Wella Xposure Competition Winner Sharon Robertson’s Incredible Journey
Sharon Robertson from South Lanarkshire College is a mature student who only entered hairdressing two years ago, but was crowned the winner of the Wella Xposure Colour the Cut prize at Wella TrendVision 2021 UK and Ireland Final!
Her journey to get to this accolade is remarkable, courageous, moving and deserves a read (get your tissues ready). Here she shares her story in her own words:
“My story is a little different from what you might expect and probably makes me rather unique. I am a 51 year old gran from a small town in a corner of Scotland that most people have never heard of. I started hairdressing just 2 years ago. My journey started when 7 years ago I contracted a virus to my brain. I ended up with brain damage and I had to walk with a frame, due to loss of balance and falling over. My speech was impaired as was my hearing and vision, the encephalitis, (swelling on the brain) did most of the damage which still affects me to this day. I had to learn to function again, I had to move home to a home that was more suitable for me to live in, it changed my life completely and I never thought I would be the same again. I was in pain every day and needed help with most things; it was devastating.
Then I found out I was going to be a granny, and I made it my mission to regain my life and do the impossible. I wanted to live as normal a life as I could, so I rehabilitated myself. I learned to function again and worked so hard to be able to hold my grandson without fear of dropping him. I was determined to live as normal a life as possible, I knew my limitations but I knew being a mum and gran was the most important thing I wanted to be again and I did it. Once I started to do things again my confidence came back and I just adjusted everything to suit me, as I still do today.
But it was after my marriage ended that I decided to give hairdressing a try. I have always been creative and love hair styling, so thought I would go for it. My illness had stopped me working for many years, but I was determined to learn hairdressing, so I went to college and during lockdown I spent hours and hours teaching myself more skills. I would watch endless you tube and Instagram videos and work on my head blocks perfecting my techniques. I travelled over 200 miles a day to college in East Kilbride to hone my skills. The lecturers there said in the 30 years they have taught they have never seen raw talent and passion like mine.
Entering TrendVision came as a result of my mum, who was my biggest supporter. Sadly, in March 2021 she was diagnosed with cancer, so I took 7 weeks off college to move in with her and nurse her. She was my biggest supporter and told me to enter the competition. She knew how much I wanted to do it, but it was the last thing on my mind. She told me to go and show the world how talented and amazing her daughter was, how life threw me the hardest hurdles but I came back and smashed through them. When she died on the 25 April I decided to enter TVA for her, for her memory. When I walked up there to receive my trophy it was for her, she made me who I am, and gave me the courage to go on and do it. She believed in me when I didn’t.
Getting to the finals was such an achievement, but to go on and win my category is like a dream come true. I found the whole experience of the TrendVision Award exciting, exhilarating and mind-blowing. I felt so privileged and honoured to be down to the final 13 and getting to experience a part of hairdressing that most people never see was just out of this world. I felt totally in awe and thought I would feel out of my depth. Knowing I would see my hairdressing heroes on stage and from a distance was like going to the Oscars.
I was extremely nervous about competing on the day, not my ability to carry out the cut and colour, but just being judged, watched and making mistakes under the spotlight. But during two years of college, most of it was spent in lockdown. I used this to my advantage and every week I bought head blocks and I cut and coloured every single day in my kitchen.
On the day itself the judges said I had a hard cut and colour, and to carry this out in three hours was quite a mammoth task. The round graduation cut and the colour I had chosen was way beyond what my experience should be. Once the three hours were up, that was it, I had done what I had to do and the pressure was off, I just wanted to enjoy the rest of my day and soak up every bit of the experience. Arriving at the roundhouse was so exciting. Knowing I would be walking on stage in the footsteps of so many icons was incredible; I kept needing to pinch myself. I did have a moment backstage when one of my hero’s, James Earnshaw, just slipped through our holding room and I was just speechless.
The excitement from all competitors was tremendous; we drew strength from each other and really supported one another. Then the next thing we knew it was 6.30 and we were ready to go to the cocktail reception which was like looking at the hairdressing hall of fame. I can remember telling my lecturer, Kirstie, if I forget to say later, I have had the best night of my life. Words can’t describe how it felt, to walk down the catwalk to the cheers of the room, it was amazing, it felt like my whole life had led to that moment, that 30 seconds of walking down knowing I had worked and earned my place on that stage made me feel so proud of myself.
I more than anyone understand the concept of the Wella Family, when I was lost and broken and found hairdressing, I joined the Wella Family. The support through the Facebook page, social media and the ambassadors is amazing. I speak often and ask advice from many of them, James Earnshaw, Patrick Cameron, Lucian, Ben Brown, Andrew Dunne, they have all been supportive of me, my work and my journey and if it hadn’t been for this I don’t know where I would be. It’s never a hassle for them to give advice or just to say well done. Being part of this made me feel human again, gave me back my self-belief.
No matter what life throws at you, you can do or be whatever you want to be, I am proof of that. It’s never too late. If you have passion and creativity the world is out there to conquer, I am proof of that.”