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Beauty File: How award-winning hairdresser Chinney Yeap secured the big win

Beauty File: How award-winning hairdresser Chinney Yeap secured the big win

As part of ProCollective’s Beauty File series, we shine a spotlight on the people behind-the-scenes. From leaders in their field to those at the forefront of innovation to savvy beauty entrepreneurs, these are the movers and shakers in the New Zealand beauty industry.

Hot on the heels of her big win at Australian Hair Fashion Awards (AHFAs), we chat with Chinney Yeap, founder of Wellington’s Salute Hair & Day Spa. The award-winning hairdresser chats to us about her career journey, keeping up to date with the latest techniques, and go-to haircare and styling essentials.

ProCollective (PC): Firstly, congratulations again on winning New Zealand Hairdresser of the Year! How did it feel to win such a prestigious award?

Chinney: I am honestly still pinching myself! It has been such a challenging couple of years (as it has been for everyone), so winning this just means the world to me. I feel so grateful that the judges liked my work and am absolutely honoured to be the winner amongst all the other amazing entries.

PC: Can you tell us a bit about the entry submission process?

Chinney: It’s a lot of work. First, you need to come up with a strong concept, stick with it, and pick it apart, then you need to execute the looks, styling, make-up, mood, and lighting. I shot eight images just in case some weren’t as strong as others. I got to pick my top six to enter. Then, you need to submit a press kit, much like a resume, along with your mood board telling the story of your collection. I’m technologically challenged, so these took me awhile to make!

PC: What was the inspiration behind your award-winning AHFA collection ‘Thru the Looking Glass’?

Chinney: I’ve always wanted to shoot this collection but never had the courage. I was given a big push this year to get outside my comfort zone, reflecting on the challenges of a new business during the pandemic and the current economic climate, I thought it was a fitting time. I guess in a way I’ve been feeling a bit like Alice peering ‘Thru the Looking Glass’.

PC: What do you attribute your success to in the field of hairstyling?

Chinney: I feel blessed and lucky that I have had some amazing mentors around me during my career.  I also always strive for more and never turn down an opportunity.

PC: Talk us through your career journey so far. When did you first get into hairdressing?

Chinney: When I finished school, I didn’t know what I wanted to study , so like a lot of Kiwis I embarked on my big O.E. This was a life-changing experience for me. In London, I discovered the world of hairdressing – it was so creative, I immediately thought, this is what I want to be in life.

I studied in Christchurch, then I returned to Wellington and went to scout all the best hair salons there were back then. I went home, got changed, walked back in, and asked for a job. I was hired! Luck or good timing, I don’t know but this is where my journey started under my first amazing mentor, the visionary Derek Elvy.  I then moved to Auckland, where I honed my creative eye, entering the world of competitions and editorials under the wing of Sara Allsop.  I also had a stint in Melbourne with Freda Rossidis, which led me down the colour specialist path.

PC: Who have been some of your biggest mentors or influences over your successes?

Chinney: Derek Elvy, Michael Beel, Sarah Allsop, Mana Dave, Danny Pato…all here in New Zealand! We have such amazing talent in this country and I am lucky to have been mentored and shared friendships with some of the best in the industry.

PC: What are three words that encapsulate Salute Hair & Day Spa?

Chinney: honest, friendly and fun!

PC: How do you stay updated with the latest cut and colour trends and techniques?

Chinney: I love to attend seminars, scroll Instagram educational platforms, and follow international artists. We never stop learning!

PC: What is your most relied on hairstyling product and/or tool right now?

Chinney: My Dyson Supersonic hairdryer is my absolute must-have tool – I am all about healthy, shiny, beautiful hair. My go-to products are the Schwarzkopf Session Label The Mousse, I love big hair, and the Schwarzkopf BLONDEME Blonde Wonders Restoring Balm, which is amazing for blow waving.

PC: What advice would you give to aspiring hairdressers who want to achieve success in their careers?

Chinney: I grew up being like that movie Yes Man (lol). You have to be hungry for it and put yourself out there – things won’t always fall on your lap, you have to work your butt off and grab every opportunity you can get. A good friend and mentor once told me when I was an apprentice, to always keep your eye on the prize and I have lived by that motto since.