Welcome to the Salon Owner’s Podcast, Phorest FM Episode 80. Co-hosted by Killian Vigna and Zoé Bélisle-Springer, Phorest FM is a weekly show that puts forth a mix of interviews with industry thought-leaders, salon/spa marketing tips, company insights and information on attending Phorest Academy webinars. Phorest FM is produced every Monday morning for your enjoyment with a cup of coffee on your day off.
Phorest FM Episode 80
Ever wonder how some people end up where they are in their careers? So do we. This week on the show, Killian and Zoe welcome NYC-based hairstylist and global artist for R+Co, also represented by The Wall Group, Jerrod Roberts. Discover how he went from studying sports medicine to working in a salon and having a full book, to then working at Fashion Week events and landing a solo editorial cover shoot with Naomi Campbell. Get yourself a cup of tea or coffee, because you’re in for a unique life story and an episode full of advice for anyone wanting to go down that same road.
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Killian Vigna: Welcome to the Phorest FM podcast, episode 80. I’m Killian Vigna.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: And I’m Zoe Belisle Springer. This week on the show we’re joined by Jerrod Roberts, a New York-based hairstylist and global artist for R+Co and also represented by The Wall Group. For the next 30 minutes or so, you’ll be hearing about his journey in the hair and beauty industry as well as how he started working on fashion weeks, events well recognised for being some of the most prestigious.
Killian Vigna: So, grab yourself a cup of coffee, sit back, relax, and join us weekly for all your salon’s business and marketing needs. Good morning, Zoe!
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Good morning, Killian.
Killian Vigna: And it’s funny saying that, because for the first since January. So, how many weeks is that now? Six months!
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Six months, yeah.
Killian Vigna: Six months –
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Reunited.
Killian Vigna: Zoe’s actually in… yeah, we’re reunited.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: We’re reunited in [crosstalk 00:00:54]
Killian Vigna: We’re both in the studio here today… Because Joey… Joey? See I even forgot your name at this stage. Zoe works in Canada, and I’m based here in Dublin. And you’re actually over for our six month AGM, company AGM.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. So, what’s the story? What’s the story? So, listen… so now back in Dublin just this morning, but about two weeks ago I was in New York City. And we chatted about that with the Modern Salon Artist Session Influencer Series. So, as you might already know for anyone listening, we were co-sponsoring the event with Great Lengths USA and R+Co.
And our guest today actually works with R+Co, Jerrod Roberts, and so I met him at that session and he had an education segment on this one technique. Like I was saying, explaining, in the previous episodes, everyone had a bit of an education segment on a certain technique that they’d use in their day-to-day life, and so, I just had to walk up to him and just go and ask him more about… like he did mention something about fashion weeks and I was like “Ooh, how did you get into that?” I just had to walk up to him and the end. So I did, and here we are today.
Welcome to the show Jerrod. I’m delighted you accepted my invitation to be on Phorest FM. It’s a great pleasure to have you!
Jerrod Roberts: Well thank you for having me! It was really wonderful to meet you at the event, and I was really excited when you asked me to do this, so I’m excited to talk about my journey a little bit.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. ‘Cause you were on your way out when I actually walked up to you.
Jerrod Roberts: Yeah.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: So we didn’t actually get to chat loads about it. It’s gonna be a surprise for both Killian and I.
Killian Vigna: All I know is getting a phone call from Zoe after the event. Now, this is like New York time, so it was about six-hour time difference here. And I’m getting a phone call off Zoe going “You’ll never guess who I’ve just met! We have to get him on the show. It’s gonna be great. It’s gonna be so chill. Let’s do it! Let’s do it!” I’m going, “Zoe, look at the time.”
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Too excited.
Killian Vigna: So, yeah, I’m excited to actually hear a little bit about you and your story, Jerrod.
Jerrod Roberts: Awesome. Yeah, yeah.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: We were chatting a bit about this, you and I, but R+Co being under the LBP umbrella, what does it stand for? Why was it important for you guys to be at the Modern Salon Artist Session Influencer Series?
Jerrod Roberts: R+Co is an artist-driven brand, and our main channel of distribution is through salons. And, so we focus on connecting with hairdressers who are in the salon. The idea is to have products that can be used for all hair textures, all hair types. We use them in our day-to-day lives, on set, for fashion week. We developed them because we just want people to be able to use them. But because our primary distribution is through salon channels, we try to be involved in these events with Modern Salon so that we can get the products in front of hairdressers. We can talk about what it is we do. The idea is the culture of hair dressing, that’s what the brand is built upon.
