As a child, and even a teen, I never pictured myself someday traveling the country, teaching and inspiring fellow hairdressers.
My life started on the East Coast; growing up on a farm in Maryland. My dad is a farmer, along with the rest of my family. If you don’t know much about farming families, we are extremely hard working, and even more loving. My family’s favorite pass times were hunting, fishing, “four-wheelin’”, and anything else that got us outside. Most people are taught how to drive manual transmission by their parents taking them to a hill, and making them drive up that hill. Oh no….not me. My dad made me learn by driving an 8 wheel farm truck along a skinny dirt road, back to the furthest field on our farm. I think some tears were shed, and some profanities screamed on that short trip.
Through my early years, my career goals changed a few times, but always came back to a profession in the medical world. My hobby list also had a few additions. I LOVED being on stage, whether it was singing, acting, or dancing. As high school was coming to an end, I found myself having to make a decision on what I wanted to do with my life. Well I figured I should do what I always wanted, and become a doctor. More specific, I wanted to be an Orthopedic Surgeon. But even more specific, I wanted to deal with sports injuries. I decided to attend college on a pre-med track, but getting a degree as an Athletic Trainer. I had some connections to a professional football team, and it was looking as though my dreams were going to come true.
2 years into college I just wasn’t feeling it anymore. I was hating all of the English and History classes, although I was LOVING all of my Chemistry, Biology, and any other science classes. I felt like it was time for a one year break from school while I got my thoughts together. 14 years of school was just too much at the time.
As anyone who first leaves college knows, I needed a job….and fast. Bills had to be paid, and I needed money to eat. I started looking around and nothing was exciting me. I found that a salon just across the street was hiring for a receptionist position. “Why not. I’ll save on gas and I can sleep until the last possible minute.” So I applied and was hired on the spot. A young guy working the reception desk in the town I’m from, is not something you see every day. The ladies LOVED IT. But one job wasn’t enough. I did find a new love. Dancing. And through dance, I found myself choreographing and teaching hip hop at a studio in my neighboring town. That would continue for the next 7 years.
About a year after I started the position at the salon, I decided that maybe I should try assisting. “I can scrub some heads and make tips!” That’s where the passion started. I was able to spend time with people, hear there deepest, darkest secrets, and help to make them beautiful. This was perfect.
6 months after i started assisting, I wanted MORE. I found myself becoming obsessed with the industry. I couldn’t get enough. So it was time….time to start looking for a school to attend. It didn’t take long to find a small private school that was a 45 minute drive away. A 45 minute drive every morning and evening, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. It was worth it. I had found my new career, my new obsession, and most important, my new lifestyle. I was so inspired by everything that went on in a school. Watching the transformations that the seniors were creating. Seeing the mistakes others students were making and then figuring out how to fix them. Then it clicked. Maybe being a doctor, and being a hairdresser are more similar than I first realized. Hairdressers make people feel better about themselves, fix problems that may arise, and are therapists to these clients, ALL WHILE being a chemist, microbiologist, and and mathematician. “That’s it…I found my calling.”
After a little time in school, I decided to attend my first hair show. It was the Davidson’s show in Baltimore City. I remember seeing this one stage artist dressed in a hot pink, leopard print body suit throwing some hair around on stage. That’s when I knew I wanted to be on stage, doing what I love. Feeling most at home on stage, performing art on a canvas that is moving; “This is something I can do!”
Just under a year after graduating cosmetology school, I decided to open a salon with another business partner. I had no clientele, no experience in the industry, and I was only 22 years old, but, “you gotta fake it ‘til you make it.” I was coming into the business with nothing but an artistic view of what a salon should be. We had 12 chairs and 18 employees. This salon quickly became the number one salon in the town, bringing in clients from all over the state. My clientele grew from a few people from the previous salon, to a number that made it so I was booked out solid for 4 months. Needless to say we were doing VERY well.
Two and a half years after opening our doors, I was approached to audition for the Sebastian Urban Design Team. How was I going to do this? I didn’t have much experience, nor confidence to audition for the “Cool Kids Club”. But I said what the hell. The worst they can say is no. So I created a color and cut to take to my audition for this amazing team. The audition lasted for three days, starting with assisting the Design Team for two days and then presenting the look that I created. When the weekend had finished, I was told that I had made it. This was one of the happiest moments in my life.
I started teaching right away, all over the Mid-Atlantic, and North-East territories. I had found my calling. Two years into my new gig, I was approached to volunteer at New York Fashion Week. WHAT?!?! This was an AMAZING opportunity. I was booked to help out with three shows, but then was asked to stick around and style for four extra shows. This was a pivotal moment in my career. I connected with two Sebastian Salon Owners and found myself discussing the possibility of working for them. After talking to these people, I called my parents right away and told them I wanted to move. But, I had a business, I had two homes, and a LOT of responsibility. I wanted more!
Close to 6 weeks after returning home from Fashion Week, I sold my successful salon, signed over my house, and packed a moving truck to start my new life on the West Coast. “What am I doing?!” ran through my mind many times, but I had to follow my heart. As my parents said, I could always go back to Maryland.
I moved to San Francisco, and worked in a prestigious Sebastian Salon for one year. I learned SO MUCH being at Diva International. Training under such amazing talent, taught me how to be more fearless, even behind the chair. As much as I loved DI, I was not in love with the city of San Francisco.
I packed all of my belongings once again, and drove to Los Angeles, where I currently reside. Since moving to LA, my career has skyrocketed. I now work in another AMAZING Sebastian Salon named The Harlot. I work with Marylle Koken, a Sebastian Core Team artist, who was my original inspiration in the Sebastian family.
Along with being behind the chair four days per week, I also travel throughout southern California, inspiring in small and large salons. Most recently I have been traveling the US and showing off what this amazing brand has to offer; Education, Inspiration, and Advocacy. I go on stage at Trade Shows as well as events in Theaters to inspire.
I am living the life that I have always dreamed of living. I owe so much to any one that has ever inspired me, or kicked my ass a little to make me better. We can never be too good in this industry. There is always SO MUCH room for growth, and education. I grow more and more everyday as a person and as a professional, all thanks to this lifestyle we call hairdressing, and my roots as a small town farmboy.
I hope this story inspires you to get out and DO SOMETHING.
Anything is possible with hard work, and a fearless attitude.
Thanks for reading. :-)