Washburn Tech front of main building


Big-City Style

Celebrity photo shoot opens avenues for Tech alumnus’ mane adventure

Dawson Hiegert posing

From The Ichabod - Fall 2020 (reprinted from washburntech.edu)

In the summer of 2019, Dawson Hiegert decided the time had come to go from “hair” to “there” – with the best perk of “there” being moving to New York City to work with some of the nation’s highest profile hair stylists on a Victoria’s Secret lingerie ad campaign photo shoot.

Not a bad resume builder for a 19-year old from Topeka who, less than a year before, completed the cosmetology certificate program at Washburn University Institute of Technology.

“It’s all been a whirlwind that I don’t know anything could have prepared me for,” said Hiegert, certificate ’18.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is to be open to everything that comes your way and never be afraid to reach out to people – because I wouldn’t be in this position if I hadn’t sent that message on Instagram.”

Instagram? The magical powers of social media created a perfect gateway for establishing valuable connections to the world of stylists, and in particular, with Jacob Rozenberg, an assistant for Harry Josh, one of the biggest names in the industry. Josh’s well-tressed clientele who walk the red carpets include Gwyneth Paltrow, Tina Fey and Jennifer Garner.

Numerous conversations with Rozenberg turned into an offer to be the lead assistant. It is important to note these duties were in addition to Hiegert’s training at the Rita Hazan Salon, adding force to the new whirlwind of life.

Hiegert feels both fortunate and excited to learn the finer points of a field that flourishes without boundaries. At the hectic Victoria’s Secret shoot in February, he assisted in prepping the models with hair enhancement products in advance of the veteran stylists – definitely for him a new experience.

While a cosmetology student, Hiegert focused on making diverse style statements in creating braids, which resulted in a catalog of 365 days of braids he featured on Instagram. This artistic challenge was beneficial in expanding his creativity, “and it became second nature to me to deconstruct old ideas and then rebuild them.”

While his career prospects have expanded beyond his expectations, Hiegert credits the Washburn Tech program with giving him the opportunity to hone the important fundamentals of hairstyling.

“Had I attended a traditional beauty school, I couldn’t have enrolled until after high school and then would have had a full year after that before I could go out to start my career. While I’m still very young, had I not gotten out when I had and been able to make all these moves, I very well could have missed this opportunity,” he said.

While the social distancing required during the current pandemic brought traditional life in New York City to a halt, Hiegert likes to remain productive as he experiments with designs on his home mannequin.

“It’s been wild to watch it unfold, especially in the city that never sleeps,” he said.

The Ichabod Winter 2021 issue

The Ichabod tells our story with features on alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends, along with the latest campus news. Read the 2021 winter edition online and look for it in mailboxes in January.

View past editions


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