He didn’t always know he wanted to be a hairdresser, he had his doubts – as most of us do – but after opening up his mind to the possibility of educating, he was hooked on the industry. With an emblazoned sense of passion and a genuine desire to teach others, he transformed his career into a wild success. Joining Redken in the 90s Sam Villa gladly states, “Redken has made me who I am today [as a teacher]. They have helped and supported me through my brand and that is what got me here today.” Today, being the day he receives his Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2017 NAHAs. We were lucky enough to spend some time with Sam in Vegas and hear more about his life leading up to this very moment and what we can look forward to in the future.
On where the industry is headed
Currently, we have begun paying homage to Vidal Sassoon with discipline, the return of sectioning and planned out execution. Clients want an appointment that is quick and easy, in and out, and they want the haircuts and color to mirror that – which is why we’re seeing so much natural color and cuts that don’t need to be overly styled.
Sam is optimistic about the turn in education toward discipline and the “return to strong foundations,” he says. He loves the growth that is happening within the color and barber world, and agrees that “the haircut is back,” because the consumer wants ease and simplicity. The natural, organic, “festival” trend is geared toward exploring natural texture and this is exactly what we’ll be seeing more of.
Advice for young stylists
The most important thing for young stylists to understand is that, at first you might not make a lot of money, you need to put in the hard work and build upon your foundation to create your business, "the most important thing teachers should remember is that we must never cease to learn,” says Sam Villa.
When standing behind the chair “stop selling and start telling.” You need to “add value to your services” with purpose and enthusiasm. Don’t hide in the back while they’re processing, spend time with your clients and teach them new techniques and give them tips that they can take home with them Sam enthusiatically explains as he gives us all a hair hack for bobby pins.
Concerns about the industry
With all the talks of deregulation, we are concerned for the future of the industry. There are certain standards that need to be set and maintained to ensure a safe and stable salon and set atmosphere. “I feel like everyone needs to join the PBA to fight back. We are deeply concerned about quality and standards of the industry, we need to elevate the industry together,” says Villa. Something he is committed to, especially with his Artists Supporting Artists movement.
Whether we are stylists, artists, photographers or writers, we all walked away genuinely inspired by this man. His infectious personality diffused throughout the room as we were left swooning as he said goodbye. Leaving us with one final story, he told us that his favorite thing about his job was travelling, because it opened him up to different cultures with different techniques and diverse types of hair. As we all continue to grow, we keep his thoughtful words in our minds and strive to be the best versions of ourselves, for our clients and for us. Oh, and if you even run into Sam ask him about his Poolside class in Marrakech Morocco… it is a story that is sure to leave you both giggling!