Killian Vigna: And for anyone not so familiar with R+Co products, are they exclusive through the salon or could anyone buy these products?
Jerrod Roberts: LBP has decided to do some really interesting methods of distribution. One of the things that we did that initially was controversial, but made so much sense when I sat down with the president and talked about it, was we decided to partner with Amazon. And so you can actually buy the products directly from Amazon.com, but they’re coming from R+Co as a whole, so that way there is no diversion or price undercutting. That way it doesn’t de-legitimize you buying the products at the salon, because it’s at the same price point.
Killian Vigna: So, R+Co are the only supplier of R+Co products, pretty much?
Jerrod Roberts: Yes.
Killian Vigna: Because even on Amazon, it’s still R+Co?
Jerrod Roberts: Yes. And then we partner with distributors in the northeast, and I think they’re opening up some of the western markets in the U.S. We have a distributor in the U.K. We’re opening up various parts of Europe. We have a distributor in Australia. It is kind of available worldwide at this point. The company as a whole is doing astronomical numbers that we did not foresee happening four years down the road. People really enjoy the brand; people really enjoy the idea behind the brand.
The idea behind the brand is essentially three very, very different hairdressers, Garren, Thom Priano, and Howard McLaren, got together and decided that they wanted to make hair products for hairdressers. And so, Garren has got a very classic style; Thom is men’s and very lifestyle; and Howard was with Bumble and bumble back in the day and used to be the creative director for Bumble. So, they all kind of came together, and they’ve got really different styles, but it kind of encompasses all of modern hairdressing, if you will.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Okay, makes sense! So, R+Co is four years old I think you were mentioning, and you were saying that you’d been with them since three years and a half now?
Jerrod Roberts: Yeah. Three and a half. I came in right at about the six month mark. I came in through Garren. I started as Garren’s assistant, and I’ve been he and Thom Priano’s assistant for the last three and a half years. I just left them in March to go start my own thing, but we still work together at R+Co all the time, and I work with them to help translate their vision into something we can get in front of hairdressers with the education that R+Co puts out into the field.
So, I came in with Garren, and we worked a bunch of events for R+Co specifically. And then, as I got to have conversations with the people who ran the education department and the senior management of the company, we realised that my background fit really well into the scheme of R+Co education. So, they asked me to come in with and also separate from Garren to be more involved in the brand. And, so I’ve initially been involved with them since they were about six months old.
Killian Vigna: Cool. So, still just as a baby. Little startup.
Jerrod Roberts: Yeah! We were a toddler.
Killian Vigna: So, Jerrod, let’s just take it a little bit back because we’re really interested to see your whole journey. Not into just the hairdressing life but also how Fashion Weeks came about. So, do you wanna just take it back to the start? What initially got you into the area of hairdressing?
Jerrod Roberts: So, how I got into hair dressing was kind of an accident actually. I did sports medicine in high school, and for a long time, I thought that’s what I… I know! I know!
Zoe Belisle-Springer: That is literally the last thing I was expecting.
Killian Vigna: That was not what I was expecting at all.
Jerrod Roberts: I really thought that was what I was going to go into, and the end of my senior year I was like “This is not what I want to do!” But, I had a really close relationship with my hairdresser, well she was my hairdresser but she was my mom’s hairdresser. My mother would literally call me out of school so that I could go into town and get my hair done to come back.
I was obsessed with my hair at a very early age. I got highlights for the first time at 14. I grew my hair out. I was like the only guy at my school with long hair. When I was like 16-17, her name was Kathleen, and Kathleen actually was the one who suggested that I get into the industry. She was like “Look, you love being here. You love being in the salon.” She’s like, “I think you’d be really, really good at this. Have you ever thought about it?”
At that point, I hadn’t. And I talked to my mom, and I was like “I don’t know. I don’t really wanna do the college thing.” And come to find out, my mother actually wanted to be a hairdresser. Her parents dissuaded her from doing it, so she went in a different direction. But when I approached her and said “I think I want to do this,” she was very, very supportive. She was like “Cool. Go ahead and do it.”
My dad is a tradesman, and he was like “Look, son. You’ll always have a way to make money. You’ll always have a way to take care of yourself. I think it’s a great idea.” So, I decided to go to beauty school. I ended up going to a community college trade program. It was called Central New Mexico Community College. Went there. Went through their cosmetology program. It was an associate’s degree program, but what was great was that I was able to pay my way through school and there was a scholarship that paid for most of it. So, I was able to actually get out of beauty school debt-free which was huge, you know?
Zoe Belisle-Springer: That’s amazing. Yeah. Everybody’s heard so many stories about leaving school in the U.S. in so much debt.
