UNIVERSITY PARK -- Cheyanne Clark brushes back the fiery orange hair on her mannequin's head. The teeth rip through the snarls on the wig's coarse ends.
Clark has practiced on the mannequin many times before, but this run may be the most important. A tray containing hundreds of bobby pins sits beside her. She tucks and pins, tucks and pins until the tresses are nicely intertwined in a double French twist.
Some wisps of hair don't cooperate, but Clark isn't fazed.
"It's just hair," she said.
Last month, Clark, 22, won a nationwide hair-styling contest and was invited to style W magazine's "Look of the Month" feature in the upcoming October issue. She did so well that she was asked to come back to New York to style hair for Fashion Week, a hairdresser's heaven.
The night before she got the call from W, Clark had a dream doors were going to be opening for her.
"Because of my dream, I felt like this was supposed to happen," she said. "I felt like this was mine."
The contest, a partnership between the magazine and hair product giant Bumble and bumble, required participants -- more than 450 of them -- to use Bumble's new thickening line to create a voluminous look. Facebook users would vote for their favorite look on W's page.
Clark knew that all the other stylists would go for something along the lines of big, sexy Victoria's Secret curls. And when others went left, Clark went right.
"It wasn't big and curly like everybody else did, but that's what she told me she wanted," said Coral Pleas, owner of Cutting Loose, the salon where Clark works. "It totally stood out from anybody else's."
Clark did a sleek up-do (or an "upstyle,"as she calls it) reminiscent of the 1940s. And instead of using her iPhone to shoot her look, Clark did a professional photo shoot with her model, immediately setting her entry apart from the rest of the contestants.
"They knew weeks in advance that I had won because my votes were so high," she said.
During her time in New York, Clark trained with stylists from Bumble and bumble, styled the photo shoot and got to work with Laurent Phillippon, a renowned French stylist. Clark and her husband, who was formerly a stylist, were completely taken care of -- everything from swank hotel to even swankier dinners were on the magazine's tab.
"I felt like I was living my dream and sharing it with everyone," she said.
Clark, a graduate of Manatee School for the Arts and Manatee Technical Institute, attributes her success to growing up in hair salons (she's a third-generation hair stylist) and to God's faithfulness.
"I feel like God gives us our dreams and prepares us for them," she said.
As Clark puts the finishing touches on her mannequin's new 'do, she casually mentions one of her clients.
"I did Nik Wallenda's hair earlier today," she says, nonchalantly.
Clark goes on to say he's a regular client, and friend, of hers. On the day of his recent internationally-televised tightrope walk across the Grand Canyon, Clark was there to style his hair. Right before the cameras started rolling, she waved some strong hair spray across his short style.
"It was definitely different because I had to find a product for walking across the Grand Canyon," she said, with a laugh.