Category: What He Said…

On Adding Value



There  is something very unique to visiting a salon, restaurant, store or whatever.  The sights, sounds and smells are indelible to our experience: making up the greater sum total that will either hang on in our memories, or be tossed aside as quick as possible, lest the acrid taste takes hold; allowing them to frame the body of our opinions, both pro and con.

Taken at face value we have an already set opinion of what to expect when visiting an establishment.  These are not added values, but rather, expectations.   We expect to get a good haircut.  We expect to enjoy our food.  We expect to find what we wish to purchase.  An added value is something wholly different from expectation.  An added value is the unexpected made normal.

  • Once, upon a return to a restaurant I had visited for the first time months earlier, the bartender poured me the wine I had previously enjoyed and correctly brought the appetizer I craved… Unprompted.

This is but one small token of added value.  But small change can add up to big emotional returns, and its that emotion that we are after.  The one that makes us feel good.  Makes us happy.  Makes us come back for more.

Every premise for doing business should begin by asking “what is the emotional return”?  By not asking that question a business risks, at the least, not truly connecting with their clients.  The business is simply relying on what its own and clients built-in expectations already are.  But what is going to separate that business from others if they simply keep doing what is expected of them?  Having a skill or an item that has proved popular in a singular sense: “I cut hair and have many clients” or “this product is so popular, I am going to open a storefront”; does not automatically translate into success multiplied.  

Many businesses already tap into client’s feelings without even really thinking about it in such terms. You only have to  look at how a product is marketed and displayed to understand that the enticements strike at our very desire to smell, hold and possess.  And you only need to be ignored by a store associate once to understand the power a negative emotion has over us.

After finding that emotional driver, you can build on it by adding value.  Indeed, many would argue that adding value is commensurate with keeping up with your competition also applying similar techniques (when your competitor also serves a glass of wine, you uptick to a complimentary mini-bite menu taste).  

But there is also the unspoken added value that comes with every good hire.  The intangibles that create connections beyond expectation.What of the others on your salon, store or restaurant team?  Are these support crews able to carry the weight of emotions needed for success?  Do they have the same drive or connection and, more important, did you create a blueprint for duplicating that emotional success?  Scripting and role-play are necessary undertakings to creating a successful team.  Far too often a business leaves the personal interactions to each individual, relying on their own sense and ability to connect and, while it is important to nurture a personal and individualized touch, a framework must be set to ensure the culture and identity you want to bring to your customers is truly yours.  These are not easily answered questions, and most do not ask them, but they must be addressed for success to truly flourish.


  • Once, while shopping for a new computer, the sales person talked me out of purchasing what I wanted by arguing that my needs would be better met with a different product at a third of the cost.

I can no longer shop at another store.  My emotions won’t allow it.


For more thoughts on things, please read my other blog posts.

Scott can be found in San Francisco, San Diego and just about anywhere needed.  To book an appointment, or for a consult, email me here!




…We all need it.  In whatever we do: as a job, discipline or hobby; we all need to find that something that will drive us to new heights and goals.  What though, does this inspiration look like? 

For me, it’s art.  More specifically, going to museums and galleries whenever and wherever possible. Whether visiting my local museums (SFMoMa, de Young, Legion, etc.), during travels (Whitney, Met, Nasher), or catching up on art world news ( Two Coats of Paint), the thrill of seeing works of art both new and old is an inspiring and empowering experience.

The sights and sounds of an exhibit always push me to think more acutely at how I see things, keeping me fresh creatively and broadening my palette for what I do within my own field, as well as how I perceive the world as it should or I hope it to be.  

(The painting above, La Fin du Monde – Henri Magritte, in hairdresser parlance, speaks to positive and negative space, light and shadow. In essence, the what we see versus what we don’t see, in color as well as within the haircut). 

Inspiration though, is not enough. As Pablo Picasso once said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” In other words, unless one practices day in and day out his or her chosen craft, then all the inspiration in the world will be for naught.

