Bella Hair Designs
11820 Bandera Rd. Suite 110
Located in Studio #103 in Treusdell Salon & Spa
Helotes, TX 78023
Master Stylist, Master Cutter, Master Colorist, Stylist Level III, Creative Director, Regional Director... My goodness, my head is already spinning... What do all these titles really mean to you?
The hair industry is littered with names for hairdressers. Stylist, beautician, and hair designers are all terms used for the same profession, and that simply is a hairdresser. There are definitely different skill sets with hairdressers, and most of the time, the ones with vast experience in the hair industry do a good job with hair. However, we are about to expose some truths about what is a "Master Stylist." Think about it. If you plan to pay for a Master Stylist, you probably want a little background to be sure you are getting your money's worth, right?
Very Common: The "Sales" Master Stylist
In many mainstream salons, you will be surprised to learn that the different levels of achievement have nothing to do with skill, but with salesmanship. As a stylist brings more money into a salon week-in and week-out, then they can start advancing in title. It is akin to a salesperson reaching and exceeding sales quotas. The line of thought is that if more and more customers are coming to see a particular stylist, than he/she must be doing a great job, so give them a promotion!
Promotions based on money brought into a salon do not equal great services. It can mean that the stylist has a great personality, connects well with the guests, or can simply be a fantastic salesperson (smooth talkers can really do well to get promoted). These promotions are great hooks for the salon to charge more for the popular stylists rather than for the most skilled and educated ones. You may find that chain salons will even promote a super sales person loyal to their paycheck beyond the "Master" title into "Director" or "Creative Director."
Don't get caught into the trap of falling for these so-called "Masters" or "Creative Directors." The good news is that you will eventually discover that there are consistent mistakes in your cut and color. Unintentional uneven cuts, holes in your hairdo, and green or orange color are "tell-tales" of a master that really shouldn't have this title.
Common: The "Dinosaur" Master Stylist
The other master has "earned" the title from years of service in the industry (6+). Let me warn you, just because someone has done hair for 30 years doesn't mean they have done it right for 30 years. If someone doesn't receive any formal education outside of beauty school, then they are probably set in their ways and could be doing "it" wrong for the past 30 years, thus the term dinosaur. It is like buying a PC computer from 20 years ago and never getting an upgrade.
The fact is beauty schools only teach students how to pass the cosmetology exam. It falls right inline with what is wrong with our education system in this country. We teach our kids to take a test and they become great test takers but never truly learn the material. The same holds true for the cosmetology schools and their graduating students. Once a cosmetology student graduates and passes the exam, they go right into cutting client's hair. Would you hire an attorney to handle your important case right after , or have a doctor perform surgery prior to his internship? Of course not! But that is what happens with most stylists.
These newly graduated stylists who continue their work do get better over the years, albeit by trial and error. They cover up their mistakes with flamboyant moves and flowery language. Have you ever had a stylist aggressively cut your hair and expertly throw your hair around?
Now, many stylists have taken up a new trend to cover up their inability to be precise and that is by using a razor to sculpt your hair. If you have had your hair sculpted by a razor, then you know better than anyone that it takes forever to fix you hair in the morning as you try to look decent before you leave the house. Tons of gels, sprays, powders, bobby pins, and clips are used to keep it in place. I am sure if you had a choice you would use glue and if you could.
The fact is if you learn how to do something wrong and never know that it is wrong, you will do it wrong for the rest of your life until someone shows you different. The solution to this is education outside of the beauty school. Learning how to properly cut hair is only taught at the highest celebrated salons. But there is a catch. These advanced education classes are only 1, 3, or 5-day seminars. Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? Well this means that of those that actually can afford to take the classes or take the time to travel to Chicago, New York, or California for these seminars, only 20% will catch on and the other 80% won't (but they will still put their training on their resume). Even then, a 5-day seminar will not produce an expert, but will at least get the stylist closer to their goal.
Less Common: The "Template" Master
The template masters are the sneakiest false experts. The reason they are sneaky is because these masters have taken classes over the years for formal education giving the impression of a True Master Stylist. However the additional classes and training were about learning specific haircuts, not methods and techniques. One of the most notable successes in the hair industry is that of a popular national chain. They created a system where specific haircuts are taught and passed to their stylists. Each haircut is given a different name within their community and each graduate returns to his/her salon and gives their clients the cut they just learned. The problem is that the typical hairdresser jumps from salon to salon every 6 months to a year. They leave only knowing certain cuts, but never learned how to design their own cut. Actually, some of these salons will not allow for creativity because they want to keep a standard level of service across all branded locations. Therefore, they force fit all their clients into the same template.
RARE: The "True" Master Stylist
Very hard to find are the True Master Stylists which can be identified as being on the design teams of Vidal Sasson, Arrojo Studios, Ted Gibson and Jose Eber. You will find that regardless of the team, many of the masters on these teams were heavily trained either by Vidal Sasson masters, or trained by those coming from a Vidal Sasson trained master. One tell-tale of a true master is he or she DOES NOT USE CLIPPERS. Weather it is a man's cut or a woman's cut, clippers are a "bad word" for the true artisan. Unfortunately in some states such as Texas, trimming clippers must be used on the neck instead of a straight razor due to state laws. This would be the only exception for the use of clippers by a master.
