Revered for her breathtaking images and education venues, Vivienne Mackinder, founder of HairDesignerTV.com and Fashion Director for Intercoiffure America • Canada (ICA), recently spent quality time with our Editor-in-Chief, Jeryl E. Spear, on the eve of her ICA Spring Symposium main-stage presentation in Miami. There, amidst the hubbub of last-minute preparations, Mackinder shared five major tuing points in her career… ones that could apply to all stylists, whether they work in the fashion haute-bed of NYC, or bend tresses in Anywhere, USA.
Epiphanies sometimes come to me out of the blue and other times after a lot of soul-searching,” Mackinder smiles. “Either way, they’ve always made me more mindful of what I need to do in order to make a difference in my hairdressing and, quite often, for the careers of all hairdressers whom I touch through my presentations, website and teachings. “Looking poised and as pretty as she was 20 years ago, and with new images in hand that took my breath away, I found it hard to imagine that Mackinder hadn’t already tued over every stone, thought every thought, did every deed that she needed to do in order to be successful…always. “Life’s a jouey, you know that and I do too,” she reminds me. “Who we were yesterday and who we are today should pale in comparison to whom we should become in the future. I’m a futurist, so I’m always looking ahead and thinking about what’s possible to do next and how to make it happen—whatever it is—in the most beautiful way”.
1. Focus on beauty every time you do hair
“Doing a wild and crazy hairstyle just for the sake of creating something different might temporarily feed your inner artist, but it does little to advance your work. Rather than just being clever, even avant-garde styles should be beautiful in some way. I admit that I had to constantly remind myself of this truism until it finally became part of my artistic make-up. Now, when I catch myself going too far afield with a hairstyle, I reel myself in, no matter how much fun I'm having!
“When working in a salon setting, it's important to remember that we have a sacred trust to help our clients look their best. Even if they're adventuresome with their hair, they still need to look beautiful when they leave your chair. And, our role should be to complete rather than compete with their total look by considering their lifestyle, physical build, personal style, hairstyling abilities and so much more. By doing so, it shows that we care and that we understand their needs. If we don't do this, we may be on the leading edge of trends, but no one is following us”.
2. Be true to classic styling techniques
When I was a young stylist, I was very vocal about not wanting to waste my time studying classic techniques. 'Why are we leaing how to tease hair?' 'Why are we practicing roller sets?' 'Why should I lea classic pinning techniques?' I wanted to lea hairstyles that were fun and trendy - ones that I would be doing for salon clients. But my London instructors persisted - and I suffered - until I had mastered all of them. It felt the same as when my mum would tell me, 'You've got to eat your spinach before you can have dessert'. Ugh!
"The epiphany of their wisdom came to me much later when I realized that no matter what I wanted to do with hair, classic techniques would help me to not only reach, but also perfect my goals. For instance, if I wanted to do a '60s neo-beehive, then I would first need to know how to use rollers. I probably wouldn't set the hair in the same way that was done back then, but at least I would know how to section and place the curls in the correct direction (over-direct, on-base, pinwheel partings, etc.), create a teased based that's as strategic as it is strong; and properly pin the hair so that these fasteners not only firmly held the hair, but also helped to shape the style".
3. Be a good editor
"Long ago, a Vogue editor taught me that when it comes to doing really good hair, less is more. My natural tendency is quite the opposite. I have a propensity for embellishment when I'm not happy with a style and, because I'm a perfectionist with me own work, nothing is ever good enough! Even so, I've leaed to recognize that over-doing a style really shows a lack of confidence in that I'm doing. Adding more swirls or curls won't fix a hairstyle that isn't quite right; simplifying it will help me see where I went wrong and how I should proceed to get it back on track.
"To help you edit your work, it's also important to physically stand back in order to gain a broader perspective of a style. Does it have the right proportion? Are there distracting wisps that you didn't notice before? Is the shape pleasing? If you don't do this, you could be one of the thousands of stylists each day that make a mad dash for the checkout desk after seeing a flaw in their client's hair as she's paying her bill.
"I've leaed through experience the importance of physically stepping back and checking my work during the cutting and styling processes. To remind my students to do this as well, I have them move their spray bottle and other tools a few steps away from their chairs. Each time they need something, they have to move far enough away to also get a clearer perspective on what they're doing".