Jerrod Roberts: Oh my gosh. And, yeah. But, I do have to say that I was the world’s worst beauty school student. I was horrible. I never wanted to go to class. I never wanted… like, a perm would come in and I would go hide. I would go hide in the massage facial room and be like “I’m not here.” I remember the director of the school was like “Look, if I can just get you out of here. I know you’re gonna be one of the most successful people I’ve ever put through this program. But, you gotta get outta here.” He was like, “You gotta just go.”
I was busy doing other things. I was young, and I was crazy. So, it was a two-year associate’s program which took me three and a half years to get through. But once I got out, then things got a little easier.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: So, you’re now represented by the Wall Group which you were explaining to me it’s an artist agency. What is it exactly? Now, what does a day in your shoes look like?
Jerrod Roberts: The Wall Group is essentially a hair and makeup agency, and they represent hair, makeup, styling, and people that work… It’s a combination of fashion. It’s a combination of celebrity. It’s also magazine work. It’s working with partnering with brands. And they essentially manage my scheduling, my booking, and they help determine my career trajectory. We work together to figure out what it is that I want from my career, and they help manage that and get me exposure. It’s really actually amazing. It’s what I moved to New York to eventually do. Was eventually to be signed by a big hair and makeup agency. So, that happened about two weeks ago.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah, congrats. I remember you telling me over the phone. I’m just curious, now most people that I’ve been chatting to, their general chat is about opening their own salon. Why was that never something you wanted to get into?
Jerrod Roberts: I was in the salon for many years. I went right into the salon after I got out of beauty school. I was in the salon for about eight and a half years, and then, after I got to New York, I started assisting freelance editorials and celebrity hairdressers. So, I was always out of the salon. I love and appreciate and highly, highly value the salon world. I still work out of a salon in Tribeca, actually that a really dear friend of mine owns.
But, for me, I do really well with a changing schedule. I like having different things to do. I love to travel. I love… even though it’s very difficult sometimes, I really love a 6:00 a.m. call where I’m up at 4:00 and running through the city and get set up and you get somebody ready for a press day. Or you get somebody… or you’re on-set for a fashion shoot and you get there and get the girl prepared and… I just like the variety of it. That was what kind of drew me to it was that it was always something different, and it was really cool. I got to work with really interesting people. People in the fashion industry are just some of the most interesting characters I’ve ever met. I just love the variety, basically.
Killian Vigna: Yeah. Literally every single day is different for you.
Jerrod Roberts: Something’s… yeah.
Killian Vigna: What I just want to ask off the back of it, we know you got represented by Wall Group, but there was one thing that you just mentioned at the end of it about going to New York. So, how exactly was you it you became represented by Wall Group? Do you think moving to New York contributed towards that?
Jerrod Roberts: Oh, yes. Yes. I’ll just give you the abridged version of the story. After I got out of beauty school, I went into an Aveda salon in Albuquerque, New Mexico. And it was the biggest salon in the state. They had a really good education program. That’s what drew me to that was that I knew that I didn’t know what I was doing, and I wanted to go somewhere that was going to teach me to be good at hair. So, I was with them for about five years, and the last year that was I was there, they brought in a colour education program called Red Chocolate.
And Red Chocolate was formed by David Adams and Virginia Meyer who both used to be… David used to be the creative director for Aveda, and Virginia used to be the vice president of education. And they left Aveda and formed their own company that would come in and work with colourists and management for salons to help improve their colour revenue. So David would work with the artists and the hairdressers and teach them… it was colour theory, it was looking at your waste, it was looking to increase… you know, how to sell home care without selling, owning your place behind the chair. And David and I just hit it off right off the bat.
After the first… it was like three weekends that we would do it separated by two weeks, so it was a six-week program. And after the first one, I received an email from David basically saying “Hey, we’ve got this project we’re doing. We were wondering if you’d wanna be involved.” And I said, “Yes, of course.” So, they flew me to Minneapolis, and we shot essentially a commercial that promoted their company. And the video is on Vimeo, and it’s called “I am Red Chocolate.” And David and I, as a result of doing this, became friends on this shoot. And after it was done, I sat him down… and I had been thinking about this for a while. I had been very successful in Albuquerque, but I did not see the rest of my career staying in a smaller market. I loved being behind the chair, but I also knew that I wanted to do something different.
So, David kind of being an authority, I asked him I said, “You know, I have really been thinking about fashion, and I really love that there is this opportunity to do shows and magazines. How do I get there?” If there’s a plug that I can make for anybody in this business, if you’re starting out, the way I got to where I am at now is by having conversations with people I respect and asking them to coffee and being like “How do I get to where you are?” or “How do I get here from where I’m at?”
