Hometown: Queens, NY
Career other than a hairdresser: Clothing stylist
Industry icon: Vidal Sassoon
Title of Autobiography: “Live to Inspire”
Personal icon: Mother Teresa. She had very few words but had an amazing impact on the world.
Mantra: It’s something I tell my children and it is along the lines of “Do unto others” but it is “Be the person that you want that other person to be in your life.”
Early influence: My uncle and my sister were hairstylists so from a very young age, I was in the salon, watching, sweeping floors. I was so inspired by the changes in people and the smiles on their faces when they saw themselves.
Anthony Cole is a self-described “Inspirationalist” because in everything he touches and everyone he influences, his ultimate goal is to inspire. A Sebastian International Artist, editorial stylist and educator, he saw the benefits of beauty early on.
“After cosmetology school, I worked with my uncle for a short time and it was an important education. He specialized in hair extensions and weaves and wigs and it gave me a strong background in building wigs and making custom wigs. We were able to help people with thinning hair, to restore them, and make them feel more secure.”
Without exaggeration, Cole says seeing Sebastian artists on stage for the first time took his haircutting “from A to Z” and allowed his artistry to soar.
“When I was training at the Vidal Sassoon Studio in the UK, I went to a Sebastian hair show. They were doing all these disconnections and interior layering but what was different is that they were guided by the eye and the mind, seeing their work in the mind’s eye. They were creating all these silhouettes from back cutting, slide cutting. It opened me up to a whole new way of doing hair. Now, I see hair as a fiber that adorns an architecture which is a head. We look at it the way a clothing stylist uses a fiber to adorn the body.”
Traveling the world, Cole meets people wanting to follow in his path. It is here that he impresses on them the importance of developing good business sense. “I tell them, first, this all comes with experience, but before they even begin, they have to know what part of the industry you want to be in and live it. The artistry is easy but the business side is crucial. So, if I ask a class of hairdressers, who wants be an editorial stylist, don’t raise your hand unless you can name all the key editors at the major fashion magazines. I’m in education and I know everyone in my field, every company, what they’re doing, and what they’re looking for. When working with a company, I want to know what marketing, sales, and salons all want from me. Most people don’t think of the business end of it. Maybe I work on stages but your chair is your stage. Do your homework.”
Cole has overcome tremendous loss (Hurricane Sandy destroyed his home and all its contents) and come out stronger. “My personal devastation has inspired me to such a degree. Never think that what you have can’t be taken away in moment. It is the friendships that you build around you that are there for you. Your legacy is not what you have at the end it is who you touched.”
This clarity of heart and purpose allows him to speak with hairdressers around the world, as fearlessly as the hair fashion he creates. When instructing them on “dare-to-wear” styles he also dares them to care.
“We’re the only industry that never goes down during a recession. People always want and need to feel beautiful. When people have lost their hair, they want a wig. When they’ve been sick, they can’t wait to wash and do their hair. When they’re going for a job interview, we can give them a great style and make them feel secure. And they get that job. We make such amazing changes in people’s lives. Never, ever forget that.”