We wanted to know what makes Chad Clark tick… so we got up close and personal and stalked this Hairbrained Video Awards nominee.
Did you always know that you wanted to do hair, what/ who led you down this path of awesomeness?
I still am thankful to this day that I had the encouragement, guidance, and influence I did growing up with my family. To be honest, if it wasn’t for my family, my mother and father, my aunt on my fathers’ side, I may have wound up driving a tractor or at most teaching in a elementary school classroom. I really had a lot of creative talents growing up, painting, drawing, poetry and music, even excelled in some competitive sports, soccer and swimming mostly. But like a lot of youth, I lacked direction.
My aunt (Dana Clark) decided to share with me her experiences and successes in the hair business. As a Sassoon trained stylist to salon owner, her stories of travel and people and creativity, along with financial security and independence, made me very curious.
After speaking to my parents about following in her footsteps and attending Sassoon Academy in Santa Monica, they gave me the opportunity I needed and enrolled me and helped me find my first apartment in Los Angeles. It was a completely different world from what I had known in my small town in Tulare.
A lot of different cultures, people, fashions, beliefs, ideas, everything was fast and colorful. I loved it. My experience at Sassoon definitely set the course for what my career focus would become. I had some brilliant teachers, they inspired me to not just master, but share with the industry what I understand.
How has teaching others influenced the way you cut hair?
Teaching others has changed the way I think about the approach, reasoning and application of technique and shape. It makes me think more about why I do what I do then just how I do it. My awareness is definitely sharp on the kinesthetics of my body and relationship to the outcome of my work, just from watching and coaching students everyday. And if I’m honest with myself, it has helped remove a level of fear from my work as well.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I find so many sources of inspiration with my work. It’s such a multi-faceted pool. I look to my peers, my surroundings, music and fashion. History and ideas of the future, even the darker sides of my own mind and emotions have inspired beauty.
Everything that comes into contact with me seems to find itself into my work. I feel that’s how it should be really. It’s not just one thing that really inspires me, but life and the journey itself that I find influencing me the most. As an artist, interpretation of life through my work is how I define and measure my own existence on this ride. Everything is beautiful.
A product you can’t live without…like would pay RETAIL (gasp!) for…
We all have that product that we absolutely love, and even though I preach about “non-denominational” business practices, I have my favorite too. I find the single most talked about and recommended product from myself is good ol Super Skinny Serum from Paul Mitchell.
I had an amazing experience working for Paul Mitchell for a little over 6 years, and through my travels and teachings, shares and discoveries, this has definitely been in my bag for every show, class or client. I like the simplicity of it. Shine, smooth, reduce dry time. I use it wet and dry, by itself and as a layer in some of my favorite hair cocktails. Love mixing it with a light hold styling creme or a foam for round brush finishing.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In my early 40’s… Haha.. Still passionately pursuing sharing more effective ways to communicate the language of hair. I see myself running a salon and a school, and representing and leading a product/tool line that I believe in. I see myself with my team, traveling the globe sharing our message. However one thing that I really love about what I see for my future, is that I will always do what I do with love, passion, excitement, and purpose. That will never go away.
What advice would you give to a recent beauty school graduate who wants to follow in your footsteps?
Be sure that this is what you want. I took a road less traveled by focusing my energies on being a leader, and not just any leader, my own voice, as a leader. It’s a lot of sacrifice. Standing up for what you believe is never easy, nor does it make you popular with everyone. But when you stand for something, someone will always disagree with you. And that’s ok.
The confidence in myself that I have gained over the last 14 years in this business, have sculpted and defined me as the man and professional I am, and I like it. My integrity and commitment to my beliefs have brought me some of the most enriching experiences and relationships in my life. I tell this to students, professionals, even people in my day to day life.
If you want to be great, and you want to inspire change, you MUST know who you are, what you are about, and not be afraid to share that with everyone you touch. It’s not about being the best haircutter, colorist, etc. It’s about being the best person you can be, and the audience will see the sincerity and realness, and love you forever for it. Be real. Be honest, be about something more than yourself, carry it with pride, love and responsibility, and you will achieve all you dream. <3
I can only take ONE class this year… what should I choose?
Oh man… There is so much happening right now in education that this is almost impossible to answer! We have Dj Muldoon Destroying Fear, we have Nick Arrojo and crew giving us Happy Mondays, Adam Federico and team producing brilliant advanced education media, where does one begin? Some up and coming stars like Mike Varela of the Kingly Hair Group, and our favorite Epic Duo, Ira Sage and Mark Bunkall, it’s almost too tough to call…
But I do think I can give a final answer. You can never go wrong w the ABCs of haircutting from Sassoon Academy. Really, for myself, the foundation that Sassoon gives you is more valuable than a creative or collection course, because fundamentals of technique, shape, and control will allow a stylist to create there own “collections” on their guests based on suitability. Through all my experiences and multi-disciplined trainings I have encountered and mastered, the Sassoon methodology taught me not just to cut, but how and why I do it. It’s total artistic freedom.
Mentors are so important. Who do you look to when life seems unsure?
Where would we be without mentors? The only thing is I feel that word get tossed around too much these days. Everyone wants to be a “mentor”. But really being a mentor, takes time, communication, availability, sacrifice, understanding, patience, I could go on… But really, to me, a mentor is present, not intangible. The artists that “inspire” me to be great are not the same people that mentor me to greatness.
A couple of people I have turned to this last year are Daniel Moses and Paul Barry. These two men hold me accountable, offer insights and advice, share in celebrating my victories, have been there when I have fallen, and continue to be there for me whenever I am feeling uncertain or lost. I respect and admire them very much, and am grateful that my journey has brought us into each others lives. Inspiration is cheap, it’s everywhere if you look. But a real mentor, man, that’s gold.
Tell us about what you are working on right now.
I always have a few pots on the fire. It keeps me on my toes. I am traveling the country, booking as an independent artist, sharing inside of schools and salons. My brand awareness is growing every day, and the bookings have been increasing in the last 2 years. It is really exciting to be able to travel and share with so many, and have the ability to share my own voice. I love being “non-denominational”.
I have also found myself into the Student Show circuit with my friends and mentor Paul Barry, and his National Trade Shows with Barristar Productions. He really is getting some of the hottest educators in the business to come and share with the students, and I just love it. I hope to grow that relationship with Paul and his shows to be able to carry them on into the next generation of stylists.
My goal of opening my own advanced training facility and salon is always at the forefront of my mind these days, and each opportunity is assisting in that vision. I recently embarked on a new relationship w a tool manufacturer as well. The Kwof Smoothing Iron. I am loving the design and functionality of it, and I am sure we will be seeing a lot more of it this year. I took a small hiatus from filming after completing my last video Tristan, just to reflect and analyze where I was at and headed with my work. I plan on getting back into the studio this Spring.
And really, the most important project I have going on in my life at the moment is being a daddy. I recently re located to Central California to be with my beautiful 12 year old daughter, Kate. Its been a transition leaving the city life, but nothing in this world can compare to being with my little girl.
I knew I was a Hair Nerd when….
I watched the Vidal Sassoon movie for the 100th time, still taking notes. <3