Last Updated (Tuesday, 09 June 2009 19:16)
Master Stylist Tom Brophy fits our definition of an Industry Leader perfectly. Former Art Director for Vidal Sassoon, Brophy has worked in London, Munich, New York and Los Angeles and continues to educate all over the world. His experience, knowledge, grasp on what lies ahead in this industry and passion for his work are some of the reasons why he truly is an Industry Leader. Recently he and his wife Jennifer Jones opened a salon in Beverly Hills. YBI spoke with Tom Brophy about his start and what brought him to his latest venture.
“I started at about fourteen. A friend of mine, a neighbor actually, was an assistant for Vidal Sassoon and he would cut my hair and my sister’s hair and that’s how I first got into it.” At fifteen Brophy attended a career convention at school and got a job with a local hairdresser in a salon in the North of London. He began working on Saturdays and at 16 he started at Vidal Sassoon. After training at Vidal Sassoon for a year and a half he was put on the floor as a stylist. “I worked in London for about a year as a stylist and then I transferred to Munich, Germany for about 4 years.” From Germany he headed to Los Angeles to teach at the Vidal Sassoon Academy. He would then stay with Vidal Sassoon for about 19 years. “I was Art Director at the school which basically meant overseeing all of the curriculum of the school and also overseeing the staff training.” Brophy was involved with art direction for the Vidal Sassoon commercials that were running at the time, working directly with Vidal.
Road to the Salon
Brophy left hairdressing for awhile to go into art direction and production design in film and commercials. Later he returned to the hair cutting floor working with a friend from his Vidal Sassoon days. Brophy found himself coasting but needed something more. "…I think what happened was just a level of comfort, which was uncomfortable because there was nothing happening, it was just day to day. It was very nice, very pleasant and no complaints; but there weren't any goals to shoot for and I had essentially reached every goal that I had planned.”
Opening a salon, Brophy says was in the back of his mind but he wasn’t pursuing it until his wife Jennifer inspired him to take the leap. “…my wife Jennifer Jones, we were in Hawaii, a couple of years back, back about 3 years ago… we were on the beach and we were just thinking about what the next step was … it was something that I had in my mind but I needed a good partner to operate the business with.”
Jennifer, it turns out, was indeed that good partner. Brophy credits his wife for being great at management and running the business while he prefers to be on the floor.
“… In our business you need someone who understands the business elements of the salon and then you need somebody who not only cuts hair or colors hair well but also is able to operate on the floor and inspire and also be inspired by the others who are working around you. So yes I think it is a fantastic partnership here, both personally and work wise.”
Education is Vital
Tom Brophy conducts seminars throughout the country as well as occasionally in Japan and Southeast Asia. Brophy not only enjoys giving back by education, he also places an emphasis on being inspired by your peers. “When you’re working with other hairdressers regardless of their experience or their inexperience, they’re always inspiring; you’re always getting something out of it so I think education is vital for me and for others as well.”
The Tom Brophy Salon
When asked what qualities Brophy and his wife look for in their team members, he was passionate about integrity above all else. While believing that a natural flair and talent is a great benefit, some of hair cutting and coloring skills can be taught while integrity and passion usually can not.
“…we search for that integrity in people and loyalty because that will transfer to their client base, and that will transfer to the salon as a whole. We want people who care about what they do, that care about clients, and I think if they have integrity and they care about themselves, they will definitely care about the client…first and foremost our client is the most important person in the salon. Not me, not Jennifer, not my staff, the client. They’re always #1, always the first.”
Specializing in either coloring or cutting is something Tom Brophy implements at his salon. “I think it’s because it was what I was raised on with Vidal Sassoon. I think that specializing makes you really good at what you do. I think that there are people who are good at both and I think there are people who can do both absolutely, but I just think that specializing allows you to focus on one element of your business.” Brophy refers to the talent of a true colorist to recognize changes that should be made in color as clients age and skin tones change. “I think a great colorist needs to specialize because they see all of that. I think when you’re doing both you miss out on certain aspects of what’s best for your client…to be really skillful at what you do, that should be the goal.”
Tom Brophy’s team uses Goldwell hair color products. “We like Goldwell very much….it does retain the condition of the hair and gives an immense shine to the hair…the colors are fantastic. So we’ve been very very happy with them.” Color Specialist for the Tom Brophy Salon, Davin Dawson is also a Senior Instructor for Goldwell.
The Next Trend in the Salon Industry
When YBI asked Tom Brophy if he believed better lighting was an important trend for this industry, he agreed that more efficient lighting along with the idea of going greener and saving on electrical costs could be the next big trend. Brophy noted that the success of some of the new lighting may rely on a few important factors. “I think that would depend on pricing and marketing and whether a salon could afford to…because those are pretty big pieces of equipment and you need a number of them so I guess it depends on cost...in the long run because you’re using much less electricity then your cost is compounded over a longer period of time but your initial layout up front is high… with salons going greener or trying to go greener …then as electrical costs rise then that I think will possibly be the next big thing, yes.” While promotion and marketing are decisive factors in whether or not any new products will become a successful trend, Brophy also emphasizes the importance of seeing some of the newer technology himself before making guesses on its success.
At age fourteen Tom Brophy knew he wanted to be a hairdresser. He set goals and conquered them and continues to do so with the opening of his new salon last year. Yet with decades of experience and knowledge he still looks for inspiration from his peers and students. We find that inspiring. What did Tom Brophy tell us in this interview? Surround yourself with a solid team, give back, get inspired by those around you, identify your skill and focus on it and always remember that your client is the most important person in the salon.
For more information on Tom Brophy and the Tom Brophy Salon visit: www.tombrophyhair.com.