So, David essentially was like “Well, if you wanna do that, you gotta move to New York.” So, I booked a ticket to New York like a month later –
Zoe Belisle-Springer: With a return or no return?
Jerrod Roberts: This one was with a return because I wanted to go look at… I wanted to feel it out. I wanted to look at salons. I wanted to see how I could get here, right? So, I researched a bunch of salons. I went around and put in applications, talked to managers, pulled people… I would show up and be like, “Hey, is your hiring manager here? Can I talk to them?” Tell them a little bit about me. And David actually connected me to Rodney Cutler, and Rodney owns Cutler Salon. They have three or four locations in Manhattan.
Rodney and I sat down, and I said, “This is what I want to do.” And he was like, “Okay, cool. If you come out here, I’ll give you a job. But, we’re gonna start you out as an assistant.” And, I… you know… That was like a thing, right? I’m like “Oh my, what?” So after having a career and being in the salon and being very successful for about five years, I had a full book. I made a lot of money. But I knew that this was what I wanted to do. And the reason I wanted to go with Cutler was because they had such a big Fashion Week presence.
In New York, they do anywhere between 15 and 30 shows a season. So, I knew I would be able to get exposure into the world I wanted to be in by being there. So, I went back to Albuquerque. I moved back in with my parents for a couple months. I put a ton of money away, and I basically sold everything that I owned and took two suitcases. I bought a one-way ticket to New York, and this month is actually six years for me in the city.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Oh my god! Congrats! How do you find the life… like is it that different, are you happy?
Jerrod Roberts: Yes. And it is so different than… I mean, just the pace of the city is so different from where I came from. But, with what I do, it’s interesting because so much of what I do actually comes from the skill set that I learned in the salon. It’s still working with people even though these people may be a lot more visible than my clients in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s still-
Killian Vigna: Like higher profiles.
Jerrod Roberts: Higher profiles. I mean I’m working with celebrities and models and very, very public figures. But the… essentially what you’re doing is the same. You’re taking care of somebody. You’re making somebody feel beautiful. There’s always gonna be that kind of psychiatrist element to it where you’re listening to somebody’s problems and you’re lending a sympathetic ear. It’s never… and it’s not about me. I mean it wasn’t about me in the salon, and it’s not about me in this job. It really is about the client. Always.
Killian Vigna: And do you think with that attitude, it’s helped you get the exposure to the clients that you have? I suppose some people may think “Oh, I’d be starstruck” or anything like that. At the end of the day, for you, this is your job.
Jerrod Roberts: I think that part of the reason why I’m good at what I do and why this job is good for me is because I don’t get particularly starstruck, and I do treat whoever’s in my chair as a person who’s in my chair. My experience with high-profile celebrities, models, whatever, is that they appreciate being treated as a person. And if you are allowed into their world in this capacity, you can’t be weird. Otherwise, you don’t last. If you come in and you’re like “Oh my god, I’m such a big fan. I love you. Can I take a photo with you?”… that will eventually happen. Social media is such a huge part of what we do now, and there is a sort of social give and take there. But it comes with respect.
Killian Vigna: So you never felt, I suppose, “oh the pressure is on” dealing with a certain client, initially? I know your professionalism builds up and stuff like that. But when you first started experiencing this level of clientele, was there ever ..
Jerrod Roberts: No. Every job, every client I have a level of pressure. And I thought I was unique in that and then I worked with Garren. And Garren is… had a 40-year career that just spans so much. He’s got 1,000 covers of Vogue, and all this… he’s done everybody and worked for absolutely everyone. And he’s so talented and so professional. But to be on the other side and to prepare for these jobs with him and realize that he has his own version of this and that that’s a natural part of the process. And I think it comes from a place of just caring about what you do and wanting to put out good work.
So, every client that I have, I get nervous about, and I do my research, and I’ve got pictures, and I’ve got ideas of where I’m going, but I still step in going “I don’t know what the hell’s going to happen?” It’s so funny, I am constantly proving to myself that I know how to do hair. My mind sometimes goes blank prior to a client, and I’m like “I don’t know what I’m going to do.” But then I get there, and it all.. it’s almost like it all comes through me and not from me. Does that make sense?
Killian Vigna: Yeah.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. So you were mentioning when you start working as an assistant when you moved into New York. How did that go? How was your journey from there to going to working on Fashion Weeks?
