Yellowknife hairstylist Emma Taylor took home the gold medal at the 2022 Skills Canada National Competition in Vancouver last weekend.
Taylor was one of seven participants representing the NWT at the two-day event, which brought together more than 300 students and apprentices from across the country in 45 industry-specific competitions.
Five of the seven NWT competitors took home medals.
Among post-secondary and apprenticeship entrants, Austin Brown won automotive technology silver, Deanna Buckley took industrial mechanic and millwright bronze, and Whatì resident Adam Nitsiza won plumbing bronze. Among secondary students, Jaida Dowe won hairstyling bronze.
Gold medallist Taylor completed four separate hairstyling assignments in two days, each with particular demands and tight time constraints.
“It’s always been my dream to compete at nationals,” Taylor said. “I’ve finally come to a point where I’ve accomplished something so big, in my eyes, that I can almost do anything now.”
This wasn’t Taylor’s first time bringing home a medal from a Skills Canada competition.
When she was 17, and less than a year into her journey as a hairstylist, she won third place at the territorial level. Three years later, Taylor’s win at the national level might take her all the way to hairstyling’s world cup.
“It’s very exciting. It’s overwhelming,” she laughed.
Taylor fell in love with hairstyling in a high-school cosmetology class taught by Liz Ferrier, owner of Yellowknife’s Mint Hair Lounge, who quickly became a mentor to her.
“I chose hairstyling because I love hair, first of all, [and] I love making people feel beautiful in their own hair and in their own skin,” she said.
Taylor said she thinks her knack for colour theory and immediate connection with Ferrier opened the door for her to work as an apprentice at Ferrier’s salon.
“It was a little bit of a grown-up feeling, as a 16-year-old, working in a salon,” Taylor said.
On Wednesday, Taylor graduated from MC College’s year-long hairstyling program in Kelowna. She already has her sights set on her next feat – getting her Red Seal certification, the highest level achievable.
“It would make it possible for me to work wherever I want,” she said.
Best-in-category wasn’t the only award Taylor won last weekend.
She also received the RBC Best of Region award, given to the competitor from each province and territory with the overall highest score across all 45 skilled trade categories.
The award includes a $1,500 grant to support Taylor with her future training and career.
Taylor said she intends to use the money to pay for future classes and attend hair shows, which she described as “fashion shows, but for hair,” adding they can be quite expensive.
“I’m just going to use it to educate myself more in the hair industry,” she said.