We love getting to know up and coming stylists full of enthusiasm and passion, but it's especially great to learn from the wise and enthusiastic pros. New York-based stylist Sal LoGerfo falls into the latter category, having spent approximately four decades styling and educating in New York and throughout the world. Read on to learn more about Sal's background, experiences, and what new stylists should know in their careers.
What attracted you to the hair industry? Was it always a passion or something you discovered later on?
Growing up I was always attracted to fashion and beauty. My older sister was a model and my mom was a singer and made her own clothes. She had long hair and was taught by her hairdresser at the time how to do it herself. I thought that it was so cool of him to do that. But being the only boy in the middle of two sisters, my Dad and his father didn't want me in beauty school. I knew that I didn't want to attend 4 years of college so I went to Chamberlayne Junior College in Boston. I majored in Sale and Advertising, which of course helped years later with the two salons I owned. After I was out on my own I went right to beauty school and now here I am almost 40 years later and still loving every moment of it.
What was your training experience like?
I went to Wilfred Beauty School full time and it took a year. I worked part time so I could have all completed within the year. I think I only missed two days as I just knew this was the right thing for me to do. At that time there was only one license for everything, unlike now where in some states like NY it's broken into different categories. I also knew from the onset that I would have to continue my education after getting my license.
Tell us about your first steps once you finished your training. Where did you end up?
Well, I wound up after graduating at a local beauty salon. At that time the unisex phase was just starting. Honestly, I did not like the beauty salon. I thought to myself "I made a huge mistake." Then I met a rep from a company called Fermodyl and he asked if I would be interested in becoming a sales tech. I said sure and they trained me on product knowledge and perm procedures. It was part time and I would visit salons doing sales and product knowledge, and special events. I was able to assist the platform artist on stage. That's how I got into becoming a custom wave specialist. I also got a call from a fellow school attendee asking if I was happy, I said no, as I really wanted to be in a salon. Well, I got a position as an assistant for a unisex chain called Great Expectations owned by Edie Adams Cut & Curl. It was great. We had class to attend each week and in 3 months I was on the floor. They sent me to their salon in NYC on 57th Street until their new location opened, then I went there and stayed there for about 5 years and then I moved to the North Shore of Long Island to a new spa/Salon that was opening. I also attended a master class given by John and Suzanne Chadwick on custom waves; it was amazing and they were and are very talented and still going strong.
Your specialty is Japanese thermal hair straightening as well as other chemical retexturing processes. How did you find this niche?
Well, after working for 2 major perm manufacturers as a design team member and little by little custom waves going by the wayside, I got a position with the Japanese Company Milbon, one of the largest companies in the beauty industry in Japan. They were looking to start up an education department here in NYC in Soho. I became their educator and then senior educator after 2 years. I wrote all the education programs and technical support literature and did weekly seminars to train stylists in performing this service. I had a great mentor who trained me in every detail on how to do this service and of course developed my own techniques along the way. To this day we still speak and sometimes he is calling me for my thoughts regarding a specific client, which is totally flattering to me!
What have you gained from your experiences as an educator?
It has been a great experience for me to have worked for these major companies. What I have learned and been able to share with other stylists just makes me know how much that the choice of profession I had made all those years ago was the right one. And becoming an educator and being able to give back to an industry that has given so much to me is awesome and beyond words.
Stylists also play in role in educating their clients about products. Do you have any tips for stylists who are still figuring out how to work products and sales into their client conversations?
Yes, actually I do. For stylists just starting out as an assistant, the best way to sell product is at the sink while you are shampooing them. Tell them what you are using and what the benefits of using the shampoo and treatment are. It's the perfect place as they are lying back and cannot go anywhere. If they need a stronger treatment tell them all about and why they need it and what to expect.
As a stylist I always put the products I will be using out on my station in front of them so while I am working on them they will always pick them up and ask. When clients ask questions you better know product knowledge. "I don't know" is not the answer, and talking about yourself or to the stylist next to you is not professional unless the clients are included in the conversation.
With the specialty service I offer, I always have an initial consultation first as this is an important part of the service. The client is told at the end of the consult what they need to use as far as shampoo, treatment to maintain the results at home and that I will not guarantee the service if the specified products are not used and they must sign the consult form. Look, if you are spending upwards of $600 plus and more sometimes, another 50 plus dollars to maintain the results will not matter.
There are always new trends and techniques. How do you keep yourself current and modern?
I always read the fashion mags and have received three of our trade mags for years. I will also go back for education myself to keep updated. Being an educator does not mean you stop learning! You learn from the stylists who attend the seminars as well.
You have close to 40 years of hair experience under your belt. What is the most important lesson you've learned that you think young stylists should know?
Be passionate about what you do, ask questions if you don't know, making a mistake is a learning experience,...well, it should be! Listen to your clients' needs and wants, if something cannot be achieved just don't say no. Tell them why. Treat every client the same and have a consult even with your regular clients. Most importantly, NEVER STOP LEARNING.......
Any favorite experiences in your career?
Yes, the very first time I was invited to do a stage presentation myself for Iso. Being able to choose the models and have a team to assist me--just awesome. Also, being made senior educator for Milbon-USA in NYC. And lastly, being able to travel to Europe, Brazil, around the US and Canada.
Most stylists have a go-to favorite product. What's yours?
Actually two: Milbon Elujuda leave in/styling foundation oils, and Milbon Volume Mist protein based volumizer.
Thanks so much for sharing your hair journey with us, Sal!