My Week in London with the Hob Academy Team

So, going into 2015 I’m looking at my career. I have had so many incredible opportunities and met/seen so many awesome stylists that, frankly, it’s hard to understand. Because at the end of the day I’m still just an OK hairdresser with loads of passion and a bit of potential.  I’m thinking this is the time where everything gets quiet for me and I just start working really hard so that one day, maybe I can be really awesome.

So what next?

All of my previous European training and quite a bit of my research into the dawn of haircutting pointed me towards London. I set my sights on the Hob Academy because of a recommendation from someone I admire greatly and then everything else just seemed to fall into place, as the name of the salon and their creative director, Akin Konizi, kept popping up all over the hair world’s social media.  The team boasts multiple International Trend Vision winners as well as British Hairdresser of the Year winners and many other accomplishments.

I learned a great deal on this trip, but the most important thing I learned is that after four years, six countries and hundreds of heads of hair, I think I am just beginning to understand what it will take for me to become a great hairdresser.

  
The Hob Academy is nestled near Camden Lock in a bustling, creative neighborhood, but also quite accessible to the rest of London. The interior of the salon is gorgeous and also quite minimalistic, in a way that suggests that it really is all about the hair. My first day was quite intimidating, made worse by jet lag and an unreasonable and unexplainable embarassment of my accent. But I was slotted for two days of Advanced Creative cutting and coloring and two days of Men’s Cutting and despite being a bit nervous, I was very excited to learn from some of the very best in the industry.

Now although we were focusing on Advanced Cutting, this was a great opportunity to work on my basics. I easily fall into a very loose style of cutting, which I partially attribute to my initial training…. which was me in the bathroom with old barber shears, just messing around until the end result was good (enough). Seeing the crispness of all of their lines and sections was inspiring to me, and though I always see it in classes, it meant more to me this time because I am so familiar with their work, so I know they aren’t just saying what they were told to say as educators… I know they live and breath clean part lines and perfected shapes.  And in the back of my mind I keep thinking, well, if that’s what it takes to get that result, then I suppose there’s something to it.

I received a lot of little tips to get my tension more consistent and to simply hold a direct the hair better. A lot of what I learned is in the muscles of my hands, so it is difficult to explain, but I feel like I can hold hair better now.

One of the coolest features of the class was that we had different educators every day, all of which had their own style, but they were also quite cohesive and consistent. On our second day, we were lucky enough to have Akin Konizi himself for the entire morning. His passion and knowledge of the craft was not surprising, but still quite astounding.  Darren Bain, our main teacher, had a very relaxing style of teaching, made better by his dry, meandering humor.  My other instructors included Peter Burkill, Jake Unger, Sean Nolan and Nestor Sanchez (who just happened to win International Trend Vision last year).  I was lucky to get time with each of them, and although they each had quite a different style, they also were very consistent in their approach.

Our two days of Men’s Cutting was more relaxing to me. Out of everything in the world of hair, men’s cuts are one of the most comforting to me. But don’t worry, I certainly got out of my comfort zone on the second day, when I got to do a flat top on ethnic hair. Men’s cutting is simple, but they went over many different length families and textures and watching their various sectionings really helped me out. It was also reassuring to see that a lot of their methods were similar to my own.

Below are just a few pictures including Akin in action, me with Darren and Nestor, my models from the week and Darren polishing a men’s cut.

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Inspiration: For Hair, From Lives

To break up all these “this is what I’ve been up to” posts, I just wanted to take the time to type up something a little more introspective.  Sometimes it feels like one topic keeps popping up or like I keep talking (maybe too much?) about a given issue and I get really pumped about it!  Lately, I have had a TON of educational opportunities which I have taken advantage of from many different lines, including: Sebastian, Nioxin, Sassoon, R+Co and Oribe.  Now for me, classes are not about inspiration, they are about technique.  As I said recently on the Hairbrained forums, I see so many incredible hair pictures everyday from all of my different sources that I am almost immune to their charm.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love seeing the imagery and believe it pushes me to get better and better technically, but it doesn’t usually generate a true feeling of inspiration.  At least, it’s pretty rare.

See, I have always had two competing drives within me.  I have always been a sort of creative free spirit on the one hand and then a total nerd on the other hand.  Classes and hair photos mostly appeal to the nerd in me and I am prone to breaking things down into very formulaic and almost mechanical functions.  This is the part of me that takes comfort in order, in things making sense.  I look at a photo and I see where if the hair were one centimeter higher it would change the proportions of the image, how the shapes could maximize their impact.  In classes I am always wondering, “Why?” and “Could this be done in a better, more efficient way?” and “How would a small change in technique change the final outcome?”

But the other side, that is the side that makes me really love my job.  Yet it is the part of me that is easier to ignore, since it is often hard to know what it needs to thrive.  Throughout my travels it has been the people, the architecture, the art, the subway stations, the weather, the trees of every shape and color, the rivers and lakes and harbors.  It is the people I meet who are very nice, and the ones who can be quite nasty, too.  It’s the artsy youth of Toronto that somehow look so much more British than the alternative kids in the US (they seem to have a better sense of balance and aesthetics).  It’s the way people from the UK say “cool” like it means something.  It almost gives me chills.  It’s the way the vibe of the bar changes when the woman in the corner stops screaming at the pinball machine.  Or when a different song comes on.  It’s how when driving for 8 hours straight you feel a difference in the steering wheel from one CD to the next.  It’s how you go so long between showers you see what your hair really looks like.  It’s seeing a four year old tumbling in the grass near Boston Harbor, trying to compete with the street performers.  It’s stopping at rest stops in Central PA in black denim and black leather and black shades while everyone else is wearing sweatshirts from wherever they came from.  It’s going to shows and seeing the swing of the hair while everyone is dancing in their own little worlds. It’s those friends you have who always twist the same section of hair around a finger when they’re nervous.   It’s seeing a friend in the hospital and her hair is  cascading so perfectly it’s hard to remember she’s so sick.