© Tom Zappala | All rights reserved | License Number 286247 | ABN 27 306 081 547
I am a cutting specialist. Success in this particular endeavour has leaned heavily on a constant and consistent evolution of the tangible skill set which my career relies on. This ongoing refinement has always been paired with a focus which is readily influenced by the area, city and country I am working in. Currently, my practice is aligned with and best suited for individuals with challenging hair types (or situations) who live with their hair in a natural, low-fuss and low up-keep manner. This is a deliberate directive which offers a much needed alternative for people for whom the conventional salon industry does not readily support.
Certainly a large percentage of those reading this post are well aware that curly and or thicker textures of hair are challenging to live with. Equally and if not more so, they are even more difficult to have cut well too. That said, many are likely unaware that from this side of the scissors, fine and or thin straight hair is also difficult to cut well. It's true. Unlike curly hair, fine hair is considerably less forgiving to poor cutting skills and thus requires such finesse and control with the scissors. As one who likes challenging situations, this is why I have such an affinity for working with any hair texture people feel they struggle with.
While curly hair currently makes up at least 75% of my clients, the other 25% are the various other challenging hair types and personal situations. Of that 25%, a significant number of these individuals have fine or thin hair. Like curls, people with fine hair also struggle with blunt wet cuts which resolve in flat, shapeless styles that are often frustrating and grow out poorly. Cutting fine hair dry is paramount to resolving this. All of this contributes to the many reasons why I call myself a cutting specialist and not just a curl specialist. Make no mistake, an experienced cutting specialist with an ethnically diverse client list needs to be able to cut all hair types exceptionally well. Too, being proficient and fluent in many different textures of hair provides an opportunity for the development of skills which offer a crossover benefit to all the various hair types and situations which one is exposed to in a diverse practice.
Now, when it comes to challenging hair types, individuals with curly hair definitely have significant and specific challenges. Once I learned this was overwhelmingly the case here in Australia, I decided to promote myself as a 'curl specialist' to ensure clients would feel safe, listened to and supported. Truth be told though, I had always worked with and supported curls and didn't know most other professionals in this county did not. To me, working with curls in a supportive manner was an essential part of a well-rounded career and something I had an interest in developing since day one. Interestingly, numerous clients from Italy, Spain and numerous South American countries have told me the following:
"Back home I never needed to see a curl specialist, I just went to someone who knew how to cut hair well."
Exactly! Turn's out I apparently have those old-school, old-world skills which once were much more commonplace. Putting my hand up as curl supportive professional here in Australia was obviously necessary and I'm so very glad I did. As mentioned above though, doing so did feel strange because I thought that anyone who cuts hair professionally should also be curl supportive. Again, I was surprised to learn this is not the case here in Australia. In many ways, this reality is an indictment on the local training, but also this is somewhat influenced by population diversity. So how and why did I turn out differently? Well, for starters I avoided the flawed indoctrination of the hairdressing industry and it's supposed education standards. Next though, I chose a different career trajectory.
From the start, I wilfully chose to not work in a predominately Caucasian focused, upper-middle-class, fancy, high-end salon. In fact, I chose the opposite. By doing so, I was exposed to the beautiful variety that is humanity. Perhaps I was just being intuitive in this way, but I always wanted to work in culturally and ethnically diverse cities and spaces. Consequently, I had no choice but to be proficient at cutting hair for everyone equally. For my work, there was no automatic default to straighten everyone's hair. This is a mindset and practice which apparently is the standard many clients have experienced, the world over. As a result of my decisions and actions, it turns out I was unknowingly developing a rather unique skill set. Who knew I would turn out to be the weird one? Well, apparently lots of people, but that's another story no doubt.
Fourteen years later, am I glad that I put my hand up as a curl specialist here in Australia? Absolutely! I've learned so much from the experience and it continues to have an incredibly positive impact on many facets of my career and service offering. In that way, practice continues to make perfect doesn't it? Overall though, I get equal enjoyment working on any texture of hair, for any individual who has struggled with going to a conventional salon. Seeing their happiness is everything about why I love my job. There is still about 30 years left of this journey and there's still so much to learn, conversations to have and relationships to develop. Game on!