Jerrod Roberts: (laughs) Being an assistant was so hard in New York. It was one of the most… I will say this whole journey has, that part specifically, developed a lot of humility. Right? I needed a lot of humility to go in, give up a career I already had, start over as an assistant, realise that nobody cared how long I had done hair. Nobody cared that I had had this whole clientele in Albuquerque. They’re like, “Yeah, but you haven’t done hair in New York.”
It’s like a rite of passage, essentially. So, when I started at the salon in New York, there were really crazy hours. I was there every morning at 7:30; I didn’t get off until 7:30 or 8:00. Most nights it was sweeping floors. It was washing towels. Taking care of three or four stylists, five stylists at the same time. Picking up clients that were coming out of the colour department and blow-drying them so that they could go out back into their world. It was grueling.
What was so great about what Cutler’s education was set up was that you got trained while you were an assistant. So, every Monday we would do class, every Thursday we would do blow-dry class in the morning before you came into work. So, I would be in the salon at 7:00 a.m., do a blow-dry model, then go and work a full day. On Mondays, they were strictly education, so you would bring in your haircut models but you’d have to get haircut models. So, you’d have to figure out how to find people. Like pull them off the street, say “Hey, I like your hair. Would you be willing to get a free haircut?” Bring them in. There were like seven haircuts you learned with scissors then you went back and did seven different haircuts with the straight razor. And then there was three to six months creative training with the creative director and the head of education.
Eventually, you go through all of that, and you get put on the floor. But what’s cool is every six months, Fashion Week would happen in New York. And when that happened, the whole salon would get really excited. All these hairdressers would come in from around the country who worked with Cutler, and you’d get sent out on different shows throughout the day. So, you’d be in the salon in the morning and then you’d have a 1:00 call time. So, at noon you’d leave, you’d run to the location, you’d do this show, and then you’d go back in the salon. And for a whole week, sometimes you’d do two or three shows a day. You’d get to assist different hairdressers. You’d get to learn different things, see all different types of hairstyles that are done for Fashion Week.
It’s really, really exciting, and I don’t think I will ever forget my first Fashion Week.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Geez. That sounds like so much fun but also so stressful at the same time.
Killian Vigna: When do you get time to eat, sleep?
Jerrod Roberts: The most –
Killian Vigna: The only thing in my head now is “when does he eat?”
Jerrod Roberts: You know it’s that hairdresser lunch where it’s like “I’ve got five minutes between this client. I’m going to scarf down this burrito and then run back out on the floor.”
Killian Vigna: So, what age are you at this stage now? I know you were saying you need a lot of humility to work as an assistant and stuff and then moving into the fashion weeks. How old were you, just to kind of get a gauge?
Jerrod Roberts: I was… I had just turned 27 when I moved to New York.
Killian Vigna: So that’s an age where you feel like you’re walking into New York on “I’m old enough now to get a top job here”? 27.
Jerrod Roberts: Sometimes I wish I would have been able to do it sooner. I had some wild oats to sow, and I really think I needed that experience in New Mexico prior to be able to go to New York. ‘Cause I know some people who come out at like 18 and start assisting in a salon. For me, that was when I felt like I was ready to do something. And now… I did like three and a half years at Cutler, and then this opportunity with Garren came about. So, I was always leaving the salon to do… to go assist on fashion shoots. And I was assisting anybody and everybody who I could. And I knew who Garren’s assistant was, and –
Zoe Belisle-Springer: You did your research.
Jerrod Roberts: Yes. I mean, you could call it stalking. You could call it research. I knew who everybody’s assistant was because I knew that that was the position that I wanted. And the reason why I knew that is because I was actually able to sit down with Jimmy Paul who’s a huge editorial hairdresser. He does a lot with Bumble and Bumble. He’s fabulous. I knew a friend of mine knew him, and so I asked this friend, “Can you please connect me to Jimmy. I would really love to take him to coffee. I have questions.”
So, I took him to coffee, and I was like “Jimmy, how do I get from where I am now in this salon to where you are? What do I have to do to get there?” And he said, “If you wanna do what I do, then you need to be a first assistant to one of the big five hairdressers.” Then I started stalking people, and I was like who’s whose assistant? I actually ran into Garren’s former assistant at a social event, and we got to talking, and I was looking for a what was going to be next for me, and he was looking to replace himself. So, we just got to talking, one thing lead to another, and I ended up taking over for him.
