Crazy like a fox, Shear Genius Season Three winner Brig Van Osten out played the rest of the contestants. Check out what she had to say for herself in our interview!
Hair on the Brain: Congratulations on winning Shear Genius. Were you expecting the win or were you shocked?
Brig: I was completely shocked. I thought there was no way the judges were going to appreciate [the runway hair]. I knew Jonathan wouldn’t. But I looked at it and I loved it, because I had never seen anything like it before. I pulled something out that wasn’t inspired by someone else’s hair. It was just completely sick and very me. I have a huge addiction to office supplies and, well, there they were! (Laughs.)
HOTB: It was definitely creative and something I’d never seen before, but I think the main criticism of it and what my criticism was too, was that there didn’t seem to be a lot of actual hair styling.
Brig: I appreciate your honesty, Valerie. And I am someone who can handle it. I don’t want someone to tell me they love me and then turn around and be like, actually, I thought it sucked. But the way I felt about it was that it was for an editorial runway show. It was for [Henry Duarte's] clothes. And if you reference fashion shows, you see what hairstylists are doing. A lot of the time it’s not a lot of hair styling. It’s often something really bizarre or some kind of accessory on top of the head to make all the models look the same, or some kind of same colored bob wig–almost like an assembly line.
For me there was a lot of work required for the hair. All that hair was colored, and the colors that you saw were all custom mix. They were not just out of the tube and onto the hair. The work that Faatemah and April did… They were all on my team, we were all working together. Yes, I won the final challenge, however, I never could’ve done it alone. Faatemah, those ponytails, those buns were perfection. There was no slack in them, and that’s extremely challenging to do. The way we had them wrapped and tight and the way everything was attached to the head, the placement of the pieces that were created using the tape… Try taking a piece of tape and sticking a patch of hair to it! I encourage anyone to try this because it’s actually extremely challenging to do, to get it to be clean. I took a risk. I was being creative. I was just in the moment, being creative, and having a ball.
HOTB: A lot of the other contestants mentioned you were always making things during your down time.
Brig: I’m super, super creative. I’ve always been like this. But at home, I’m the sole own of a salon, so it’s emails, it’s business stuff, it’s paying bills… I also do clients full time behind the chair, so I have all these things in life that you could call distractions. So I’m not making clothes. I’m not making a dress out of newspaper! If I had time back home, though, I would. So now I get into this environment where I’m almost, like, trapped, and I had nothing to do, so creativity was my outlet. I just started going nuts! I really enjoyed it. And it kept me out of a lot of interactions of drama. It’s not to say that I wasn’t causing drama, but I was not in arguments with people all the time in the house.
HOTB: There was a conversation with Brian that stands out where he said you were the only one with a clear strategy and you were constantly “playing the game”.
Brig: Well, we joked on the show, calling Brian “Einstein”, but he has a very high IQ. The others were always quick to point out people’s short comings, but he’s brilliant. And he was the only other person on the cast that came with any strategy other than I’m going to do the best hair that I can. I mean, this is a reality show! We are entertaining people in their living rooms. But I can tell you the one thing I refrained from doing, regardless of how tired I was, saying: I wish I was home right now. I just held back from that, even though there were times when I felt like that. So many people were passed up on this opportunity, and we were given the chance, so I was going to make the best of it regardless.
And Brian was right. I came with a strategy. That bow? I don’t wear a bow in regular life! I didn’t go, ok, what can I put on my head to get attention? A month before I went on the show, I came across a bow at Forever21 for $5.00 and I started wearing it. People reacted differently to me, and it made me look a little loopy. It made me just feel fun. When I walked in the first day with a bow, it was never my intention to be making all these bows and to be wearing the bow all the time, but it kind of concealed the fact that my resume was up to par with the others and that I am talented. They just thought, she’s crazy, that’s why she’s here. So it definitely encouraged me to play that up a little bit. It’s a game, Valerie. It’s a competition.
HOTB: I get it. I watch reality TV!
