6 Top Pro Beauty Educators Share Their Biggest Lessons

Ring in the New Year with advice from six top educators in the beauty business.

Robert Cromeans; courtesy of John Paul Mitchell Systems.
Robert Cromeans; courtesy of John Paul Mitchell Systems.

Certain educators in professional beauty are iconic—their words of wisdom taken as gospel, their passion for this industry contagious among all who attend their classes. Here, Beauty Launchpad spotlights some of these legendary educators—Robert Cromeans, Sonya Dove, Vivienne Mackinder, Howard McLaren, Angelo Seminara and Sam Villa—to share a few of the biggest professional lessons they’ve learned over the years. Read on to gain inspiration from the greats.

Robert Cromeans, John Paul Mitchell Systems Global Artistic and Business Director (@robertcromeans)

Your learning philosophy?

After 30 years, I am still a student of the beauty industry and constantly learning. There’s always something new, fresh and exciting to discover. If you take from one place it’s stealing; if you take from many, it’s called research. Do your research and practice. With today’s technology, everything is right there at our fingertips with our smartphones!

Biggest lesson/s you had to learn?

If at first you do succeed, try not to look so bloody surprised!

Biggest lesson/s you want to impart unto others?

Be a teacher—teach every guest how to fall in love with her hair, and teach every guest how to do her own hair at home. Teaching artistry is everything! Teach your fellow hairdressers everything you know; saturate them with your knowledge. Be a powerful example rather than an example of power. Pay it forward and teach the world how to be more beautiful.

Where/how can stylists catch your classes this year?

As of right now the best way to see me is digitally @robertcromeans. Paulmitchellpro.com has online courses available that you can watch at your convenience. Of course, I’m hoping we will be able to do live hair shows again but until then, I can Zoom right into your living room via Paul Mitchell.

Vivienne Mackinder, HairDesignerTV Founder (@viviennemackinder)

Your learning philosophy?

I believe it’s important to learn the rules before you break them. This means having a great understanding of fundamentals and classics, so you have a solid foundation to be creative and come up with new trends and concepts. Great beginnings last a lifetime; it’s all about learning correctly the first time. I feel it’s critically important to learn from masters because we mirror behavior.

It’s also important to be a lifelong learner. Trevor Sorbie once said to me, “When you feel you know it all, it’s time to quit.” And I really believe that’s true. I like the acronym of FAIL: first attempt in learning. Very often people won’t try something new because they’re frightened of failure. And by not embracing the opportunity to learn and make a mistake, it means that you’re closing your mind to new opportunities. You may fail the first, second or even third time, but keep at it. And hey, that’s why we have mannequin heads!

Biggest lesson/s you had to learn?

The classics do withstand the passage of time. It’s very important to master the classic hairstyles and keep practicing them, because you’re only as good as the last hairstyle you create. Classics are very important, and I have to say, are the hardest to learn. But you’ve got to learn the rules and fundamentals before you start being highly creative and possibly breaking those rules.

Biggest lesson/s you want to impart unto others?

Use your mirror! Your mirror is one of the most important tools you have because it helps you look at the big picture. Hairdressers who do not use their mirror enough or stop while they’re working tend to have tunnel vision because they’re looking at the details and not the big picture.

Another lesson: Consultation is king. It’s an area that’s weak within our profession. When you do a great consultation, it increases your referrals and retentions. Consultations are so important and should never be rushed.

Lastly, don’t just watch videos online—re-create the looks. We can all look at the amazing work on social media and on various websites, but unless you re-create those looks, you don’t know if you can do them. Invest in yourself, be committed and be a lifelong learner. The greatest hairdressers stay curious and open to opportunities. They set their standards high and they compete against themselves. And they will all confess that they’re only as good as the last hairstyle that they did. They have passion, they have purpose and guess what? They work incredibly hard. That’s the key game changer.

Where/how can stylists catch your classes this year?

They can go to HairDesignerTV.com for a 24/7 experience. There are courses and sections within the site to browse and go à la carte. My one-on-one virtual trainings are where I work one-on-one with stylists, and it’s a phenomenal process where I watch them work and then guide and direct them accordingly. Currently, my workshops are all virtual and they’re proving to be phenomenally successful because not only do we record the session so stylists can go back and watch it again, but I’m also coaching and guiding them as they work.

Sam Villa, Cofounder of Sam Villa and Global Artistic Ambassador for Redken (@samvillahair)

Your learning philosophy?

Learning is about creating engagement with authenticity to foster an interactive educational environment which in turn creates an awesome learning experience. I’ve always believed that the focus should be on the learner, putting them first by creating a safe environment. As a teacher, I try to empower the student…the answer is usually in the room, so I try to make the learner the hero by guiding him or her into discovering it. Knowing the answer is not enough; it’s knowing the right questions to ask the learner and lead him or her to the answer.

I also strongly feel that the cycle of learning is continuous, and one can never fully know everything about anything. We can all learn from one another and in turn, our own knowledge and personal experience can contribute to someone else’s wisdom. As a teacher, I must never cease to learn.

Biggest lesson/s you had to learn?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned over my 40-year industry journey is, as a teacher and platform artist, that I cannot please everyone—it’s a tough lesson. I can’t tell you the formula for success, yet I will tell you the formula for failure is trying to make everyone happy.

Biggest lesson/s you want to impart unto others?

Remain open to always learning something new. Education is crucial to success, so maintain an attitude that the discoveries will continue to happen as there is always something new to learn. An investment in education is an investment in your future. There’s danger in the comfort zone! Once you step outside where you feel most secure, you’ll find that’s where magic happens.

Where/how stylists can catch your classes this year?

With more than 40 years of experience as an educator, I love to teach, and along with my Sam Villa ArTeam, strive to bring “More Sam to more people.” You will find us at major live shows when the time is right, and of course live streaming on our social platforms multiple times a week.


For the complete article, check out Beauty Launchpad's January/February digital magazine. 

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