COVID-19 can’t keep the Contessa Awards down

For the past few years I’ve had the pleasure of attending the Contessa Awards, the Canadian beauty industry’s celebration of excellence and achievement.  This year however, I knew that COVID-19 would change the way the awards happened, but thankfully the brilliant minds behind the scenes adapted to the changing times so they could move forward with this important and much needed celebration.

For the 2021 Contessas, awards show producer Salon Magazine did what many business have done through this pandemic: pivoted.  Taking advantage of technology and striving to create a beacon of light in these dark times, the Contessas went virtual this year for the 2021 awards ceremony, this passed Sunday.  The awards draw in hundreds of gifted beauty professionals each year as they compete in 24 categories, including Hairstylist of the Year, Master Colourist, and Canadian Nail Artist. All photos here are examples of the amazing talent featured at the Contessas.

We spoke with Salon Magazine publisher Laura Dunphy about what made this year’s Contessa Awards so necessary, and what they were most looking forward to celebrating.

What impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on the beauty industry, and how will that be reflected at the awards ceremony? 

COVID certainly has affected the industry- ie. Financially for many salons as they were shut down for months.

Although business was brisk when salons first opened – however the cost of operating a business at half staff for social distancing;  ensuring all the  COVID protocols  were in place has  put strain on the salon.

Concern about client confidence – some clients are nervous to come back although most salons have excellent COVID protocols in place.  Staff turnover – some staff decided to make a change.

Contessas is a reprieve in this COVID storm. It’s  an evening to bring hairstylists, nails tech  and makeup artists  together virtually to celebrate and see their friends. Beauty pros  are social animals and they miss seeing their industry friends from across Canada. The show’s focus this year is purely on the beauty pro.  Contessa is giving  them a big  virtual hug  which they need- reminding them how valued they are.  Our show has beautiful beauty presentations  which is the eye candy for inspiration.

Sponsors also have stepped up with their VIP cocktail parties- doing fun things like showing cocktail making, fun quick cooking class. Also- some sponsors will have their Top International Creative Artist join the Zoom party with special inspiring  messages.

How has the beauty industry adapted through the pandemic and what innovations will be celebrated at the Contessas?

Salons have come up with creative techniques to elongate the salon service ie color. It’s making them better business people since they had to learn to pivot & rethink their business model. E-commerce has been a gamer changer where many salons have made getting great hair products easily. Ensuring that their customers understand the importance of support local.


What were you most excited to celebrate at the Contessas this year, despite everything?

Seeing  24 people win an award is the best. Beauty pros are so expressive and passionate- when we hear their speeches – it’s heart warming.



To read more about the 2021 Contessa awards and to check out the amazing work of nominees and winner, check out the link below.



Nadia Elkharadly

Nadia Elkharadly

Nadia Elkharadly is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Addicted Magazine. Her myriad of addictions include music, fashion, travel, technology, boxing and trying to make the world a better place. Nadia is also a feminist, an animal lover, and a neverending dreamer. Keep up with her on social media through @thenadiae.
Nadia Elkharadly
Nadia Elkharadly

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