Mentor and hairstylist influences professionals and individuals world wide

“People dream about being with her,” said Kelli Trimble, co-manager of Influence Salon, who has worked with Wendy Belanger for 17 years and calls her a ‘sister’.

Wendy Belanger is a 42-year-old female celebrity hairstylist. At just over five ft. Belanger is classy, sleek, and fashionable.

Her styling motto is, “I will never make anyone do anything that someone doesn’t wish to do.”

Certain people have a knack for speaking confidently, Belanger is one of them. When Belanger walks into the salon, there’s no hesitation. Belanger casually starts conversations, asking clients and associates how they’re doing.

.In 2009, Belanger was appointed International Artistic Director of Pureology, a hair care and styling manufacturer headquartered in New York City. This allows her to travel world wide, do stage work, and takes her to events such as, Fashion Week, the Oscars and the Emmy’s.

Born in Regina, Belanger graduated from an exclusive cosmetology program at MC College from the Saskatoon campus. Cutting hair in the small city wasn’t exactly what she wanted and she didn’t feel it was getting her anywhere she wanted to be.

Belanger took her father’s advice to move to a bigger city. With an enormous half-ton truck, Calgary became her home in 1992. It was the same year she graduated from the college.PureArtist Darren Pena and Pureology Artistic Director Belanger works, on a mannequin at the Synergy 2010 event.
Photo courtesy of modernsalon.com

“The first thing I did was apply to the top three salons in Calgary,” says Belanger, who got into L’Oreal Paris. That’s where her experience started.

A lot of it is the technique and the teaching that gets handed down from person-to-person. Education and experience is key. However, it’s also inspiration and determination that motivates an individual further into this industry. Belanger always tells students that when you’re growing up, you don’t understand how much time you’re losing.

Belanger is one of the most sought out in the industry. She has years of experience and achievements, having won the Alberta Stylist of the Year for Salon magazine’s 2012 Contessa Awards. She is one of Calgary’s top celebrity stylists and has her work featured on commercials, red carpets, runaways and trade magazines. Her most important belief is to inspire.

Store Owner and stylist Belanger.
Photo by Ingrid Ho
Belanger has cut hair for celebrities such as Kim Cattrall for the 2008 Banff World Television Awards and Justin Timberlake at the MTV Awards. She’s been part of the Pureology National Artistic team for 10 years, involved in creating seasonal trends for the company and improving her skills as an artist.

Belanger sometimes struggles to be a professional rather than a fan when dealing with Hollywood stars. “At first, I was intimidated, because you need to make the hair look good. You can’t mess it up,” says Belanger.

A celebrity hairstylist creates the celebrity’s image and the paparazzo’s are looking at them for the latest beauty trend.

Influence first opened on May 2, 2002 in Kensington. It was difficult for the few of them who rented the store. Belanger gives a little laugh and says they were paying the rent with their taxes. She then bought the Cube Art Gallery on 17th Ave and the salon re-opened in 2006. Belanger designed the salon herself.

An artistic director is typically a male position in America, however Belanger has overcome the stereotypical hurdle.

“It’s funny, but what I fear the most is, success. I’ll think, ‘oh my gosh! How am I going to handle this.’”

Recently, she cut hair in front of 10,000 other hairstylists in Las Vegas while mentoring them. She is enthusiastic and happy to do what she really wants, contributing to the industry and dreaming big. The challenge for her is that she needs to stick strictly to working, since she has a big passion for her career.

Nasib Zoughaib has been employed at Influence for seven months and talks of Wendy fondly. He graduated last year’s program from MC College and likes the comfortable atmosphere at the salon.

“All the time, she looks to improve people, so you dream something, so you can be successful.” Nasib Zoughaib states.

He explains that Belanger meets with each associate every month to help them improve and grow their career. Giving up a client would be a loss in the hair industry, but Belanger doesn’t mind.

There is a dialogue attached with her teaching. She strongly believes in growing together. “She (Belanger) leads without ego, she can take the owner hat off and be with you personally. It didn’t matter what she was doing, she is always inspiring people,” Trimble confidently says.

Trimble, loves keeping up to date with what’s new so she can share it with her guests. With almost the same number of years in the hair industry as the celebrity hairstylist industry, the salon co-manager openly and wide-eyed continues, that you can sit down with Belanger and she can come up with a pitcher of five million ideas and put it into reality.

Belanger has plans to open another Influence Salon at a different location, saying that it’s all hush-hush at the moment, but is going to be a different concept. She will continue to travel world wide, teaching and cutting celebrity hair while setting trends and creating new innovations for Pureology. The one thing on her mind is sharing her story.

ihaudrey@cjournal.ca