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Regency Beauty Institute student Jillian C. submitted a photo to the Sebastian What’s Next Awards that has put her in the running for an editorial photo shoot, a $1,000 value gift and a $1,000 cash prize.

Her submission to the Alter Ego theme was titled “Vulnerable Strength.”

“I used the braided crown to represent her strength and the texture/volume to show her willingness to lose control,” Jillian wrote alongside her entry.

Jillian developed her look by analyzing styles Sebastian has featured in the past and by creating an inspirational mood board.

Going to events hosted by Regency and small salons served as inspiration and really got her excited to be creative, she added. Jillian remembers becoming particularly motivated after seeing Omar Antonio, a master stylist for Sebastian, perform at the Wella Inspire Show.

“That was something Regency offered me that was a great way to get inspired,” Jillian said.

Gaining exposure through contests can help show off talents and techniques to a broader audience. Jillian said participating has also given her the chance to gain independent experience beyond the classroom.

“As a student it’s nice to be behind their chair, but taking yourself out and developing yourself with a creative outlet like this is amazing for students,” Jillian said.

Jillian discovered the contest through Facebook and jumped on the opportunity.

“I follow Sebastian through social media and am always looking to see what they are up to,” Jillian said.

Using social media has also helped Jillian market and promote her style. By posting links to her submission on Instagram and Facebook, she was able to garner attention from friends and family and they were able to see the beautiful result from all her hard work.

The awards are split in to two categories, professional and new talent/student. The awards are given out to “new and established talent who dare to create what’s next,” according to the contest website.

Finalists for this year’s Sebastian What’s Next Awards will be announced March 14, 2014.  Check out the submissions here!

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