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Cutting Edge

Finding her elusive calling and artistry was about trust for Courtney Nischan

Photograph: Conor Doherty

"My mom said, ‘You’re going to be a hairdresser,’ ” recalls Courtney Nischan—the oldest daughter of chef Michel Nischan (CEO and president of Wholesome Wave) and his wife, Lori. “You never listen to your parents, but I was twenty-three and I’d tried several things without anything really working. So one day I said, ‘You know that career you said I should do? You were right!’ ” After attending the Paul Mitchell School, Courtney won a competition to attend the 2012 North American Hairstyling Awards (NAHA), an annual photographic beauty competition for top professionals. “That show changed my life,” she says. For a year she worked at Moda Capelli in Fairfield before celebrity stylist Ted Gibson wooed her to work at his Fifth Avenue salon and encouraged her to enter this year’s NAHA. Inspired by the rusted and verdigris rooftops of Manhattan and Paris, Nischan, twenty-seven, worked with Stratford model and hairstylist Adalia on expressing themes of water, mermaids, metals and corrosion, then had photographer Conor Doherty shoot the creations in a pool in Weston. “NAHA has pushed me to try harder to do my best,” says Nischan. “My designs were a little outside the box, but I know now that my crazy wasn’t too crazy.”