President, Dop Dop Salon, NYC

L’Oreal Professionnel Portfolio Artist

Master Color Artist and Motivational Speaker

Licensed: 1985, Cuyahoga Valley Joint Vocational School, Brecksville, OH

First job: Visible Changes salon in Houston, Texas. I started on July 7, 1985 at a place called Almeda Mall.
Clients per week: 40; average ticket is $294 with retail.
Price point: Cut: $150; single process: $150; Highlights: $350; average ticket: $294 with retail

Women of Style: Jo Blackwell-PrestonWhy did you choose beauty as a career? At the age of 10, I chose to be a stylist. I spent my summers with my great aunt and great grandmother. My great grandmother never cut her hair and she wore a very tight braided chignon that fell to the floor and no one was allowed to touch her hair. I was fascinated by how particular she was about it and I always wanted to braid it. After many summers of begging and pleading, I was taught how to braid and wrap her hair and that I was to be just the second of only two people allowed to do her hair. She passed when I was 15, and I started beauty school a few months later.

Milestones: Having Paul Mitchell judge and choose my model for a spot on the Visible Changes Artistic Team in 1986; opening Dop Dop Salon in SOHO in 1996; being “knighted” in Paris by Intercoiffure, and I will receive "Personality of the Year" for the US at Intercoiffure in Rome next year.

Big break: Leland Hirsch gave me the opportunity to present at Haircolor USA in 1989 in Miami. He said, "Listen Jo, I am going to give you the stage. It will be up to you to keep it.” And I've been performing at shows ever since.

Career advice you’ve received: "Take the client that is front of you!”—Jerry Gordon speaking at Visible Changes conference when I was 19 years old.

Career advice you’ve given: Education, education, education! It’s a lifelong journey.

Your mentors? Annie Humphries, Tim Hartley, Vidal Sassoon, Luis Llongeras, Reg Laws, Aldo Coppolla, Trevor Sorbie and Leland Hirsch.

You mentor: I will and do mentor every single hairdresser I come in contact with, starting with my own team at Dop Dop and The L'Oreal Portfolio Team.

Are there benefits to being a woman in beauty? We are an industry for women, by women. We support and grow women to sustain our industry.

Are there challenges for women in beauty? When I started in the business, there were many challenges in the industry for women. Men have always run and led the industry. The truth is, no matter if a man is straight or gay, women are fascinated by how men see them. Don't get me wrong, if men are talented, it is an honor to watch them work, but if they are popular because of TV or celebrity, and they are not talented, it gets under my skin. I have worked fiercely for years to make a name for myself and I have seen many brilliant women work just as hard and not get anywhere.

Sacrifice and lesson: I have damaged many a relationship in the past to be married to my career, and put having a family on hold up until just 6 years ago, when I became a mom.


Risk and reward: I opened my salon 16 years ago with a loan from five investments bankers who basically made sure that I worked for free for the first five years and could barely pay my own rent. I have since become the 75 percent share owner of my shop and I can promise you that the 29 year-old-girl who started Dop Dop is nothing compared to the 44-year-old woman who runs it today.

What does “work/life” balance mean to you? The ability to "Have It ALL!" I have a delicious marriage, two beautiful children, an amazing career, I live in both NYC and Jamaica, and have an extraordinary life. I have the talented team at Dop Dop who believe in our vision and let me be me. I have amazing support from L'Oreal Professionnel and a great team of people at home that make my home and family work. I have a husband who encourages me to be a great woman. All is all, I work hard and play harder. And stay grateful.

To follow in your footsteps, a woman would have to: Stay true to herself, follow her passion, stay focused and never believe she’s arrived at her destination. Find someone who has what she dreams of having, and go apprentice for her or him.

Famous woman you would like to style: Michelle Obama.

Next change to my personal style: I am thinking seriously about cutting my hair off!

Reading? The Shopaholic Series. I know it's funny, but I spend a lot of time on planes and they are my guilty pleasure.

Playlist: "Moment 4 Life" by Nikki Minaj and "Empire State of Mind part II" by Alicia Keys

Every day, just for you: I take a long hot bath. It gives me peace and a chance to collect my thoughts, reflect on my day and take care of my soul.

Working on: My second book. It is based on an amazing class I developed a few years ago and currently teach called: Taking RISKS: Retention, Inspiration, Sales, Knowledge, and Success!

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.