THE DEDICATION OF A LIFETIME
Joan Harrison, the publications director for Canadian Hairdresser Magazine, spent most of her life as a
mentor for those in the beauty industry.
After coming to Canada from her native England in her early 20’s, she immediately got her start in what
would become a passionate commitment she dedicated more than five decades of her lifetime to. Joan
was a leader in what is often a very challenging industry for many up-and-coming beauty professionals.
Colin Ford, a stylist and long-time friend says that she has often been described as the Fairy Godmother
of the hair industry.
“Joan inspired so many of the great hairstylists in Canada, including me,” recalls Jon Paul Holt of Avant
Garde Salon in Vancouver. “Her life was hairdressing, and what she could do to help others that loved
hair as much as she did.”
This is a reaction most often repeated by her friends and industry peers: Joan loved what she did, and
she loved helping others achieve success in the industry, too.
Joan’s takeover of Canadian Hairdresser Magazine in the 90’s allowed her to make connections and
lasting friendships with many legends. John Rafferty first met Joan in the early days of launching the
Joico line. They bonded very quickly after John stumbled into Monroe’s, a Yorkville salon owned by Joan.
“Upon her taking over Canadian Hairdresser Magazine, Joico was one of the first companies to place
ads. Whenever we would put on an event in the USA or Canada, Joan was always a guest of honor to
join us for dinner and a laugh,” reminisces John.
She was also responsible for founding the highly regarded Mirror Awards – an annual hair and photo
competition that celebrates the best in the industry. Last year marked the 23 rd edition of this event,
where finalists and winners are selected by an international panel of judges. “The Mirror Awards are a
celebration of the passion and love of hair and of those who work in the beauty industry,” said Joan in a
2009 interview. “It is an event that recognizes the talents of Canada’s leading hairstylists and beauty
professionals, and cheers the industry’s most remarkable and innovative works from across the
Al Barillas from Alternative Beauty Services Ltd. recalls Joan as being a strong and tenacious industry
leader, with a voracious curiosity for innovation. “The years I worked alongside Joan at Canadian
Hairdresser Magazine allowed me the luxury to see and experience first-hand her unabated passion for
the beauty industry,” he says. “In my memory, Joan will always be the visionary, the dreamer, the
achiever, the networker and the driving force that never stopped.”
Joan forged new ways for the long-running beauty trade publication and brought it into its sixth decade
of circulation. Not an easy feat by a long shot, but the fiercely passionate Joan made it work, and she
helped to establish the magazine as a long-standing Canadian publication.
In 2015, she won the Chatters Lifetime Achievement Award. Described as an iconic individual in the
Canadian beauty industry, Joan was recognized for her lifetime of mentoring hairstylists, her
commitment to hairdressers, and the opportunities she happily gave to hairstylists through her
“A lifetime in this industry is a lifetime for anybody worth living,” said Joan during her acceptance
speech. “You make more friends, you know more people and you stay with them all your life.”