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Meet the Winners of the First-Ever Texture Style Awards

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If you’re a stylist that loves to work with all hair types and textures, chances are you’ve heard of the Texture Style Awards. Founded by notable celebrity hairstylist, author, and educator Monae Everett, the inaugural competition, presented by Wella Company, is the first of its kind to celebrate the beauty and diversity of hair as well as honor the artists who have mastered styling techniques for all hair textures.

This year’s competition kicked off in February with over 350 entries by over 100 entrants across four hair texture categories: straight, wavy, kinky, and coily. Since then, the contestant pool was narrowed down to just 16 uber-talented finalists and as of last night, we now know which lucky artists took home the top prizes.

During a virtual ceremony hosted by Everett on July 5th, the winners were officially announced for the competition as well as a handful of well-deserved honorees for their accomplishments in the hair industry. Also, in attendance to present the awards was Matrix Global Artistic Director Michelle O’Connor, Bridal Updo Educator LaLa Chihaia, Wella Global Educator Briana Cisneros, and Hair Color Artist Oliver B. Adams.

For those who need reminding, being named a Texture Style Award winner could be  potentially life-changing for a stylist, no matter what stage they are in their career. The grand prize winner from each of the four categories will get a one hour one-on-one mentorship with a Wella ambassador, up to $500 worth of prizes from various sponsors, and tons of media exposure! Basically, they’ll be well on their way to becoming the next big thing in the hair industry. The second and third place winners also walk away with prizes and media exposure, too!

Now, without further ado, here are the 2021 winners of the Texture Style Awards.

Straight Hair Stylist of the Year: Angelica Mirela Tanta, @angelicaromanianhairstylist

Angelica Mirela Tanta graduated from cosmetology school in Romania in 1992, before emigrating to Chicago where she had her own studio until 1999. She always dreamed of becoming a good hairstylist and learning more about the industry so in 2006, she enrolled in cosmetology school in Grayslake. With the encouragement of her educator, she entered a competition where she won first place in Illinois. From there, she began entering various competitions —Cosmoprof, Behind the Chair, Modern Salon, and Trendvision — where she got noticed and received some nominations.

Her winning entry:

On being named a winner: “I want to thank everyone who voted for me and supported me. Without your support, I could not do it. I like to enter competitions to get better and gain more confidence. I want to congratulate the other competitors because they have wonderful work and they deserved to be nominated. Thank you so much!”

Wavy Hair Stylist of the Year: Sandra Henri, @sanhenri4

Sandra Henri is a licensed cosmetologist with extensive experience as a hairstylist for all types of hair texture and possesses a certification in hair extensions. She is a graduate of Innovate Salon Academy of South Plainfield, New Jersey and the founder of IM’SA Company. Her company is comprised of a beauty salon located in Hawaii and online store that sells a variety of human hair, makeup, and accessories. 

Her winning entry:

On being named a winner: “The Texture Style Awards competition is such a great initiative for the beauty industry. I am honored and excited to be a part of this amazing journey.”

Curly Hair Stylist of the Year: Richar Staten, @richaronhair

Richar Staten has been in the industry for over 15 years, in Lanham, MD at Bev & Co. Salon. Having a strong passion for beauty and specializing in healthy hair and various styles, she continues to perfect her craft and love for the cosmetology field through constant education. For her, the joy of helping people feel beautiful, with their hair looking its best, is everything to her.

Her winning entry:

On being named a winner: “I’m excited to have won this award. I’m so ecstatic. I really appreciate what the award stands for and I’m super excited that my clients voted for me. They were super supportive with everything. I’m happy to be a part of this and to be among so many other beautiful stylists and other creatives. I’m so appreciative of all the education that’s being offered, the tools, and all the prizes. Congratulations to all the other finalists and everyone who entered.”

Kinky Hair Stylist of the Year: Rania Nekole, @ranianekoleartistry

Hailing from South Florida, Rania Nekole grew up around beauty and barbershops. Her curiosity and creativity inspired her to experiment on herself as well as others and it’s her love for music and art that inspires her to create.  Nekole is a licensed cosmetologist with commercial work that includes key makeup artist assignments on beauty, fashion, lifestyle projects as well as several music videos, and independent films.

Her winning entry:

On being named a winner: “I’m super excited to be a winner. Thank you to the photographer that saw the vision. Thank you Monae for hosting this competition. It really gave me a creative outlet to do something different — to challenge myself. Shoot day was definitely a long day but I feel like it was worth it. I can’t wait to do something like this again.”

Special Honorees

New Stylist of the Year: Joy Williams, @joywilliamsbeauty

Her winning entry:

On being named a winner: “I cannot express how honored and humbled I am to receive this amazing honor — the 2021 New Stylist of the Year, from the Texture Style Awards. Thank you to the Texture Style Awards and to all the sponsors: Nioxin, Babyliss, Wella Company, Clairol. Thank you for believing in the vision — for knowing that texture hair is not an anomaly, but the norm. Thank you so much to Monae Everett. I have watched you for so many years and I’m so honored to even be in contact and communicate with you. For you to break down the barriers and bust through the doors that you have in this industry and take it a step further and reach back for us — I appreciate you. I certainly plan on following in those footsteps. Thank you so much to everyone who even believed in themselves enough to enter  on entry. This is huge! And, congratulations to all the finalists!”

Change Agent of the Year: Keya Neal, Founder of Texture vs Race, @keyaartistically 

On being named a winner: “Thank you so much Monae and the Texture Style Awards. This is so awesome! Thank you for honoring me with this award, Truly it is an honor and a privilege. Texture vs Race was not a thought-out plan and you could not have told me 3-4 years ago that I would be standing here giving an acceptance speech for the work that I ‘m doing. Texture vs Race was born out of a vision fueled by my purpose and my purpose was fueled through my experience of trying to be a diverse stylist. That particular journey led me to this and the question that I constantly had that I needed an answer for was how was I going to use my voice to create more diversity and inclusion and equity in the industry. How was I going to help move the needle forward and make a difference in this industry? I understand my gift. My gift is gathering people. My gift is about sharing the information and getting people to have the conversation. That’s all I’m doing.”

Beauty Media of the Year: Nina Tulio (@ninatulio)  and J Ladner (@itsmrjladner) of No Stylist Left Behind podcast

On being named winners: “Thank you for the Beauty Media of the Year award. We are so honored and so thankful because we pride ourselves at the No Stylist Left Behind podcast to have inclusive, vulnerable, and open conversations that help elevate the industry. We are truly honored! Thank you so much Texture Style Awards and Monae for honoring us today. We promise to continue to elevate the beauty industry and create community in the beauty industry.”

If you missed out on the chance to watch the virtual ceremony in its entirety, check out the competition’s livestream here. For more information about the Texture Style Awards, be sure to follow @texturestyleawards on Instagram or visit their official website.

Camille Nzengung
Camille Nzengung
Camille Nzengung is a Features Editor, based in Georgia, covering all things hair at The Tease. You can find her writing about the best hair products, the coolest hair trends, and all the exciting new hair launches.