Earlier this week, Schwarzkopf Professional pulled out all the stops as it celebrated the launch of its newest BLONDME color line in New York City. On deck to showcase the wonders of the new line: Global Ambassador Kim Vō and two social media heavyweights, colorist Linh Phan and stylist Mustafa Avci. The color and product line, which has built-in Integrated Bonding Technology, allows stylists to take clients with an array of hair textures and colors blonde while maintaining the integrity of their tresses. “Sometimes stylists think that different cultures can’t go blonde but [BLONDME] is about diversity and tonight we have [an array of models from African American to Asian] so you’ll see that blonde is for everybody,” says Director of Education Linda Gilbride. “When a lot of people think of blonde they think of platinum or LA blonde but we like to say there are many shades of blonde.” Think: platinum, champagne, cool blonde, ice and caramel. The foolproof system—the built-in technology takes away a mixing step and the at-home care line helps clients to maintain their color longer—will bolster stylists’ confidence, says Gilbride. “I like to refer to it as insurance for your hair. We take out insurance on a lot of things so if you want to protect your [clients’] hair you’ll take out insurance by using BLONDME.”
Before the dynamic trio took to the stage to demonstrate an array of techniques using the new line and Schwarzkopf products, Launchpad sat down at a roundtable discussion with them to find out more about the line, the secrets to becoming Instagram superstars and the importance of education. Read on to find out more.
Launchpad: Tell us a little bit about the launch.
Vō: BLONDME has been out for about five years but in this new launch the care packages are completely different and it’s a whole different formulation as it’s strongly based with bonding technology. It’s at the forefront. It’s the first blonde product to have the bonding infused in the actual powder and the lifting creams so there’s no extra measuring.
Launchpad: So it’s stylist-friendly?
Vō: It’s everything stylists are normally used to with no extra measuring. It not only saves time, it saves continuity and it saves control. It’s all good if you have to mix and exactly measure but when you’re in a hurry and in a busy salon that might not be the best way to do it. Now everything is infused. It’s easy breezy and gives you consistent results. It’s revolutionary.
Phan: I do a lot of transformations taking Asian hair—really dark, dark hair—light. When I use this product I can ensure the hair won’t break and be damaged. It always works for me. So far, across the board it’s the best line on the market.
Avci: As a hairdresser I also do a lot of colors and cuts in my salon so I use the BLONDME line as well. I am super excited about their new products to come out but I am also super excited about the Session Label styling products. I like to try out new products and when I see new products that are out I can’t wait to get my hands on them and dig into them. I personally don’t just use one product but I like to get the full benefit of a product by using it all the time. With each product I use, I create and achieve certain looks that showcase my work.
Launchpad: What’s on the agenda tonight?
Vō: We all love launch parties and love to celebrate but we also are going to [showcase] some pre-done models and all three of us are going to show a tidbit of what we do best and some techniques. I [call it] edu-tainment. We’re going to give you a little education and a lot of entertainment!
Phan: We’re going to show what we do best. I have an Asian model and I’m going to demo a color melt.
Avci: Mine is a secret. (Hint: He demoed how to construct beautiful wavy curls!)
Launchpad: What’s the importance of education at an event like tonight and in general?
Vō: Consistent education is so important. But you have to know when the stylist is going to absorb it and when they’re not. And that’s why I jokingly say, “edu-tainment.” We’re going to give them a taste and bite tonight of what we have and we’re going to hope that they binge!
Phan: Being on Instagram, a lot of people don’t get to see what we do behind the chair. So when I get the chance and I have a group in front of me I like to show them what I do exactly.
Avci: People will look at our backgrounds by looking at our posts and pictures but it’s not just overnight success or overnight beautiful work. There’s so many years of experience behind it. It’s like if you have kids, wouldn’t you send your kids to school to educate them? It’s the same thing in the hairdressing world. You’re the kid in the hairdressing industry. You need to educate yourself. You need to open your eyes. You need to absorb what’s out there and be with people that will help you to lift yourself up.
Launchpad: Speaking of Instagram, can you let us in on some secrets of how you grew your audiences?
Phan: I stay true to what I do and post consistent work. I guess people just started to fall in love with it. I was able to develop a brand and image and it just kept growing. And now I have a team and I just opened my first salon from Instagram. It’s been a crazy ride—I started in the basement of my house and I was able to grow into my first salon.
Launchpad: That’s very inspiring and is a testament to the adage that that anyone can be successful!
Vō: It’s very inspiring but it takes work.
