Last weekend, at an amazing event here in Indianapolis, presented by Hair Mafia, I was finally able to meet Will in person and put a face to the voice on the phone. Will was exactly how I thought he would be. He is the type of guy that carries his passion and enthusiasm for life and hair right there on his sleeve. We joked about the chaotic end to our interview, what cocktail concoctions we were sipping, and of course, how excited we were to see the hair show that was about to happen. Will was not only fun to hang out with, he was a blast to interview. Check it out below:
Jada: So how did you find yourself in this crazy world of hair?
WT: I only recently got into the industry, but I always knew that it was the direction I wanted to head. I was very active in theater in high school but when the drama association made the switch to musicals during my last year, I decided to work behind the scenes instead since I am not musically inclined AT ALL. So I went from being on stage to back stage, where I did everything from production to management to hair and makeup, which is what initially sparked my interest.
Jada: Was it an easy decision to go to cosmetology school?
WT: I told my family that I didn’t think I even wanted to go to a traditional college because I wanted to pursue hair and makeup instead, which was not a great conversation. When it comes to a career path they are very traditional and conservative. So I went to college, but I kept gravitating towards internships and classes in the fashion/retail arena.
Jada: How did you end up making the switch?
WT: I got a job that I really enjoyed in retail merchandising and I was very fulfilled, or at least I thought I was, but I was travelling a lot and really wanted to find a job closer to home. So I started working at a cosmetics company that totally reignited my passion for beauty. After a few years doing makeup, training, and education for them, I decided to bet it all and go to cosmetology school. So I started researching schools and found one that I loved.
Jada: What school did you decided on?
WT: I decided on Tricoci University in Indianapolis, which was formerly Honors Beauty College.
Jada: What were some of the key factors in making your school experience successful?
WT: Being the overachiever that I am I knew that I wanted to get the most out of my experience, so I decided to begin apprenticing while I was still in school. I wanted to have a hands on salon experience with veteran stylists because you hear so many people say that they weren't very busy in school and they didn't learn very much, and I didn’t want that to happen. I wanted my education to be impactful in my life and I wanted it to be more than just fluff. I wanted to take it very seriously and approach it in the same way I would with college or a university. To me it was no different.
Jada: Did that give you a leg up when it came time to finding a permanent job?
WT: I definitely like to think so. For example, towards the end of my schooling I felt as if I was more comfortable and confident, and I felt like my clients were experiencing a skill level found at a salon. And because of that they entrusted me enough to follow me once I graduated, so I was able to overcome that curse of being a very busy student and a not so very busy stylist. I have actually had many, many clients come from the school to the salon, which has really helped me build my book. I attribute that to being an assistant because not only did I have an advantage in skills, but I also had an advantage when it came to my professionalism and learning how to work my time and build my product knowledge. All of those things are learned at a salon, not in school.
Jada: Any advice for those thinking about going to cosmetology school?
WT: Make sure to do your due diligence and look into the industry before you sign and commit. You need to make sure you are truly passionate about it because it is hard. I went to school 30 hours a week and I apprenticed 30 hours a week and in addition to that I took extra classes outside of the school as well as outside of the salon. I would spend 4 hours on a Sunday with a senior stylist doing a full color class with a model, so if you aren’t passionate, it won’t work.
Jada: After you graduated did you sign on with that salon?
WT: At the end of my apprenticeship I was getting ready to finish school and I had learned a lot and I had grown a lot. I was very appreciative of the experience they gave me and for all of the opportunities, but it became clear that it wasn't the right place for me. I needed more structure. So I found Headcase and it has been really great for me. There is a lot of seniority, educational opportunities, and they do great marketing. I get a lot of clients through the salons Facebook and Twitter.
Jada: Do you feel completely comfortable as a stylist now?
WT: Am I where I want to be? Not yet. Am I hard on myself when I only have one client? Absolutely. But I do a lot of self-assessing and think about my goals and where I want to be. I don’t just let ok exist. That is not an option. I only dedicate my energy into being better and improving.
Jada: On those seldom days when you have a cancellation or an open schedule how do you spend your time?
