What I’ve learned… about not winning The It Guy on my first, second or even third try!

“As much as I would love to say I won The IT Guy on my first attempt I would be lying. It became a labour of love and something I was determined to achieve. Luckily, I had time on my side as I was 25 when I finally won so it definitely helped that I started young.

“It in fact took four attempts (I made it three times to the finals) to win the award I so craved. My errors are ones I believe any future entrants can learn from.

“I was first made aware of the awards when my salon’s PR agency mentioned they would like to put me forward  and asked if I could send over a selection of images and information about my career to date. This entry was nicely presented, but lacked large portions of content and quite frankly it lacked ME. It read and looked like a PR team had put it together. It was only a leaflet-sized entry and barely covered the bullet points provided by the entry forms. I’m not saying this is totally wrong as a friend of mine had won before me with a PR agency entry, but I’ve not heard of one since.

“The second year I entered was the first year I made it to the finals. This was made even sweeter as this was my first entry completely written, compiled, printed and sent by myself. Not only that, but my entry for The It List Fashionista was also shortlisted as a finalist. It took a lot of time and effort to collect all the imagery, contacting peers in the industry for references and then collating it into a beautiful entry, but it was worth it. I used an online photo book company, which allowed me to have full control of the layout and design. It was finished in a gloss soft covered A4 book. But I still didn’t win.

“The third time I entered and finalised for the second time, my entry was easier to build thanks to the work I’d put into my entry the previous year. I added new work and removed some bits to streamline my entry as I was worried that I had put so much in previously that the judges became bored. For this entry, I would say my biggest regret was relying on the fact that I was shortlisted the year before, believing it was already good enough to be a finalist. Again I was shortlisted for The Fashionista as well as The It Guy, but unfortunately in both instances it wasn’t to be my year.

“On my fourth try, I finally took home The It Guy. It was the accolade I’d longed for and I was ecstatic. Why did I win? I believe it was because I’d learnt from my previous entries to make this one the very best it could be. I completely dismantled my previous entries, sought guidance from peers and friends who had won in other categories and poured every ounce of my passion into it. I had, and still do, struggle to write about myself in an overly complimentary manor, as saying I am the best in this or that doesn’t feel natural, but this entry showcased me and everything I am as a person and a hairdresser. I created segments to clearly show my strengths, from the salon to on stage and backstage, and so much more. I also changed the layout and style. I still used an online photo book, but I opted for a landscape A3 one to give me more room to add EVERYTHING. I then finished it with a leather hardback cover to give the appearance of a beautiful coffee table book. I kept things clean, simple but still detailed. I wanted it to read well, as well as be something a client could flick through and admire visually the imagery I printed.

“If I’m honest, my fourth year probably would have been my last entry, win or lose, as I couldn’t imagine putting any more into it. I believed I had ticked every box possible and proved so much more. I have since spoken to the judges and they’ve said to me that they thought that came through and that they were blown away by my entry, which felt like another win.”

Josh’s tips to The It List success:

DONT STOP. Don’t be deterred, keep trying and stay hungry! I’d have regretted it for ever if I didn’t keep going.

STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF. Don’t be swayed by others. Seek advice and help, but if it’s not your vision, it won’t translate.

LOVE YOUR ENTRY REGARDLESS. Like I mentioned, I wanted a beautiful coffee table book that anyone could flick through. It wasn’t just another competition entry, it was almost a biography of my career to date. And I still love it!

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