Introducing the Chief Executive of the Southeast and Southwest Hairstyling Awards, Lynda Baker

What started as an opportunity to immerse herself in the hair world has turned into leading an award ceremony honoring some of the best beauty professionals around the world. Lynda Baker is more than a former marine, journalist and hairstylist — she is the Chief Executive of the Southheast and Southwest Hairstyling Awards. 

She hosts three shows a year — The Southeast and Southwest Hair Awards in the fall and the 303 Hair Awards in the spring. 

READ: 303 Magazine Hair Awards Announces Top Beauty Artists in Five Categories

Before entering the hair industry, Baker joined the Marine Corps fresh out of high school. For six and a half years she was on active duty and was a part of the first Gulf War. From there, she became a disc jockey and worked in public relations and broadcasting. A couple of years later, she found herself as a reporter at CNN in Atlanta, Georgia.

“It was just such a competitive environment, it didn’t match who I felt like I was on the inside,” Baker said. “I loved the news and I was always hungry for the next piece of information but I didn’t like how people went about getting the news.”

Photo by Roxanna Carassco

Growing up, she always wanted to do hair but her father didn’t allow it. As an adult, she decided to shift career paths and attend hair school. 

“I gave my notice at CNN and listened to all of those professionals tell me how crazy I was and I left and went to hair school and I never really looked back,” she said.

From then on, Baker spent a lot of time behind the chair cutting hair and then became an educator, platform artist and then later a salon owner. To some, the shift from journalist to hairstylist may seem daunting but for Baker, it was an easy transition.

“In television, it’s all about talking a story and I feel like our industry is the same way we just use different tools to a story,” she said. “I really appreciate the one on one time I had with people when I was behind the chair. It was like an interview in a TV setting because you just really get to know a lot about them so it wasn’t so different to me it just was kind of a natural shift for me to go from one thing to another.” 

Photo by Roxanna Carrasco

During this time, Baker spent a lot of time flying back and forth between her salon, true salon, in Atlanta to her home in Denver. During Covid, she unexpectedly was forced to stay in Denver when a friend who was involved in the award show network approached her about starting the Southeast Hair Show. 

Baker knew she didn’t want to stay a salon owner forever so she thought this was the perfect opportunity.

“I wanted to stay involved in the industry so I thought that this would be a great way,” Baker said. “I had been fortunate enough to make several contacts and I thought that being involved in the award show circuit would be a way to utilize those contacts and still be involved in the industry that I’m passionate about, so I took it on.”

Per the Hair Award USA website, the award shows are a way, “to celebrate beauty artists in The United States by recognizing commitment to their craft.” This means that an extensive panel of judges handles the application process unanimously. 

The first round is comprised of beauty artists submitting photos of their work. Then, the top 20% of each category moves on to the elite panel of judges comprised of some of the top names in the industry like William DeRidder, Ruth Roche, Eugene Souleiman and more.

They select the winners.

“It works out wonderful for hairstylists because even if you are a young stylist just starting to enter your work into contests because it’s regional, the competition is a little more diluted so it allows you to get your work in front of the best hairstylists in the world,” Baker said. 

Photo by Adam Ripplinger

After the former director of the Southwest Hair Show stepped down, Baker took on the responsibility — it was then the Denver Fashion Week (DFW) and Southwest Hairstyling Award partnership was born. DFW’s Creative Director David Rossa approached Baker and encouraged her to take the position. 

Get your DFW Awards Ceremony and Hair Show tickets here

“I actually told him no,” she said. “I wasn’t connected enough, I didn’t know enough people in Denver where I could pull off a show that I was confident would be a top caliber but as time went on and I saw that there was really a need for this show continued to take palace he suggested partnering with DFW.” 

Since then, every year Baker has hosted the Southwest Hairstyling Awards in conjunction with DFW. This season, she is hosting 303’s Hair Awards similar to a People’s Choice Awards. Rather than a panel of judges, beauty professionals are nominated by consumers and fellow hairstylists — it’s self driven. 

It’s through her various career paths that Baker found her calling in hair — it’s why she was asked to take on the top beauty award ceremony in the U.S. It’s through trivial moments that she knew she was meant to be a part of the hair community indefinitely.

Get your Denver Fashion Week tickets here to see the 303 Hair Show winners.