How to Pick High Impact Education in 2015 by Sam Villa

Good continuing education not only teaches stylists tips and techniques for cutting, coloring and finishing faster and better, it also renews enthusiasm for the industry, as well as being part of salon team, and helps attendees set goals for the year… it’s so much more than just learning about hair. However, not all education is created equal. Follow these tips from Sam Villa, Founding Partner of Sam Villa, Education Artistic Director for Redken 5th Avenue, and Stylist Choice Award Winner for Favorite Platform Artist and Educator (2012, 2011 and 2007), on what to look for when researching education.

“The most important takeaway for salon owners and stylists is to understand that it’s a different world out there now and it’s time for us to change the way we think, say and do," says Villa. "Clients in today’s world are looking for more value in a service, value is knowledge and that comes from good education."

When researching education, what should you look for?
Says Villa, "Use social media as a means of researching artists to follow or see live. Ask yourself what you are looking for and be specific. Focus on one skill set at a time, for instance, if a stylist wants to upgrade their skills on up-styling, then set an educational plan to achieve the upgrade. Attend shows and hands-on workshops on that topic, and then apply everything you learn by practice, practice, practice."

How do you foster education among a salon team?
According to Villa, "Continued education is an important part of being a hairstylist. Trends change, new techniques are introduced, and as with any creative profession, it’s always good to freshen up team perspective. It begins with surrounding yourself with the same values: education. Education is what fuels discoveries, so it’s important to communicate how education can create a sense of team that speaks the same language, to create a sense of enthusiasm and wealth. And, as a salon owner it is important to have special guests occasionally in the salon for added flavor."

If you are an independent stylist, what is the best type of education to look for?
"The Internet has endless online education classes to offer," says Villa. "You can also tailor your education and pick and choose the specific skill set. Digital and social media are a great resource for education, it enables an independent stylist to set up their own curriculum of what skill set they want to develop and how much time they have to devote to it. I highly recommend education commission or independent, education is not an option, but a necessity in order to stay motivated, and it also creates an opportunity to connect with other stylists."

Should a salon go for in salon training for the entire team, or send various members to a show?
Says Villa, "If a salon has an education budget set aside and both sides contribute, then everyone can attend an educational event of choice. It can also work by rotating staff attending educational events then coming back to educate and share gathered info. Suggest setting up an educational salon format that includes one outside event as a team, send various members to shows and holding them accountable for sharing the new info with the team, and lastly, have guest educators into the salon for demo or hands on."

When attending education – what is the best way to process the content?
When you have a goal of concentrating on one skill set at a time, it makes it easier to stay focused," says Villa. "Try to document visually with photos and take notes. Be open and take it all in, close down the little voice -you know the one that says, ‘you already know that,' ‘your way is better,’ – it’s important to set aside what you know when attending classes so you can take the experience and content in, then you can process it later and discover what works for you and what does not.

When attending a big educational event, how should one navigate the show floor and what’s the best way to manage time in the classes?
Use the show App whenever available," advises Villa, "[and] if not, research the show site prior to attending and know when, where and what you are attending. Take time to look at the show booklet and booth locations. Determine the skill set focus for the 1Ž2 day or full day. Determine the path and schedule and off you go. Sometimes I enjoy walking every aisle to see what and who is there, which takes time. Don’t forget to check out the classroom and main stage schedule, once again, it’s based on the skill set you are focusing on."

When walking through a large show, how do you decide on who to stop and listen to from a small platform or large stage - do you stop just because there is a large crowd?
Says Villa, "Deciding who and where to stop can be pre-determined from looking at the booth location map and educational floor schedule. If I am walking all aisles, in most cases I stop if education is going on. Do I stop if there is a crowd?  Of course I do, yet they have to grasp my attention quickly to hold me there. Artists have crowds for different reasons, it could be educating or entertaining… ask yourself what your priority is, if what you’re seeing doesn’t fit the priority, keep walking."

What should an attendee walk away with after attending education?
"Definitely something they can use behind the salon chair," says Villa. "In today’s world, I believe that is what a stylist is looking for. There is a time and place for the bells and whistles; today’s stylists have it figured out and are hungry for information that solve problems. As a teacher I find it’s all about problems and solutions."

How do you pick a facilitator – what should you look for?  
Says Villa, "Firstly, what skill set are you interested in learning? If [it's] color, focus on a facilitator who specializes teaching color only, etc. I always like to keep an eye on magazines and social media - who is everyone talking about, consider their reach, who is doing what… Discover an educator that you can understand and relate to, look for a teacher. Picking a facilitator can also be a matter of taste. Word of mouth is another good way to select a facilitator."

How do you apply the information learned?  
According to Villa, "Clients are now looking for a different experience in the salon, so it’s time to change the way we think, do, and say as a hairdressers. I think a lot of times we get back to the salon with a great sense of enthusiasm wanting to apply what we learn immediately on the first client that sits in the chair. The first client agrees to the new haircut and we begin to do it trying to recall how it was done and then before we are done we deicide it takes too long and go back to doing what we always do. In order to get different results we need to change. I suggest going back and sharing the knowledge learned with every single client and get his or her commitment to change for the next appointment. While cutting, think about what you would do differently based on what you learned at the educational event. Do that all day until you get to the last client and get their commitment to apply what you learned and now do it because there is no one behind them. At that point, you will have been rehearsing all day and should be clear on how to apply the concept – applying something new will build your confidence. Do that every day, then week #2 go after the last 2 clients of the day and keep increasing. It’s a smart strategy to apply what you’ve learned in the proper way over a period of time."

To learn more about the education Sam Villa has to offer in 2015, including a class with the very talented lineup of Villa, Andrew Carruthers, Director of Education for Sam Villa and David Boyd, Sam Villa ArTeam, on Sunday, April 12th at Aurelius Franco Academy, visit

[Image courtesy of Glow Communications]

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