This week, we introduce to you our Iles Formula Hair Talk Featuring Reagan Baker Of Whittemore House Salon. Read what Reagan has to say about her career, the beauty industry and her relationship with Iles Formula.
IF: Tell us what you think is the biggest challenge in hairdressing today?
RB: Well, personally I think the hardest thing is standing out and staying relevant. You have to always be learning, researching and challenging yourself creatively to be able to achieve those two things. This requires effort and time that spills outside of your work day, and into your nights, weekends and often personal life. When I don’t make the sacrifices, my business suffers. If I’ve learned anything about this industry in 15 years, it’s that you can never coast. I thought I would build my clientele and all the hard work would be done, which sounds hilariously naive knowing what I do now. But I’ve found that all the extra hard work and extra hours pays off. It’s important to keep yourself stimulated!
IF: What’s the most enjoyable part of your job?
RB: By far the most enjoyable part is hanging out with my clients and getting to work with my hands all day. I’m always grateful for not sitting at a desk and not needing a computer or phone to do my job. The salon atmosphere is so energetic and positive, I love to look at my schedule for the week and see who is coming in for a cut. I adore my regulars, they’re so interesting and inspire me all the time. I worked really hard to build my client list, so I do my best to appreciate each one.
IF: Why did you choose the path of hairdressing and was it easy to fall into this work?
RB: I was so lost with which career path to choose, and hairdressing seemed to keep presenting itself as the only thing that didn’t sound painfully boring. So initially I guess I did sort of “fall into” it. I just didn’t know how much I would love it, what all of the possibilities were and how satisfying all of the hard work would be. The amount of education involved is something almost no one knows about outside of the industry, so really nothing in building my career has felt easy since I graduated beauty school. Apprenticing was really tough and building a clientele took years, so not necessarily easy to fall into, but I’m glad I stuck it out because it’s been so rewarding.
IF: If you had not made the decision to be a hairdresser what would you have been?
RB: I would have been a writer for sure. I try to incorporate writing into my work as often as I can, even if it’s something little and silly on my social media. I’ve done a lot of hair tutorials and collaborations with different beauty blogs and websites writing about hair tips and how tos. Combining these two passions has ended up being some of my favorite work.
IF: What is your greatest strength?
RB: Finishing. I make sure my clients leave my chair looking polished but with the perfect amount of undone. When I started assisting 13 years ago, the bouncy Miss Texas blow out was all anyone wanted. I find most salons still do that, but almost no client really wants it. They want to go to their dinner and drinks later that night and look awesome without it being obvious that they went to the salon. I’ve developed a lot of my own techniques to get the effortless effect over time and it’s made my clients very loyal. They are always telling me they can’t get it anywhere else, which is very nice to hear.
IF: Your favorite hairdressing tools?
RB: Even though I predominantly use my scissors for cutting, I totally marvel at all the things a straight razor can do to hair. It’s fun every time I use it.
I’ve been using Twin Turbo for my blow dryer for what feels like ages. I love it for having the perfect balance of heat and airflow.
For up styling, I haven’t found anything that holds better than Japanese hairpins. Give me your thickest head of hair and just a couple of those babies. Amazing!
IF: Tell us about your relationship with Iles Formula. How you discovered us and which formula is your favorite?
RB: I discovered Iles Formula through Whittemore House, the salon where I work, but didn’t really know much about it until Wendy came to educate our team. It’s the perfect product for my type of clientele, and I’ve seen people almost well up with happy tears at the result. Most of us aren’t born with perfectly silky, shiny, smooth hair, so having a product that gives my clients something they’ve otherwise never had is really special to see. One specific client comes to mind, she is an on-air personality so her hair is heat styled constantly and as a result, very dry and even a little broken in some spots. The first time I used Iles Formula on her, she couldn’t believe how healthy her hair looked and felt. She couldn’t stop touching it.
IF: What was the most challenging job you ever made?
RB: The client who sits down and starts the consultation by saying “I’ve never like any haircut I’ve ever gotten in my entire life”. This has really only happened once or twice, and obviously I do everything I can to make that client happy, but I have found that type of negativity nearly impossible to break. They’re the client that questions every step, every section, every technique, every product, every tool. It completely interferes with the process and prevents me from being able to do my best work. Trust is everything.
IF: What was your worst hair moment and why….Privately or on set/stage or in the salon?
RB: I’ve always found talent and models, on set and backstage, to be very professional and comfortable with the process. However, working in NYC at a downtown salon, I’ve had a few pretty out there requests. The craziest I’ve ever seen was by far when a client showed me an image of a cartoon character and requested that same haircut. I asked her if she had any other photos and she did, but they were of more cartoons! The consultation continued to get stranger and stranger as I tried to understand what she wanted, while breaking the news to her that I don’t have the ability to give her cartoon hair. Luckily she handled the disappointment well and as kooky as she sounded, she left happy with the cut.
IF: If you could style anyones hair, who would it be and why?
RB: Easy, young Brigitte Bardot. I pour over photos of her regularly. Her look was perfectly feminine and playful. My favorite combination.
IF: Where do you pull hair inspiration from?
RB: Movies and TV are my favorite place, I get distracted watching because I’m imagining how I would get each look, deciding what’s a wig and what’s not, and thinking about how I might have done it. Old movies really amaze me because they didn’t have as much access to the tools and products we have today, but the hair was always so stunning.
IF: Your advice to young hairdressers starting out?
RB: Watch and learn from your superiors, but try not to just duplicate their work. Take that knowledge and make it yours by putting your own spin on everything you do. Your clientele will find you and stick with you for what you have to offer. And remember hard work pays off!
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