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He’s the shaggy haired sea dog definitive of Australian hairdressing. Jules Tognini, the brain behind Lil’ Off The Top and evo’s ultimate wingman is working hard, one haircut at a time, to keep this industry educated, collaborative and cool AF.

A trainer at heart (as manifested by father, mentor and hair icon, Benni Tognini), Jules has stuck by his own, unboxed method of extending knowledge to those who seek it. It’s honest, fundamental and unapologetically … Jules. Just one of the reasons he and Australian born, no bullshit hair professionals, evo, get along so well.

So what’s he been up to, what are salon owners now looking for in education and why are we resisting the corporate jargon?

TJ: Where are you?

JT: I’m currently in New York, in the Meatpackers District on the way to a friends’ for dinner. Lauren McCowan and I have been here educating and we also presented at the Intercoiffure show.

TJ: How has 2019 shaped up for you so far?

JT: This year has perhaps been one of our busiest to date. Listening to the industry, we elected to really focus on underground education. The collective movement is away from corporate saturated curriculum – less brand affiliation – so we’ve been focused on Lil’ Off The Top (LOTT) and moved into New Zealand (where we’ve welcomed an amazing response).

TJ: New Zealand!

JT: Australia needs a rest from us at the moment … haha. That’s why we’re really focusing on bringing something different to the floor, something not so branded.

TJ: So you’ve surely had an amazing team by your side?

JT: Absolutely. Tom White, Ryan King and Sammy James works a lot of our trade shows. Nathan Yipp is also onboard, and of course Benni is a part of whatever we do. We like to keep the team compact so that we can really hang out and sink our teeth in … you tend to lose focus on everyone with a bigger team.

Look at evo and other young Australian haircare brands, they understand there’s a different way to go to market, they believe in the act of collaborating – working with other brands and getting more stage time while helping each other out. It’s genius.

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TJ: Are you finding more salons are requesting customized education?

JT: Absolutely, but we’ve actually been doing a lot of our ‘Meat and Potatoes’ classes (the course designed for first time cutters or the experienced chasing a little refresher). We’ve had the pleasure of working with the likes of Edwards&Co and Sloans and then private gigs with smaller salons.

TJ: What are the salon owners/managers looking for in education?

JT: Salons are looking to get staff on the same page. Everyone balayages and styles the same way, but not everyone has a clue how to cut. So that’s why we’re really trying to bring back the cutting format … it hasn’t been the hero for many years and it’s time. Girls are embracing shorter, edgier looks and a lot of stylists’ cutting repertoire doesn’t extend past a one-length. There is so much education around colour but so little for cutting … it’s definitely been a busy time for us.

TJ: And what is trending by way of education?

JT: To be honest, learning to be better – getting educated – is generally cool right now, and it’s awesome. For me, it’s all about continuous education, too. Learn it once and you might take away one thing, do it month-to-month and it actually stays in your brain … that’s why we’ve had so much success over the years at Tognini’s, because we train every week.

Also, educating based on what’s real – the situations stylists are faced with every day in-salon … and building confidence in our industry and the way they communicate and work with clients. On most occasions, the client has no idea what they’re asking for, so for example when Jane comes in requesting “just two layers,” rather than agreeing and delivering something you think fits the brief, stylists need to know and feel comfortable in saying, “that’s actually not a thing,” and talking through a style that makes sense for the client (and hairdresser alike).

TJ: And where do you look for a little guidance on communication and skill?

JT: Not to the hairdressing world! My biggest influence as an educator has come from Jamie Oliver. Is he the best chef in the world, hell no! But the way he connects with his audience is second to none – he is an amazing educator. He has changed the face of cooking to make it more approachable to the everyday person. Education is all about connection with people, both mentally and emotionally.

TJ: And that’s why so many hairdressers are seeing through and resisting the company-fed education platforms dictated by product messaging?

JT: Yep, and that’s why the consumer market will take over soon, because they do the mental and emotional connection so well.

Hairdressers love hanging with other hairdressers and doing hair, it’s simple and you only need look at events such as Hair Expo to see that. The contact is hair and we all have the same thing in common. Look at evo and other young Australian haircare brands, they understand there’s a different way to go to market, they believe in the act of collaborating – working with other brands and getting more stage time while helping each other out. It’s genius.

You are, Jules Tognini.

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