Conversation gets lively when a salon-owning hairstylist and product company owner get up close—and a little bit personal—all in the name of disruption.
David Thurston: With so much competing for our attention, stylists are lucky to be getting the level of training they are from video education. I still think that some of the foundational skills are challenging to teach, so there is a place for in-salon education.
Michael Levine: I’m a firm believer in knowing you suck. Knowing you’re not as good as some people, and knowing where you need to improve. There’s nothing more dangerous than thinking you know it all, it’s so vital to force yourself to work harder. As a hairdresser, the most important thing to know that you have so many ways to improve. Right now, I’m not even remotely in my comfort zone. When I look at my successes and failures, both make me realize how much I have to grow.
Power of People
DT: I am lucky and blessed to be in this industry. I’m a huge fan of hair. I run our Instagram page and every day my jaw drops in awe. People often say this is a downtime in the industry, but I believe we are in the golden age of hair. The people you are surrounded by is so key.
ML: I’m kind of old school and had a really hard time moving into this more global situation. I feel that working with a bunch of people and being on stage and studying salon owners has been refreshing, and it’s shown me that I have a lot of people who are a support system now. It’s time in the industry to realize that we are all doing the same things and we have the same struggles. I believe it’s more exciting now than it’s ever been. DT Oh, I definitely agree. Right now hairstylists can recreate something in L.A. and someone in Japan can see their work. It comes down to the people, the artistry and the creativity. That’s what I get the buzz from.
ML: I started seeing David appearing at hair shows long before I knew him. When we met, he was very calm with a chill voice—not the lunatic I am. Eventually we did a show together and we were on a panel, and I thought, this guy is so calm, measured non-reactive and thoughtful. I’m not any of those things. You want to surround yourself with people who inspire you, and I thought that getting to know him would help me become a better person.
DT: For me, Michael is one of the most intelligent people in our industry; he’s so humble yet he says what he believes. You can get ahead by telling it like it is, even if people don’t want to hear it. That’s scary and Michael puts it out there and he is who he is and he’s not apologizing for it. He’s more of a leader than he thinks, he commands people backstage and in his salon. And he’s one heck of a person.
ML: One thing I’m noticing is that I’m seeing NAHA and Contessa-worthy work on Instagram. I wonder how that’s going to affect things. Every week, we see someone putting out more work and what’s cool is that everyone has a voice. I’ve also found that if I reach out to people on Instagram and ask if they teach, a lot of people are teaching education independently.
DT: What’s interesting now is that trends change daily. Someone posts a photo of space buns and then someone posts a photo that looks like a different version of space buns, and I see that as being the power. The industry unifies in such a way they couldn’t before. It’s not coming down from men or women in suits, and that’s exciting to me.