If you've ever met Sam Villa you know he exudes the charm of a Northern California Native; greeting others with hugs, he is warm, kind, and always looking to learn and engage. Sam grew up there before attending UC Santa Cruz, then eventually left to pursue hairstyling. His father was a barber and after witnessing the energy and excitement of a Sassoon show, he knew what he wanted to be; a platform artist. With a killer head of hair and electric personality, he began his journey into the hair world. Years later we are able to ask him how he got to where he is now, the steps he took, and his advice for stylists of any experience level.
When did you know you wanted to start your own brand?
I always knew that I needed to add something tangible to my teaching skills and thought if the opportunity ever arose I would do Educational DVD’s and tools as I knew I wanted to give the salon professionals more. And so it began in 2007 with Educational DVD’s and the tools followed.
What was the first product you developed?
The first product we developed was educational DVD’s as I knew I wanted to focus on education, but do it in a different way. The DVD’s were shot as live hands on workshops in salons. It had never been done before, the idea of shooting a haircut DVD out of a studio. It gave the viewers an opportunity to learn different perspectives from the participants in the workshop…. imagine learning the steps of a haircut and learning from the participants discoveries.
How do you balance your responsibilities with Redken and Sam Villa?
It has not been easy lately as we continue to try and keep up with the demand. As an Artistic Director for Redken, everything I do that encompasses education within my company revolves around Redken products. As an Artistic Partner to Redken, we support each other even though at times schedules overlap. The calendar definitely keeps things in perspective and we continue to have so much respect for each other. I’ve also built a strong team around me, I’ve always felt that leaders need to know when to step aside for the greater good of the brand and team members growth.
If you had a completely free day, what would you do with it?
I love the sun and outdoors, so I would play golf with my wife Lisa driving the cart!
Where do you find inspiration/what inspires you?
I believe we can get inspiration from everyday - what we see, hear and do can spark creative juices. Education and travel are the things that fuel my creativity, which is a life long process, we just don’t sit down and say now I am going to be creative, creativity takes time. In my travels, I have discovered how important it is to take time daily to have personal creative exploration. Investigate…listen…talk. Traveling allows me to tap into my creative soul because it gets me out of my everyday routine. It’s simply being aware of my surroundings and where I am standing at the moment. It’s about grasping and recognizing those inspirational creative opportunities. I love taking the complicated and making it simple…that keeps the inspiration going.
What’s your favorite hairstyle? Any tips to get the best results in recreating it?
The Bob, of course…so many variations and always a mainstay classic. Watch the Bobology DVD to get today’s Bob. I share easy ways to create graduation in the nape area by simply elevating vertically and cutting horizontally and then adjust the perimeter edges…saves time.
Best tip you have for Professionals? Best advice for consumers?
Hairdressers in today’s world must focus on how they can versus why they can’t. I am a firm believer that success comes in cans and failure comes in cant's. As a teacher, I must never cease to learn …as a hairdresser we must never cease to learn. I encourage every hairdresser to keep one foot in the comfort zone and one foot out…keeps me from getting bored. Education, education, education, don’t get left behind, find as many ways to do what you already know. Challenge yourself, be like a postage stamp - stick to something till you get there then find something else to stick to. You see, passion is the spark that ignites self-motivation. It starts with examining our purpose within our job. We are all blessed with gifts…these gifts need to be shared. Remember my friends, we are who we are and passionate belief in our dreams and goals is the only fuel that will get us over, around or through the many obstacles we encounter as hairdressers. We won’t achieve it unless we continue to be passionate about it! My promise to the salon professionals is that I will continue to go out and find it and be the messenger that sparks that passion.
For consumers, I would say to trust the salon professional. Seek out a great salon, a salon that not only treats you with respect, a salon that respects their stylists and offers them continuing education so they all stay current and can offer an array of services. Look for a hairdresser that has good listening skills. Look on the street and if you see hair like yours and like the cut ask where and who did it. Lastly to the consumer, never try to cut or color your hair at home…experimenting at home never works. Find the right salon professional that continues to educate and wants to meet your needs and expectations. Lastly, respect the hairdresser’s time and show up on time for an appointment just as you would for a doctor.
PHOTO CREDITS: DESIGN AND COLOR: GENEVA COWEN ARTISTIC DIRECTOR FOR SAM VILLA PHOTOGRAPHY: SHALEM MATHEW
MAKEUP: MARIA CAMACHO WARDROBE: GIANNA FOLTZ
What do you think is most important for success as a new stylist?
Education! Never stop learning, sign up for every class you can and take advantage of all the amazing free education online. Develop an attitude that there is always something to learn. As a teacher I must never cease to learn, as a hairdresser we must never cease to learn.
How did you get your start as a stylist?
My father was a barber and he took me to a Vidal Sassoon show, I was hooked after that! I that point in my career I knew I wanted to be a platform artist…a teacher.
If you had a superpower, what would it be and why?
If I had a super power it would be to read peoples minds….then I would always know where to take a class.
GENEVA COWEN FOR SAM VILLA – HAIR/COLOR AND ART DIRECTION HAIR ASSISTANTS: GEORGE GARCIA, ANDREW CARRUTHERS, TINA CALZARETTA AND MARY URBAN SHALEM MATHEW – PHOTOGRAPHER, MITCH KITTER/ASSISTANT PAULA J. DAHLBERG – MAKEUP PASCAL SAUVAGEAU AND JEREMIE COTE – FASHION STYLISTS
What drives you?
Motivated to be the best teacher I can be. Being a messenger – I love sharing knowledge with others in hopes of contributing to their success, as well as the betterment of the entire industry. I choose to made hairdressers better hairdressers…that really drives me.
Tell us about #ArtistsSupportingArtists, what is the cause and how can stylists get involved?
#ArtistsSupportingArtists is a movement to communicate in a more thoughtful respectful way to promote growth and evolution in the salon professional industry. A movement towards embracing all sides of the industry - rental, commission and chain outlets. A movement to share knowledge with one another and create a chain reaction of positive information and encouragement to enrich the industry…upgrade it by respecting and supporting one another. Brands supporting brands…the time has come to stop knocking each other down…Social Media is another means of communicating to upgrade the industry not to knock each other down. The way for salon professionals to BE better is to COME TOGETHER as an industry.
What is a defining moment in your career?
My first win at the Stylist Choice Awards, it was an accomplishment that confirms what I am doing is working as it is an award voted by the hairdressers….it encouraged me to keep going and I will keep going for the sake of the industry. If I can help people get what they want, I will get what I want and that is to upgrade the industry as a whole.