As an international platform artist for Goldwell and salon partner at Lewis Hair Salon in Pittsburgh (Shadyside), Pennsylvania, Simpson educates stylists in all salon concepts and full beauty imagery, conveying the message of inspiration and discipline through technique. John is a sought after educator who is regularly a part of the Professional Beauty Association’s classroom and stage presentations at ISSE in Long Beach and Chicago.
Featured in the books 50 Hairstylists and 131 Formulas from the World’s Top Colorists, John also contributes regularly to top industry publications including Estetica, Modern Salon, Beauty Launchpad, The Colorist – where he is a member of the color advisory board, HOT – where he is also a member of the advisory board, American Salon and Behind the Chair as an industry expert. John is also a regular blogger for the Professional Beauty Association.
I have stalked John for far longer than I am willing to admit. In fact, as we were traveling home from an awards show this year.. I discovered John had cut his luxurious locks. Let’s just say I was emotionally attached to his fabulous coif and it was a major topic of discussion for the next hour. John is one of the most fabulous people I have ever met and an extremely gracious and humble individual. So grab your binoculars and night vision goggles because after reading his interview; you will definitely want to begin your covert stalking!
What traumatic hairstyle have you been guilty of rocking?
Oh wow… There are so many !!! Though I owned each one. My two favorites were my bi level mullet with a feather front and permed back in the eighties . The second was my early 90’s undercut with permed flop top. It covered my entire right side of my face as I thought I was Boy George . George Michael, prince and Madonna rolled into one. The funny thing is , my new hair cut, though much more sophisticated is sort of reminiscent of my old look.
Your education/appearance schedule is pretty hardcore… How do you deal with “off” days and having to be “on” all the time?
I thrive on what I do and love that people become excited for the sharing of information. So that they are inspired to be the best at their craft. I do not have many days off, though I do feel it necessary to re charge. If it be on a flight with a great book, room service and a movie. To be “on” I have learned its equally important to shut off with a quiet moment.
You have been at Lewis Salon for DAYS.. What makes this salon your perma-home?
The salon is special. I started there as an 18 year old kid. The owner has always been supportive of my growth, as it builds the salon’s team. Most of them are past apprentices of years ago, and the others are a brilliant team of designers. For me, I do not need the ego glamour of pretentiousness. Just true , respected high quality hair.
What advice would you give to new stylists regarding education?
Education is the beginning , the middle and the end. Once you quit learning and gaining inspiration. Your done!
What 3 items would you die without?
1.my extra long foil comb- A friend gave it to me years ago and I created my first award winning Naha collection with it.
2.my hydrating mask– it’s a tough road, lol. A boy needs all the help he can get.
3.my good luck hat– I wear it every shoot, prep day and flight. It sounds weird, though it started out black . It’s now a shade of blue grey black.
What was the biggest screw up you ever made on a client first starting out?
When I first started in the industry, foil placement was not happening in a major way yet. It was a ton of cap frosting and full single colors. I remember like yesterday, I had a request in salon for a hi lite service. I thought to myself, hmmmm, I get it, though I have not really done it.
Needless to say, I found early on in one session what a ” bleed” a “tiger stripe” and a ” corrective hi lite” was!!! The best and worst experience.
What has been the most amazing opportunity you have had in this industry so far?
To present on stages world wide with fellow professionals in which I consider icons for myself.
Have you ever had an “OMG, what the hell am I doing here?!” moment? Share.
Lol, every day!! Jk….
Words to live by…
Life is not a Dress Rehearsal…
Live it, Love it , Create it…
Strive for perfection and as soon as you obtain it… Start over.. So there is always room for more.
We refer to you and Dimitrios as the “Goldwell Twins” because you are both so fabulous and representative of Goldwell for us… What has the creative collaboration been like over the years?
Wow, I love it! We have also been referred to as “book ends”
D and I go way back. I had already been at it a couple of years when I remember he was at a program and handed his résumé over to our education manager. He was the same D that I know today. We found a common thread that personally and professionally we have pushed each other and encouraged each other to gain our goals. Even now more than 10 years later, our goals may be different, but the common thread is still there.
Hair Nerd Story** For over a year, Carrie obsessed over having a picture of being in the middle of a Goldwell Twins “Sandwich”. Hair Nerds gotta stick together.. So I reached out to John and explained the dire situation she found herself in… she might DIE without this photo! He totally hooked it up at NAHA and *Tada* Goldwell Sandwich achieved!!
What do people find most surprising about you?
I get told more than often is that I am such a humble guy.
What is your next BIG goal?
It’s already starting. More global shows and education, though.. reaching out to the mass of industry with inspiration and technique.
How do you maintain balance in your life?
I am successful with education because I am successful in my salon world. For me one without the other doesn’t exist. I conquer the obstacles that the colorist experiences every day.
To find balance. Most would never recognize me at home. I love a day of ” easy” life. Event though I still run on high. The balance at home allows me to be me.
If you could only use one Goldwell color formula for the rest of your life, what would it be?
20mls 6BG 20 mls 7MB. 40 mls 20 vol. I can make it Carmel, Tan, Brown or Blonde. Lol
You started blogging way back when.. Why do you think this outlet is important?
I wanted to share my color thoughts to the world and its worked. It is a creative source for me , though it translates to the industry , not only within the Goldwell brand.
I knew I was a Hair Nerd when….
- I couldn’t wait to go to the “Beauty Parlor” every week with my grand mother.
- I wouldn’t dare walk out of the house without spritz and scrunching spray.
- I walked into Beauty College and fell in love with the smell of ammonia, perm and setting lotion.
You can stalk John on the regular here:
Hairbrained: John Simpson