There was a lot of stuff that happened in the interim, but that… So, I ended up starting out as Garren’s assistant, and I was terrified because he works at such a high level. I just… I had worked in fashion, I thought, before I worked with him, but then we were shooting campaigns for Calvin Klein, we were shooting covers of Vogue. We were shooting with every big photographer you’ve ever heard of: Stephen Klein, Stephen Meisel, Peter Lindbergh, Mert & Marcus… who else have we worked with? I mean, we’ve worked with literally everyone, Inez and Vinoodh. Just these huge names, giant stylists, the biggest makeup artists. Pat McGrath, James Kaliardos, Mark Carrasquillo. These people that are just icons in the industry. It was wonderful. It was one of the most wonderful experiences I’ve ever had professionally and I’m so grateful for that experience with Garren.
What was wonderful about it was that I was able to form a really great relationship with Garren. You know he really did help guide me, and he gave me a lot of wonderful opportunities. There was a time when he got stuck in Florida because of a snow storm. They were flying back in from Florida, and we had a job booked with Vogue with Patrick Demarchelier, and he called me and was like “Hey, my flight is stuck. I can’t make it, but we are just gonna send you in. You’re gonna do the hair for the job.” And I was like, “What?” It was great. I was able to get pictures in Vogue with Patrick Demarchelier, and Garren was like, “No, this was you. You get the credits for this.”
There was another job that came up which was a job with Naomi Campbell, and it was a cover for a Portuguese fashion magazine. He called me and said, “Hey, I wanna put you up for this. Do you wanna do it?” My stomach dropped, and I was like “Oh my god, it’s Naomi.” But I ended up getting to get a cover… my first job by myself was a cover with Naomi as a result of working with Garren and him giving me that.
What’s been great is because of that experience and putting in the time, right? Like you put in the time. You’re there day in and day out. You really get to learn… he elevated my technique so much. I got to see first hand how he did hair, and then I got to do it with him. I was always the second set of hands, and my job as that assistant was to know where he was going, a lot of times before even he knew where he was going. Come in, look at the girl’s hair, look at the inspiration, and go, “Okay, I think we’re gonna go here, so I’m gonna pull out this set of extensions.” Or “I’m gonna make sure that these wigs are ready.” And, “Okay, he’s coming in and he’s gonna wanna go here, so this is gonna be… this is what the next step to that is. I need to make sure that curling iron’s on. I need to make sure these clips are ready.” So that he never had to worry about… he never actually had to think about it. He could just go into his workflow.
And my job was to make sure that happened. And he was a mentor, is a mentor, still. We still talk all the time. It was essentially like an apprenticeship. Like you go and apprentice for somebody. I look at my time with him as like my PhD. ‘Cause essentially in the beauty world, we don’t have traditional education. But I look at my first five years in Albuquerque as undergrad. My three and a half years at the salon at Cutler as my graduate work. And then, my three and a half years with Garren as PhD work where I found my specialty and I trained under somebody who had been doing it forever and was the best of the best. That’s like Harvard.
Killian Vigna: Yeah, you basically carved out your own college course.
Jerrod Roberts: Yes, yes.
Killian Vigna: ‘Cause I know you were saying from the start to beauty school you were pretty much just doing beauty school to get through beauty school. You built up a big CV working in a salon, but then you decided “Well, I want to learn better, so how do I learn better?” Well, basically, you have to drop down a few levels to go up a few levels. So, I suppose where I’m going is that it’s a serious career path you’ve had. You’ve obviously had the ambition and the drive, and you’re there where you are now.
But for someone else that wanted to follow that path, because one thing that stood out that you mentioned to me and Zoe and we looked at each other… the mentoring, the going out, the stalking the people. That stuff has to be done, and people might feel awkward at first, reaching out to do that rather than just learning the salon. But this is the sort of stuff you did to get to where you were, so is there anything you’d look back on and change if it still meant getting to the same area here? And, I suppose, what were the three biggest learning things for you that you’d like to pass on to someone else?
Jerrod Roberts: I don’t know if there’s anything I would change. Like I said earlier, if I would have been mentally ready to start this a little earlier, that would be one thing. But I don’t think I would change a thing, ’cause it’s been such a cool journey to get here. The advice that I would give people. I think we live in an age where we’re flooded with information, and I think for younger hairdressers, what I’ve observed being out in the field is that they don’t know their history. That they don’t know where we came from as an industry.
There’s like the… I mean, obviously Vidal Sassoon, the [inaudible 00:37:48] Sisters, Teazy Weazy. It’s one thing that Howard, Garren, and Thom talk about a lot in R+Co education. He’s like knowing your history and knowing your references. If you want to work in fashion, know where fashion came from. Know who these photographers are. Know who Abbadon was. Know who Irving Penn was. Know who Helmut Newton was. Know what their work stood for and what it said. Know your history of hairdressers. Know who Garren is. I cannot believe how many people I go out into the field and people don’t know who Garren is, and he’s one of the most iconic hairdressers in history. And he’s still alive.
