Sunday, December 3, 2023

‘Canada’s top hairstylist’: Aylmer, Ont. salon owner captures prestigious award

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For the second time in three years, Nicole Pede of Aylmer, Ont. is Canada’s top hairstylist.

“I was not expecting it,” said Pede, who owns Instyle Salon and Spa in Aylmer. “There’s always the chance obviously when you are a finalist, but the work this year was out of this world.”

Pede captured the honour at the 35th annual Contessa Awards, put on by in Toronto on Nov. 12, 2023.

“We do have panel of 20 national and international judges that review all the entries, and they have determined who the winner will be,” explained Tom Arkell, the CEO and publisher of “We are looking at cut, colour, coordination of models and even the backdrops can matter. It’s a collective, the scores come together and the judges determine the winner.”

Pede — who two years ago also won the top honour — was previously named 2019 Ontario hairstylist of the year.

Nicole Pede of Aylmer, Ont. was named ‘Canadian hairstylist of the year’ by (Source: Paula Tizzard)

“It is months of planning,” said Pede.

She explained, “You find your models, work on the looks and the wardrobe. It can be a long process working with your photographer. My photographer Paula Tizzard out of St. Thomas is amazing and she’s always a big part of the planning process. Showing my makeup artist what I want, then see what kind of colors work because they do look at everything.”

Pede wasn’t the only area stylist to bring home a major award.

Erin Fernandes, the owner of Bon Bon Salon in London, was named Canadian colourist of the year.

Erin Fernandes, owner of Bon Bon Salon in London, Ont., was named ‘Canadian colourist of the year’ by (Brent Lale/CTV News London)

“I wasn’t actually going to submit but it just it was a cohesive collection and my photographer was pushing for it,” said Fernandes. “A lot of stylists would say like they were inspired by something and truthfully, it’s never been that. The colours just happen. I just start having fun and being creative and the collection just kind of like happens. This award just means all my hard work has paid off.”

As Pede has found from her previous wins, these accolades can open up many doors in the industry.

“I do a lot of work for Schwarzkopf Professional as an educator and travel all over Canada,” said Pede. “When salons see that I have these accolades, then it tends to be more bookings and you get published a lot in different magazines. It pushes your career out from just behind the chair.” 

Erin Fernandes of London, Ont. was named ‘Canadian colourist of the year’ by (Source: Natasha Gerschon)

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