Emiliano Vitale is one of Australia's well respected icons. Winner of Australian hairdresser of the year, he also runs Global Synergy, a competition which invites young hairstylists from across the world to embark on an inspirational journey and allows them to meet some of the industry’s finest icons. By funding this international competition himself, he's choosing to invest in the future of our industry, something that we should all be highly grateful for. His way of thinking is simple. "Either you can't and you won't, or you can and you will." Emiliano explains the importance of knowing what kind of hairstylist you want to be and knowing what you need to do to get there. Thankfully, I entered the first ever UK installment of Global Synergy and won finalist status, so I got to spend 3 days with this incredible man and his amazing team of hairdressing friends from Australia. Day 1 As I arrived into London, I was unaware of what I was about to embark on. Only a positive experience could come from this, but the emotional connection that I'd end up having was something I wasn't expecting. Upon arrival at my first destination, Sanrizz, I met Ben Madle and Jodie Austin. These guys also received finalist status and I'd be spending the next few days with them. We were welcomed into Sanrizz and were shown around the vast salon that was filled with collection imagery and an exciting atmosphere. We were shown to a huge presentation room where the Sanrizz creative team would kindly teach a foundation seminar to us as well as a room filled with excitable Japanese students. Sanrizz often go over to Japan to teach the basic skills of hairdressing, so they were all raring to go. Sharon Cox and Rudi Rizzo started off the seminar showing a long and short haircut. The translator was fantastic, she took a comical approach which we all couldn't help but love. Sharon and Rudi shared the importance of posture, body position and comb control. Their take on fundamental skills weren't just basic skills, but learning how to mix the fundamentals to create tailored haircuts for clients. Leonardo then came onto the stage and invited Emiliano on stage. Emiliano started his career at a Sanrizz salon and was welcomed back with open arms. His success is a true testament to how amazing the Sanrizz group is. The training finished with a presentation from the Sanrizz assistants, of which they presented a beautiful pink haired model, a commercial blond and green model and an Avant Garde hair up that even caused wows within the audience. This was a perfect example of how your fundamentals can allow you to execute creative work beautifully. Afterward, we thanked Tony, Leonardo and Rudi Rizzo and Sharon Cox for their amazing presentation and their accommodating attitudes. Still being on a high, we then got to have lunch with Emiliano, Dario Cotroneo and Australian Global Synergy winner, Alexandra Kontros. Naturally, we started asking them question after question about the Global Synergy experience and their career so far. The amount of experience and care they have for hairdressing was really amazing and I had to pinch myself because I was sitting having dinner with successful hairdressers from across the world. What a way to spend a Sunday! Day 2 As I woke up, I still couldn't believe what I’d experienced already! I hastily got ready and went to breakfast, where we were joined by Emiliano, Dario, Alexandra, Claire Maher (Emiliano's PR) and Christie Foster (Australian hairdresser). We were told that we were in for a day of complete inspiration and I couldn't hold in my excitement. We got to our second days destination, Saco. Saco is an international company owned by truly awesome guy, Richard Ashforth. Unfortunately though, he was away working. Once we were welcomed into the academy and settled down, our first installment of inspiration for the day was just about to take place. Sandy Chong, president of the Australian hairdressing council, was going to present her famous talk, above or below the line. Sandy started off by explaining that everything within the presentation was built on personal experiences. Sandy talked about her salon, Suki, and how blessed she felt for being right by the ocean and how calming it is. Her talk explained the effects of one person’s mental state within the salon and how it can affect the rest of the team. She also explained how there are four levels of mental state, 2 negative, 2 positive. For me, I not only found this relatable to my salon life, but to my personal life too. Once she'd finished her talk, I had a genuine feeling of gratefulness and emotion because everything she said had meaning to every part of my life. From one talk, Sandy had managed to break down some walls and made me realise that I was in control of my future. Ben, Jodie, and I were absolutely blown away! Next up we had Dario Cotroneo. Dario has an international reputation for excellence. His approach to hairdressing is simple, lift your clients’ self esteem and make them smile with their eyes. Client happiness is vitally important and that's sometimes lost in the process. Dario also explains in an individual way, how important exaggerating and softening facial structure is. "The curvature of the head are the shoulder pads and the jaw is the hips." Looking out for what a client is wearing, define the client’s mood and treating the consultation as a funnel, diffusing all of the parts of information the client gives you, treating every client as if it were a one-on-one dinner date and being honest will win you as many "fans" as you want. Dario also demonstrated a simple but highly popular haircut (which I've already used numerous times today) and taught us to use suitability, constructive consultations and honesty as small steps to success. Truly inspiring! After a swift lunch, Emiliano started our next session by showing us a small part of a documentary on Sylvester Stallone. The purpose of this was to show us that every opportunity should be taken because you don't know where it'll lead. Emiliano went on to tell us about the incredible journey of Global Synergy and he was told that it would never happen. His determination really pushed through because without his persistence and dedication to making it happen, I wouldn't be writing about being a finalist today. He has a dream that one day it'll reach 25 countries across the world, making Global Synergy one of the largest events in the hairdressing world. How awesome is that?! Emiliano lastly said something hugely insightful. "The bigger the vision, the more you have to invest. Only help the people that choose to be successful" This quote will be hugely influential in my life and I'm sure by sharing it with