Maureen Anlauf, master generalist at St. Paul’s Juut Salonspa, calls the highly acclaimed North American Hairstyling Awards the “Academy Awards of our industry.” More than 600 stylists vie for top honors each year, and the winners—according to Anlauf—gain street cred among fellow professionals. On a whim, she entered the competition in 2006 and walked away with the award for hairstylist of the year.
“After that first year, I didn’t want to enter again because I’d never felt such pure joy as when I won,” she says. “But it’s become a bit of an obsession. It’s good healthy competition and a great venue for us, as artists, to tell a story that’s not through a product company or through someone else’s artistic direction.”
This July, she entered four NAHA categories, gained four nominations, and took home the top prizes in two: contemporary classic (which Anlauf describes as simply a “hair-cutting category”) and fashion forward (“full-length shots for editorial”).
What does it take to win? Months of preparation, says Anlauf. She teamed up with a slew of local experts to engineer the concepts she’d envisioned. Juut makeup director Janell Geason (who won makeup artist of the year), fashion designer Cindy Warner, and photographers Bill Tyler and Buck Holzemer helped to bring her ideas to fruition and catch the eyes of the judges.
Despite the attention, Anlauf remains humble. As an in-demand stylist at the Grand Avenue salon, she works ten-hour days, caters to a long list of clients, and claims to be a bit of a perfectionist (“If it’s not perfect, I’ll be thinking about it for days and days”). Anlauf, who grew up in Cambridge, has been primping locks professionally for sixteen years—but if you count her early Barbie doll creations, it’s been much longer. “I gave my first perm in eighth grade,” she says. “And I cut my friends’ hair all through high school. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.” At-home perms gave way to the Aveda Institute and an advanced program at Vidal Sassoon Academy. She paid her dues at small-scale salons before settling at Juut six and a half years ago.
“I knew Juut was a big enough company where I could get somewhat lost and just do what I love and develop myself,” Anlauf says. “I knew it had a great reputation and produced so many talented people.”
Anlauf did anything but get lost. Aside from her awards, she’s gained a flock of loyal clients (some have followed her since she was a student). “I don’t know where it comes from—it may be years of practice—but I can look at someone and immediately see what hairstyle they should have,” Anlauf explains. “Before we’ve even talked, I’ve noticed your shoes, if you’re wearing nail polish, how you’re holding your bag. I’m not looking at the hair you have; I’m looking at its potential.”
She’ll once again be in the spotlight later this month at Aveda’s pinnacle hair show, Aveda Congress. Handpicked to be one of thirteen guest artists, Anlauf will showcase her work in front of more than 4,000 beauty professionals. “It’s probably my biggest dream come true.” she says. She’ll share the stage with Christiaan (world-renowned editorial stylist whose work is regularly featured on the cover of W magazine) and other top stylists from around the globe
Juut Salonspa, 857 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-222-4121