28 Jun Anne Talks About The Future of Beauty with Celebrity Stylist & Guru, Robert Chard
Anne Mandler and Robert Chard discuss you have to figure out where you want to be for the Spring/Summer 2016 No. 2 of ANNE
ANNE: I have the lovely pleasure of having my dear friend and wonderful celebrity beauty guru and hairstylist, Robert Chard with me today. Robert is awesome, and I really want to share his work with you. He has a lot of great things to say about beauty, work life, and about taking something into your own hands and going with it. So today, we’re going to talk a little bit about his background and what he loves. So welcome, welcome, welcome.
ROBERT: Thank you; excited to be here.
ANNE: I’m going to talk a little bit about where you’ve been. So you were originally from Ballard, which is in Seattle, for those of you not familiar with Seattle. In 2008, you started your venture out into the world, and you really decided that you didn’t want to do the 9to 5 thing.
ANNE: You knew from the beginning.
ANNE: You knew that you didn’t want to go to a four-year school.
ANNE: And that you always loved the beauty industry. So you did a little couch surfing.
ROBERT: And did what I had to do to…
ANNE: To get…
ROBERT: …where I wanted to be.
ANNE: You found your way into school. Talk with me about what that journey was like for beauty industry?
ROBERT: Well, I realized very early on that the image of the beauty industry in your head is very different than what you experience. You think big lights and celebrity hair and glamour and a little different than that. You have to figure out where you want to end up. Do you want to do celebrity hair? Do you want to work at like a local salon? You know, kind of fit where you fit in.
ROBERT: It’s hard because you don’t really know. You don’t know anything about the industry, and you have to start from the bottom. For a lot of people, that’s not fun. It wasn’t fun for me.
ANNE: Yeah, I think it’s so good. I don’t want you to sugarcoat any of it because I want people to understand in any job kind of what it takes to find it. I think it’s lucky of you that you started out with something that you love. Not everybody gets to do that. A lot of people really struggle to even get to find that love in the first couple of years in what they’re doing.
ROBERT: I didn’t love it at first.
ANNE: Okay, tell me about that. You hated it after you started?
ROBERT: Well, I knew I loved the idea of the beauty industry, and in beauty school that’s when you learn the technical stuff…
ROBERT: …how to actually do hair, and I sucked. It was not a natural thing for me at first, and I cried. Oh, oh yeah.
ANNE: Okay, but you did it anyway.
ROBERT: Oh yeah, well, I just kept doing it. It took a few months into beauty school to kind of understand my way of seeing it, and literally overnight it clicked. I had a lot of fun and then I graduated.
ANNE: This is awesome. So the next step for anyone who’s working in the industry, especially doing it on their own as a stylist is getting clients, keeping clients, and growing your client list. Tell me about that experience. How does it work from the beginning, and compare it to where you are now? Do you have a regular clientele now?
ROBERT: I do.
ANNE: Okay, awesome. Tell us about the process.
ROBERT: Well, first you have to figure out where you want to be. Do you want the fancy corporate salon? Do you want something a little more local? Your first salon is kind of a shot in the dark. You’re not really sure which way to go. I took the first job I could get because I had to. It was a small chain locally. The first year you don’t really know what you’re doing. You’re testing a lot of things out, and you work out the kinks.
ROBERT: But whether you make the decision to leave or decisions get made for you to leave, you end up where you’re supposed to. You know, getting clients, and they tell you right up front, it’s the hardest part, getting people in your chair. Some people do a lot of free services like get your first haircut free. Everyone takes a different approach. I started doing hair right before the big social media boom, so no one told me this is how to advertise yourself. This is how to use Facebook. This is how to use Instagram for your benefit. I had to wing it.
ROBERT: That’s what ended up paying off for me now is figuring out how to use social media to my advantage.
ANNE: That’s awesome. I think that’s big in almost any industry, especially industries where it’s customer service. You’re helping people and you need to attract but then you also need to have people help you socially broadcast your message. Do you think social media is really effective for this industry? It’s a must, right?
ROBERT: It’s unreal. Everything is online, and I think it’s impacting a lot of smaller salons that haven’t taken the plunge yet into social media because most people are very visual. They see pictures and then want what they see. So a client is going to look at your salon online. They’re going to want to see pictures of what you can do, and if they like it, you’ve instantly gotten their trust. If they don’t have those pictures, either they’re not going to come to you in the first place or you still don’t have their trust yet.
ANNE: That’s true, and we were talking a little bit before we started about, for instance, someone will come see you for the very first time, and they’ll have these amazing expectations because of the social media that we absolutely love and adore. She’ll come in and want, you know you’ll have someone who’s…
ROBERT: Saw her hair and these trending styles that may or may not be doable.
ANNE: All the formerly trending mermaid hair is definitely out, do not do that. No, I’m kidding. Do whatever you want do, but he’ll tell you what is new. However, if you come in and you’re the total opposite of what you’re looking for, it’s difficult to translate. Tell me about what that’s like for you. Someone new comes in, and they want something that they’ve scheduled an hour for or two hours for. It takes how long maybe?
ROBERT: Some of these hair colors right now can take six hours if done correctly, but the first thing you have to do is gauge expectations. I’ve had to turn a lot of people away initially to rebook for more time because you know, silver hair is beautiful but it’s a lot of work. It’s a long process to get there.
ANNE: Yes, and you might be able to make it work for that photo shoot or for that moment but then there’s the expectation of what it’s going to be like after you leave.
