Jimmy VanBoxel Jr., a 2001 graduate from Chic University in Grand Rapids, MI, and current member of the United States Olympic Hair Styling Team, has turned his passion for hairstyling into an Olympic career and a new product line.
During March, VanBoxel, who will represent the United States on the Olympic team during the Chicago Hair Show and World Championships of Hairdressing in the Senior Gents Division, will also promote his company Uberzoot! Hair Co. and feature his talents in a documentary about competitive hairstylists.
Those talents could be in his training or likely, in his genes as VanBoxel’s mother is a stylist and owns her own salon. After he began his cosmetology training he developed more than an interest, “I found I liked it and excelled quickly,” he said. His talents were widely recognized while he was still enrolled at Chic, and his cosmetology instructors encouraged him to enter the Chicago Hair Competition. He placed and quickly began training for the Olympics. In 2001, he competed in the USA Team Trials in Louisville, Kentucky, for the Junior Olympic Team and earned his spot in the Junior Gents Division.
The National Cosmetology Association hired a trainer for him and before long he had sponsor and was sent around the world to begin serious competition. During that time he says he had somewhat of a “winning streak,” after earning third place at the Europa Cup Open in Vienna, Austria; second place in the Deutchlandpokal in Frankfort, Germany; third place at the Athens Cup Open in Athens, Greece; fifth place in Milan, Italy at the World Championships of Hairdressing; third place at the World Championships of Hairdressing in Las Vegas, Nevada; first at the USA Beauty Open in Chicago, Illinois, and first for the USA Beauty Open in Orlando, Florida.
So how does he prepare for the many competitions he enters? “Preparation is in the training,” VanBoxel said. He would vigorously cut for 15 hours as part of his training and with minimal breaks he would spend his time sitting in a corner visualizing every cut and movement. His trainer taught him the scissor over comb technique against a wall so he would have what he calls a “truly vertical idea” when cutting hair.
An VanBoxel’s method is ever more intense. “You work in a system because you only have a little bit of time, maybe 15 minutes in a competition, so you start at one point and go through your system,” he said.
VanBoxel continues to train and represent the U.S. at various competitions around the world. When he’s not globetrotting, he’s working on his own line of hair styling products he developed called Uberzoot, which he describes as a “rock inspired lifestyle brand with 80’s retro, but still modern and edgy.”
At the Chicago competition he plans to not only compete, but also promote his company. “We have a street team of friends and family wearing the Uberzoot! Hair Co. shirts and they’ll hand out information about the product line and make contacts.” The brand includes seven products. “Salons are already on board and sales are booming,” he said.
“The exciting thing about Uberzoot is that after all these years of competing, all the time and money to pursue this passion, I’ve found a tangible outlet to attach my hard work to, and all my experiences I’m pouting into my product line,” he added. With salons and other business interest in his product line, VanBoxel assured that his line is meant for salons but offers competition quality.
In additional to his many successes, a recent article from Michigan’s Muskegon Chronicle featured VanBoxel in his up-coming appearance in a documentary about hair styling competitions and competitors. The independent film crew will follow VanBoxel at the Chicago Hair Show and World Championships of Hairdressing.
Although he travels for numerous competitions and spends time working on his productin line, Van Boxel is also employed as a stylist at Be Medical Spa & Salon in Grand Haven, Michigan. After all the hard work, training drills and 15 hour days cutting and styling hair, VanBoxel wouldn’t trade his day job, “I get to come to work and relax,” he said.
“The benefits of competitions are that you’re so well trained honing your craft that in a salon it’s easy,” he said.
So what advice does he offer cosmetology students? “It’s important to find your niche. When I talk to an assistant, I tell them you have to set yourself apart and find which niche defines you. Whether it’s competitions, cosmetology education, getting involved in a product line, or a well-rounded background, what defines you makes you more marketable.”
For more information about VanBoxel, visit his myspace page at myspace.com/uberzoothaircompany.