Tell us about yourself and how you got your start in the beauty industry.
I’ve been in the industry for about 16 years now. I first got into doing hair because I was in the punk music scene where I live and everybody wanted to have funky hair but was afraid of doing it themselves and didn’t have the money to go to the salon. I wasn’t nervous to do it, so I just went for it and started cutting people’s hair. I got a razor and started to do emo haircuts. I’ve always been performing in a way. When I was younger, I did musical theatre and stand-up comedy and I was in bands, so once I started doing hair, education and social media felt like the natural progression because it was just one more stage I got to be on.
You also did an apprenticeship with Wayne Lee at Vidal Sassoon. What impact did he and that experience have on your career?
Wayne Lee was really great, and I was incredibly lucky to have worked under him. I had been doing hair for about four or five years at the time, and I got to restart my journey with him in a way. He was so hard on me—he was very strict and he really pushed me—and I feel lucky to have had someone who cared enough to be hard on me because that pushed me to be better. I think people are missing that toughness now, and sometimes they don’t even want that now, and I think stylists are robbing themselves of having a good mentor who’s hard on them because they don’t want to be told their work isn’t good enough. For me, having someone tell me that my work wasn’t good or that I needed to do things differently really helped me. At the time, I think it felt harsh, but looking back on it, I know how lucky I was to have that. Mentors can be really beneficial in pushing our boundaries because sometimes we can be scared to do that ourselves or maybe we don’t even know that we need to be pushed.
I understand that you didn’t do colour at the beginning of your career. What do you enjoy most about haircutting compared to colour, and why is it important for you (and other hairstylists) to continue to be good at both?
When I first started to do hair, I was working in a salon that was compartmentalized. Of course, I did cutting and colouring in school, but when I got hired, I had to pick what I wanted to do. I think I was always drawn more to cutting because I felt like it was more predictable. I’ve never started a haircut and midway through noticed that the hair was green or anything like that. I’m also not a very patient person and to do big colour changes, I think you need to have a lot of patience. I’ve always been one to underprocess or rinse too soon. I even joke now that if I have a client who wants a full head of colour, I’ll convince them to do a partial. When I stopped working at that salon, I started teaching at a school and, to teach there, I had to teach both cutting and colouring. I threw myself into the colour—I really made myself do it and practised like crazy—and at this point I feel just as confident in colour as I do cutting. But if I still had to pick one, it would be cutting because it was my first love and it makes me the happiest. Doing both makes it a lot easier for you to stay busy. When you’re just cutting and working an eight-hour day, you need eight clients. If you have cut and colour clients, you may only need two to keep you busy for the whole day and the totals can be the same. Being able to cut and colour can help keep you busy and is a great way for you to make money. It made me understand the relationship between the two and made me better at cutting hair. I think doing both can help make you an all-around better stylist.
At the Goldwell KMS On Tour event in Toronto, you spoke a lot about stylists making changes to their body positioning and the way they hold their shears to be more ergonomically friendly. Tell us about the importance of this and how it can help hairstylists in their day-to-day routine in the salon.
Whenever you’re doing something physical every day, it’s going to cause wear and tear on your body. So many hairstylists are wearing wrist braces or have had to have surgery for carpal tunnel. These things can be avoided by taking into consideration how you’re standing or how you’re doing something. Thinking about what part of your body you’re putting the most stress on and making a few small changes can really give you longevity in your career and help how your body feels overall.
What advice do you have for hairstylists on how to build business with haircuts? We have a flat rate for all haircuts.
We don’t have men’s, women’s and kids’ cuts; we have haircuts. We made that change many years ago and it’s been great for us. Sometimes, you would be doing a men’s cut and it would take you twice as long as a women’s cut but you would still charge the women more because that was the standard. Not only was that bad for the client but it also didn’t seem fair to us because we were putting in the same amount of effort. You can offer add-on services if that’s what you like to do, but our goal is to make the haircut itself and the experience in the salon so valuable that we don’t have to do much more to build up the ticket. We want the price of the haircut to reflect the quality of service, and that’s how we’re able to charge what we do. Retail also supports cutting because you have to be well versed in retail while using the products and teaching clients how to style their hair. That will help support sales because they’ll be able to see the product in action and it will naturally sell itself.
Tell us about your role as brand ambassador for Goldwell. What do you enjoy most about working with them?
I’m a brand ambassador, so while I’m not an official Goldwell educator, they support me. We were already using their products—it’s what we knew and trusted and what we felt confident using. We support them with what we’re doing and they support us, so it’s a great symbiotic relationship. Goldwell is an incredible company because they care so much, not only about the quality of the product but also about innovation and education. You don’t see a lot of companies doing all the education shows and classes that they’re doing, and they try to do things differently and keep things interesting for the stylists.
You’re the co-founder of Fancy Hairdressers and Fancy Scissors. Tell us about this.
We were being kind of cheeky about the name “Fancy.” We thought that some hairstylists and educators took themselves too seriously, and we would always say “Oh, these fancy hairstylists.” Because we have sarcastic personalities, we just decided to use the name “Fancy,” but the reality is, we try to simplify everything we do. We want to offer simple education, a simple experience and simple tools. We started Fancy Scissors because we want to offer quality tools that stylists can afford. We want things to be accessible and relatable. It’s crazy to think that our most important tool is so expensive that you sometimes have to get it on a payment plan. We’re just trying to make tools and education easy, accessible, relatable and available.
You have more than 500,000 followers on Instagram. How has social media helped your business and career, and what advice do you have for other stylists who want to step up their social media game?
I think social media has been integral to the success of our brand. When we were doing hair before social media, we were calling salons and handing out flyers and business cards, but now it’s much easier. Social media came very naturally to me because I was always on stage before and it just felt like a new stage that I got to be on. I really try to take my personality and showcase that through the screen because I want to be as authentic online as I can. The way that I am on social media is the exact way that I am in real life, and people tell me that all the time. I think that this is a great way to help with your success on social media.