Joannie Ossiter, owner of Paul Mitchell The School in Honolulu, HI (left) and Stephanie Kocielski, vice president of education, John Paul Mitchell Systems.
Joannie Ossiter, owner of Paul Mitchell The School in Honolulu, HI (left) and Stephanie Kocielski, vice president of education, John Paul Mitchell Systems.

Paul Mitchell Hawaii Seminar brings together salon owners, stylists and distributor partners for a week of island living and John Paul Mitchell Systems (JPMS) learning. This year, from January 11-16, the seminar took place at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows on the Big Island of Hawaii on the Kohala Coast. Hawaii was home and a creative retreat for Paul Mitchell, co-founder of the company, and so the site holds special significance. It is also meaningful for Vice President of Education Stephanie Kocielski, We spoke with her about what makes this event different from others Paul Mitchell holds throughout the year.

What does it mean for you, personally, to be at this seminar?

“Twenty years ago, JPMS put out the call to educators and asked if anyone was interested in working in Hawaii. I was the only one who said yes and for five years, I traveled here every other month. Hawaii changed me. Being here recharges people, relaxes them and that allows them to think in new ways.

“There are 137 ticketed guests who have paid to come here and it feels like a family reunion. As the week goes on, you watch people unwind. This is not Gathering (an annual event in Las Vegas), where thousands attend, but smaller, more intimate which means stylists have the chance to work closely with our artistic team, to ask them questions and to learn from them while spending time together in this beautiful setting.

How do you involve the local Paul Mitchell schools in the planning of this seminar?

“We couldn’t do it without the amazing Joannie Ossiter who has Paul Mitchell The School in Honolulu. She is truly growing excellence at her school and Joannie and her staff and students go above and beyond. When the circus comes to town, kids want to be with the circus. They have done a lot of work but I think they get a lot out of it.   

Your color and cut education was very hands-on and intimate, with your senior artists on the floor giving feedback and assistance.  You even brought in nearly 80 local women to experience color and cut makeovers. What expectations did you have for these classes?

“These stylists and salon owners all have different relationships with Paul Mitchell.  There are some here who are already married to our color lines, some who are just dating us and then there are those on a blind date who are meeting us and working with these colors for one of the first times. So we have different levels of comfort and familiarity in the room. Our goal with the seminar and, specifically, with the color segment, is to give them new placement ideas, to show them how they can incorporate the colors into their services in new ways. At the same time, you still have to pay attention to the pace so these are things that easily translate back into the salon. 

“That they experience things deeply is important to us so we had them join together in teams and select one of our volunteer models to makeover. They collaborated on what formulas and products to use and how to use them and came up with amazing looks. They learned about new ways to use color while changing these women’s lives.

The ginger (Awapuhi in Hawaiian) grown on John Paul Mitchell System’s Awapuhi Farm is still the ginger used in the production of the Awapuhi Haircare products.  Why do you take everyone to the Awapuhi Farm? 

“Years ago, when Paul started doing these seminars in Hawaii, it was to bring people into a new vision, to give them some new ideas, to recharge and get renewed. And with this being the beginning of the year, we thought it was perfect to kick off 2015 and the seminar with this trip to the Awapuhi Farm and to take us back to where it all started. In the past, we have made the trip to the farm as one of the last things we do during the week but this year, we made it one of the first to really set the tone and to show people where Paul came when he had been traveling and touring and needed to rest up and get new inspiration. John Paul (DeJoria, co-founder) would come, too.  You don’t see statues and art hanging around, instead you see the beauty of nature, the simplicity of an outdoor kitchen or a glass-enclosed shower that lets you feel like you’re part of the forest. It’s that natural environment and the peace of the place that influenced him and allowed his genius to really flower. When we come here, every year, it is a confirmation that we’re in the right place, with the right people.” 

At the John Paul Mitchell Systems Awapuhi Farm, Lindsey Provost, PR for Paul Mitchell (left), Robert Cromeans, global artistic director and Rachel Lehman from A Robert Cromeans Salon San Diego.


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