After finishing cosmetology school you returned back to your love for acting, what then brought you back to “The Hair Side?” And, how did your acting career help you in the hair world?
My acting actually led me into auditioning for the Ice Capades! I turned pro in 1982. I was 19 and had been licensed and working with hair for 2 years already. The show was magnificent and I quickly starting cutting hair on the side when the cast discovered my other talent. We had over 80 people on tour so I eventually was just conducting salon business in my hotel rooms! I was a member of the corps de ballet for six tours and was line captain my last 3 years. My mother convinced me I would be the oldest chorus boy ever and lured me back home to Memphis with the promise of financial help opening my salon. I went for it!
How does it feel to be a color badass? What is one thing about haircolor that anyone with a tube in hand needs to know?
You have to love and crave the magic of haircolor to take your work to the next level. It has to continue to amaze you. I still marvel at how it all really works. The number one tip any colorist needs to know is to learn to let the hair “speak” to you. Let the combination of what it has been thru and what you’d like it to do help choose the products you use on it. The keener one gets at assessing existing canvas condition paired with the correct type of coloration for that health level of hair is where color mastery lies…
What advice would you have for young stylists and students about competing in the Goldwell Color Zoom Competition or any other Hair battles of the world?
Take the time to fully understand the guidelines and objectives for the competition. There are loads of beautiful images submitted each year but most fall far from the look and feel of the actual collections that are supposed to inspire them. For example, within the Goldwell Colorzoom Color Challenge, the goal is to create a look that clearly represents the key elements and concepts of the Trend World itself. I always try to create a look that could be the one additional model they could have added to the collection. Staying within the realm of the other images, but asking myself “what’s missing” that could look amazing standing alongside the other looks. The entire process from start to finish is incredibly rewarding and worth every minute and dime spent. Nothing can grow you as a stylist the way conceptualizing, executing, and bringing to fruition a beauty photo can! Looking back over the years you see your taste and style evolve. So do it and do it often!
What let you to becoming an educator for Goldwell? And what do you feel it takes to be good at it?
I have my good friend and long time sales rep to thank for bringing me onboard. She knew how much I adored the product and always used me for advice for local salons so she pretty much signed me up as a Goldwell Technical Associate (GTA) the second she got my yes. I’ve loved every minute of my time sharing about the product. We all know there are all kinds of educators with all kinds of gimmicks and schtick out there. Some are award winners and some are just personalities. I have always partnered with my audience with total honesty. Once fellow stylists trust you they will listen and open up as well. I consider myself a “hairdresser’s hairdresser”. I always hope to make those connections with colorists to empower them behind the chair daily. And to give confidence and trust in trying new things that they may never have tried!
Being a part of the Goldwell Education Inspiration team must be such a honor. How has this changed you as an educator?
I was invited to join the Inspiration Team after achieving success as a GTA. I am in constant awe of my fellow team members. The talent level is obviously through the roof! What changes me as an educator is my constant quest to find my own niche and trying to bring something to the party that the others can’t or don’t offer. Through our diversity in strengths we are the consummate team with something powerful to share with ALL audiences-regardless of age, experience, and taste level. I have never coveted stealing anyone’s spot. I just want to give the kind of presentations that I would want to go to! A class with valuable info, realistic inspiration, and a new perspective that helps keep the craft fresh!
So many educators have told us they get those butterflies in their stomach before getting in front of their class. How do you plan before center stage?
Any presenter who no longer gets a little nervous before any presentation is probably toast! Knowing my material gives me calm but the importance of the audience’s time is what keeps me on my toes. I am much calmer if I feel good about my model and the dynamic I’m about to present. Sometimes fellow presenters can be very nervous and their nerves can be contagious. I like to get alone and “in my own head” for a bit before stepping out. I always remind myself that I either know the info or I don’t. As long as I speak from the heart then I know the audience will trust and feel me and enjoy themselves.
How did you receive a scholarship to Beauty school? And any advice to students who are searching for…..
The beauty school I attended is now defunct unfortunately. It opened in the late 70’s as an advanced training center. The project was a fail so the owners had no choice but to regroup and open as a regular cosmetology school. I was the first class to graduate. We were fast tracked thru and put on the floor VERY early in the process so that the school could see paying guests! The school wasn’t accredited at first so all the students had paid without any loans or assistance. Back in those days it was only $1600 for the entire course! $160 a month for 10 months. I paid my first payment and got my kit. After 3 weeks I was awarded a full scholarship and never paid another dime. I was truly blessed and cannot thank those folks enough! That was like winning the hair lottery! But looking back at what this industry has given me over the years it would be worth ANY amount of money to be a part. THAT is what I would share with any person-young or old- that thinks they would enjoy this business!
Your high energy passion for education is what keeps the crowds coming. What was your best education moment good or bad?
I have had so many fabulous teaching experiences on the road. My best and favorite moments have been onstage at the four different Goldwell Academies in North America. It is so much more powerful to speak about the products in their own house- without the distraction of other brands and images- utilizing only OUR stuff in one of our beautiful facilities. I love the dynamic of working with stylists who have traveled from all over. Watching the energy between the group as they become friends is as exciting as the program itself! My favorite experiences of all time have been with my fellow Team members Rebecca Hiele and Shannon Lamm when we did out show/seminar program called “Stylist Most Wanted”. We always rocked out the most amazing models and had such a mutually respectful time together that I was sad every time they came to a close. Two of my favorite people on the planet and two of the strongest artists as well!
You own a very successful salon, “Hairobert.” What standards do you hold to yourself and your staff to that you wish more salon owners would hold to themselves?
I think with any salon that FANTASTIC hair is obviously key. However, beyond the actual hair excellence part, I try to focus on the guests’ actual experience into and out of the salon. I want my clients to look forward in anticipation for their upcoming appointments. I want them to feel like family and to hopefully count the days until it is time to return! I like the vibe to be fun and relaxed but the HAIR to be totally serious!
You have the BEST retail bag ever! Please tell us how you came up with it & how many of your friends thought you were crazy for it?
The slogan was actually first used in 1989 when advertising in a local “cool” paper that wasn’t really geared for our neighborhood. I knew if we did something typical we would never hear back about who had actually seen the ad or not. So my team brewed over the Sasson tagline (if you don’t look good, we don’t look good) and we ran with it. The morning after the ad hit the stands we were on the local news station and we’ve been getting press ever since. Jay Leno has run it twice to my knowledge and I see it on the internet all the time!
What advice do you have for stylists right out of cosmetology school? Education and salon advice?
My first advice is to be confident with the skills you know that you do have while staying constantly aware that there is SO much more to learn. People can teach you all kinds of facts and skills but there is one thing that cannot be taught. That is TASTE. Taste can only be influenced. As advocates for our clients it is our taste that they are paying for. Your tastes are perpetually changing. And because of that your skillset will need to change frequently as well….Surround yourself with the kind of stylists that are doing the kind of hair that turns you on. It is VERY hard to grow around people that haven’t grown in years. Or may never! Get in where you FIT in!
I knew I was a #HairNerd when….
I was in 5th grade my mom would let me stay home from school if I would put her lightener retouch on! I loved measuring and mixing and all the “science ” of it. It was like a game to put it on perfectly. She never trusted salons and could do her own bleach/tone flawlessly. She taught me all about TONERS before I was in high school!….then after the second day of beauty school I fell asleep almost every night with my collection of beauty textbooks all over my bed. I used to love the really old editions of the Milady textbooks. It amazes me to this day how many times I harken back to that “core” info learned long ago! Basics are Fundamental!
Nerd Stalk Robert Brown on Hairbrained and Twitter