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Visiting Salons: Two Great Cuts and Lots of Great Energy

Sam Villa

Author Sam Villa | Founding Partner of Sam Villa

This year for Redken I’m probably conducting more in-salon classes than I ever have, and I’m really enjoying them. I’m finding that salons are looking for the hands-on, up-close-and-personal experience. That works great for me, because I believe in principle-based learning: make mistakes and learn from them. We use top-quality mannequins, which are easy to work with and let the stylists focus on the cut instead of worrying about pleasing a live guest. Some salons don’t go for the hands-on; they want me to demonstrate as they observe and ask questions. That’s okay, too.

Recently I held a class at Salon Blue in Raleigh, NC, and then I went to Kansas for classes at The Hair Loft in Salina and Encounters Salon in Overland Park. In Louisville, KY, I did a hands-on sponsored by a distributor and attended by 24 hairdressers from various salons, which brings in lots of different styles and an exchange of ideas. It’s cool when I get to work with a group of people like that! I was assisted by another Redken artist, Tim Cowan, who’s very well-known and respected in Louisville. The following week I was in Ohio, driving from Bellazio Salon and Spa in Dayton to Lucia’s Salon in Cleveland, and I realized what a beautiful state Ohio is! When I lived in California I drove everywhere, but now I’m on foot in New York City. Maybe I miss my car more than I thought!

Owners bring me into their salons to motivate the staff, but also everyone wants to know: what’s fresh, what’s happening? In response, I’ve developed what I call “the buzz.” As I traveled from salon to salon this summer, I had a lot of buzz to talk about!

Sam Villa teaching an in salon class

First, there’s a big decade happening right now, and it’s the ’80s. Go into a club, and you’ll hear 1980s music in a remix that makes it more saleable. We’re doing the same in hair, reaching into the past in order to create the future. Today’s shapes take a twist on classic styles and traditional techniques.

One example is disconnection, which is the strongest element of design today. It’s the way we’re now disconnecting the hair that gives it a sense of looseness, movement, volume and versatility. Just looking at the hair, you can’t even tell it’s disconnected rather than blended or created with normal layers. You’d have to turn the head over to tell. The challenge for me is to get salon professionals to understand how marketable it is.

In fashion, this is already selling. You see women wearing a cardigan sweater over a plain dress; they’re disconnected but they work together. In hair, we’re also seeing textures collide. A large curl may sit next to a small curl, or a slice of straight hair next to a bunch of curl. Sleek can mix with wavy, and all of this creates the new gentle edges you’re starting to see.

Thank you, Posh Spice, because you drove women back into the salon. Clients came in for bobs, and as a result many of them cut their hair short for the first time. They got tons of compliments. What will happen when women tire of the bobs? Some will want to go shorter, and the rest will grow it out to a medium length. Salons have to be prepared for both, so in the classes I walk the stylists through two looks.

Everyone loves the first hair cut, a medium length or longer cut that looks like it’s been razored because it’s disconnected and sectioned to create asymmetrical, soft layering. To style it, I demonstrate how to use a flat iron to supply heat while manipulating with a round brush to produce movement, volume, bevel. This is layering that’s going to float, and it’s beautiful! Then I tie the hair into a ponytail, shake the head, and out pops a bob! That gives the client the best of both worlds. She can have a bob if she wants; only from the side can you tell that it’s actually a ponytail.

The Convertible DVD by Sam Villa - mid length haircut

Next, I have the hairdressers take the same mannequins to do a short hair cut. It’s a classic Mia Farrow or Sharon Stone, but with more length, a little bit like Rihanna. Clients who don’t want to let their bobs grow out are going to be asking for this look.

The V Haircut DVD by Sam Villa short detached haircut

We also have to start thinking in terms of clients who are “going green,” which is why I encourage colorists to use Redken’s Chemistry System. It’s amazing how many colorists will give their guests a chemical service without any conditioning treatment! They’re afraid to charge for this, but it benefits the client.

Clients need product information. I show the stylists how to brush Vinyl Glam on top of natural curls to calm down frizziness and flyaways, and how to use a leave-in conditioner like Butter Treat or All Soft Heavy Cream to calm down any nappy, frizzy hair and reshape the curl. Often clients don’t know they have these options, so stylists must educate them, the same way I educate stylists to use proper tools like the Sam Villa line of tools we’ve developed at Allvus.

When I come out of these in-salon classes, I have such a natural high going. As I flew home from Cleveland, I thought about how much I love going into the salons because it’s so cool to watch the stylists’ faces when they get it! Younger people, especially, just eat up all of this education. That’s what makes it worth it to me every time.