Whether at home and working out ideas on a mannequin head, practicing on a live model, drawing or painting, or even just walking with thoughts on design, the aspects of practice allow for success to enter the room. The day in and day out of working on something, honing it and your skills, can only make you better and perhaps, along the way, lead you to new discoveries.

                                        (Closeup of The Virgins– Gustav Klimt)

An inspired moment is a rush to behold, for it can takeover your entirety and allow creativity to flourish. Little voices grow loud and confidence swells. Even though things can often not develop as you had hoped, inspiration is that beacon of possibility that keeps you coming back to the table. (It is all a part of The Process – inspiration’s own dopamine).


(The images here show my path and process taken- from inspiration: Horst’s Mainbocher Corset, to inception: Coiffure Corset. Photo by Shana Schnur.)

So, with whatever inspires you, in the moment or in career, do something with it. As the artist Chuck Close once said: “inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work”.

Caring For Your Hair – A Primer

There has always been plenty of advice given regarding best practices of washing hair: scrub vigorously, massage gently, shampoo twice, don’t condition, etc.; and much of the advice is sound, especially when directly addressing individual needs. Herein lies the issue, though. Most of the advice given is told in general terms, the products are sold in general use terms and you— the client, is left with a false sense of knowledge about what your true needs are. So let’s turn our attention to product choice and usage as a way of answering how you care for your hair. I will address technique in a future writing.

Every reputable and professional brand has multiple systems to choose from, and these systems have certain benefits focusing on each need. The paradigm of a one shampoo and condition system is no longer viable. The focus now is based on individual needs and ailments. So let’s break these systems down.


fullsizeoutput_75bDry hair is considered normal and every brand has a system for such hair. This system can be best characterized as “normal to dry” and is safe to use daily. The product is hydration centered.

Dry, damaged hair has been aggressed by chemicals, swimming, environment and/or mechanical affects. This system, though hydrating, has a more protein based focus: feeding the hair what has been stripped from it. This system is still safe to be used daily.

Color-treated hair may seem self-explanatory, but far from it. Yes, when coloring your hair it is best to ensure longevity and vibrancy through a system for such needs, but colored hair needs much more than that which cannot be given by one system, alone. Most professional products are color safe, meaning they are not aggressive and depleting to hair color. A color-treated system though, is focused on stopping the color processing action and locking the cuticle down, thus ensuring the life of the color. When used correctly your color should remain vivid with minimal fading. Using this system exclusively will tend to dehydrate the hair, allowing for color to dull and fade. It is best to alternate a color-treated system with another (such as above).

Oily hair and scalp is a challenge for nearly 40% of us. The issue is actually exacerbated by too much washing or improper product choice, while the culprit is often harsh detergents or overactive oil glands. To curb this issue and create balance you will first need to address blood circulation on your scalp. Balancing the blood flow will calm the oil production. Many companies have products that are specific to this need: scalp oils and shampoos; as well as with dry hair and scalp issues, creating a better ecosystem on your scalp. This cleansing system should be paired with an alternating system of need.

Severely damaged hair sounds scary, right? It should! Your hair has been abused by over-processing, excessive usage of heat tools, and so on. This is hair that I would call anemic. It is starving and needs to feed. Lacking in almost every health category, this system, along with some serious treatments, will help to replenish hair and bring it back to a state of health and beauty. Not for everyday use and should be coupled with an alternate.

Thickening/bodifying systems do just as advertised. How they do it depends on each company and their science used. Some use what may best be called “spacers”— creating gaps between hair strands; while other systems individually thicken each strand. This system is best used when alternating with another, as multiple, repeated use without interruption can weigh hair down.

Thinning hair comes in two separate forms— temporary and permanent. Temporary hair loss is more commonly associated with pregnancy, menopause, recovery from cancer and stress, while permanent loss is most often hereditary in nature. These cleansing systems, along with their treatment counterparts, are meant to be used in an alternating manner with any of the other systems above, and seasonally. There are a few very good ones on the market, but beware those that can create a dependency ecosystem, setting in motion hair loss tied to addictive ingredients when not in use.

fullsizeoutput_764There are a few other categories that some companies address. Should you need answers, consult with your stylist and ask many questions, or contact me and I will gladly prescribe a system best suited for your needs. In the long run and with exception to the ‘daily use’ mentioned products, all others are need specific and should be paired with a daily.

