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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Connect 2013 Part I: Reconnecting with Myself Circa 2007

I spent last week in Las Vegas training with Sebastian Professional at an event called Connect (which included Wella, Nioxin and Clairol). I have written a great deal since Connect, so expect more posts to come, some will be hair related but mostly this was a week of finding myself more as a person and an artist. The energy of Connect and all the fabulous hairdressers attending, seemed to reawaken someone who I once was. It was a similar feeling to my early college years, where art ruled my life and haircuts were done in hallways and bathrooms with my friends wearing ripped up garbage bags as capes. It was electric. It was just the regression I needed, because it is so easy to lose yourself in the day to day and so hard to be on your A game if you aren’t being completely true to yourself, at least for me.

In college you could mostly find me holed up in a corner making crude sculptures or writing on my windows. Most people knew me like this:

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Or this:

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Above I am explicating trash/treasure from a scummy park with the intention of making found art. I remember every RA in the dorm telling me that the nasty shopping cart I hauled out of a hillside was not allowed in, and yet it got to my room and stayed there. For whatever reason people have always just let me get away with things, little and big. I guess because I am small, quiet and have a nice smile? I don’t know.

It is interesting to look at my old work and see how I have always been most obsessed with texture.

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When working on this tree project I could not close my eyes without seeing bark patterns. I nearly went crazy, working 8+ hour days creating the texture out of newspaper and duct tape.

It is so strange, how coming together with the Sebastian team didn’t just inspire me to do hair, it had me writing on napkins again, re-reading my favorite poems, yearning for international travel and reminiscing over the different places my art has taken me in the past.

One of the things I love about Sebastian is that it has a strong culture, a strong identity, and the hair styles emanate from that. Over the course of the last few months I have been re-immersing myself in all of the things I used to enjoy, making time for concerts and writing and the occasional painting. It is invigorating and truly just what I needed. Starting out as a hair stylist I always felt the need to fit a certain mold, and I struggled and found myself generally unhappy. The Sebastian culture, however, is one I feel completely welcome within and I feel the importance of being in tune with the artist I am.