Ulta Beauty, the nation’s leading beauty retailer, today announced Michelle O’Connor as the newest member of its Pro Team, a collaborative group of industry leaders who bring the vision and experience of The Salon at Ulta Beauty to life. O’Connor is a five-time NAHA-winning hairstylist, trailblazer, influencer, educator, Matrix global artistic director and emerging voice on diversity and inclusion within the beauty industry.
The Ulta Beauty Pro Team was established in May 2017 as a pioneering group of artists and educators from the industry’s top beauty brands. Drawing on extensive expertise, the Pro Team collaborates to support the company’s community of stylists with education, trend spotting and industry-wide, leadership-level representation.
“I’m so excited for this new adventure and optimistic about how and where Ulta Beauty creates beautiful possibilities for all,” O’Connor said. “I’ve always sought to have a platform to speak on inclusion and diversity within the industry—not solely as a textured hair artist, but as a credible expert across hair types. The entire Ulta Beauty team is sincere and passionate; there’s an authenticity about how they want to move their approach to texture, diversity and inclusion forward. They carefully earned their right to be in the texture services space, and I’m excited to bring my skills and ideas to help further the company’s vision.”
Ulta Beauty has long prioritized diversity and inclusion and is committed to creating a more inclusive world using the power of beauty. The company recently announced a planned investment of more than $25 million in 2021 to bolster its D&I commitments. In addition, Ulta Beauty has increased salon education for texture services, with focused trainings each quarter for all stylists.
O’Connor will work closely with Nick Stenson, senior vice president, store and services operations, Ammon Carver, chief artistic director, and other members of the Pro Team to drive trend and stylist development.
“Ulta Beauty’s Pro Team is committed to the growth of our stylist community by inspiring and offering the best training in the industry,” said Stenson. “As a renowned expert in the textured hair category, we are thrilled to welcome Michelle who brings amazing talents to our team and can help us to create and deliver the best stylist education.”
“Michelle is a celebrated artist, educator and texture expert – and a powerful addition to the Ulta Beauty Pro Team,” Carveradded. “With her extensive skills and approach to all hair textures and types, Michelle’s presence will help our education platform further strengthen, grow and expand The Salon at Ulta Beauty and our platform of artists supporting artists.”
O’Connor began her hair career in Ft. Lauderdale in 2000, working for the prestigious Paul Triana Salon. There she honed her skills in cutting, coloring and styling, equipping her with incredible experience with textured and non-textured hair. She quickly became an in-demand freelance hairstylist, working for clients including Victoria’s Secret and J.Crew, and at New York Fashion Week.
With the Mizani education team, she flexed entrepreneurial skills to open a small boutique salon and expand her editorial and session work on set for music videos, commercials and catalogs. From there, she moved into the role of Creative Director for The Salon by InStyle at JCPenney. Most recently, in addition to her education role with Matrix, O’Connor consulted with marketing and leadership teams for various hair care and beauty brands, including Dyson and Kerastase.
O’Connor brings all of this varied experience and accolades to the new role with Ulta Beauty and will make a marked impact. Throughout her career, she’s been honored with five North American Hairstyling Awards (NAHA) in texture, editorial, Avant-garde and styling and finishing categories. “I’m thrilled to be a join the Ulta Beauty Pro Team and look forward to helping drive greater diversity, inclusivity and equity for underrepresented voices across beauty,” said O’Connor