Stratford may just be a little dot on the New Zealand map, but Kim Walsh ensured that people in the big and high places take notice, when she placed second at the 2012 national hairdresser of the year competition in Auckland.
"It shows that we can compete with the big cities. I am very passionate about what I do and am very proud of this achievement," she says.
"We are a little town, but that plays to our advantage. Most of our clientele become great friends."
She says she had placed in competitions but her first win was on being announced 2012 Hairdressing Cutting Stylist of the Year for Taranaki earlier this year, where she also placed first on directional cut and in directional colour.
Kim says she had her eyes on becoming a hairdresser since she was little.
She apprenticed at Hair Fashions in Stratford 16 years ago. Six years on she bought the business and later added beauty therapy and rebranded it Noir Hair and Day Spa.
"It is all I wanted to do. I have always been creative and I love my work."
She says her creation at the national was inspired by the Chanel wigs currently in fashion and on the catwalk in beautiful pastel colours.
"I just build on that. The direction event is very creative and completely out there. I love it."
She says placing second came as a bit of surprise.
"I loved what I have done, but there were some really good creations.
"I always wanted to win a competition - this is a tick off my bucket list," she says.
She has her eyes on again winning next year's Taranaki competition, but also bringing home the coveted trophy in the next nationals, to be held in 2014.
Apart from that, the mum of three says she is content, adding that it is a bit of a novelty as she has always had "a plan" .
"Stratford is my home. I love living and working here and would not consider anywhere else."
She credits her success to the support of Dani McQuay, a past owner of the business, the rest of her team: Courtney Hayston, Lydia Macken, Tracey Short, Courtney Cheer, Claire Wicksteed and Leah Macdonald, and her family: McKenna (4), Molly (6) and Elliott (8) and husband and business partner Brendon Gernhoefer.