Without exception, take good care of your locks. For every action there is a reaction that needs addressing. You cannot expect to bleach, color, relax or style your hair without incurring some form of ill-health. Given that, treating your hair as if indestructible is a sure bet for increased damage.

Great hair comes from great care.

Scott Smith can be found in San Francisco and San Diego, as well as at, facebook and instagram.


PastedGraphic-1It’s September— the city is an oven, vacations are over and kids are back in school. What with magazines cranking out their monster fall issues to entice and inspire, there is no better time for change.

Many things will inspire you. Whether through nature, social or political inspiration, your ideas on fashion and hair will ever evolve, as they should. Bring those ideas with you when shopping for that new outfit or visiting the salon. Ask questions and challenge others to present their inspiration and ideas for you. Talk it out and you will come to what feels best for you for the Fall of 2017.

My thoughts, you ask? Happy to oblige.

This fall is about movement. From gentle waves to serious curls, hair will have more freedom to play and act out. A soft or heavy fringe may come into play, but it won’t be the defining piece of last season. No, this season is for the curl in the girl, so let it out and be bold. Should you have a natural curl that you’ve been restraining, let go! If though, you missed out on the curl-squad, grab that iron and have some fun! Don’t know how? Come in for a visit and I’ll show you. Best lengths to show off your curls are loooooong, shoulder shagged or the mop top. No time for ‘tweeners.

Color will have its say, too! BOLD.  Blonde, brown, red or funky— all color will be strong and showy. The flavors are based on the Pantones for 2017 (below) and are to be looked at simply as tonal influencers (not to worry, you won’t be walking about with these on your head… unless you want). Think solids in a world where we have tended towards blends.


This will be the autumn for expressing yourself.  ROAR LIKE NEVER BEFORE!

From Head to Heart to Hands

We are surrounded by technology.  So much so, that it is now part of our community DNA.  That community is humankind and it is in constant struggle with itself: at once learning, nurturing and growing; while at the same time struggling with inconsequence, insignificance and obsolescence .  Who we are and what we wish to be in this ever changing world are two questions constantly being posed of and by us.  Tom Friedman of the New York Times addresses the challenges facing the 21st century being and, within it, how we remain not only valid in an automated and computer driven society, but sensorially connected.

My industry, that of being a hairdresser, is uniquely positioned to face the challenges put forth above.  We engage on a daily basis with clients seeking change in their outer appearance, yet the touch we give comes from within and is shared to help others feel exceptional about themselves.  A mantra of  mine, and that of many of my educator friends, is this titled post.  Whether I am teaching within a cutting, styling or business formatted class, From Head to Heart to Hands gets to the core of what salons do everyday.

The salon is a place of respite for it’s clients, or so it should be.   The hairdresser has the ability to lift others by the very creativity of beauty, and guests visit us to look their best.  What they get is often a much deeper experience.  Guests walk away feeling their best, too.  And that feeling can be measured by how much, or little, the salon puts into caring for their guests.  A bad cut, bad color or simply an uneventful and uncaring space can make the guest feel unwanted and unappreciated.  Given the volatility of emotions that can accompany a visit to the salon, it is imperative the hairdresser focus’ on elevating the salon experience beyond the technical.

The greeting, the consult, buy-in, indeed, the entire process needs to be evaluated and properly executed on a consistent and high level to ensure not just customer satisfaction, but elation.  What most salons are doing now though, is simply not enough in this competitive market, and the challenge is only growing.  Our guests yearn for more than just a good cut, they also seek that calm and cared for experience so lacking in most daily lives today.  The warm embrace, focused attention, empathetic ear- these are but a few of the experiences that elevate their visit.  It is a choice we must decide: to be white linen or drive-thru.

