After a lot of work, Tina Paskalakis heads for the Hair World Championship in Las Vegas next year.
By TARA DOLAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 22, 2001
PALM HARBOR -- After spending months to prepare and thousands of dollars out of her own pocket just to compete, Tina Paskalakis has combed, curled and colored her way into one of three places on the Ladies U.S. Hairstyling Team.
In July 2002, she will join the team in Las Vegas and compete in the Hair World Championship against about 40 international teams.
"I'm definitely really excited about the opportunity," Paskalakis said. "But (the accomplishment) really hasn't sunk in yet."
Paskalakis, 22, spent four months preparing for the team competition, which was held in late February at the Midwest Beauty Show in Chicago. She worked with a trainer two days a week for 10 hours a day and juggled her regular clientele on her days off.
"It is hard work, but it's worth it," she said, adding that it's different from doing hair every day.
Apart from a medal, Paskalakis received no monetary reward for winning a place on the hairstyling team. But the prestige that goes with the distinction can give a stylist's career a long-term boost.
Paskalakis said she has wanted to be part of the national team since she watched her sister, Flora Linton, compete in the 1988 Hair World Championship as part of the Men's U.S. Hairstyling Youth Team. The teams include both male and female stylists.
"It has sentimental value to me because I know my sister is proud of me," Paskalakis said. "I look to her for advice. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for her."
Linton, 31, said she admires her sister's commitment to competition.
"She has done better than I ever could have done," Linton said. "She is so disciplined. To have her skills at her age is amazing."
Gordon Miller, executive director of the National Cosmetology Association, said making the team at such a young age is a remarkable achievement considering Paskalakis faced stiff competition from 17 seasoned stylists.
"In this country we have about 500 serious stylists who regularly compete in local, state, national and international competitions," Miller said. "Out of that pool, those 18 represent the best of those competitors -- or at least the ones with the most confidence."
Miller said stylists were required to produce an original day and evening look on their self-recruited models within a certain amount of time. He said the way hair is styled in competition is not the way average people would style their hair. Judges look for form, texture, color and balance.
"These stylists view this as an art form, like making sculpture out of hair," he said. "It's like brush strokes on a painting. Judges are literally looking to see that every hair is in place."
Miller said the competitions have even inspired a recently released movie, Blow Dry, a comedy from the screenwriter of The Full Monty.
Miller said stylists can spend between $20,000 and $40,000 a year on competition costs. He said stylists have to pay for everything from training to travel costs for their models.
Paskalakis spent about $4,000 to compete and received no money for earning a spot on the team. Because she plans to attend several international competitions before the Hair World Championship, those costs likely will increase.
"It's expensive and time-consuming, but I love what I do," she said. "Competing helps me keep my interest."