Funk Zone business owner and national horse riding champion Gillian Ireland will compete in this year’s Old Spanish Days Fiesta team penning event.
Along with being one of Santa Barbara’s top men’s hair stylists, Ireland is a champion on horseback.
Ireland won the U.S. Team Penning Association championship in Amarillo, Texas, in 2002. The prize for winning that senior youth competition, an impressive saddle, sits in the studio of her business, Chandler’s Hair Salon, 28 Anacapa St. A couple of years ago, Ireland bought the business situated in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone.
Ireland grew up in rural eastern San Diego County with her two older brothers. She raised pigs in 4-H and Future Farmers of America. She began riding horses when she was 10 years old, but always had an eye for beauty. “I have always been interested in in the beauty industry,” Ireland says. “When I was 4, I had a tackle box with makeup in it.”
After taking riding lessons, she began herding cattle in competitions through California, Arizona and Wyoming. “I love it,” Ireland says of the team penning event, which she competes in with two other women riders.
Ireland started working at Chandler’s several years ago after attending the Vidal Sassoon Hair Styling School in San Diego from 2005 to 2006 and Joe Blasco Cosmetics & Makeup School in Hollywood in 2008. She bought Chandler’s because, she says, “I wanted to have my own independence and I wanted to do men’s hair.” Chandler’s has been in the Funk Zone for 10 years.
Also an avid snowboarder and wake boarder, Ireland says she enjoys owning her own business. She also specializes in wedding makeup for women. Ireland recently expanded her business by adding another chair.