style and artistic creation in their respective categories.

On Sunday April 12th, finalists from the What’s Next Awards Student Professional and Talent categories competed live onstage at Gotham Hall, for the grand prize of styling backstage at 2016 Spring/Summer NYFW and a Sebastian-sponsored editorial photo shoot featured in a top salon trade publication, among other prizes.

Stylists created looks inspired by Sebastian Professional’s TOTEMIC spring hair collection; introducing the idea of exaggerated shapes and fabric worked into new ways of weaving and roping to their own hair style creations. The competition took place in front of a live audience and a judging panel comprised of industry leaders, tastemakers and educators including: industry icon, Robert Lobetta; Shay Dempsey, Sebastian Professional Global Art Director; Maggie Mulhern, Modern Salon Beauty and Fashion Director; Heather Rae, What’s Next Awards 2014 Professional Category Winner and Nathalia Ashba, Fashion and Beauty Blogger.


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“The What’s Next Awards is a great platform to spotlight the phenomenal talent that lives within the salon professional industry.  Experienced stylists and students get to take their creativity and innovative style to the next level. The WNA allows them to gain a special lifetime experience while growing them as stylists and pushing their creative limits. We congratulate the winners of this year’s competition as they continue to push their own boundaries and create What’s Next,” said Christina McCarver, Director of Education for Sebastian Professional.

Professional category winner, Oliver Shortall entered the What’s Next Awards competition with his entry ‘Totem in Motion’. Oliver drew his inspiration from the unique textures and beautiful shapes featured in the Totemic Collection. “I wanted to bring this idea into my look, by creating fishtail braids that elongate the style.   I started by crimping sections in the top of the head, and then fishtailing using Microweb Fiber. The braids start as attached braids and leave the head at the crown. I created more braids just below the crown and then formed them into "S" shapes. I finished the look with Shine Crafter Wax to smooth the sides” said Oliver.

Student Talent category winner Samantha Peters entered the What’s Next Awards competition with her entry ‘Tribal Structure’.  Fusing a combination of texture from smooth to rough, and blurring the lines of culture and diversity, Samantha was inspired by the balance of femininity and strong structure. “I started with crimped texture to build foundation and fabric layered with ropes, twists and overlaying braids to create visual excitement” said Samantha.  Samantha created her look with Mousse Forte for form and craft clay to provide an earthy texture.

What’s Next Awards Contest

The What’s Next Awards contest encourages new and established artists across North America to create daring hair fashion by expressing their talent through a one-of-a-kind styling competition.

Stylist entrants were tasked with creating their most fearless hair style, inspired by the versatility of the Sebastian Professional Fall hair collection TOTEMIC Submissions were posted to the Sebastian Professional Facebook page over a five-month period, where consumers and stylists were able to view, vote and comment on their favorite looks. Out of all of the submissions, 32 semi-finalists (16 per category) were chosen by the Sebastian Professional Education team. In March 2015, eight finalists (four per category) were chosen by the What’s Next Awards judges based on the following criteria: suitability for promotional purposes, visual appeal based on hair collection and overall aesthetic to participate in the live competition for the chance to show the world ‘What’s Next’.

About: WELLA products help make beauty dreams real everyday for millions of stylists and consumers worldwide. WELLA’s brands are distributed in more than 180,000 salons across the globe, and include Sebastian Professional, Koleston Perfect by Wella Professionals, Color Touch by Wella Professionals, Blondor by Wella Professionals, Clairol Professional and Nioxin. Visit for more information.

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