WT: I post things on social media. I partner with local businesses such as bridal stores or spas that don't have a salon attached to them, and I drop off my cards. The other day when I had some spare time I went into the back room and popped on my headphones and watched the Vidal Sassoon cutting video for an hour. I constantly have that energy around me so that I don't sit and dwell on how slow it is or how bored I am. I don't want to get complacent so I keep myself active and intrigued.
Jada: What have you had the most success with marketing wise?
WT: Last month we did an event called the Fashion Frenzy, which was at a hotel, and we paired with some local boutiques and local designers. I was there to touch up makeup or hair. I did a lot of turning a daytime look into something appropriate for the evening or cocktail hour. I was able to introduce myself and have our salon logo hanging above so it was a great way to get my name out there. It was a great way to talk to people and say, "Hi, I am Will. I do hair, I love it, and I would love to have an opportunity to have you as a client. Here is my card."
Jada: What do you say to someone that is buying their products through big retailers?
WT: Recently I was talking to a friend who loves Kerastase’s products and she is in a location where it is hard for her to get, so when she saw it at a big chain store she was excited and picked it up. I then had to ask her if she understood how getting a product like that into that type of store for those prices worked. I then explained that everything that makes this product what you love....the high quality and ingredients.... isn't protected when you find it on those big shelves. It may be more convenient and affordable, but when you realize that the formula of the product is damaged, it is not worth the few dollars saved.
When these products aren’t being sold by us, we are losing money that goes towards education and towards the salon, both of which serve you as a client. When you purchase that product from a huge store with tons of money what do you think that money is going towards? Do you think it is going to go towards making your experience better? Probably not. But when you buy products from your salon you know that you are getting the best quality and you know you are getting a recommendation from an expert, but you also know that the money is being put back into the salon and back into the stylists to improve your overall experience.
Jada: What would you say to someone who is an avid drug store product purchaser?
WT: You are obviously taking the first step to make sure that your hair is taken care of, which is great, but quality products really go a long way. So while the brand at CVS may be cheaper, you are using twice as much of it because it is diluted and it isn't a high quality ingredient. And the reason why it is half the price is because they are only using half of that one fabulous piece of the formula that makes the product so great.
Jada: What is your go-to product?
WT: I'm a hairspray freak. I feel like I should have been born in a different era because I love hairspray so much. I mean, I have a short coif and I spray hairspray on it like 3 times a day. My aunt was one of those 1980's queens following around Bon Jovi with super teased crunchy hair. I used to just sit there watching her while she got ready.
Jada: Prom is right around the corner, any words of wisdom for our teenage readers?
WT: I always like to tell people when it comes to prom or special event hair to think outside of the box. It doesn't always have to be up or full of pins so that it is perfectly structured. I love a re-envisioned retro look. I love taking something that is old Hollywood Glamour and making it a little looser or soft and approachable. Maybe even a fun vintage clip. It is all about that romantic feel.
Jada: Speaking of vintage clips, we loved Sandra Bullock’s at the Oscars. Were you watching?
WT: Of course I was! Are you kidding? That is like my Super Bowl. It was an all day event that started with me watching the NFL Combine with friends, followed by an Irish Pub to drink beer, and then home for martinis and hors d'oeuvres. We had three different TV's with three different Oscar pre-shows on.
WT: I was so obsessed with Charlize Theron when she popped up on that runway with that short haircut. I mean how excited was every hairstylist? Like are you kidding me? It was fabulous.
WT: I'm probably going to get so many people hating this, but Jennifer Aniston. I am so over her having her hair down for every event. We get it. You are an easy going, fun loving California girl. You are Rachel. We know, and we have known for years. But can you not put your hair up ever? Not even a side part? How about anything with some visual interest? She has great color but her style is just safe and boring.
Jada: Favorite hair trends?
WT: I love that people are embracing short hair. It shows confidence and courage and is very empowering. And I think that color should just enhance the cut. It is like the frosting on the cake, and who doesn't love the frosting?
If it wasn't for the fact that my dog knocked the phone out of my hand while going ballistic barking at another dog walking down her street, Will and I probably could have dished about hair all day, but instead it was back to our respective realities. Will was off to create more beautiful people and I was off to sign up for obedience class.
For the love of stylists,
Note (May 2013): We want to send a big congratulations to Will as he starts the next phase of his career with Emmetts the Studio!