Hand-picked as artistic director for L’Oréal Professionnel Canada in January 2017, Guylaine Martel has had a stellar track record in hairstyling for more than 30 years, winning many awards (and, yes, Contessas, too!) along the way. We sat down with this Quebec-grown talent to find out what drives her.
Salon Magazine: What interested you in this career initially and is still enjoyable now?
Guylaine Martel: Hairstyling is connected to so many other artistic and creative pursuits. I find this incredibly interesting and rewarding. You can work with a client behind the chair in the morning, do a really creative photo shoot in the afternoon, and teach the next day. Yes, as hairstylists we work mainly with hair, but we are also in touch with fashion, makeup, dance, music. This is what attracted me in the rst place to this craft, and continues to fascinate me every single day.
SM: How have you achieved all these professional goals, and still manage to operate your own salon?
GM: I opened Guylaine Martel Artistes Coiffeurs [which is located in Mont-Saint-Hilaire, a Montreal suburb] in 2001. On my 50th birthday last year, my gift to myself was to stop working in the salon. Right now, my focus is on creating new collections, prepping shows that take me all around the world and implementing a strategic, long-term vision to ensure the salon continues to grow. I’m fortunate to be able to count on a fantastic staff of 30 people to oversee all of that.
SM: How has the business evolved over the years?
GM: Our salon has been successful, thanks to a lot of nancial investments and ne-tuning our operations each year. Right now, if you want to target high-end customers and make a name for yourself in that market, you have to offer a highly technological experience and customized services because clients are much more sophisticated. They know exactly what they want and you need to cater to those needs. It’s a fun, thriving, luxury niche to work in.
SM: How do you get your creative juices owing when prepping for a collection?
GM: I have a 1,000 square-foot garage at home exclusively dedicated to creating new hair ideas where I have all my tools, wigs and implements. I usually spend two months a year in there working on concepts for shows or crafting new collections. I even make my own wigs and hair pieces because I work with professional models and you just can’t cut their hair any way you please. There’s a lot of trial and error when I’m creating a collection and I work at a very emotional level. Ultimately, I reach a point where I feel it’s the right thing to pursue and the collection comes to life.
SM: Alain Comtois has been photographing your collections for years. Tell us a bit about this relationship.
GM: As a hairstylist, the relationship with your photographer is very important in order to nurture and make your talent grow. The more you get to know each other, the further you will go. Alain challenges my creativity constantly. I don’t think any other photographer would tolerate working with me because I know a lot about light and photography [laughs]. Alain and I are a real team, we know each other so well that we can go further and work faster together.
SM: You have accomplished so much! Where do you see yourself going next?
GM: Well, the next big thing for me happens in October 2017, at the L’Oréal Business Forum in Seville, Spain, where I have been given carte blanche to produce the closing show. It’s super exciting, challenging and my creativity is buzzing. I can’t wait to see it all come alive on stage! S