International recognition for Ukrainian hairdresser allowed to flourish in Edinburgh

A refugee who fled the war in Ukraine has been shortlisted for a top hairdressing award, along with the Edinburgh salon owner who offered her hope.

Internationally renowned stylist Viktoriia Vradii, 37, arrived in the Capital with her family in May, leaving behind her business in the Black Sea port of Odessa, which has come under heavy fire from Russian forces.

She has now been named as a finalist in this year’s British Hairdressing Awards, together with Simon Hill of SESH Hairdressing in Leith, where she has taken up a full-time position.

The pair have been working together closely since Simon reached out to Viktoriia, through an industry contact, to offer her a safe base from which to continue her career. He was also involved in the family’s search for temporary accommodation before their arrival in Edinburgh, later helping them to find a more permanent home.

Simon Hill, owner of SESH Hairdressing, and Ukrainian stylist Viktoriia Vradii

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Given the challenges she has faced in the past few months, Simon – a finalist for Scottish Hairdresser of the Year – is delighted that Viktoriia is also in the running for an award, for International Collection of Year.

"It's an honour for us to have Viktoriia as part of the SESH team and to both be announced as finalists in our respective categories in the British Hairdressing Awards is an extraordinary honour too,” he said.

"I am grateful that I am in a position to offer support to Viktoriia. To provide a safe space for her to continue her craft is wonderful and to see her career continue to flourish during this time is really special."

Viktoriia said: ‘It’s a huge honour to be a finalist for the British Hairdressing Awards for the second year in a row. I am proud to represent Ukraine on the international stage at such a difficult time for my country.”

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Judged anonymously by more than 100 leading hairdressers, including celebrity stylists, the award winners will be announced at a black-tie event being held in London in November.

Simon was named as one of six finalists in Scotland after submitting four photographs, showcasing his technical skill and creative ability.

“These awards always bring together such exceptional talent and to see my name alongside those shortlisted is mind-blowing,” he added. “I’d love to bring the trophy back to Edinburgh.”