A call from my salon an hour before my shift can mean a few things. At best, it means that I have had a cancellation and may freely enjoy a few more moments on my sunny fire escape. At worst, it means that I have enjoyed the sunshine too much and forgot my promise to come in early. On this particular day, it was neither. My salon was asking me to go with a coworker on an all expenses paid hair training class in NYC! In 3 days! I processed the information, comparing the disappointment of canceling my weekend plans with the wild joys of hair in the city. The city won.
The rest of the week was a dizzying flurry of activity, ending with a bus to the city, a great hotel, and a learning experience that was nothing short of incredible.
The class was held at a multipurpose studio in Chelsea, NY- on the West side of Manhattan. The Canoe Studio space is a large room bathed in white, with high ceilings, and enormous, space-like pillars holding it together. The room is frequently decked out for runway shows, but for our purposes it transformed into a pop-up salon. Long tables outfitted with mirrors, outlets, hair pins, and inspirational photos lined the back portion of the room, while large windows stretched across the side wall, affording us a breathtaking view of the Hudson River.
Our hosts for the day were two Italian hair stylists -Mario and Leo- who have done it all…from magazine work to runway looks and -currently- owning their own salon.
I arrived, anxious to learn, and with a throbbing thumb wrapped in band aids (compliments of a run-in with my straight haircutting razor back at the hotel.).
The name of the class was “Couture” and it is all about creating high fashion, custom-styles inspired by current Runway looks.
Watching Mario create his style was mesmerizing. He moved the hair through his nimble fingers like a dressmaker would a bolt of fine silk. His hands merely whispered at the hair and it obeyed. His motions were smooth and intentional.
There were two main looks for our session. The first resembled a hat with pin curls looping and swooping all along the perimeter of the model’s hairline. The second was Mario’s. A fishtail braid, starting with 5 pony tail sections, then woven together in a braid from the back to the front, pulled open and pinned up like a plume hat.
The word “Luxury” popped into my head and stayed there. ‘Expensive or hard to maintain. Extravagant.’ This approach to hair was all of the above.
I may never be a Mario, but a few things stood out to me from this class that I think we could all stand to apply- both in hair and life:
Intentionality, Focus, and Passion.
Intentionality- I refer to this often when teaching classes in my own salon. Touching the hair with purpose and direction yields better results than mindlessly moving through it. I have seen hairstylists who style with choppy, quick, and/or thoughtless motions. As if speed or ferocity will produce results. Instead, stop and think through the style. What do you want to achieve? Make a mental plan for how you will you get there. Ask yourself questions like “why am I blow-drying/combing/teasing/styling the hair in this direction?”, and “How will this effect my finished look?”
Passion- What do you love? Do you love people, fashion, and hair? If yes, then the cosmetology industry couldn’t be more suited for you! I have found something to love about the world of hair and it is both my duty and delight to cultivate that passion. How? By being around excited, positive people who inspire me to love what I do. Passion is contagious, so get close to someone who has it!
Focus- Be present. Be Present. Be present. A friend often repeats this quote to her children, “Wherever you are, be all there.” Let this be the anthem of your work and life. Live every moment fully in every moment. It is a discipline to be aware of your surroundings. If you are with a client, forget about the next one, or the last one, and focus on the person right in front of you. Likewise, if you are going for a walk on a sunny day, take a deep breath and feel the sunshine. Be all there.Leah Perlman