ROBERT: Well, on Pinterest and Instagram you see the finished result. No one sees the process it took to get there or what it looks like a few days later. All those, you know, the pastel hair colors they fade. The silver hair, it fades, and so people can end up spending a lot of money to get this Pinterest picture. I have to tell them this is what you’re getting into, and it’s tricky.
ANNE: Yes, it’s a learning process for everybody.
ROBERT: Myself included.
ANNE: The next question that I want to ask you is about the industry itself. First, if you’re a new person, you really love the beauty industry, and you think it’s for you, what kind of advice do you offer for someone who’s just getting started to know before they enter? What does it take to be successful in this industry?
ROBERT: I feel like it takes a few things. Specifically you can’t be sensitive. I’m a very sensitive person naturally, so this was something I had to evolve into. You know, people are going to tell you things you don’t want to hear. Sometimes it’s the client. Sometimes it’s your boss, and you have to take it, absorb it, and move on.
ANNE: You can’t hold on to it.
ROBERT: No. and you know, in the industry where it’s all based on your client list and your relationships with those clients and sometimes people move, sometimes you build long relationships with the client and then you never see them again. That kind of stuff, you know; you can get easily hurt by it. You have to build a skin.
ANNE: I think that’s so applicable to any service based industry right now. I think that those are pretty core life lessons. It’s not the easiest, especially if you’re a sensitive person, but pretty much if you’re selling a product or service of any kind, you have to be able to know what you’re doing. Then, be somewhat bulletproof. Let it slide off. Don’t take it personally and move on is good cross-industry advice.
ROBERT: I mean, I think the only other thing is people want to help in general, so when you first start out your career, you have to say, “Oh, you know tell your friends.” Now, it’s more, you know, “Tag me in a post or take a picture of your hair, and send it to me later.” And hashtag, hashtag, hashtag.
ROBERT: But people want to do this. You just have to ask for it, and I mean you have to do it. It’s the only way it works.
ANNE: It’s the only way it works. We’re lucky to have it too. I think about before Instagram, life before social posts, like before Twitter, and Pinterest. It is also extremely important to this industry. People spend a lot of time there, and people advertise. I think it’s a benefit.
ROBERT: Oh, it totally is. There are things like Yelp, which is a huge platform for the industry.
ANNE: Yes. It’s the equivalent of a make it or break it testimonial.
ROBERT: Yes. It’s scary because you’re career is in the hands of whoever. It can be someone who’s angry for some reason or it can be a thousand happy people. People put a lot of faith into platforms like that where they can look up how many happy people you’ve had and see pictures. That’s easily what’s built my clientele right now.
ANNE: That’s true. You do have good Yelp reviews. I’ve checked you out.
ROBERT: It’s great, but it’s like I said, it’s also a very scary thing because it’s not permanent.
ANNE: No, but what is in this life? Maybe another question before we finish up is about the industry itself. Where do you think this industry is headed? That’s a really big question. And do you have any thoughts about where beauty is headed beyond some of what we’re talking about?
ROBERT: Well, I think it ties in to everything you’ve talked about. I think the standard for the beauty industry is increasing and increasing and increasing because everything is connected to social media. People want good services and I think social media is forcing stylists everywhere to really step it up. I think it’s only going to increase, so hopefully it just gets stronger.
ANNE: Do you have any thoughts on where beauty itself is going?
ROBERT: It’s hard to say because a lot of times that kind of stuff is in the hands of backstage people and we all just kind of follow along with whatever trend happens, but I just hope it’s a good place.
ANNE: Me too. Me too. I think one cool thing that’s been happening is the beauty and holistic health industries have changed and merged a little bit together.
ROBERT: Oh yes.
ANNE: I think because of that, thank goodness, it’s not all just like a cover and skin deep beauty. We’re also trying a little bit more maybe to integrate health and your skin being healthy and beautiful.
ROBERT: People are just more conscious of what they’re putting in and on their bodies; the hair care as well.
ROBERT: You know, a lot of hair companies have kind of been forced to drop the sulfates for instance, the waxes. A lot of companies stopped testing on animals because it reflected on them badly, and I think it’s great.
ANNE: I think so too. Well, one last question because I know we’re about out of time. Is there something you’d like to share with the folks today, a little gift or something?
ROBERT: Yes. I’d love to give away a customized hair tutorial to be used by July 15.
ANNE: How would that look for somebody? How would you do it?
ROBERT: Well, everyone has something that they’ve wanted to learn, so basically you send me a request, and I can Skype or whichever platform is easiest.
ANNE: Perfect. I think I’ll go ahead and let everybody know now, so if you’re interested in doing this with Robert, you can go ahead and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Just send a little note about how to reach you and you guys can coordinate.
ANNE: Hey, thanks so much for being here today.
ROBERT: Thank you.
ANNE: It was such a pleasure to have you and the beauty industry is just better that you’re in it. Thank you my friend.
ROBERT: Thank you very much.
Robert Chard is a celebrity hair stylist, and beauty guru, born and raised in Seattle, Washington. Upon graduation from high school, he was given an ultimatum – college or a 9-5 minimum wage job.
The idea of a four-year school left him realizing his long-love of the beauty industry. He couch-surfed his way through beauty school until he secured his first job and was able to be self-sufficient.
Robert cut and styled his way through three salons before pursuing his goal to find his niche following. After dedicating the next years to finding a salon and community that matched his style and values, he’s now resident at McLaughlin Hair Design, Seattle, where’s he’s grown a high-end clientele.