Celebrity hairstylist Louis Hechter explains how marketing has always been a key component of his career.
As a hairstylist, how did you become well known and how have you maintained that status?
I consider myself more of a lucky guy who made it in a career where breaking in is difficult. My dream was to be a fashion hairstylist, so I got heavily involved in all the aspects of it: Editorial photo shoots, music videos and creative photography. I think working in these different aspects of professional beauty helped me get ahead. The love of what I do is reflected in everything I’ve achieved in my career. For anyone who has the urge to build something important in their career, it’s going to become their focal point. It’s about finding that focus and maintaining it.
You have a very targeted approach to marketing for yourself and your salon, Orbite, in Montreal. How did you develop that talent? One of the biggest running jokes about me is that I’m crazy about electronic devices. That passion led me to want to understand and use Photoshop. Whenever I’m working on a collection or a magazine shoot, I sit next to the assistant photographer and observe everything they do. I’m always learning.
This personal interest of mine brought me to study illustration, photography, and even lm credits, which are, essentially, key marketing components. I’ve trained myself to develop a good eye for graphic design and image creation.
As editorial director for L’Oréal Professionnel Canada, you are now producing trend forecasting reports for the brand. Tell us about this.
I take a very close look at what’s happening in fashion and what the major labels are creating. I get inspired by the editorial vision of a collection, and what the trends are highlighting. You have to remind yourself that ‘editorial’ means you’re telling a story with hair, supporting the fashion and the accessories [in the process]. I also think about how these influences translate in the salon, for the client who’s sitting in your chair and doesn’t want anything too crazy for her hair.
How do you create these trend reports that become the basis of the portfolio training?
The biggest problem I usually face is finding the proper image. For instance, for fall/ winter 2018/2019, I felt Gucci was a huge influence with all the lacing they presented last year and its Marie Antoinette references. I knew this had to come together in the hairstyles. Then I started seeing these pictures of big, very luxurious and voluminous cakes. Sometimes I see the same themes appear in fashion and interior design magazines, and I can feel that there’s something happening. It’s about ideas and links, but you need to have an open mind, be curious and to see these connections.
Should building a brand be a strong component of any hairstylist’s career?
Career building is very different now than it was, when I first started out in the ’90s. At the time, there was a big recession and salons weren’t advertising. The only way to make some noise for yourself was through competitions. It got your name out there and you got respect from your peers. After that, editorial work became the big thing. Fashion became important again. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that, no matter what big brand you work for, it’s always your name and your style that you should be promoting. That requires consistency, and it becomes your signature. You should be focused on building that as your personal branding.
What do you think is required to become a successful hairstylist?
If you think of [the fundamental of] haircutting, hairstyling or hair colour, they usually don’t change. It’s a service you’re offering that always has to be the best, no matter what. It’s the very base of your work. If you’re a very good hairstylist, you’re always going to be busy. But you do need to understand the changes that are taking place within society and our industry; really pay attention to how your clientele is evolving.
How do you adapt to change?
You need to rebrand yourself and your salon every five to six years because that’s how often your clientele is changing. You should always be working on rebranding, so no one feels there’s a gap between the ‘old’ and the ‘new.’ Also, your personal and business marketing has to be redirected. My image has changed a lot throughout my career. Obviously, social media plays a big factor right now, but you also have to prepare for what’s next. There’s always something new coming. Keep your eyes open!