Nick Hemsley has only been in the industry for four years and all ready has a resume full of accomplishments. He recently won the “2012 People’s Choice Award” at NAHA, is part of the Artistic Team at Lunatic Fringe Salon and has worked along side Keith Bryce, Steven Robertson & Jake Thompson. Nick’s drive and passion for hair is so exciting and his down to earth personality is intoxicating! We hope you enjoy this interview as much as we did!


What would you say was the most important thing you learned in Cosmetology school?

I learned about the same basic things you would learn at any beauty school, which is what I think is the most important because without that I wouldn’t be where I’m at now. In school, I pictured my career to be full of photo shoots and being on set all the time, rather than in a salon. I wanted to style hair, so it was hard at first to stay interested in the rest. About midway through school, I realized there was so much more I could do within this career, and I also realized I had my work cut out for me. I dedicated a lot of time in school to reach out for more education anywhere I could get it. I participated in a webinars, watched a million tutorials, went to classes outside of our school, and beauty shows. I did a lot of things that the other students wouldn’t do.


Okay…you’re in front of the computer waiting for the PBA NAHA announcements…you hear/see your work. Tell us what happens the second you realize it’s you that has placed.

I sat on the PBA Facebook ALL DAY waiting. I knew what time the announcement was coming but I still sat and waited for something to happen. Once the video had started, I couldn’t believe that it was really finally happening. I remember them announcing the Newcomer category; they had announced four finalists and I thought this is it. The last one has to be mine. It felt like the longest pause before the last finalist, and then we saw a piece of one of my submissions. I might have jumped up, ran around the room a little, cried a little. Lots of hugs haha. I had to watch the video a few times to make it all the way through, see everything and take it in.

What influences your work?

I think influences come from everywhere. I get really inspired by things I see in nature or things I learn and see about space or the ocean. Different colors or structures in architecture. As black and basic as my personal fashion is, I’m really inspired by fashion. When I’m creating things, I think the music I listen to influences the aesthetic of whatever I’m doing. I’m really inspired by the work I see every day from hairdressers around the world. That’s like the entirety of my facebook/twitter feed. I Nerd Stalk too!


What did working with Keith Bryce teach you most?

Keith really inspired me a lot when I was younger, probably more than anyone else had at that point in my life. I’ve always needed some sort of creative outlet, and in a time when I didn’t really have that anywhere, he had a place for me and that meant a lot to me, and still does. I still look up to him and seek his advice. He has been like a big brother to me. Keith is creative and passionate about his work which makes it a good fit for me to work with him. I saw the passion he had for his work and that was something I really worked on emulating and adapting to myself.


What is the music you play in the background while you are brainstorming?

Music is constantly playing, and constantly changing. Music helps motivate me, inspire me, it definitely influences what I’m creating. Lately, while brainstorming, I have been listening to Grimes, and Stay+. But by next week, I may be listening to something else.

What is Nick’s style?

AH! I don’t know how to describe my style. I don’t think I fit into one particular style and I don’t try to either. I just stay true to me and what I feel is right. Pushing to hard in any way just comes across as unnatural to me. I like to go with the flow of things and just take things as they come but when I want something I go after it fully.


Can you tell us more about your AKA Nick 198?

In school we were branded with student numbers and I was Nick 198. In the beginning of my school career, I wasn’t a great student at all. I thought I was really good at what I was doing but really, I didn’t have a clue. I guess for some reason I was just trying to make it through alive and get done with it and when I was finished I’d somehow be set to do whatever I wanted.. Clock my hours and I’ll work the rest out. Thankfully somebody knocked more sense into me. I was trying to skip a class and one of my instructors called me out in front of everyone. As embarrassing as that moment was, I’m very grateful for it. I didn’t want to be that person anymore so I had to make changes. After that, I made sure I was doing everything I could to be involved with every school group, competition, or fundraising event. I wanted them to see Nick 198 on every list and that I was there and ready to work my ass off.

Tell us about your decision to enroll into Cosmetology school. How did you realize this was your calling?

Really, I had to no idea what I was even getting into. I went to the cosmetology school with a friend who was going on a tour of the school. I was roped into going as moral support. My decision was a little spur of the moment, because I signed up the same day, but it just felt right. There was so much new energy that I hadn’t experienced, that I wanted.

I didn’t fully realize my love for hair and this industry until about half way through school. I went to ISSE in Long Beach as a little cosmetology student and I was blown away. The school had paid for me and 3 other students to attend show and the Legends and Icons Gala. We were sat across from this guy, He told us his name and gave us his card and we told him we were students and we were so excited to be there. He told us how lucky we were to be at an event like that. As soon as he stepped away we did what any cosmo student would do, we pulled out our phones and googled him. He was like the global creative director or CEO for Hairdreams.

You have a ton of experience onset. Give us your funniest or most memorable photo shoot story.

