Meet the American Crew 2015/2016 All-Star Challenge Finalists

The 15 Country Finalists of this year's American Crew All-Star Challenge are in Paris, preparing for the final competition this month where the Global Champion will be named. In preparation of this exciting event, we're introducing you to the 15 Country Finalists and some of the top stylists in the world. Check out what they have to say about men's grooming trends, what inspires them, and how they felt when they found out they won the title of Country Finalist.

Flip through the slideshow below to read more about each finalist, plus see their winning looks!

  • Sarah Leahy hair stylist
    Sara Leahy, United States

    Describe your career path as a stylist:
    Sara Leahy: "I graduated from Elite Academy, in 2007, and apprenticed at B Parlor for two years, where I have been working ever since. Our salon has a strong foundation in education and classes are constantly being offered. I’ve also taken Sassoon Barbering, ABC’s cutting, and ABC’s coloring in San Francisco. At Bumble and Bumble University in New York, I took Styling 1, The Bb. Cut: Foundation, and several Network Educator classes, primarily surrounding styling. In 2015, I became a brand educator for Wella Professional, and have enjoyed exploring different branches of the hair world. The opportunity I have been given to teach at salons all over Northern California has been truly an inspiring experience."

    What do you love most about being a stylist?
    "I love the challenge that each client presents to you in the chair. I love being a problem solver. You get several opportunities a day to practice the craft, to get better at it, and make someone’s life better at the same time. It’s an amazing feeling."

    How has American Crew influenced the way you view men’s grooming?
    "American Crew has opened the door for stylists to do their job and create looks that are flattering, interesting, and different for each of our male guests. This would be impossible without the right products. American Crew gives guys the tools and permission to not be afraid and to express themselves through their hair."

    What does the American Crew All-Star Challenge mean to you?
    "Men’s grooming was very foreign to me and I’ve worked hard to get comfortable with it. It is now one of my favorite things to do. This challenge is an accumulation of all my practice and training. I’m so honored to be able to take part in the All-Star Challenge, and to look back at where I started is truly overwhelming."

    What was the inspiration for your winning look and what American Crew products did you use to create it?
    "My inspiration was the American Crew man, from professional to casual, from classic to modern. I wanted to capture the different personalities the man and the hair can have in my images, and I think we did. I used Daily Moisturizing Shampoo, Boost Cream, Molding Clay and Alternator for my winning look."

    How did you feel when you won?
    #almostcrashedmycarexcited

  • men's grooming
    Guy Gallo, Australia

    Describe your career path as a stylist:
    Guy Gallo: "I started working at Wieselmann 33 years ago at the age of 17. Having an uncle who was a barber, I had a growing interest in hair and in becoming a hairdresser. Trained by David Wieselmann, I completed a Vidal Sassoon cutting course in the mid-eighties during their educational tour in Melbourne. I was a L’Oréal color trophy finalist and assisted in training young stylists. Winning the American Crew Australia All-Star Challenge and becoming a global finalist has certainly topped it all."

    Do you have influences from your life that motive and inspire you artistically?
    "I get motivated by surrounding myself with creative, positive people that drive me to think outside the box and get my creative juices flowing."

    How has American Crew influenced the way you view men’s grooming?
    "American Crew has given me the tools to improve the way I style men’s hair and create textures that are unique."

    What does the All-Star Challenge mean to you?
    "The All-Star Challenge is the best men’s grooming competition that pushes us as hairdressers to create new looks for the modern man."

    What was the inspiration for your winning look and what American Crew products did you use to create it?
    "My inspiration for my winning look was to create a modern, wearable look for the modern, everyday man. I used Daily Shampoo and Daily Conditioner followed by Boost Powder to groom my model’s hair."

