There’s an illusion with mastery that makes things appear easy, but mastery is a way of life; working hard and doing something every single day until it’s perfect. It’s important to remember this.
With countless award wins, talent in spades and a thriving education platform to her name, Vivienne Mackinder knows a thing or two about hair.
An industry lauded hairdresser, international creative director and respected educator, Vivienne has spent close to five decades both honing and exploring her craft; time-honed skills she’s now imparting on a new generation of up and coming hairdressers.
One of her greatest accomplishments to date? HairDesignerTV.com; a digital education and training platform designed to elevate students’ careers and skillsets alike. A one-stop content shop, Hair Designer TV was created to develop and refine skills in all facets of hairdressing – from editorial hair through to hairstyling fundamentals.
Fresh off the launch of her new series, ‘Vivienne’s Hair Heroes’, we caught up with the award winning hair icon to chat creativity in the time of COVID-19, the importance of ongoing education in a changing social landscape and her goals for Hair Designer TV.
TJ: Tell us; what’s new in the world of Vivienne Mackinder? What have been some of the challenges you’ve faced during the 2020 pandemic?
VM: What a year 2020 has been; it’s certainly changed the game! My education business (seminars, workshops, shows, photoshoots, events) came to a grinding halt and my online businesses HairDesignerTV.com was also hit hard, with many members unable to afford [membership] during the pandemic’s early stages. The good news is they’ve all come back!
The challenge was that I had to compete with free education. There’s a huge difference in free and sponsored education versus a membership site (that is really devoted to providing quality education). After a good cry (and pity party) I began looking at the positives; from crisis there is always opportunity. [This] gave me the chance to reinvent my business.
TJ: Tell us more about Hair Designer TV.
VM: HairDesignerTV.com was born 17 years ago; before Youtube, Facebook and Instagram and back when we still used dial up internet connections and a phone was merely a phone (not a camera nor a smart device)! It was a pioneering concept at the time, as the technology did not [yet] support my vision.
I wanted to offer salons around the world the option of learning from their own salon spaces. Smart hairdressers always put money aside to further their education and [I believe that its far more] convenient and cost effective to be able to access quality educational programs from your home or salon.
HairDesignerTV.com is not for the fainthearted; it’s challenging, customised education. I spent 45 years studying and learning; now I [am able to] fast track hairdressers by giving them the benefit of all the knowledge I’ve accumulated over the years on my own and from other industry greats. We take hairdressing very seriously and have curated education to help others prosper!
HairDesignerTV.com now has 1000 videos; it’s an incredible library that has transcended the passage of time. During the pandemic we started Hair Heroes and every week we do a live [stream] to our members where they can communicate with us. We also [conduct] a [weekly] webinar to really connect and address relevant issues.
TJ: In your opinion, how has hairdressing education changed over the past decade?
VM: Education has changed tremendously. There is so much information at our fingertips; sometimes it’s overwhelming to determine where you should turn. [When choosing a teacher or mentor], you want to [train alongside] someone who’s a master [of their craft]; that’s where you’ll find the real substance. If you want to be the best… go to the best!
TJ: How do you think such platforms as social media have changed the way we receive information – be it educative or otherwise?
Social media is fantastic [in that] it gives you a chance to self publish and/or look at content that might not have been accepted into a magazine. The flip side of this is that it includes the good, the bad and the ugly, so you have to be your own curator; to find quality [content] from the massive quantities available.
After watching, you’ve [then] got to do it; until you can pick up that comb or brush and try to create the look, you won’t know if you can. They say that if you don’t apply what you’ve learned within 30 days, you’ll lose about 85% of it. So, practice more than you watch. Don’t watch 50 videos and practice none. Watch two videos over and over again, and practice until you improve. Then you will retain the information and make it your own.
Another issue [with social media] is editing. You can edit something that took an hour, down to a minute – so others don’t see the struggles and failed attempts that so many iconic hairdressers experience before they succeed. I call this failing forward. There’s an illusion with mastery that makes things appear easy, but mastery is a way of life; working hard and doing something every single day until it’s perfect.