ALMOST EXTINCT: The Grand Master and His/Her Protégé
The créme de la créme are those considered to be "Grand Masters." A Grand Master is one that has won the prestigious Long Beach Venus Medallion(1), designating him as a world champion designer. Rarely, and only if you are lucky, can you find a protégé of a Grand Master. A protégé is someone who has done more than take a 5-day course, but has intently studied and trained daily with a Venus Medallion winner for 6 months to a year or more. Venus winners and their protégés are extremely rare gems that are hard to find. If you do find one, hold on to them with awe and respect, for the level of training and skill they have acquired is second to none.
In a world filled with self-titled and over celebrated experts, interviewing your stylist is your best bet to finding the true master. It may take time and work to sift through the murk to identify the salespeople, the dinosaurs, and the institutionalized template cronies, but your efforts will pay off when you finally find that rare gem. In a following article we will go into more detail on what to ask a stylist, and how to properly examine their work to determine if you should give them an opportunity to work on your hair. Thereafter you can be confident that you are getting your money's worth for their services.
(1) International Salon and Spa Expo (2012). ISSE Long Beach Special Events Competition. Retrieved on April 17, 2012 from .
(2) Article Source: .
To understand what Isabel of Bella Hair Designs has achieved and the skill she has acquired, you must understand the background of her training. Her trainer, a Grandmaster hair cutter came from a generational legacy of grandmasters. Rick* started at a young age of 8 years old, hanging out at his uncle's salon. He would go everyday and watch his uncle perform his artistry and it was then that his passion for hair developed. His Uncle was a ISSE Long Beach Venus Medallion winner and was taught by his father (Rick's grandfather), also an international champion. The generational skills were passed from grandfather to uncle and finally to Ricky. At the age of 11, after 3 years of observing and training, Ricky finally started to cut women's hair under the watchful eye of his uncle.
By the age of 13, Ricky's skill was beyond that of an adult hairdresser with 10+ years behind the chair. He then took cosmetology in high school to officially get his license. His school teachers were irritated by him because he constantly corrected their techniques and taught more to the other students then the teachers themselves. After graduating high school, he continued his training with his uncle until he finally decided to further his education and see how his skills compared to other top stylists. He took a 3-day course at the famed Vidal Sasson Academy. In those three short days, he "wowed" all the master instructors and was immediately invited to become part of their design team and tour the country teaching and performing editorial and platform work. He accepted and worked hand-in-hand with other masters including the famous José Eber.
After a short stint with the Vidal Sasson Design Team, Rick decided to compete for the coveted Venus Medallion. At what the hair industry considers a tender age of approximately 27, Rick became one of the youngest reported winners of the Venus Medallion. Now, as one of the youngest Grandmasters in history, he decided that he wanted to open his own small salon and start teaching and mentoring his sister Laura* who also wanted to take up the reigns of the family legacy.
However, Rick's sister wanted to focus on color as her strength rather than hair cutting. She eventually competed in international competitions and won the title of International Champion. Together they worked to form a team where they could pass on their knowledge and skills to others.
Unfortunately, because of a strict family background of teaching, Rick and Laura found it difficult to keep new students because the students couldn't handle the difficult training regime. Students were not willing to take the physical and emotional demands associated with the hard core training, akin to a martial aritist learning difficult forms and techniques while being smacked by bamboo sticks.
In 2001 Isabel joined the team. For 6 months, Isabel worked as an apprentice for these siblings. Coming from Mexico, Isabel was able to handle the rigorous training, for she was accostomed to succeeding despite the obstacles placed before her. Isabel's skills immediately took shape being trained in hair cutting by World Champion cutter Ricky and in color by International Champion Laura. Day after day, month after month, and year after year, Isabel trained side-by-side with these champions. As other hopeful students came and went, Isabel tirelessly kept advancing and learning. At times, because of the high level of skill and the cross-training in both cut and color, it was Isabel that took the mantle of training new students. She would encourage them even when they were having a difficult time dealing with the rigorous training demands.
Soon Isabel's skills in hair cutting exceed the hair cutting skills of Laura and Isabel's coloring skills exceeded those of Rick's, combining into the perfect Master Stylist trained by two champions. Unlike other self-proclaimed Masters, Isabel completed a True Grandmaster program, mastering 8 certifications over 10 years. Those certifications are awarded for each of the sections in the two categories when mastered. Those categories and sections are The Anatomy of Cutting I, II, III and IV, and the Anatomy of Color I, II, III and IV. The final accomplishment for Isabel was completing her own platform work. This required Isabel to plan, design, perform, and operate a complete photo shoot from beginning to end. All the hair cutting, coloring, and updo's were required to be done without an assistant. Plus, she was required to set-up poses, camera angles, and mood of the models.
Isabel of Bella Hair Designs is not a "Sales" Master, "Dinosaur" Master and not a "Template" Master. She is of a rare breed... a rare gem to be cherished. She is a "True" Master Cut and Colorist. South Texas is blessed to have her expertly serving each guest with precision, technique, and integrity that is second to none. Now, as a protégé of a grandmaster, she has taken the mantle to pass on her skills to upcoming artists at Bella Hair Designs.
* Ricky and Laura's names have been changed to protect their identities at their request.
Bella Hair Designs
11820 Bandera Rd. Suite 110
Located in Studio #103 in Treusdell Salon & Spa
Helotes, TX 78023