    How did you feel when you won?
    #overwhelmedcouldnotbelieveit #mywifefainted

  • barbering
    Hasan Nasser, Canada

    Describe your career path as a stylist:
    Hasan Nasser: "I come from a family of hairstylists, so as a child I spent numerous hours walking around the salon, watching my family do what they do best. At age 11, I was handed scissors and was trusted to perform my first haircut. Not only was the client satisfied, but I was fascinated at how I was able to change their outlook and spirit with a simple haircut.
    "My journey as a hairstylist started with the fantastic opportunity to enroll in a one-year training pro- gram at James Albert School of Cosmetology. After completing my one-year program, I moved back to Calgary and joined my dad at the Avalon Salon. I’ve now been working and managing Avalon salon for six years and have achieved a long list of accomplishments including the Canadian 2nd place winner for the 2015 American Crew All-Star Challenge."

    What do you love most about being a stylist?
    "The amount of love and trust you receive from a satisfied customer."

    How has American Crew influenced the way you view men’s grooming?
    "American Crew has helped me bring my own vision of men’s grooming to life. American Crew not only portrays men’s grooming, but it demonstrates a man’s lifestyle — simple, classy, and sophisticated."

    What does the All-Star Challenge mean to you?
    "The American Crew All-Star Challenge is a platform where I can showcase to the world my perspectives on men’s grooming standards. To me, it means demonstrating my artistic talent and passion for the work I do."

    What was the inspiration for your winning look and what American Crew products did you use to create it?
    "I came in second place last year, and for me placing anything shy of first place this year was not an option. I wanted to stand out. So I decided to go with a handsome middle-aged sliver fox, and classic hairstyle with a modern touch. To achieve this look, I first used the American Crew Medium Hold Spray Gel to hold my blow dry. I then used American Crew Pomade to give that clean tailored look. I then finished off by spraying the hair with American Crew Grooming Spray."

    How did you feel when you won?
    #soexcitedIscreamed #HardWorkPaysOff

  • men's hair style
    Jesper Olsen, Denmark

    Describe your career path as a stylist:
    Jesper Olsen: "I started my education at the Danish Hairdressing School in August 2009 and finished my studies in November 2013. During that time, I was an apprentice to a hairdresser in Horsens, and after 2013, I started my career as a hairdresser in a barbershop in Århus until July 2014. Later that year, I opened my own barbershop in Vejle called Hr. Barber. Over the years, I have participated in different cutting courses and events both in Denmark and the UK to develop my skills as a hairdresser and barber."

    How has American Crew influenced the way you view men’s grooming?
    "I’ve been using American Crew since the first day I started as a hairdresser. Back then there were not many brands specifically targeted to men, so I’ve never worked with any other male grooming products in the salon. For me, the concept of using flexible products to create different looks that are elegant and masculine is unique. I’m sure my male clients prefer to go to a salon where you can feel like a man."

    What does the American Crew All-Star Challenge mean to you?
    "It means that I can challenge myself on a different level than I do in my daily work in the salon. I like to compete against other passionate hairdressers who love what they do – just like myself. You get inspired and motivated to improve your skills."

    What was the inspiration for your winning look and what American Crew products did you use to create it?
    "Mad Men! The style from the 1950- 1960s is classic, elegant, cool and masculine all at the same time. Trend-setters like Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley have also played a role in my work — the way they cared about their appearance was fantastic. For my look I used Daily Moisturizing Shampoo, blow dried with Alternator and finished with Grooming Cream."

    How did you feel when you won?
    #Couldnotbelieveit

    What are your plans for the future?
    "Keep enjoying what I do and make people happy in my salon. I also plan to one day be part of the American Crew All-Star team… even if I have to participate 10 years in this competition before that happens, I’m going for it!"