To really learn and perfect a technique, you need to break it down step by step – and practice it over and over. Over the many years I’ve been doing hair… I’ve never been able to complete a hairstyle in one minute. We need to be patient, and go slower if we want to achieve mastery. I suggest immersing yourself in a course on HairDesignerTV.com [so as to] embark on a long-term journey of learning… versus just grazing lightly.
TJ: How have you been keeping creatively inspired (and professionally motivated) during COVID? Tell us about your new series: ‘Viv’s Hair Heroes’ and the inspired line-up of special guests.
VM: I was feeling a little uninspired myself, so I reached out to my hair heroes; they always get me excited about hair! Years ago I created a film series called, “I’m Not Just a Hairdresser”, wherein I interviewed iconic hairdressers such as Vidal Sassoon, Trevor Sorbie, Robert Lobetta, Anthony Mascolo, Horst Rechelbacher, Beth Minardi.
I have a background in content producing and thought that if I could reach out to my hair heroes (and produce some quality content), I could [rekindle my] inspiration and in turn pay it forward. I chose to celebrate [their respective] careers, lives, what makes them tick; to celebrate their work and secrets. I also asked them to teach a new technique or trick.
I’ve interviewed a lineup of iconic hairdressers from Anthony Mascolo, Sharon Blain and Danilo (celebrity hairdresser who has tended to everyone from Gwen Stefani to Lady Gaga to Scarlett Johansson) through to Antoinette Beenders (who is, in my opinion, one of the greatest hairdressers in the world) and Desmond Murray (a sweetheart and total genius!).
Damien (Carney); a great hairdresser and incredible photographer. Richard Mannah; a beautiful, beautiful energy. Ruth Roche; a sweetheart and so creative. Err0l Douglas, Sally Brooks, Akin Konizi and Sam Villa; just amazing hairdressers! Each one of them has given me something special and magic. Each of these incredible artists has so much to give.
TJ: What has been one of your greatest professional challenges to date?
VM: My greatest professional challenge has been maintaining a successful balance between my work and private life. I can’t say I’ve mastered this yet, however I’ve become a lot better at defining ‘work time’ versus ‘play time’. As you climb the ladder, it can be very demanding at the top – and staying there is even harder.
Balancing time has been a big challenge. That, and having so many ideas that you want to bring to life! Ideas take time to mature and blossom, and sometimes I move so fast that my team can’t keep up with me! [I’ve learnt] there’s no point in having an idea unless you can execute it will and profit from it financially. This has been a humbling process.
TJ: Your advice for hairdressers looking to follow in your career footsteps?
VM: [I’ve been lucky in that my career has been spent] working with the best of the best. I went to an incredible college (the London College of Fashion) and studied hair for two years. This was a great foundation for [styling] hair for film and theatre. I then began my apprenticeship at Vidal Sassoon before eventually becoming an artistic director.
From there I worked for Trevor Sorbie and became his international creative director. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some incredible hairdressers, and now through Hair Heroes, I’m working with the best of the best in the hairdressing world today. Is it intimidating? It can be… but I just want to have fun.
My advice? Don’t do it if it’s not fun, because you’re going to spend 75% of your waking life working. Have fun, be professional and [hone in on] the best version of yourself. Classic training is essential, as it gives you the ability to play in many different arenas (from studio, salon and runways to shows and television).
Be a lifelong learner, assist, study and listen more than you speak. I’ll be forever grateful to the amazing teachers I’ve had along the way; they’ve made me who I am today and are all my hair heroes!
TJ: Any final words of wisdom?
VM: Regardless of the [current context], or whatever you have [struggled] through during your personal hour of darkness, I hope you’ve taken some moments to celebrate; to [consider the opportunities] for reinvention [so as to] emerge better than ever before – with a greater vision, a heart full of love and a desire to make a difference in this world.
Passion + Purpose = Prosperity!
Work with or for the best of the best in your market. Surround yourself with people smarter and better than yourself. Be a sponge and drink in information! Be a lifelong learner, invest in yourself and believe in your potential. If you want to predict your future… invent and design it. You’re creative, design what you want!