Shawn Bravo: Great Clips Competition 1st Place Winner

by Courtney Weikel
Empire Beauty School Student wins Great Clips Hair Competition

Empire Beauty School Standale, MI student Shawn Bravo recently competed in a Great Clips Hair Competition, winning 1st place and a $3,000 scholarship! This was the first competition Bravo has participated in, and he is eager to pursue new experiences in the beauty industry. 

Bravo began his Empire Beauty School journey in June 2023, with a graduation date set for April 2025. Initially, he planned on pursuing nails. Now, he is enjoying all aspects of Cosmetology.

I initially came in only wanting to do nails but I was open to learning all parts of Cosmetology. My educator, Thadaus, made everything enjoyable and super understanding. I started to like more aspects of Cosmetology. Color scares me, I don’t know why that is. My educator helped me to be more confident. Before school, I loved makeup and I would do wedding makeup. As I started going to school, I am now loving everything.

Bravo spent 12 years in the National Guard, learning how to control his emotions which helps him prevent feeling nervous in times like this.

For me, I didn’t allow myself to be nervous. I felt completely fine the entire week leading up to it. When it was competition time, I wasn’t nervous and told myself I was there for the experience of it. I wasn’t expecting to win. I wanted to gain experience and have fun. I know that I won’t learn by fading into the shadows. I have to put myself out there and push myself to experience new things in the field.

Empire Beauty School Student wins Great Clips Hair Competition

After trying out other career fields, Bravo finally decided to listen to his heart and pursue Cosmetology. 

I’ve always wanted to go to Cosmetology school. Instead, I became a licensed psychologist while I was in the military. I enjoyed my job, but I debated if it was for me. After a few years, I decided to sign up for what I really wanted. I enrolled in Cosmetology school and I am enjoying myself so much more. In my previous career, I would only have moments of enjoyment. Now I find so much enjoyment in Cosmetology. Winning this competition solidified my thought process in coming into this career. At first, I was nervous. Now being recognized, I thought maybe I am doing okay. 

With this being his first competition, Bravo practiced every area that he could including styling within the time frame, learning new techniques, and choosing which style he would replicate. 

In the competition, I was going for a butterfly cut with an older generational style. It was a lot of layering and movement. It took a lot of practice leading up to the competition, but I learned new techniques. I watched a ton of videos to learn different ways of doing the cut. I had to find the one that fits my style of cutting. Once I chose a technique, I kept practicing it leading up to the competition. Along with school, I also work in a salon. When we didn’t have clients, I would work on my mannequin to practice. It gave me a greater opportunity to become comfortable with the haircut. We had roughly 40 minutes to cut the hair, and 20 minutes to style it. I was practicing these time frames before the competition. 

Empire Beauty School Student wins Great Clips Hair Competition

For Bravo, the Empire educators make his experience empowering. When Bravo feels uneasy, his educators motivate him. 

I come to school because the educators make learning exciting and feasible. They motivate you so much that you grow confidence and become comfortable. When I wasn’t understanding, they would take a look at me to see where I was struggling. It made school so much better. Even in moments when I did not enjoy it, my educators motivated me. My educator, Thadaus, has motivated me to the 100th degree and continues to do so. He is not an educator at the moment, but I know I can talk to any of the educators here. Even if the educators are not physically here, they still check-in. 

Some individuals may be hesitant to take the first step. The unknown makes us uncomfortable. Bravo fully understands this and encourages you to start slowly. It’s the first step that will get you towards your end goal. 

Take that first step. You don’t have to start running or jogging. But you need to take the first step. For me, I had a lot of people telling me not to do it. I was hesitating to take the first step to this degree. I decided I would take a little walk into Cosmetology. That didn’t mean I had to step away from everything I was doing prior. It only meant that I was taking the first step forward. Give yourself the opportunity to decide for yourself. 

Congratulations, Shawn Bravo, for winning first place in your first hair competition! Your skills will be an asset to the beauty industry. We are proud to have you in our Empire Family. 

For more information about Empire Beauty School, or how to enroll visit

May 15, 2024

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