McKell Hird, a cosmetology student at Aveda Institute Provo, won Student Hairstylist of the Year at the 2019 North American Hairstyling Awards this January. As we celebrate her big win, she explains more about her story and the inspiration behind her designs.

2019 NAHA Winner McKell Hird

Getting Started in Beauty

While McKell has always been interested in beauty, she only recently started on the path to becoming a cosmetologist. Her parents wanted her to try traditional college, so she spent a semester at college in Idaho. Her time in Idaho helped her realize it was not the place for her. It solidified her desire to go to cosmetology school.

Why Aveda?

Because she still wanted to be part of college life, McKell chose to go to cosmetology school in Provo, which is home to two universities and is known for being a college town.

“I toured a lot of schools in Provo, but Aveda was just so different,” she says. “I loved the feel of the school. It’s about more than just doing hair. I really liked the mission statement and beliefs of Aveda.”

Now that she is finishing up school, she is glad she chose Aveda Institute.

“Choosing to come to Aveda Institute Provo was the BEST decision I’ve ever made. I chose Aveda because they are more than just a beauty brand. Aveda is a network of inspired people with global goals of greatness. I never would have had so many amazing opportunities with any other school!” she said.

Journey to NAHA

NAHA Aveda Team

On McKell’s fifth day of school last spring, her instructor Heggy Gonzalez pitched NAHA to the students. She told them about the competition and showed pictures of past finalists.

“I looked at all of the pictures of the hair and said ‘this is something that I want to do. I’ve only been in school for five days but I’ll still try,’” McKell says.

A few weeks after submitting her video application she found out she was selected to be Aveda Provo’s rep for NAHA. Then just a short time later, in August, she created her collection to enter the competition.

Inspiration Behind the Designs


McKell was in the middle of watching a movie about Marie Antoinette when she got the email saying she was selected as her school’s rep for NAHA. With Marie Antoinette as her inspiration, McKell wanted to make her collection based on female empowerment.

“With my collection ‘Let Them Eat Cake’ I wanted it to be more than just pretty hair. I wanted the images to tell a story that I believe in, feminine empowerment. I wanted it to be soft and girly with an overabundance of pink, lace, and pastels. But, fierce with the models’ stance and facial expressions. While women can be frilly and refined, they are also bold and powerful. Womanhood is a strength, not a weakness,” she explains.

The Awards Event

McKell describes the actual NAHA event where she received her award as a surreal experience.

“The first time I heard of NAHA was when I submitted the video to create a collection. I didn’t understand how huge it was going to be,” she says.

NAHA is one of the largest hair awards events, and McKell enjoyed meeting Aveda leaders from around the world.

“Everybody was so nice, they were immediately like family. Aveda is more than a brand, it is a family,” she says.

Future Goals and Plans

McKell with winning design

McKell graduates this April. She isn’t sure exactly where she will go yet, but she knows she wants to stay with Aveda.

“There’s honestly nowhere else I’d rather be,” she says.

When McKell started cosmetology school she had no idea she would earn the awards she’s earned so far. She wants other students to know they can achieve their dreams too.

“Go with your gut and never think your dreams are too big,” she says. “It’s easy as a student to think there’s a lot you can’t do, but just go for everything. When we were making my collection things didn’t go perfectly at all, but we worked through it. Everything will work out in the end if you are passionate and work hard.”

Interested in Cosmetology School?

If you have a creative passion and big dreams, cosmetology school could be the right fit for you. Get in touch with us to learn more about the opportunities available to you at Aveda Institute Provo, Denver, Phoenix, or Tucson.