He has a talent for success in the salon: Nick Arrojo shares the keys to creating a booming business and nurturing a talented staff.
Nick Arrojo has 25 models waiting, a huge show season looming and a cosmetology school class to teach, but his focus remains intense. Ask him anything and he barely misses a beat.
“Success comes from hard work, knowing what you want and building good relationships. If you’re open to it, you’ll move in the right direction,” he says.
Of course, as one of the most recognized names in hairdressing, Arrojo has had plenty of time to consider how he got to the top. Ebullient about every new venture and thrilled to talk up the profession every day, he’s had a staggering number of successes that came largely, he says, from 14-hour days—and the ability to make decisions quickly.
Advancing a Career
Of the slew of stylists who led their own British invasion, Arrojo is one of the least celebrity focused and most industry involved. A Vidal Sassoon assistant creative director at 21, and nine years later, a Wella International UK creative seminar leader, he came to the U.S. as director of education for Bumble and bumble, NYC.
He opened ArrojoCutler as an Aveda global master, then his own Arrojo Studio. The latter was followed by cosmetology and advanced academies, a product line (carried by 55 ambassador salons) and an arrangement with the Empire Education Group to lead its nationwide Masters of Beauty Program. For Masters of Beauty, Arrojo was approached by Empire, because a student survey showed he was the best-known stylist in the country. Not bad for a guy who dropped out of school at 16.
Manufacturer relationships have played a key role in Arrojo’s rise because he had the foresight to understand their role.
“If you want to do anything in an industry, look at who runs it,” says Arrojo.
“They have the stages and need us to profile their products.”
As for getting front and center, use your target company’s products, become successful and maintain a good reputation, he says. Also, keep commitments focused: he has worked with P&G Salon Professionals for seven years and has a non-competitive relationship with the flatiron company, Izunami, where he recently launched his own iron brand. Arrojo’s additional advice:
• Get Known. When you’re known locally, you can create opportunity. Arrojo was recommended to TLC for What Not to Wear, and says “managing the moment,” communication skills and making it easy for the show were important. “I showed up and did what I do every day: see, listen, look and go for it.”
• Keep it Real. Arrojo Education stands for creative, contemporary, real-world looks: “Why teach it if you can’t use it?”
• Work Hard. “Take opportunities as they come and accept personal sacrifice.” What Arrojo’s working toward next: having an incredibly successful product company and raising the bar in how hairdressers are perceived.
“This is a high-level career and an amazing craft,” says Arrojo. “In a socalled bad economy, my business grew, and I continue to hire.”
Who else can say that?
Fave Get Away: “At home in a chair, with my wife and kids—no TV, no music.”
What’s in a Name? Arrojo’s real name is David; Nick just sounded better.
Past Life: “I was a DJ for 20 years, working in UK and NYC nightclubs.”
Next Life: If he hadn’t been a hairdresser, he’d have been a movie director: think Blade Runner. “I may do it yet.”