Image of NAHA winner Chelsea James


Chelsea James shares how winning a NAHA changed her life.

Making the decision to enter NAHA is the easy part. Once you’ve made the decision there’s a lot of hard work and planning that comes next. Chelsea James (who won the Avant Garde category in 2017 with her first NAHA collection EVER) is no stranger to the hard work that comes with creating a NAHA collection, and she is definitely not shy when it comes to pushing the boundary of creativity and expression.

NAHA Committee Chairman, Michael Shaun Corby had a chance to talk to Chelsea on our new Instagram Live sessions, NAHA Creative Conversations, to find out what being a NAHA winner and stylist has meant to her and her journey to get where she is today. You can listen to that conversation here and find out some more about Chelsea below (we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to follow up with a few more questions, she is THAT inspiring!)

What has been the most rewarding part of being a trailblazer in the industry?

LOL idk if I’d say that but… The people! Not only have I gotten to meet almost all my icons and learn from them, but I get to meet hairdressers from all around the world and talk to them. Most hairdressers are based in love and service and those are people worth knowing and sometimes they come up to me and we become friends.

After winning your first NAHA, you said you were most excited about gaining relationships and having a voice in the industry – what was/is your purpose for continuing to create such inspirational collections?

I think building collections makes me a better hairdresser. I also think on the chance that I win I’d get a platform to share my heart and my world expands in unimaginable ways. I like to push myself to make something I haven’t seen before. It’s an internal challenge that will probably always be with me as drive. Building collections helps me sit back and look at what I’d like to say. Helps me be present.

How has the process of creating a NAHA collection allowed you to express your creativity and individuality?

Many ways for creativity but maybe individuality is mostly in interviews. Creatively it’s the platform that allows me to push the farthest. Really try to create original stuff. Individually I get to express through the concept, but it’s usually driven with the motive of connection. I think once I commit, the process teaches me a lot about myself which is individual. That side is more about my attitude through the process and not giving up but NAHA for me is very much about team. I love feedback and criticism sometimes to get the growth. If you have a team that is of the same “vision” the process of it coming to life is much better with others and frankly impossible without them

When someone sees one of your collections, what do you hope they gain or feel?

Wow this question I struggled… I suppose the point of “art” is to create emotion for me but I have no skin in the game what that experience is for others. So I suppose just any emotion would be nice. Emotion makes a good story and that seems like all we have.

Out of all of your incredible award-winning work, which collection are you most proud of?  

My next one… Knowing I’ll keep trying makes me know I’ll keep learning.

What excites you about the future of the industry?

I think the shift in the idea of “beauty”. What is beautiful? We are questioning what we were taught, why and if that is true for us now. Technology is breaking down gate keepers, giving people voices and shifting us. The “comparison” of social media gets criticized but that just means opportunity. There is a massive shift happening! I believe the more we inquire about our thoughts and take responsibility, the more we will discover solutions and that makes me excited for the future. 

Catch more creative conversations weekly on Instagram, @probeautyassoc and find the full schedule and #NAHA2021 entry details and key dates at