Celebrity stylist Nick Arrojo announced Kelly Hopkins as the winner of his competition at the International Beauty Show in New York City. Photo by Don Reed
After opening 1213 Hair Studio at age 29, Kelly Hopkins found herself wondering what would come next.
"When I opened the salon, I thought, ‘This can't be it, there's got to be something else,' " the Chester resident says of the studio she opened at 1213 W. Main St. in 2009.
Last year, Hopkins attended a seminar hosted by Nick Arrojo, a celebrity stylist who was the hairdressing host on TLC's What Not to Wear for seven years. During the seminar, Arrojo announced that he was accepting entrants for a nationwide competition called "Become the Next Master of Beauty."
"When I heard about the contest I thought, ‘This is the next step,' " Hopkins says.
She submitted photos from a recent haircut she had done on one of her clients and soon received word that she had been selected as one of the 200 contestants who made it to the second round. Then, Hopkins sent a video of herself doing a before-and-after haircut using one of Arrojo's hair-color techniques. When she made it to the final 15, a team from the Arrojo Studio in New York City's SoHo neighborhood visited her studio in Richmond to do a final interview. Arrojo chose Hopkins as one of the top three contestants and invited her on an all-expense-paid trip to New York for the International Beauty Show in April.
"It's kind of like fashion week for hair," Hopkins says of the show where the big names in hairstyling showcase the season's latest trends.
At the end of Arrojo's runway show, he called the three contestants to the stage and announced Hopkins as the winner of the national competition.
"I came downstairs, and there were photographers and people who wanted interviews. And I'm thinking, ‘I just want to call my dad,' " Hopkins says. During high school, the Richmond native worked as a receptionist at Alexander Cahen Hair Studio, owned by her aunt and uncle. She later apprenticed at the studio and worked there for the first four years of her career.
As the "Master of Beauty" winner, she received $10,000 in cash and the opportunity to study and travel with Arrojo during his national hairstyling seminars.
Hopkins says that winning the contest has opened her eyes to new opportunities. "I really love teaching and inspiring people," she adds. "For me, it means being able to finally take all that hard work and give it back."