And there’s Garren, Didier, Jimmy Paul, Guido, obviously. These are just a couple. And what I did to get myself familiar with them was I sat down with a pile of fashion magazines and I went through and I read the credits for every single shoot and I wrote them down in a notebook and then I went back with my computer and I researched these people. And I went, “Okay, so who are they? Who are they represented by? What does their work look like? What is their style?” And know your references because that was such a big part of stepping into fashion, and that was where a big part of my education with Garren came in was he would throw out references and expect me to know them right off the bat.
I remember the first was “Belle de Jour.” And “Belle de Jour” is a movie in the ’60s with Catherine Deneuve, and she has these really iconic hairstyles throughout. Like when Madonna wore Gucci at the VMAs in ’99, I believe Garren did her hair and did this giant blonde fall that flipped up on the ends, but it was a total reference to “Belle de Jour.” And he would do that constantly on set. He would say, “Okay, this is”… and he would just throw a reference out at me and I would have to know what it meant. I would have to know where it came from, what the movie or the era or the artist was… We do a… oh god what’s her name? I have so many references it’s sometimes hard to remember them all.
We do a Rita Hayworth set. Knowing who Rita Hayworth is and was and what that looks like and how to get there. So, the biggest advice that I would give hairdressers of today is… I think what’s happened with Instagram culture is there are a select group of hairdressers that everybody’s paying attention to and the work of these guys is great and they understand the medium of social media. But, I think hairdressers get a little limited as to what they follow and pay attention to. And I realise that people like the Kardashians are very important in today’s culture, but there are still other fashion icons that are equally as important. Like Linda Evangelista throughout the years. Why was she so important? She was the most beautiful woman in the world, and the most important fashion model of the ’90s and early 2000s.
Know who these people are, who they worked with, why they were important. If you want to work in fashion. If you don’t want to work in fashion, educate yourself on what it is that you want to do. Find somebody who’s doing that thing and reach out to them and say, “Hey, I have a couple questions. How did you get where you’re at? What advice would you give me?” My advice for anyone who wants to do what I do is be willing to put in the time and put in the work. It is not an overnight thing, and I think we live in a generation of instant gratification. And younger hairdressers I’ve met where I’ve sat down and I’ve been like “Cool, you can go assist here or you can go be a first assistant for about three to five years. It’s usually around three years but sometimes it pushes to five.” And they’re like “I don’t wanna do that. I don’t wanna put in time. I want it now.”
The reason why people who are at the top are at the top is because they’ve got decades of experience under their belt and they’ve made all of those mistakes. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made is not properly packing my kit. I got to a job once, and I didn’t have any hair product. I had all my tools. I had zero hair product, and I don’t remember how I wiggled it out but I was able to go sneak away and run to my apartment real quick and grab it and I thought I was gonna die. I wanted to drop through the floor. And the good thing is, nobody knows that I showed up without it, but that taught me my lesson. Every single time I go on a job, I triple-check my kit. Do I have this? Do I have this? Do I have this? Is every eventuality covered?
Killian Vigna: That’s not a bad habit to get into, is it?
Zoe Belisle-Springer: No, certainly not. So, listen Jerrod, this has been amazing. I knew it was gonna be a great episode. I did promise I’d remind you of something, so if you’re okay with closing this episode on this note, what exactly is the story behind Wig Wednesdays?
Jerrod Roberts: Oh my god. So, I would go out… I’m starting them again. When we would have a job, Garren and I would have a job, I would go to the wig stores in New York and find options for these looks if he didn’t have the wig in his wig closet. And so, I’d have to send him pictures of myself in the wigs so that he could see how they sat, how they looked. The first time I did one, he was like “Oh my gosh. My other assistants were so pretty in these wigs. You do not look good in these wigs.” And I was like, “Oh!”
They were so embarrassing and so funny. I couldn’t open up my camera roll without laughing about them, and I thought it would be fun to put ’em up on my Instagram. At first, I was like “Oh my god, if these ever get out, they’re such good blackmail.” And I was like “Well, I should just put them out myself that way nobody can hold them against me.”
Killian Vigna: If you can’t laugh at yourself…
Zoe Belisle-Springer: That’s hilarious!
Jerrod Roberts: Exactly. So, that was the story. It’s not that exciting, but Garren’s got a whole folder of pictures of me in wigs. I actually went through and organised all of them into a folder in my phone so I just keep moving one over.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Brilliant. By the time you retire, you’ll have a full photo album of them.