  • hairstyles for men
    Guillaume Fort, France

    Describe your career path as a stylist:
    Guillaume Fort: "I worked in a salon after completing a Stylist and Beautician apprenticeship in 2002, when men’s cutting had really caught my attention. This was the turning point for me in my career, as I began to work solely in men’s salons. It is in these salons that I discovered American Crew and the product line dedicated to men’s grooming. Hairstyling had become a passion of mine and I was given the opportunity to work for France’s National Federation of Hairdressing, initially as a demonstrator and creator of new trends, and then as a trainer. With all of these experiences, I was motivated to open a barbershop in Perpignan in 2007. The barbershop has a 1930s atmosphere and is exclusively dedicated to giving men the 'old school' barbershop experience."

    How has American Crew influenced the way you view men’s grooming?
    "American Crew has given me the ability to view the elegant side of men’s grooming and fully express myself as a hairstylist."

    What does the American Crew All-Star Challenge mean to you?
    "The All-Star Challenge provides me with the chance to prove myself in the industry and to be recognized among my peers."

    What was your inspiration for your winning look and what American Crew products did you use to create it?
    "I wanted my look to reflect current trends, with a classic and elegant twist. I used Daily Moisturizing Shampoo, Daily Conditioner, Light Hold Texture Lotion and Forming Cream."

    How did you feel when you won?
    #sohappyIcried #Icannotbelieveitsmagic

    What advice would you give to anyone looking to pursue a career as a stylist?
    "If I were to give one piece of advice it would be to do this job with passion. If you’re passionate about what you do, the investment and sacrifices will be well worth it in the end."

  • classic men's hair
    Givi Jintchvelashvili, Georgia

    Describe your career path as a stylist:
    Givi Jintchvelashvili: "In 2007, I started studying at Wella professional education center and worked there for one year. Since then, I’ve opened my own salon and have a great team of employees. I’ve worked with many brands including Wella Professional, Londa Professional, Ducastel, Keune, L’Oréal and Matrix. Currently, I work with Selective Professional and I’m also an ambassador for Denman brushes. I’ve won many OMC country contests and won the OMC Armenia contest twice."

    What is the best advice you ever received?
    "Never be satisfied with what you’ve achieved. Always improve yourself."

    How has American Crew influenced the way you view men’s grooming?
    "American Crew is the only product I’ve ever used on myself. I eventually started styling my friend’s hair and began to grow a male customer base. I’m thrilled that the hairstyles I use with American Crew products today are the most popular in my country."

    What does the American Crew All-Star Challenge mean to you?
    "The All-Star Challenge is one of the biggest steps for my career. It’ll be influential to my future in men’s grooming."

    How did you feel when you won?
    #celebratewithchampagne

    What are your plans for the future?
    "At this moment in my life, my plan for the future is to be the Global winner of the All-Star Challenge."

  • hair styles for guys
    Federico Lucchese, Italy

    Describe your career path as a stylist:
    Federico Lucchese: "My history as a hairdresser started 15 years ago, when I realized that I wanted to become a barber. I enrolled in my first professional hairdressing school where I obtained a diploma as a hairdresser, recognized at the regional level. In 2001 I won my first regional championship, and in 2003, the Italian and European championships. The growing passion and love I had for this profession was overwhelming. In 2005, I opened my first salon, I Parrucchieri (The Hairdressers) with my previous boss. In 2011, I joined Team Italia for five international contests in Berlin, Milan, Vienna and Saint Petersburgh, and won the World Championship title for male fashion. I first discovered American Crew in 2015 and have been using their products ever since. Their methods and cutting techniques created a new experience for me as a stylist."

    What do you love most about being a stylist?
    "What I love about being a hair stylist is the ability to turn an image or thought into something real. As a hairstylist, I can enhance a person’s image in a positive way, which for me is the greatest satisfaction."

    How has American Crew influenced the way you view men’s grooming?
    "American Crew opened a new world to me. Their philosophy towards men’s grooming and complete range of grooming products changed my salon, allowing me to enhance my professional image and become a reference point for the customers, someone they can trust."

    What does the American Crew All-Star Challenge mean to you?
    "The All-Star Challenge is a dream come true. I’ll be able to work on a project that combines the male hairdressing profession and creativity with the world of photography. It’s the greatest experience from a professional point of view. It’s a melting pot of creativity, passion, sharing, team spirit and philosophies. The All-Star Challenge is incredible!"

