Here’s the thing. I did Education Work for some of the leading edge companies, and for some of the true innovators in the Industry. I loved it. Hanging out with these people and simply absorbing every bit of technical information that I could. You see, I don’t really consider myself very artistic, but I understand anything mechanical. So I set out to learn Hair Cutting from the purely mechanical side .The fact of the matter is that beyond the perceptual vision of the finished product, Hair Cutting can be reduced to a purely mechanical activity.
I’m a realist, and I knew early on in my career that I was probably not going to be a Paul Mitchell, or Irvine Rusk, or Brian Drumm. You know, the kind of Hair Cutters that alter Trends in Hair Fashion. I don’t really have that sort of visionary artistry, but let me see it once up close, and ask a few questions to make sure that I understand concepts totally, and I can reproduce the work. I found that it was more important for me to learn the techniques necessary to duplicate rather than create the trends.
So I went on a mission to learn everything I could, from everyone I could, and after a few years people started asking me to show them some of this stuff. I started doing little seminars in friend’s Salons, and for Product Distributors, and then I was asked to get involved with the local Affiliate of the N.C.A. I went to every little event that they put on at a local Holiday Inn. After being seen several times, and getting to know a few people, I was approached to fill an open position on the Board. I got involved and started doing Educational work with them, and a year later I was voted in as Vice President, and Educational Director. I was now responsible for setting up the monthly shows, and classes. One day while asking for Ideas for Show Topics at a Board Meeting, this guy who worked for the local Paul Mitchell Distributor, Don Oulette (who, by the way, went on to become the top Paul Mitchell Sales Person – World Wide!) tells me about this customer of his who owns a Salon in a neighboring town. He told me that this guy was really fresh and totally crazy. His name is Albie Mulcahy. I’m sure that you have probably heard of him. Anyway, Don brings Albie to a meeting where he tells me of this tremendous event he wants to do for us with music and dancing and smoke and lights and all this production. I asked him if he could simply do 3 or 4 Hair Cuts and explain them as he went. He looked at me funny and said “I guess so”. Albie and I went on to do a bunch of stuff together. Life was good!
Albie and Don and I all ended up being involved with Paul Mitchell Systems, and had a blast for several years. It was truly a time of wonder. The Industry was changing once again due to the influence of Paul Mitchell, and the Visionaries he cared to surround himself with. Through the experience with Paul, I met an unbelievable array of the very best talent in the business. Innovators, Inventors, Developers, Chemists, Scientists, and mostly, the very best Hair Dressers alive at the time. It was a whirlwind of learning and experience. I shall never forget Paul and the opportunities that he afforded not just me, but everyone who came in contact with him, and I shall never stop touting his genius. I knew Paul for just a brief moment, it seems now looking back. I can not imagine the impact that he must have had on people who knew him well over a long period of time, or who worked closely with him in the early days.
Shortly after Paul’s demise, I left the Company rather abruptly. After being away from the company for a while I began to realize two things. First was that for almost 10 years I had taken my direction from an Icon who headed a huge company, and now I was having to find my own direction. And secondly, it was the man not the products that I was looking to for direction. I decided to take a step back and really look at what I was going to do next. My Salons had been exclusively P.M.S. Retail for a long time, and I was a little out of touch with what else was really out there. I started using everything my friends were telling me that they were using, and quite frankly, I could not find a Product Line from which I liked all of the products. I would like this stuff but not that, or that stuff but not this. I’m not naturally a big fan of mixing and matching products from different lines, or having several thousands of dollars of products sitting on shelves waiting for some one to buy them. I much prefer the Idea of having a commitment to one or two lines and selling them aggressively. This way I have a limited amount of investment in a quickly revolving Retail Stock.
This began the new adventure. I simply could not find a Product Line that I was in love with, or even liked for my own use. I know that this might sound crazy with everything that is out there, but still this was my position. Everything out there seemed more or less the same to me and I became frustrated. In talking to a friend (who is not in the Hair Industry) and describing my situation and feelings and frustration, he asked a question that stopped me in my tracks. He asked, “If you are this frustrated and concerned about products to use and sell because they are all more or less the same, is there a company that will private label some stuff for you with your name and logo, I mean if it is all the same?” I had not thought about that possibility, but of course I had heard about Private Label Companies, so I investigated the Idea, with no luck. I was simply unsatisfied with what there was out there and I really began to think about what I would do differently than all the other product manufacturers if I had the opportunity to actually design my own products. What could I learn that these mega-companies didn’t know. What was it about these products that I just didn’t like?
I began to research every aspect of product development. I had some background in Chemistry, and working with a couple of product companies doing product analysis and testing. I also researched the actual Chemistry of hair. How it is produced by the body, and with what ingredients. I began to have a whole different understanding of what it is I have been cutting all these years. This Keritinized fibrous material turned out to be a bit more complicated than – This stuff growing out of our heads. Just as I was becoming what I thought was an expert in the science of hair, it dawned on me. Why is there so much oil in Hair Care Preparations? If in fact, most problems that people complain about with there hair was lack of moisture related, and oil repels water in Nature, why would we want all of these oils in our Hair Care Regimen?
Soon after coming to this oil and water epiphany, I was introduced to a renowned Hair and Skin Care Chemist at a wedding. We spoke for an hour about the Chemistry of it all. I was trying to sponge some knowledge and information from him. After speaking for some time he informed me that he has a company that custom designs Hair and Skin Care Preparations for a few special people, and he was impressed with my knowledge and told me then that if I was serious about doing a line he would like to work with me on it. Now this guy doesn’t have the kind of Private Label Company that has a stock line of products that you choose from and label with your name. No, you design the product, then he formulates and makes some of it. You test it and comment,and he tweeks it till you love it. The first three products we did together took over four years to get right. The rest is history, or will be.