Chrystofer Benson won two NAHAs in 2014 – Hair Colourist of the year and People’s choice for Master Stylist. He is also Matrix’s Artistic Director and Global Design Team Member, and launched his own brand of products and education under the label Chrystofer Benson Collective. Yasmin Grothé, our French editor-in-chief, sat down to find out more about this industry powerhouse.
SM: As an artistic director, what’s the most important quality to develop?
CB: The team, you can’t grow without a team. You can be the world’s most amazing artistic director but if you don’t have a team with you who believes in you, who believes in your vision, you’re not doing anything. The real power is in the team. And it has a ripple effect in the salon.
SM: What do you find so energizing about teaching?
CB: Watching the people. I love to see the lights go off in people’s minds, see what they have in front of them and make it their own. Teaching has nothing to do with me. I’m just there to transfer the information, to share with someone else what resonates with them. And hopefully we’re all inspiring each other.
SM: You’ve been with Matrix since 2004. How do you keep the relationship fresh and exciting?
CB: I came in as the lead hair cutter at the Global Academy in New York City, that’s where my career started with Matrix. Then I worked with the Logics brand in a corporate position and now my role has evolved to become Artistic Director and Global Design Team Member. I am really thriving in the role I have now.
SM: How is that?
CB: The best thing for me was to experience a very corporate role at the L’Oréal Academy while I was at Logics. Running a multi-million dollar education budget to put a team together definitely gives you an edge. You get a very different perspective. It was a more strategic role, but the bigger thing for me was realizing how much was invested in me from a company. So for me there is a responsibility to give it back, and what I am bringing to the table.
SM: Tell us about your own brand, Chrystofer Benson Collective
CB: It’s the ideal complement for my job at Matrix because it partners perfectly with Matrix which has incredible colour, incredible hair care, but they don’t produce tools. I Iaunched Chrystofer Benson Collective in January 2015 so that I could bring something else to the table and bring other artists as well to the platform. When I see people succeed, that tells me I’m in the right position. If they succeed, we all succeed as a team because we’re all working in the same direction
SM: What does winning a NAHA feel like?
CB: Before I got into hair I did a lot of sports, a lot of soccer. And I was very, very competitive… Well, I still am! Hairstyling is an area where you can play with and share with the world. But you also have to make sure you really thick skin. You know I’ve lost more times than I’ve won. I know I’ve learned far more in the losses than the wins. So it’s not just the end result, it’s the journey you take. And you just can’t shoot for NAHAs, you have to shoot for yourself. It has to come from your heart, it has to come from who you are. Regardless of what the judges say, you have to be incredibly proud of what you do.
SM: You’ve said, ‘you have to leave the industry better than the way you found it’. What does that mean?
CB: What it means is that we all need to help it push forward and make it more progressive, better than it was before we came in. You better give back more than what it gave you. It’s a huge responsibility, but we all owe it to this amazing industry.
Photos: Chrystofer Benson Collective