    How did you feel when you won?
    #fortunato

    What advice would you give to anyone looking to pursue a career as a stylist?
    "Follow your objectives and put your priorities in order. Don’t give up when difficulties arise and follow the lead of experts that can clarify what a professional growth path entails. Improve every aspect linked to the profession and use products that increase the quality of services."

  • barbering tips and tricks
    Frederic Mendes de Sousa, Luxembourg

    Describe your career path as a stylist:
    Frederic Mendes de Sousa: "I started my training as a hairdresser in 1992 at Jean Marie Ferber in Beggen. I had the opportunity to go abroad to Germany, Belgium, France and Spain, working with known hairdressers who not only taught me men’s cutting, but also women’s cutting techniques and styles that can also be applied on men. I’ve now been a trainer in men’s cutting for 18 years. During the last 15 years, I worked a lot for the image and the development of the Group Ferber, and also for artistic subjects, events, catwalks and training courses. Since 2009, I’ve been sharing the business with Jean Marie Ferber, and have opened a salon in Limpertsberg in Luxembourg. I’m very lucky to have won the Best Men’s Haircut award of Benelux last December at the Hairdresser Awards in Belgium."

    What do you love most about being a stylist?
    "I love my job because it is my passion. I enjoy my work every day, and have incredible moments with my team and our clients. I love working with hair, creating and innovating. It’s a job where you constantly have to question yourself every day in order to make things perfect and to make people more beautiful."

    How has American Crew influenced the way you view men’s grooming?
    "American Crew provides me with the tools necessary to create endless styles with great quality products."

    What does the American Crew All-Star Challenge mean to you?
    "It was really important to me that the All-Star Challenge was a worldwide contest where the aesthetics and style were equally as important as the cut. I was curious to know if I could compete with other hairdressers in men’s styling, not only nationally but also internationally."

    How did you feel when you won?
    #omygod #thisisnottrue #yeesssss

    What are your plans for the future?
    "I plan to continue my training and enter into other competitions, with the hopes of becoming a well-known stylist in the industry."

     

  • men's hair styling competition
    Frida Andersson, Norway

    Describe your career path as a stylist:
    Frida Andersson: "I started my hairdressing education in Sweden, where I’m from, in 2003. At 19 years old, I had my own business and rented a chair at a larger salon. Even though that was a success in its own right, I wanted to experience more of the world and of hairdressing. I moved to London and then Australia, working and really evolving my craft.
    "This past February, I won the ‘Hairdresser of the Year’ competition in Norway which was absolutely amazing. I was also nominated for Hairdresser of the Year in 2014 where I landed first place in the Oslo Region.
    "I’m currently a part of the Intercoiffure/Fondation Guillaume, where I won the internal photo competition in 2014. I’m also a part of PåHåret’s creative team and teach courses internally and externally. Another exciting part of being a stylist is taking part in Stockholm Fashion Week and doing regular makeover jobs for a Norwegian fashion magazine."

    What do you love most about being a stylist?
    "The never ending opportunities to learn more and always challenging yourself. I love being creative and making beautiful creations, whether for competitions or to make clients happy and feel their best self."

    How has American Crew influenced the way you view men’s grooming?
    "American Crew influenced me to think about the lines and shapes when cutting and styling men’s hair. American Crew was created just for men with a vision of the classic man with a perfect cut."

    What does the American Crew All-Star Challenge mean to you?
    "It means a lot! It’s an honor to be one of the selected finalists and to be able to meet the others from all over the world. I know it’s going to be very inspiring."

    What was the inspiration for your winning look and what American Crew products did you use to create it?
    "I wanted to create the masculine American Crew man that is classic, understated but with attention to detail. He is fashion forward, but not over the top. A lot of my inspiration came from the model, and I wanted to create something that looked good on him and complimented his features — a perfect fade with texture."

