Tell us about Ungendered and how the idea/concept began.
For a long time, I wanted to create a campaign in my image that would respect my style, where I was going to be able to orchestrate all the creative aspects. I didn’t invent anything. I wanted to put forward this much needed movement. I changed my price list in 2016 and I was shocked to see that majority of salons still have services with different prices (male-female). From the beginning of the development of the project, I immediately thought to involve REDKEN, a faithful partner with whom I worked for seven years. They were immediately excited and helped me finance this project that was so close to my heart. Concept JP also joined the team to support our initiative, so I had the best team to support me. I wanted to show a big gap in our industry: the gendering of services. It is an innocuous habit that has far-reaching consequences, not only for the LGBTQ+ community, but on our own perception of our profession. For example, it is common for clients from the LGBTQ+ community to be misgendered so just to go to our businesses becomes a source of anxiety, or hairdressers refuse to do a “masculine” hairstyle because it “pays less”.
This is the clear result of a price list that is poorly constructed that should take into account several variables in the billing of a hairstyling service, such as the complexity of certain techniques, the expertise of the stylist and the time it takes to do the service. The financial aspect is crucial, but so is the way we express ourselves. I’ll give you an example: barbers who say they don’t do “women’s cuts” probably mean they don’t cut long hair. Through this campaign, we see 10 people with the same haircuts, which is a nod to outdated stereotypes: people with the male gender expression with long hair, people with female gender expression with shaved hair, the use of pastel colours traditionally associated with women, as well as gender-neutral cuts. The looks were created in collaboration with Sygie Gagné of la Chop in Quebec City, who saw, after the project, the importance of this movement. She also changed her prices after the campaign!
Why is gender neutral hairdressing important to you?
The neutralization of the price list in salons directly solves the problems in the world of hairstyling. Not just for my community, but for the whole industry! We must ensure that our environment is healthy and safe for our customers, that they find themselves in an inclusive space, starting with the neutralization of the price list, but the work does not stop there. The important thing is to focus on what really matters. On the other hand, the financial aspect is also important. If we pay ourselves properly, it will also allow us to improve our own perception of our jobs as stylists.
Tell us about the haircuts and hair colour you created for this presentation, and the techniques you used. What surprised you when creating this presentation? Anything you weren’t expecting?
It was nice to validate what was said during the day I spent with Sygie. Each cut in our “duos” took exactly the same time to do. It confirms the importance of this campaign.
You’ve attended the Contessa Awards before. What do you most enjoy about it? How was it to premiere your film this year?
It’s a full circle for me. The Contessas are THE moment of year I look forward to. I love this memorable evening where I can meet some of Canada’s most talented stylists. Sharing my very personal campaign with my industry was a very special experience for me. I have a very special relationship with Salon Magazine. You have witnessed all my career milestones and I am very grateful for that.
With the pandemic, what has this year been like for you and your salon?
Honestly, it was the best thing that could happen to us. Nothing strengthens a team more than going through a difficult time together. It allowed us to renew ourselves and grow together. The team is more tightly knit than ever before.
What’s next for you? Any new projects or goals you’re working towards that you can share?
Big projects for APART studio. An online education platform is planned in the coming year. We are also working on a podcast. If all goes well, maybe a second location … Who knows!
What advice do you have for other salons/stylists who are passionate about gender neutral hairdressing and want to make a change/difference in the industry?
DO IT! What you are waiting for? Seriously, it’s a movement that needs to be embraced. Out of respect for our clientele and for the love of our profession. It is a wonderful industry and it needs to evolve.