By Suzanne Pender
STATE-OF-THE-ART techniques and skills set a Tullow salon apart, winning two top national honors at the Irish Hairdressing Championships.
Leah Carroll Byrne and Aoife O’Toole, stylists at Vanilla Hair Design, Tullow, were delighted to be named among the winners of the prestigious Irish Hair Federation (IHF) awards, which took place virtually. An elated Leah has been named one of five stylists to be part of the IHF Irish Star 2022 team, a remarkable achievement for the 19-year-old intern.
Aoife took top honors in the photographic category, presenting the judges with an overall theme of four eye-catching looks from the same model.
“It’s a huge achievement, especially after the last two years the industry has had… it’s just amazing,” said Samantha Byrne, owner of Vanilla Hair Design, delighted.
“Interns have been really hit hard by Covid, having to put their plans on hold and with lounges closed for almost a year over the past two years, so for Leah to be one of the five stars in the team among the hundreds who applied is a huge achievement, ”she added.
Leah also added to her prize list on the night by being named a finalist in the Trend Image of the Year section of the intern category.
Aoife’s achievement was no less impressive, flaunting remarkable work to win the photographic award.
“After 15 years this is Aoife’s very first place and it’s so special because she really is the backbone of this place,” Samantha said.
“For me, they’re two very different stories: Leah comes on stage and is doing so well and Aoife, after 15 years, wins – it’s just fantastic. We are all helping each other and we are all learning something all the time, ”Samantha said.
Samantha is so proud that a small salon in Tullow is at the cutting edge of hairdressing nationwide and credits the tremendous support of her clients and her great team as a driving force.
“We had so many messages, lit candles and prayers for the girls in the finale… our customers are what it’s all about and this community spirit that I absolutely love. It’s really special, ”she added.
The entire Vanilla team recreated the glitz and glamor of the actual event by gathering in Leah’s house for the virtual finale… with a wall of flowers, a column of balloons and even a red carpet!
“Because it was virtual, it was nice to have all of our loved ones by your side, the grandparents and everyone,” says Samantha.
Far from resting on its laurels, Vanilla is now setting her sights on the Wella Trend Vision competition, which takes place in London this weekend. Samantha herself is a finalist in the GHD style master category.
“We’re flying to London on Sunday… it’s so exciting. And after two years it’s amazing to be back and so busy, ”she said.