From Head to Heart to Hands should be the beauty industry’s core value, for it reveals what we think and how we feel going into why we give, creatively.  This is how and why we, as hairdressers, elevate our relavence in this ever changing and automated world.  To pull from Tom Friedman’s article:  When machines and software control more and more of our lives, people will seek out more human-to-human connections — all the things you can’t download but have to upload the old-fashioned way, one human to another.”


You like what you read?  Learn more about this and other topics.  Contact me for a variety of in-person classes!

On a side note: What He Said… will be making occasional appearances as my new blog.  I hope you enjoy.

I invite you to follow me on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn

DavidK at SOHO

To work alongside the talented people I do on a daily basis is an honor.  To be present amongst pure talent is a blessing from another source…

…David Kinigson is pure talent.

I was fortunate this past October to be at L’Oreal Professionnel’s SOHO Academy, wherein I assisted in “Alternative Inspiration: The Cyberhood Collection” by DavidK Space.  Pure, unadulterated cutting at its finest!  An incredible opportunity for any stylist, especially wherein yours truly is concerned.  To talk theory, to breakdown the cut, to challenge the very universe I roam is a space I take up residence as much as possible.  DavidK lives next door.

The art of the cut is an ever evolving theoretical study and, in my career, I have been fortunate to be influenced and inspired by many incredible designers.  Some directly, while others from a distance.  First and foremost (everything always comes back to her) is Diane Gentellalli.  She pushed, prodded and engaged my creativity to a level standard not met since…by anyone.  It was an euphoric experience to study under such genius.  Indeed, my work has since come back to the roots laid by her; the influence being so strong.  There were many ‘tweeners (Fekkai, Sassoon, Llongueras, Mascolo, MaBurra, Sahag) leading up to meeting David, some direct and others inspired, and the path could not have been any different, varied or greater than the one I walk now.

For one thing the influences and mentors above allowed me to develop techniques I can call my own.  All artists and craftsmen develop their own style and approach based on their teachings, whether direct or indirect, conscious or not.  We call these techniques ours, but they aren’t.  These are but the skills honed through tireless practice and study, bringing in one while discarding another.  Don’t get me wrong – I own my approach, but I am an amalgam of many.

In Joining L’Oreal Professionnel, I was introduced to Michael McCune.  It is important to mention Michael as he is the creator of our TextureCutting program.  (I shall not delve into it’s defining principles at this point, leaving it for another day).  TextureCutting too, draws it’s influence from afar, but is now thoroughly imbedded in many a conscience, mine included, as a singular theory to hair design.  In meeting Michael I found a peer speaking the same language and living the same approach to hair as I.  We have shared theory, technique and verbiage over these past few years and his ideas have further developed my skills as I have continued to explore the cut.  In working with David Kinigson I witnessed a furthering of my approach to design.

David’s 2 day course at SOHO academy took his students away from pragmatic fundamentals in hair design to a more internally inspired, yet thoroughly technical approach to design creation.  To speak and think logically with one’s approach, but to draw internally – from the gut, from the heart.  David has written a school curriculum textbook that breaks down everything related to hair; be it technique, presentation, professionalism, etc.  I have it and wish I had it back in school.  This stuff just wasn’t taught back in my day, only learned through experience.  What a resource for the young up and comers!  David’s time at SOHO did tap the internal hairdresser, but he tapped it through logic and passion.  His passion to share is glaring, and anyone having the opportunity to share in that passion, is truly indebted.

David was surrounded by a stellar and talented team in Parker, Melrose and Anita (with many others lending hands), and it was plainly evident how much an influence he has on everyone; their talents and confidence anchored in knowledge and practice.  I especially shine a light on young Anita for hers is a talent a year plus removed from school, but showing wisdom many more years removed.  A rising star indeed.

David’s is a TextureCutting approach expanded upon through his years of study and dissection.  He shared techniques that allow anyone, using any approach in cutting (be it vertical, horizontal, etc.), to take that cut to a new place previously unknown… Finished.

Yes, finished.  Just when you think there is nothing left in the fridge!

Hello, Twenty-Eleven!

