Matty Conrad, Men’s Hairstylist of the Year Contessa winner and Schwarzkopf Professional educator and platform artist, was inspired by tattoo artists when he decided to host friend and Contessa finalist Pete Goupil, of Salon Espace C in Montreal Que., in his shop, Victory Barber & Brand in Victoria B.C., to be a guest artist for a week in February.
“It is a very popular idea in the tattoo industry because it allows artists to be exposed to other styles and techniques, as well as travel, while making an income.” Since barbing is a similar industry, Conrad thought that inviting a stylist from another community, city, or country to train and work with his team for a limited time would benefit the stylist, salon team and clients alike.
Here’s why you may want to consider having a guest hairdresser in your space.
Benefit #1: It’s a better way to learn.
“With a huge hole in the men’s education market, we have to get creative with the way we cultivate our skills,” says Conrad. “Having a guest come and work in my shop allows us to share techniques and style.”
As a long-time educator, Conrad has travelled all over the world working with many talented stylists. He’s discovered that the best artists have fostered their skills and techniques in their own environment. “You absorb what you are surrounded by. I am constantly going into salons and teaching a couple of haircuts and leaving right after. This model of education, while being momentarily inspiring, rarely yields any long-term growth.” He feels many stylists have a tough time recalling and implementing new skills they may learn.
In contrast, Conrad sees hosting guest artists as a way to help immerse the visiting stylist in a new environment—for a week or more—as a way to be exposed to new ideas over a longer period of time, increasing the chances of retaining and using new skills.
Benefit #2: It’s an easy way to travel and earn.
His first guest was Pete Goupil, whom he met at the Contessa Awards a couple of years prior when both were finalists in the Men’s Hairstylist category. Conrad invited him to stay with him for 5 days while working his shop, meaning lodging was taken care of and Goupil had the opportunity to earn money while working on clients and trading styling ideas with Conrad’s team.
In preparation for his week in the shop, Conrad promoted Goupil’s residency via social media (“Pete is an American Crew artist and an award winning stylist… those things are easy to promote!”) and was given a fair share of the walk-in traffic.
A guest artist should be treated like all other staff. “We let him book to suit his timing (45-minutes vs. Victory’s usual 30 minute time slots) and he was kept quite busy. Pete took walk in clients at the shop all week and earned enough in commission to cover all of his expenses (which we paid him at the end of the week).”
Not only was the experience fun and beneficial for everyone but Conrad sees it as a chance to foster stronger ties among his barbershop peers. “Every client was an opportunity to showcase his skills and every time he had a break he was learning from my team.”
Benefit #3: The clients love it.
Conrad felt that hosting prestigious artists at the shop impressed clients, solidifying Victory’s identity as a world-class barbershop. “It gave our shop a larger-than-life feel and communicated to our clients what kind of reach we are achieving in the industry. Our shop is heavily focused on community, and having a friend come from the other side of the country to share ideas really demonstrated that to our clients.”
All the notoriety has kept the guests artist’s chairs booked, clients excited and the industry ties growing. Conrad also created this cool video to further promote the program.
Conrad has three more artists lined up to be guest artists, including Phillip Elliott, a Calgary hairstylist and former Contessa finalist. If you’re interested in becoming a guest artist at Victory Barber and Brand, send a bio and photo to [email protected].