When Tristan Johnson-England was 10 years old, she fell in love with automotive painting and repair. Once old enough, she headed to Saskatchewan Polytechnic in Regina to finally study collision repair, where she later completed the first and second levels of her work placement.
But auto repair isn’t Tristan’s only passion — she’s also a thriving beauty queen.
As the reigning Miss Canadian Tourism International, Tristan, from Moose Jaw, Sask. is heading to Malaysia on October 18 to compete in the international Miss Tourism pageant.
While her career in automotive repair may be on the back burner right now, she always has her passion on her mind. Collision Repair spoke to Tristan before her big trip to hear what she had to say about her repair experience and blending her unique pastimes.
Collision Repair: How did you become interested in auto repair?
Tristan Johnson-England: When I was 10 years old I was driving with my parents and we passed an auto body shop. It had its doors open and I saw someone painting inside — they were airbrushing, doing detailed designs and it caught my interest. So I skirted away from my parents and went up to him. I was right beside the airbrusher and just got lost in it. Ever since then, that’s what I’ve wanted to do.
CRM: And how did you become interested in beauty pageants?
TJE: Four years ago, while doing my auto body schooling, I was studying for exams. I took a break around three or four in the morning and, on Facebook, I saw a link to sign up for a pageant. I thought why not, it seemed like something interesting and fun to pass the time, so I filled out the application.
The next day during exams I got a phone call, and that’s how it happened. It wasn’t something I wanted to do, I just thought, “oh, cool, something to pass the time.”
CRM: So where did you study auto body repair?
TJE: I went to Saskatchewan Polytechnic and completed my Level 1 and Level 2 work placement.
CRM: Are you working as a repairer right now, or are you more focused on pageants with your Malaysia trip coming up in a few weeks?
TJE: Currently I’m more focused on pageants because this summer I was employed with National Defense with the Cadet program. After that job ended, I had a month after regionals and nationals from pageants to get ready for the international competition. I thought there wasn’t really much point returning to my auto bodywork if I was leaving for internationals in a month.
CRM: Would you say there any aspects of pageant work that cross over into your work as a journeyperson?
TJE: The confidence aspect really ties the two together. There’s a lot of confidence training with beauty pageants and I feel like that brought a lot of confidence to what I’m doing with my auto body work.
There’s also a lot of creativity with both. Yes, with pageants it’s with clothes, hair and makeup, but you also have to be creative in the body shop. If you’re painting or airbrushing you have to channel your creativity. If you’re having a bad day creativity-wise, you really shouldn’t be in that paint booth.
CRM: Do you have anything to say to girls who may be interested in pursuing a career in auto repair or the trades?
TJE: If you’ve found something that you’re passionate about, do not care what other people are telling you. If they’re trying to be rude or mean or put you down, it doesn’t matter — you’re the one who is doing it, not them. If you like to deal with wires and want to be a technician, don’t worry about what the haters have to say. Worry about what you want. You’ll have a family and you’ll have friends who will support you — you’ll always have someone there.
CRM: What is your career plan now that you’ve become involved with pageant work?
TJE: Well, before all the pageant stuff happened I wanted to finish my auto body schooling and become a journeyperson in it. Then I wanted to become a journeyperson in mechanics, work in business for a year or two, and then open up my own non-dealership shop.
That was the original plan, but now that I’m in pageants, if I was approached about modelling or something similar, it might be something I would look into. I can’t say if I would pursue it yet, but it might be something I would look into. If you have the opportunity, you might as well try — and that goes for more than just pageants.