Avci: I think every hairdresser needs to know everything about hair. They should know cut, color and style but when it comes to lifting yourself higher you should have a focus point. Linh’s focus point is color. My focus point is style. Same thing with Mr. Kim Vō: His focus point is being a master of colors. So if you have a focus point and aim for that I think you will be much more successful [than if you] just post random pictures of every haircut, every blowdry, every updo or color. You get a more direct crowd that way.
Launchpad: Any other pieces of advice you can offer stylists who may be looking to grow their Instagram audiences?
Vō: Our industry is made for Instagram and social media. It’s a great tool to have but you also have to have the talent behind it. The proof has to be in the pudding. And you really have to be inspiring so that your clients will want to co-create and make a look with you through Instagram. That’s very important.
Phan: I would say keep your look consistent. When you scroll through your news feed, you want people to know that that’s your work without even having to look at the name. I’ve been inspired by a lot of hairstylists out there in the industry and I haven’t had to look at their name to know that that was their work. I wanted the same reaction to mine. I want people to scroll through their news feed and know that it’s @bescene. What advice I would give to all hairstylists starting on Instagram? Find your look, stick with it, believe that this is it and run with it. Don’t mix it up too much or it will get super confusing. Also, work on good pictures. I take my pictures outside in natural daylight. Other people use a ring light. You’ve got to find the look you like and that represents you the best and just go with it.
Avci: I agree with everything they’ve said but I get hairdressers [asking me], ‘How did you come to work with Schwarzkopf, how did you get your name out there?’ I’ve taken so much education—haircutting education, styling education. When you constantly take education you realize which one is for you. When you take color education, you then take balayage education and highlights education and vibrant color education. It’s the same thing with haircutting—precision cutting, creative cutting—and same thing with styling. I recommend everyone to take as much education as they can. After it will come out of them whichever one their heart will beat for.
Vō: What I have learned with Mustafa and Linh is that we are here to share our passions. I wish when I started 18 years ago that someone shared their passion with me. I think that’s a part of education. Not only paying it forward but really looking back and seeing where our industry was 18-20 years ago. No one would share anything with you. Now it’s really all about sharing and really embracing the person. And I think that’s giving back and I think that’s really important.
Launchpad: How has it been collaborating with each other?
Vō: Hell. Can you tell? (He jokes!)
Phan: Starting a few years ago I used to watch Kim Vō on TV and now I get to work side by side with him! It’s cool to create with who you looked up to.
Avci: We’re enjoying this. It’s so exciting. When I think about myself a few years ago I was just a regular hairdresser based in Brooklyn watching Kim Vō’s Youtube videos.
Vō: If I actually knew they watched them I would have put more powder on and looked pretty. (He laughs!)
Launchpad: What’s it been like working with Schwarzkopf Professional?
Phan: I love it. I have been travelling the world. I get to meet lots of salon owners from all over the world and pick everyone’s brains and learn a lot from people from different cultures. It’s an amazing and creative company, which is really rare to find with all the bigger brands. I think Schwarzkopf is progressive when it comes to trendy looks, colors and marketing so it really fit with me.
Avci: I 100 percent agree. To be honest I think for the last 10 years Schwarzkopf went really far ahead with trends. Linh became famous because he created a trend with his colors. Same thing with me—I’ve become known because I created glamorous looks. I made people’s attention focus on my work. Schwarzkopf was doing this with their Session Label products and their pastels and smokey colors. We’re not waiting for something to come out. [The brand is] ahead of the times. It really excites me as a hairdresser because whatever we look to find, it’s right there.
Vō: I think we have all had manufacturers in the past promise the world and sometimes they don’t fulfill it and I feel what’s really important is when you’re genuine and you’re respecting your artistry. And with a company like Schwarzkopf Professional they allow you to be the best person you can be. And they give you the tools for that. I have always said tools, technology and talent are the greatest things you can have.
Launchpad: Any other words of wisdom you can offer up-and-coming stylists?
Phan: Tag all the publications and try to get recognized. The way to do it is by hashtagging. [You want to] tag the publication and brands you work with so you get reposted. It’s all about getting reposted and being respected for your work and being recognized for what you do.
Avci: Keep it clean. Like Linh said tagging is the right thing to do but when you’re tagging, they [might wonder who you are]. So you’ve got to have good, quality work. You can fix yourself with lighting or a background but you can’t fix yourself with creative work. So you need to fix your [craft] first then [you can work on] lighting, camera and tagging. Education is the key point so focus on education. It’s nothing else but education.
Vō: I think it has to be a combination of everything, but at the purity of it is true artisanship, true passion and constantly being curious to learn, which will always keep you growing. I always try to say to myself, I hopefully leave the earth better than it was yesterday. I try to leave hair better than it was yesterday. It’s a daily thing that goes back to your artistry.
[Images by Molly Church]