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The Humble Beginnings of Pioneering Hairdresser Vidal Sasson

by Alicia Ward on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Vidal Sassoon

Vidal Sassoon: “There is no genius – just pure hard work and innovation.”

If you’ve been a stylist for any length of time, you know about Vidal Sassoon’s legendary Five-Point cut, legions of salons, beauty schools and successful global product line. If you’ve been around a while longer, you might even remember him as the author of A Year of Beauty and Health, co-written with his ex-wife, Beverly Sassoon, or from his short-lived TV career on “Your New Day with Vidal Sassoon,” which aired in 1980. And, of course, we all know Vidal’s iconic pixie cut for Mia Farrow in the 1968 Roman Polanski film, Rosemary’s Baby. The famed cut was named one of the Top Ten Most Popular Haircuts of All Time by Marie Claire.

Nancy Kwan

Nancy Kwan

And for those of a certain age, who can forget his classic television commercials from the 1980s? Vidal himself appeared in the commericals—a young, handsome man, surrounded by beautiful models, saying: “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good.”

We attended the premiere of “Vidal Sassoon The Movie,” at the Cadillac Theater in Chicago during ABS, and learned more about the man who changed the world with a pair of scissors than we would have ever thought! The film is a documentary of this life that will inspire you not only to do more with your career as a hairdresser, but also as a humanitarian. The movie also inspired us to find out more about Vidal. Though not famous for his curly hairstyles, we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge what this visionary has done to revolutionize the hair industry, Vidal Sassoon.

Humble Beginnings. Vidal was born in London, England to Jack and Betty Sassoon. His father left the family when Vidal was very young, leaving his mother destitute. Vidal, his mother and younger brother, Ivor, stayed with an aunt and her children. All seven of them lived in a two-room tenement apartment. This arrangement did not last long, and Vidal’s mother turned to local Jewish authorities for help, which resulted in Vidal and Ivor being placed in a Jewish orphanage for much of their childhood. The boys were only allowed to see their mother once a month until she remarried and could afford to take them back. Vidal’s first job as a youth was as a glove cutter. This was Vidal’s first experience with scissors. As a glove cutter, he always had shears in his hands—little did he know then that he would grow up to change the hair world with a pair of scissors.

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Top Tips for Businesses
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Business Building Techniques

Begin having frequent staff meetings and collaborate on business building techniques used by others that you work with. Every salon has success right inside. Get the top booker to explain how they do it. Pair the weakest with the strongest and let them work next to each other. They can learn from what they hear and see. Do the same with retail sales. Share the ways that the top stay on top.

With cross marketing other services, know who the salon leaders are and copy them. Your staff becomes a resource to each other and by sharing dialouge that works, we all win.

Geno Stampora, Stampora Consulting Inc.

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