Choose Beauty: Rafe Hardy
Title of your autobiography: Rafe Hardy: I’m Not Just a Haircutter
On your iPod: “Classic rock, baby.”
Now collecting: “I have a turtle collection. My father used to commute 126 miles roundtrip and he had a quarter-size ceramic green turtle for a good luck charm. Turtles signify perseverance.”
Hidden talent: “I’m a good cook. I do Louisiana Southern Creole.”
Day-off pursuits: “I have motorcycles and I like to go riding to clear my mind. Golf, too.”
Career other than hairdresser: “Graphic designer.”
Would like to thank: Rigsby Frederick, Sue Navarre, Michael O’Rourke, Alan Benfield Bush, and, of course, Vidal Sassoon.
Sexy Hair Concepts Artistic Creative Director Rafe Hardy credits early mentors for his success.
When a hairdresser creates in a way that is effortless, almost second nature, they have “good hands.” This folksy way of describing sophisticated skills suits Rafe Hardy.
Louisiana-raised, Hardy’s easy grace and approachable style reflect his rural roots and have helped him win over hairdressers worldwide. His path forward was paved with positive role models who urged him to pursue a life in beauty.
“My mother was a hairdresser, and I had a cousin and uncle also in the beauty business,” says Hardy. “I would hang out with my mom after school. Everyone was creative, interesting and genuine, and they loved their jobs. My mom’s clients always left happy.
“I never thought about hairdressing as a career until I got out of the military at 21. I knew I could cut hair because I had been watching my mom since I was eight, and I knew beauty school would be a creative outlet.”
An Informed Decision
Hardy was encouraged to audit classes for two days at beauty school to help him make an informed decision. “After those two days, I said, ‘Where do I sign?’ It was fun, interesting and I knew I could make a living helping people look and feel good every day.”
While in school, his instructor Sue Navarre talked to good friend Sam Brocato about Hardy. “Sam had his salon in Baton Rouge and his own product line. I started working on the line with his Creative Director.”
In addition to making this valuable introduction, Navarre also pushed Hardy to get serious about his craft and career.
“I told Sue I wanted to get an instructor’s license and she said there is no way you are going to stay in Hammond, Louisana. She said, ‘You need to touch more than 30 people a day.’”
Soon, he was behind the chair, attending shows, teaching private classes and educating himself on the industry. In 1990, he went to work with ABBA and names Alan Benfield Bush, ABBA founder, as an early influence. “Alan taught me a true understanding of the art form of hair design.”
A New Path
He was a salon owner until Hurricane Katrina changed everything in 2005; clients couldn’t afford salon visits anymore. Hardy decided to make a change and moved to California in 2006.
Today, Hardy’s work as Artistic Creative Director with Sexy Hair means designing and teaching two yearly collections, while advising stylists on how to succeed in a fast-paced business. He has traveled to 20 countries and six continents encouraging and motivating stylists.
“This industry is changing every season and if you don’t change with it you will fi nd yourself playing catch-up. Don’t wait, don’t procrastinate, don’t miss an opportunity. Today’s consumer can tell if someone is second guessing themselves. So, hone your skills. But don’t ever think you have it because as the saying goes: When you’re green, you’re growing and when you’re ripe, you’re rotten.”