    How did you feel when you won?
    #IwonIwonIwon

     

  • hairstyling contest
    Paulo Soares, Portugal

    Describe your career path as a stylist:
    Paulo Soares: "At the age of 13, I was given the opportunity to learn the art of barbering. I started shadowing the barber in my village of Serpa at Barber Chico Ze. At the age of 15, with my parent’s support, I made the decision to pursue a career in hairstyling. I finished my mandatory studies and started my full-time learning.
    "I began my career as a professional in 1989, and after attending a hairdressing competition in 1990, I immediately knew I wanted to participate and started to prepare for the next competition. In 1991, I took the Men’s Creative Course at Vidal Sassoon Academy in London, and in the following nine years I participated in several national and international competitions. I won the national championship in 1995 and also participated in the 1994 and 1996 World Championships, respectively in London and Washington, representing Portugal.
    "As of today, I own three barbershops and have a team of 27 people. In May, I’ll be opening up a new barbershop space for a brand that I’ve created."

    What is the best advice you ever received?
    "See, listen and never stop learning."

    How has American Crew influenced the way you view men’s grooming?
    "When I was first introduced to American Crew, I knew that this was the tool that would complement and help validate my work. It was like having a partner who understood the male business."

    What does the American Crew All-Star Challenge mean to you?
    "When I heard of the competition, I felt a strong desire to participate and submit my work. The All-Star Challenge helped me to develop my work from a different perspective."

    How did you feel when you won?
    #happydeepbreathexplosion

    What advice would you give to anyone looking to pursue a career as a stylist?
    "If you have the will, creativity and persistence to learn throughout your career, you can be successful in this beautiful profession."

     

  • American Crew
    Rustam Mirasov, Russia

    Describe your career path as a stylist:
    Rustam Mirasov: "I began my career as a stylist in 1991 and continue to love what I do until this day. Throughout the years, I’ve studied at various schools in Europe including Germany, England and the Milan Academy in France."

    What do you love most about being a stylist?
    "I love having the freedom and creativity to work with my clients in creating a style from start to finish that they’ll love."

    How has American Crew influenced the way you view men’s grooming?
    "I’ve been a fan of American Crew for 15 years, and this brand has defined what a quality haircut means to me. American Crew is associated with confidence, masculinity, form and success."

    What does the American Crew All-Star Challenge mean to you?
    "The American Crew All-Star Challenge provides a stage for you to prove your skills as a men’s stylist among the best of the best. The All-Star Challenge is also a step in professional growth — you’re always improving and gaining more confidence."

    What was the inspiration for your winning look and what American Crew products did you use to create it?
    "I was inspired by Elvis Presley and the spirit of America in the 1960s. This look was especially personal for me — I wanted to create something that’s never been done before. I used Daily Conditioner, Daily Shampoo, Pomade, Molding Clay and Boost Cream."

    How did you feel when you won?
    #idontbelieveit #surprise #smilealot #iamhappy

     

  • All-Star Challenge
    Roberto Dallo, Spain

    Describe your career path as a stylist:
    Roberto Dallo: "I grew up surrounded by hair stylists and salons, so I became interested in it at a very young age. I’ve been working in men’s hair salons for 29 years and have been managing my own salon for 19 years."

    What do you love most about being a stylist?
    "I love that as a stylist you’re constantly learning. You always find someone who surprises you with their different points of view."

    How has American Crew influenced the way you view men’s grooming?
    "American Crew shares my vision of men’s grooming — an elegant man with his own personality."

    What does the American Crew All-Star Challenge mean to you?
    "The All-Star Challenge allows me to discover new things and continue to grow as a stylist."

    How did you feel when you won?
    #Happy

    What advice would you give to anyone looking to pursue a career as a stylist?
    "Don’t stop learning and take the time to listen to those along the way."

