Scott Fontana, the owner of Cristophe Salon in Newport Beach, CA is also the founder of Making the Cut, a hair and styling competition and challenge. MODERN SALON interviewed Fontana, an industry-veteran, on what elements make a hair competition, and even a trade show, compelling and successful.
What brand hair shows have you attended and which have you admired? And why?
Throughout my 30-year career in this industry, the show I attended most regularly was ISSE (International Salon and Spa Expo) in Long Beach, California. I have also attended others in Arizona, Orlando, San Antonio, Vegas and New York, but since the beginning, I always considered Long Beach to be the best because of its focus on education. Many of today’s shows are heavily based simply on product sales instead educating industry professionals on how to better hone their skills and what the products or techniques can do to make them more efficient.
Why did you think the industry needed another hair competition?
Many of the major hair competitions throughout the country, like NAHA, are incredible for industry recognition. We wanted to create an experience for both the industry professional and the consumer, our clients, to see that what we do every day isn’t just a simple haircut or color – it’s art, It’s beautiful, it’s creative and it takes extreme talent, training and discipline. There’s truly nothing on the market like it right now.
How is yours unique?
Making the Cut is unique because we are bringing together the two most important components to the beauty industry: talented professionals and consumers, the client. Without one, there wouldn’t be the other. The finalists from the local market get to demonstrate the skills they’ve been honing and their clients (current and future) have the opportunity to see what these professionals are capable of. It’s definitely competitive, but with a positive sense of camaraderie. Our past finalists have become friends, connecting beyond the competition and having opportunities to network. It’s a fun night out on a town celebrating the beauty industry for all.
Why do you think entering challenges and competitions is a good thing for hairdressers?
For starters, the finalists and winners receive recognition through social media and traditional media, both print and online. Our 2014 show had close to 500 attendees, imagine that every one of those Instagrammed an image of their favorite look and of the winner. It increases credibility and exposure for the competitors. The 2013 winner was booked solid for months after her win. It’s also a great opportunity to network with other stylists. There’s an artistic aspect to the competition as well. Most stylists don’t have the opportunity to exercise that in their salons on a regular basis. We encourage them to think outside of the box. Finally, education is key and for stylists entering challenges and competitions, it is a motivator to keep learning. It’s important to know the latest trends and techniques and how to be the best and most efficient for that extra edge over the others.
How should a hairdresser who has won a competition use this to his/her advantage?
It’s their time to shine! Stylists should share the exciting news with existing clients via email or in a phone call to book their next appointment. It’s a great opportunity for the winner to remind them that their stylist is a qualified and talented professional with a new title under his or her belt. Encourage the salon management to add a sticker announcing the winner to the front window to entice potential new customers to come in. Include it on business cards, on Facebook pages, etc., everywhere they go and every thing they do is an opportunity to meet a potential new client. Why not make sure that the new client knows they are the best?
What are some important considerations before entering a contest?
The most important thing to consider before entering a competition is time commitment. Competitions take a lot of preparation work. For Making the Cut, it involves creating a collection, establishing a theme, etc. It’s important to be sure that before entering, the stylist understands what the competition is looking for. Also consider when creating these concepts, what materials will be involved? Are there going to be any out-of-pocket expenses? Are there readily available models, if that’s what the competition calls for? Finally, be sure to know if there will certain skills required. It might indicate that it’s time for a refresher class or some new education needed. Don’t let anything be discouraging though, thorough research should be enough if someone is passionate and dedicated enough.
Do you have some competition tips?
Have fun! It is a competition so there’s an intense and serious aspect, but at the end of the day it’s a great opportunity to celebrate what stylists do best. Creativity, talent and expression are key. When it comes to the beauty industry, there’s also a lot of passion involved in stylists’ work, so be sure to show that. Making the Cut feels very much like a TV show, there are a lot of cameras, media and a judging panel filled with industry elite so it’s important that the finalists enjoy themselves.