Jerrod Roberts: Oh my gosh, but now, I’ve gotta go in because I’m not sending them to him anymore. When I go in for my own jobs, I just have to take a bunch of selfies in wigs. And luckily the women, the girls who run the wig store that I primarily go to, love my wig Wednesdays. They always comment on them. They’re like, “They’re back!” They were so excited when I put one up the other day.
Killian Vigna: And I hope you’re checking them in as well.
Jerrod Roberts: Yeah. Gotta credit ’em. Gotta tag ’em.
Killian Vigna: Well, Jerrod. It’s been brilliant, and it’s been a great story to listen to and delighted it’s all working out for you and to many more years in the industry as well for you.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Absolutely.
Jerrod Roberts: Thank you.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Looking forward to seeing you again somewhere in the states or maybe in Europe if you’re sometime in London.
Killian Vigna: Another one of the masterclasses.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Any of those.
Jerrod Roberts: Definitely. R+Co is coming out with an education calendar. Every year, we’ve got events that hairdressers can come to. We work… I think it’s classes of anywhere between eight and 15, and you get a lot of one-on-one experience with either myself, Robert Vasquez, Andrea [inaudible 00:46:39], Sarah Sloan. They’re wonderful educators. You can come in for that. Also… yeah, just follow me on Instagram.
Killian Vigna: Cool.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah. Thanks so much for being on the show with us today. It was amazing!
Killian Vigna: Yeah, cheers.
Jerrod Roberts: Thank you! Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it. This was wonderful!
Zoe Belisle-Springer: So that was Jerrod Roberts, hairstylist and global artist based in New York, represented by the Wall Group, and also working very closely with R+Co under the LBP brand. Now for a second part of the show, as usual, the Phorest Academy webinars. So, we have one coming up, and it’s led by Valerie Delforge. This time it’s a two-part series webinar, so it’s all about the salon reception. How can you build that to make it actually really effective and high-performing and also build it in a way that it will increase your revenue and not just be a part of your salon.
There’s two parts to this webinar. The first one is July 30th. The second one is August 6th, and it’s from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. U.K. Ireland time or 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. U.S. Eastern time. Like I said, it’s led by Valerie Delforge who you would probably know from the Salon Owners Summit last year or her leadership masterclasses that she led through Phorest Academy as well.
So, if you want to attend this webinar, all you have to do is go to our Facebook page in the Events section, find the Phorest Academy Salon Reception Masterclass event. Click get tickets, fill in your details, and that will give you a joining link for the webinar on the day. And you’ll actually be signed up for the two parts so you don’t have to worry about that.
Before we sign off we have two major announcements, the first one being that we’re now on Spotify! All you have to do is open your Spotify account on the free version or the paid version. Search for Phorest FM, and there you are, you’ll find us straight away so you can stream the podcast from there now. The second announcement that we have is that Phorest FM is nominated at the Podcast Awards People’s Choice 2018. Because it’s a people’s choice, it’s the first time we ask for this, but if you feel like in your heart we deserve to be your people’s choice, we would love for you to vote for us on the platform. Voting ends on July 31st, and Killian if you wanna give just a kind of lowdown on how to cast your vote, the platform’s all yours.
Killian Vigna: You can go to www.podcastawards.com/up/signup and what you’re going to do is you’re going to vote for Phorest FM the salon owner’s podcast in two categories, the “People’s Choice” and “Business”. So, how do we do this? Well, if you go to the link, just create an account and check the little box saying “I am a listener.” You’ll receive a verification code to your email, and then you’ll log in with that verification code and your email address. And again, just select Phorest FM, The Salon Owner’s Podcast under the two drop-down categories, “People’s Choice” and “Business”. And then click “Save Nominations”.
That would be amazing if we could get people to vote, because it’s the first time where it’s not relying on judges.
Zoe Belisle-Springer: Again, thanks so much for your continued support. For tuning in week on week. We really appreciate it. We couldn’t be doing this without you guys. So, if you do want to help us out a little bit, that’s how you can do it!
That kind of wraps it up today for us, and next week’s episode will be with Sinead Carroll from Events and PR, and she’ll be talking about the Salon Owners Summit 2019, so make sure to tune in for that episode. If you have any feedback, feel free to leave us a review on iTunes or on Stitcher. We’re always looking for suggestions on how to improve the show. Otherwise, have a wonderful week and we’ll catch you next Monday.
Killian Vigna: All the best!
Thanks for reading!