Ruth Roche: American Hair Idol
When renowned British hairdresser
Trevor Sorbie picked
Ruth Roche as one of three out
of 300 applicants who would
comprise his U.S. artistic team, he saw a
fearless, talented young woman who exhibited
enthusiasm, not ego, and confidence
that came with drive.
âI wasnât afraid of much, and I was used to traveling since my dad was a Navy man,â recalls Roche, who eventually became Sorbieâs national artistic director. âTo audition, I did one of Trevorâs cuts from a video coverâIâd never had time to see the actual video. He liked the front of the cut, but he liked my moxie even more.â
Today, Roche has her NYC-based RARE Academy and Salon, numerous NAHA wins, a colossal celebrity clientele, a long stint as Redkenâs Global Artistic Director of Design and tons of editorial credits. Still, she remains as artistically curious as ever and almost girlishly giddy about her next adventure. Soon, she reveals, sheâll return to the stage and do special events for the Pureology Artistic Team, as its cutting and styling specialist.
Making it Happen
A former engineering student, Roche dropped out of college to pursue her first love, hairdressing. Her keys to getting busy: hard work and the right connections. Rocheâs celebrity hook-up started with friend and celebrity make-up artist Billy B.
âHe called me one day to do Mariah Careyâs hair,â says Roche. âAfter that, we did tons of test shoots together, which helped me build a portfolio.â
Rocheâs alter ego Judi thanked her fans for making her popularânow sheâs MIA!
Foolinâ around with the latest in haute-coiffure mouse ears.
Eventually, her portfolio netted
her a celebrity agent just days before
the call came from Vanity Fair for
a Laura Linney/Annie Leibovitz
photo shoot. This put her in the
incredibly cool position of saying
those words stylists dream
about: âHave her people call
|Ruthâs Surprising Secrets |
Dream Makeover: Not Donald Trump; Roche likes his trademark look. Sheâd love to take Nicole Kidman and Lindsay Lohan back to being redheads.
Her Alter-Ego: âJudiâ appeared the day Roche tried on âa really ugly wigâ and fell into a funny, semi-patronizing Valley Girl character. Because the wig was stolen, Judi is on permanent sabbatical. If you find it, there could be a reward.
Chillinâ Time: For R&R, Roche paints abstract water colors and hangs out with her cats, Lily and Sammy, who have their own elaborate and safely enclosed cat village, which leads out to her 19th-floor balcony.
RocheSpeak: âI combine a lot of words. A Scaria is the scary area behind the ear where you can create a gap in the hair cut if you arenât careful. A Doinky Doodle is hair in front that goes up, then down; you create it with finishing.â
Canât Live Without: Animals, a Mason Pearson Brush and Pureology Smoothing Elixir.
Everyone has professional challenges and
Roche is no exception. When Sorbie became
less involved in his namesake company,
Roche moved to Redken; post Redken, she
opened RARE Academy. Her first class was
on September 11, 2001.
âIt was the third day of a three-day cutting class, and we carried on,â says Roche. She opened RARE salon two years later with zero clients, and built the business from zip.
Now she focuses on teaching othersâ her very favorite thingâand recharges her creative self by staying playful. âRecently, I used my video camera to film myself trying to get a cab,â laughs Roche. âI kept up a running monologue and included my eventual driver.â
Revitalized and re-energized to hit the road again, what advice does Roche have for others who dream of success?
âBe assertive but not pushy, powerful but not overly aggressive. Volunteer to assist anywhere you will learn, and keep your eyes open for those magical opportunities.â