Brig: I always tell everyone, you never want to compete against me. I came in the first day and I told everyone I was going to win, but you didn’t hear anyone arguing with me and saying no, I’m going to win. They all just rolled their eyes and looked the other way. Maybe they should have been saying that they were going to win too and have that positive belief. They say if you’re applying for a job, you should always dress for the job you want to get, or if you’re at an office and you want to get a promotion, you put on a suit if the person in that job wears a suit. So for me, I went in there and said: I’m going to win, I’m going to win, I’m going to win.
HOTB: So winning the whole thing was your goal all along.
Brig: Absolutely! From the second I started trying to get on the show for season two, I told them I was going to win. I didn’t make season two, but I’m not a quitter, as Tabatha [Coffey] knows clearly–and probably all of America! I went into season three casting with the executive producers and I had to introduce myself–name, where you’re from–and I said, I am your season three winner of Shear Genius. And they looked at me smugly because they knew they had Adee coming in next after me. I said, you can save the ink in your pen and deposit it right into my account. And it was because of my big mouth. They kind of scratched their heads and said, how do you plan to win? And I said, with strategy. I’m going to listen and I’m going to let everyone think I’m just this girl from the suburbs where we just got a mall and we have horses. I’m not going to show my portfolio; I’m not going to tell them everything that I’ve done. I’m going to let them underestimate me.
HOTB: If they underestimated you, why do you think you got under their skin so much?
Brig: You know, I don’t know because both Janine and Matthew have a flair for fashion, especially Janine. I don’t know if it was that I wasn’t sucking up to them from the beginning and maybe they were irritated? I don’t know. I mean, everyone there was extremely talented. Janine and Matthew gave me a run for the money for sure. There is no question about that. They are brilliant hairdressers. But there is more to that game then just doing the best hair that you can. And a lot of people that were on the cast had never even seen the show!
HOTB: I’ve heard that mentioned too.
Brig: You know, one of the challenges of being on the show, was being in a salon with 12 chairs with people around me that I couldn’t ask for help. But in the romance novel cover challenge, I had an 15 extra minutes and Jon offered to help me. That tells you the kind of professional he is. So I can say Jon, Amy, April, Brian–these are real people that are not… I don’t want to say “sore losers” because I don’t want to say that the others are sore losers, but it’s hard when you go out for something and you have a lot of pride in yourself and then you have to accept defeat. You can either take it and really grow from it or you can let it just demolish you.
HOTB: How did you deal with living with the contestants that didn’t get along with you?
Brig: What was challenging for me was after we’d been there for a while, keeping my positive attitude with all the negativity that was pecking at me. That was extremely challenging. Sure, I wear roller skates. Sure, I yo-yo, I have fun, I dress the way I want to dress. But I never cussed on the show. I don’t cuss in the salon. I kept it professional in that respect. Whether they showed it or not, I was always respectful to my models. I recently read something where someone else’s model said I was mean to my model.
HOTB: That was on my blog.
Brig: That was probably another stylist telling them that I was mean to my model and they believed it and felt the need to advertise that. But I thought it was hilarious. I was like, are you kidding me? I had so much fun with most of my models.
HOTB: Now that Shear Genius is over, what’s coming up next for you?
Brig: I’m actually in New York this week. But as for what’s next, I really don’t know. I’m running down the yellow brick road right now. I have a salon called Play Hair Lounge in Simi Valley. It’s a Bumble and Bumble network salon, and I named it play because I couldn’t call it work. I’m so passionate about hairdressing. And I work with an incredible team of very passionate hairstylists who were so supportive of this experience. And I’m happy with everything that I had in my life going into the show, so the fact that now all these doors are opening, everything just seems like a dream. And I’m really enjoying meeting other industry professionals and other people all the way across the board.
HOTB: And you have a $100,000!
Brig: Don’t tell Bravo this because they haven’t given me the check yet, but I would have done it for a dollar. I got to be mentored by Orlando Pita for five weeks! I got to meet Oribe, Ken Paves, Robert Vetica, Linda Wells… Like, what just happened? When Oribe came out, I didn’t want to be that girl who is so stupid and cries, but I was literally sucking back tears. I was just in awe. For over eighteen years I’ve been looking at his work–before I even knew what I was looking at. And Orlando was such a humble, kind man. He was truly there not to be on TV, but to help our work be better. And I would have sat for an hour with that Shear Genius clock running to listen to what he had to say.