In this six-part series, we explore various disruptors that are changing the game for the industry.
As gender becomes a more fluid con- cept in society, the traditional “norms” of men’s and women’s hairstyling are also being blurred. Here’s why gender fluidity in hairdressing should have you questioning your thought process on styling hair—along with your salon’s pricing model.
Chances are that from the time you enrolled in beauty school to the first day you worked in a salon, you assumed you knew what men, women and children wanted. In today’s world, it’s not that simple.
Back to Basics
As men’s styles get longer and women’s cuts move closer to their chin (and above), traditional looks designed for men and women have completely changed. And while you may think that’s bad news for your Instagram feeds (bye-bye long, blonde balayage beach waves!), the trend of androgynous cuts is opening the door for hairdressers to get back to the fundamentals of cutting hair.
“There’s always a group of people who want to go against the grain,” says Stephen Moody, North American education director for Wella
Professionals. “Androgynous hair is an art, and it’s a lot of what I do; many times I’m verging on the edge of making girls look like boys and the other way around. [The traditional ideas of] men’s and women’s styles are almost meeting in the middle.” He thinks that convergence is what will drive people to salons and that it’s an opportunity to promote salon-dependent services, especially colour and customization. “At the end of the day, we’re in the business of business.”
A New Wave
As we all know, gender is not as black and white as it once was (or at least as society may have thought it was), with more and more people identifying as non-binary. And if you really think about it, the way gender is treated today is something that, perhaps, should have always been focused on: The person sitting in your chair.
“Whether it’s a man, woman or someone non- binary sitting in your chair, face shape, cheekbones, head shape and facial features are all going to play a part in bringing back the classic approach to hairdressing versus something that’s gender- specific,” says Joey Marchese, a master stylist at Bob + Paige in Toronto, and Essential Looks Artist for Schwarzkopf Professional. “The hair world is a very special place, with people of all races and genders, and it’s very LGBTQ-friendly. You’re getting a lot of different people who’ve come together around hair and see it for what it is rather than look at it from a gender perspective.”
At All Costs
We spoke with two salon owners offering gender-neutral pricing to find out how this business disruptor is shaking things up—in a very good way.
Ben Barkworth, owner of JustB, Toronto
Since opening in 2015, this salon has had a gender-neutral pricing model in mind. “From groom to short, to medium to long, we base our pricing on the length of hair, not on gender,” he says. “It’s not about lowering your prices; it’s about not ripping off your clients.”
Barkworth adds that it’s important to get your staff on board with the language used for gender-neutral pricing, since some stylists may be accustomed to referring to haircuts as “men’s” or “women’s.” “Staff who have joined our team quickly adjust to this model. You charge for the work you are doing and the time that it takes your staff to do the service,” he says. “Making sure we are equal and accepting, no matter what guests identify as, and making sure they are charged fairly is hugely important here.”
Fady Assaad, owner of Hair Junkie, Ottawa
Since 2017, Assaad has offered gender-neutral pricing, basing his pricing model on time.
“We have short, medium, long and style change. Each one of those has a different time frame. Short is half an hour, medium is 45 minutes, long is one hour and style change is one hour and 15 minutes. We call it a Dollar a Minute—for example, if you have short hair and it takes half an hour [to complete your style], you’re going to pay $30.”
Assaad says it’s important to stay true to your pricing model, even if that means you risk losing some clients. “At the beginning, we did lose some men who didn’t want to pay more. But the most important thing is that you’ll gain a lot more women. We weren’t trying to get rid of our men— we’re just trying to be fair.”