BANGSTYLE, it'll touch people across the world. Day 3 Up at the crack of dawn, Jodie and Ben, and I were highly anticipating the day ahead. After spending 3 days living in an apartment together, we'd all got on so well and I know these guys will be friends for life. We all knew that today was the last day of the weekend with the Global Synergy team, so we geared ourselves up but nothing could have prepared us for what was about to happen. We arrived back at Saco for the morning where we were met by internationally renowned hairdresser, Richard Ashforth. When he walked into the room I had a moment where I just stood and stared (feeling star struck). He welcomed us and made us feel very comfortable. He started our morning by telling us about the history of his career. Richard started working at a salon called Richard Taylor (now called Taylor Taylor) in Sheffield. He told us that he was initially a dresser of hair, but didn't really understand the technical side of hairdressing. Wanting to improve his technical ability, he went on a course at Sassoon. At the end of his course, he felt so inspired that he asked for an application form. Within a few weeks he managed to bag himself an interview, and after messing up his first haircut, he managed to pull it back on an old lady with pink hair and got the job. After spending almost 29 years at Sassoon, becoming an artistic director and traveling the world, he opted to open his first salon with business partner, Aldo. In 2007, Richard and Aldo opened the first Saco salons in London and in Montreal. Today, there are Saco salons in San Diego, Bordeaux, Tokyo, Copenhagen, Moscow, São Paulo, Miami, Montreal and of course, London. Richard hopes to open in New York one day, and I have no doubt that he will. As Richard then demonstrates a beautifully crafted hair cut, he answers our questions and really gives us all an insight to his world. He is heavily inspired by music (especially bands like Japan & Joy Division) but he loves all genres of music. He says "Don't go out looking for inspiration, it's sometimes a mistake to try forcing inspiration. Try and expose yourself and stay open minded." This I found to be hugely inspiring and I've changed my outlook on my approach to inspiration and my creative process. I asked Richard “What are your five non negotiable steps you have to being a successful hairdresser?" He answered with “professionalism, manners, intelligence, self discipline/respect and education.” As he finished answering the question, world renowned artist, Robert Lobetta walked in. We were all in awe of his presence. He talked about how important people like Richard and Emiliano are within our industry and told us how his creative process works. He believes in treating every person as a piece of art and time should be taken to perfect your vision. Just being in the presence of Richard and Robert, both in the same room at the same time was overwhelming and I know that such a rare occasion should be treasured and remembered as a once in a life time moment. Incredible! As if the morning wasn't inspiring enough, we set off to our last destination of our Global Synergy experience, Brooks & Brooks. Sally and Jamie Brooks met whilst working for the amazing Trevor Sorbie. They found that after several years, they wanted to open a salon of their own. On the eve of their grand opening, they had the likes of Angelo Seminara and Antoinette Beenders mopping the floor of their new venture. Sally and Jamie's approach to hairdressing has proved to be one of the most successful and the way they build their salon direction around their team gave me chills. They've won countless awards and so have the majority of their team. They believe that you should do a shoot for you, not for awards etc, but something that you're emotionally connected to. Jaw dropping stuff huh? With Sally having a large history or session work, she mentioned that session styling has now become a separate industry and it's up to the next generation of hairdressers to marry session and salon work. Having celebrities like Sienna Miller and Lily Cole as clients, their abundance of experience attracts all of the right people and their belief that every person working in the salon should be on the same journey has been vital to their success. I asked Jamie and Sally the same question I asked Richard Ashforth, “What are your five non-negotiable steps to being a successful hairdresser?" They were very honest with their answers: “Don't chase money, it's a byproduct of success. Always trust your gut instinct. Morals are important, stay true to yourself. Don't be bitter and never burn bridges.” What struck me most is when they mentioned a quote, "I want to be the person I was when I wanted to be the person I am now." This really shows that after the amount of success, they strive to stay humble and true them selves. After an influential 3 days, filled with mentoring, work shops, fun activities and rubbing shoulders with the best of the best, I felt and still feel overwhelmed, inspired, amazed and grateful. Emiliano asked all of our mentors if they ever get the feeling they'll get found out. They all answered with the same response.. All of the time. This shows that no matter what your status is within the industry, how much experience you have, where you've come from and how you got their, we as hairdressers all feel the same. We all work so hard to gain recognition and it's so important to stay humble along the way. Without Emiliano Vitale, we wouldn't of had the chance to experience such greatness. The way he believes that everyone has a chance really puts things into perspective. I'm so glad I entered Global Synergy because I wouldn't have met Ben and Jodie, and I wouldn't have been able to meet the awesome Australian team (who are absolutely hilarious.) I've had so much fun and I know that I'll be keeping in touch with all of them. THANK YOU EMILIANO :) I'd also like to thank BANGSTYLE for making me aware of a global Synergy, it has been an amazing experience. If any hairstylist gets the chance to take part, DO IT! I really feel like I can move onto the next stage of success with all of the vital information I've received over the weekend. Next up, as part of Global Synergy, us finalists will be presenting our models on stage at Salon International on Monday 13th October on the fellowship stage. We'll also get to find out who wins a trip to Australia and gets to assist the teams there at their event, ssshhhh. I hope that this blog inspires at least one person, if not more. I'm so glad I'm sharing my experience with the hairdressing world and I hope the next generation of hairdressers can accomplish as much as the mentors we've spent time with!