First and foremost I bid a very Happy New Year to each and everyone of you.  It has been a spell since I last posted, having fallen off the blog wagon for much of 2010.  I have, following this post, a couple of others to share, but do not plan to dwell on the past, other than to say that last year brought much in the way of excitement.

I look instead, to this year in front of us and, though it be cold and wet outside, the sun will shine bright and warm.

Many happy days ahead and a very Happy New Year always.

Room for one more

Hello readers!  I would like to tell you about a marvelously quaint salon in San Diego…FREELANCE.  Owned and operated by a wonderful couple, Basil and Janet not only share in the duties of running a salon, they share a mutual passion for hair.   The passion shows all the way through to their staff.

FREELANCE SALON is located on Fifth Avenue at Pennsylvania in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego.   Balboa Park is just a stones throw away and surrounding the salon are some delectable eateries. But the most important place to be is in one of the many salon chairs.  The staff is wonderful and their craftsmanship is second to none.  From cuts to color, relaxers to styling, FREELANCE has the talent and education you demand.  The reason I tell you all this is because, for a few days each month, I call this gem home.   Packed to the gills, but they found a place for me (and I thank you).

That’s right, I now ply my trade at this wonderful new locale.  April was my first visit there and my clients really enjoyed the new space.  Quite a few questions and raised eyebrows from them, wondering why I made the move, but happy clients just the same (for the record, since your’e probably asking too, it was just time to move on).  Everyone there, especially Diane and Abby, helped my clients to feel at home.  And they have all your favorite products to choose from.

For those of you yet to visit me there, or if your’e looking for a new home for your hair, visit FREELANCE…they will take great care of you!

beautiful is what you are

Canadian Clothing, Photos and More…(oh, my)!

Hello, avid readers.  Recently, I was fortunate enough to be part of a photoshoot for a Canadian clothing firm’s catalogue.  Mark’s Work Wearhouse was shooting in sunny San Diego because well, where else does one find sun this time of year?  The shoot was great fun and I hope a relationship forms with them and their PR firm – Watermark (big thanks to Tanya), so I can remain employed.  Many thanks to the wonderful makeup artist  Erin Svalstad, for recommending my talents.

And speaking of photos, look to my gallery for the latest of my works.  To refresh, back in January I worked on a shoot with Shana Schnur that I called “yarnplay”.  Together with a wonderful team (Jensee, Nora, Libby and Liz), we created some seriously beautiful imagery, and hope that upon viewing, you will think likewise.  Shana just exhibited some of these pictures at the Visual Arts Gallery in New York, a great accomplishment for anyone!  We plan on sending images out in hopes of sharing them with others.  Come July, when I’m back in New york, we will shoot again.  And this time, I hope to expand the shoot over a few days, being sure to squeeze as much creativity from all as I can.  Did I say more?  Indeed, there is always more to share and I will do just that.

I’m working hard in the areas of L’Oreal, Salon Marzia and QOD…no rest for the hungry!

Classes and shows are in full swing now with L’Oreal and beauty abounds.  My travels have me visiting some dynamic salons filled with wonderful designers.  I love sharing with my peers and this is the perfect outlet, allowing me to delve into the creative and educational worlds I am so passionate about.  Being an artist for L’Oreal keeps me focused on ever sharpening my skills, which only serves to better care for clients and share with stylists.

I’m building and building and building at Salon Marzia right now and, should you know of someone needing some beauty guidance, feel free to drop my name.  My greatest ability to build a client base is by relying on all of you.   Friends, brides and event followers all need their hair done and I am the one to do it.  Whether in San Francisco, San Diego, points west, east, north or south, I am ready available.

Having added QOD – the premiere Brazilian Keratin system, to my folio, I am now ready to tackle the latest craze in the beauty industry and, if you suffer from frizzy, bulky, worn-out hair, or just desire to lessen your curl, call on me.  I am excited about this new technology, and even more excited to see QOD takeover the relaxer industry.  That is why I work so hard with the company to assure it’s success.

That’s about it for now…a bit rambling, but I am just that excited!

beautiful is what you are