     

  • grooming tips
    Kevin Herzog, Switzerland

    Describe your career path as a stylist:
    Kevin Herzog: "I started my career in August 2012 training as a hairstylist, and successfully completed the program in 2015. Directly after my training, I started my career at the Da Giò hair salon. I specialized in women’s haircuts and color, but throughout my career I was always fascinated by men’s haircuts. I started to research and look for information in magazines and the Internet. I also took a beard training course so I can be more specialized in the field."

    What do you love most about being a stylist?
    "I love being able to combine creativity and passion. I also love interacting with different people, especially my clients. For me, it’s important to have success in my work and that is only possible when my clients are happy."

    What is the best advice you ever received?
    "To always remain true to yourself. This one sentence by Karl Lagerfeld also inspired me: 'I am never satisfied with myself and that is what makes me creative.'”

    How has American Crew influenced the way you view men’s grooming?
    "With American Crew products you can achieve quality work with a fast application that can be used for every man. American Crew hair care and styling products make men’s hair look well-kept and well-groomed."

    What does the American Crew All-Star Challenge mean to you?
    "The All-Star Challenge is a big step forward for my personal future and my career. I would like to become a well-known hairdresser that clients can trust to deliver good quality. I want to constantly attend new trainings and be inspired by American Crew. Switzerland does not have any real known idols — it would be great to be a well-known figure in the hair fashion industry."

    How did you feel when you won?
    #OMGigotit

     

  • men's hairstyling tips
    Renat Murzagaleev, Ukraine

    Describe your career path as a stylist:
    Renat Murzagaleev: "My career began at the age of 19 when I was working for a small salon. At that time I was trying to decide what career path to take. I came across a fascinating post in a magazine with an advertisement for American Crew. The model had a short hairstyle, and the picture was full of dynamics and charisma which reflected the true style of a man’s image. I spent hours looking at the picture and working out its details. Soon after, I received an invitation to an American Crew master class in my city and started applying the knowledge that I learned. Being trained by American Crew professionals really defined and set the standard for my career path. At the age of 23 I opened the first HDRM salon and continue to do what I love."

    What do you love most about being a stylist?
    "I love being able to communicate with people. It helps me grow professionally and personally, as well as provides an invaluable experience. The possibility to diversify my clients’ style and to offer them something new also gives me a lot of joy."

    What is the best advice you ever received?
    "Never stop dreaming."

    What does the American Crew All-Star Challenge mean to you?
    "The All-Star Challenge is a chance for me to create new trends and have an influence on the hairstyling industry."

    How did you feel when you won?
    #Incrediblejoyofvictory

    What advice would you give to anyone looking to pursue a career as a stylist?
    "Be diligent with the details and create images that will inspire generations to come."

  • modern men's hairstyles
    Sandra Perovic, United Kingdom

    Describe your career path as a stylist:
    Sandra Perovic: "I started barbering in 2011 at the age of 17 in Vancouver, where I worked at Visage for 18 months. I then moved to C-ZO in Vancouver where I started to do competition work. I’ve received two Mirror Awards, which is a prestigious award in Canada, and was named Mirror Men’s Stylist of the Year in 2015."

    What do you love most about being a stylist?
    "Being able to recreate and express new looks. Being a stylist means having no boundaries."

    How has American Crew influenced the way you view men’s grooming?
    "The American Crew brand is very creative and edgy — it helps create any look that I want to achieve.

    What was the inspiration for your winning look and what American Crew products did you use to create it?
    I wanted my look to have texture and be very modern, while having a classy but edgy feel. I used Pomade, Grooming Spray and Molding Clay to achieve my look."

    How did you feel when you won?
    #Shocked

    What advice would you give to anyone looking to pursue a career as a stylist?
    "Make sure that you always remember your love for the industry. It’s a tough industry if you don’t love it. Push your limits. Change it up every day so that it doesn’t become repetitive."

     

Credits: 

Images/interviews courtesy of American Crew

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