I wish I was sharing a funny story but this is definitely most memorable. Shooting this years NAHA sets will never be forgotten. I had spent so much time prepping for it, I hoped everything would go smoothly but something always has to happen right? Things started falling apart the night before. Just 8 hours before we were due to start. Makeup artist was not able to fulfill their duties. Worst nightmare. We found a replacement in time so we were good there. The makeup artist had her girlfriend come visit on set, she takes her outside for a break to talk and she comes back in crying. Her girlfriend broke up with her and had to leave because she was heading to Sundance. She also dropped her off and was her ride home, AND they lived together. It was rough. I just wanted to finish so she could get out of there, I felt so bad.

Top 3 Hair Stylists you would love to work with:

  • Angelo Seminara
  • Nicholas French
  • Charlie Le Mindu

What is your favorite technique?

I don’t think I have any special techniques haha.. If I do they aren’t secrets. I like to share what I know with others. I guess my “favorite technique” is just the way I construct the wigs. So far, I’ve put everything into them myself so I try to keep the cost low. I never had or noticed any education on how to do it so I just played with it and taught myself.

Do you use your talents to make a difference?

I love being in the salon and being able to share what I do with so many people. The smallest of things can speak volumes. Before NAHA I had the opportunity to participate with Beauty Bus Foundations, MS Society, and Make-A-Wish Foundation to donate our services to people and their caregivers. It was such an uplifting experience I didn’t want to leave when it was over. I’m currently working on organizing a Beauty Bus event here in Salt Lake City.

What 3 items would you die without?

  • Can my family be considered as a single item? And we should add my friends into that too. They all support me in everything I do, no matter how crazy it may seem. That means everything to me.
  • Music
  • It’s really bad how attached I am to this little iPhone..

You have such an amazing career ahead of you. Can you tell us what has been your biggest cloud nine moment so far?

The entire NAHA journey has been a huge cloud nine moment. Creating the images was such an amazing thing to do, to watch them come together is always exciting. Watching the finalists announcement video, and of course accepting the People’s Choice NAHA takes the cake. What an amazing moment. I was so pumped and had so much adrenaline rushing, it’s hard to remember all of it. From that point on, the show is kind of blurred together haha.


On a perfect day I spend it….. and eating……with….

Just give me some live music and my day is probably perfect. On a perfect day I spend it adventuring with friends, eating a super tasty dinner, maybe sushi, or Thai food, and ending with a great concert. Send me out of town to a music festival and it’s the perfect weekend.

What do people find most surprising about you?

I don’t know. I’m just a young guy doing what I really love to do. I don’t think I’m too surprising though.. I don’t know how I did it but I played football from the time I was 8 years old until graduating high school..? Ya, that was a weird time. I guess that still surprises me..? haha

What is one of your #hairstylist problems?

When people don’t take care of their hair and it shows. Healthy hair is pretty hair and you wear that on your head EVERY DAY. Take care of it. PLEASE! haha

I knew I was a Hair Nerd when….

I realized how totally obsessed with hair I am. And the more I learn and the more I progress in my life and career, I just love it more. I always have to try really hard to pull myself away from it. It’s so easy for me to get totally caught up in what I’m doing because I really love what I’m doing. This is my work, and my hobby. I get excited to go to work and have a great time and then I’m excited to get off work and be able to apply hair in a totally different way. I feel like the biggest Hair Nerd when I am in the salon with a guest and I am completely geeking out on all of my projects and they usually say something like, “you really love this, you are glowing right now” haha. I am a Hair Nerd FOR SURE 😀

We met Nick’s proud dad at NAHA and had to ask him a few questions as well!

How would say Hair has changed Nick?

He has been able to show his creative side. He has a lot of passion for what he does. We have seen a lot more personal responsibilities from him.

Can you share a good story of “little” Nick?

Nick and his brother were misbehaving and he had been warned a few times. The last time I got a little mad at him. I grabbed him to tell him to knock off his games and I was raising my voice to get my point across, Nick wiped his face off and said “Dad! You’re spitting on me.” Everybody burst into laughter. So much for punishment.

Sometimes parents aren’t super excited about their child going to Cosmetology school. How did you feel about Nick’s decision?

We thought that he was possibly just making a spur of the moment decision and maybe he was talked into it by a salesperson at the school. But it has been a very good choice. He is very happy.

The closeness of your family was so evident at NAHA. What are some Hemsley traditions that build that bond?

Dinner every night at the kitchen table with to exception. Even when both sons played sports or had other events it was dinner at the table. We still have Sunday dinner every week. We’ve also always supported each other in their decisions.

I remember practicing on my family all the time during Cosmo School… How scared were you when Nick first cut your hair? Haha

I was never too worried, a bad haircut would only last for a couple of weeks. Or I could always shave it if I needed too.

Nerd Stalk Nick on his Website and Twitter