Expert Advice

CHOOSE BEAUTY: Yolly ten Koppel

Anne Moratto | August 1, 2013 | 1:35 PM

CHOOSE BEAUTY: Yolly ten KoppelHometown: Zwolle, Netherlands

Industry Icon: “Trevor Sorbie. He taught me to to keep thinking out of the box, to keep exploring new ideas, and not to take myself so seriously, as well as that life is fun and hair is fun. Plus, by keeping the goal in focus, not to forget to enjoy the journey.”

Career Other than Hairdressing: Fashion editor (so Anna Wintour is lucky that I didn’t…)

Now reading: The Power of Fashion: About Design and Meaning, by Jan Brand, Jose Teunissen and Anne Van Der Zwaag

 Your Favorite Day: Beautiful weather, being at the beach, or outside having dinner with friends…and with good wine.

 Hidden talent: Healthy cooking

 Day-off pursuits: Shopping, walking with my sister and her dogs, and cooking with friends.

 Title of your autobiography:“The Good Life“

 Motto: Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.

 In March, at America’s Beauty Show in Chicago, Yolly ten Koppel, Pivot Point’s International Creative and Technical Director, received Pivot Point’s L.E.O. Award.  Pivot Point, an international network of beauty academies celebrating 50 years of superior instruction, named the prestigious award for the founder of Pivot Point, legendary hairdresser Leo Passage. The honor acknowledges Leadership, Excellence and Outstanding contributions in education. In accepting the award, ten Koppel said, “If I help educators become better teachers or teach students how to design hair or if I create a new hairstyle on a salon client—then I change lives. This is what I love to do. It is truly fulfilling, inspiring and makes every day a different experience.”

While her students can attest to her passion and empowering influence, ten Koppel shares that coming from a family of hairdressers—grandmother, mother and uncle—her naturally rebellious spirit balked at joining the family business. “I was a kid who didn’t want to follow what other people were doing,” she says. Today, she rebels by pushing the limits in hair design, by training students, hairdressers and educators to go beyond perceived boundaries and personal limitations.  But, she also shares with students, that to break the rules, you need to have a firm foundation in technique. 

“When I started working in the salon I figured out that this was really what I loved and what wanted to become,” says ten Koppel.”This gave me the motivation to go to cosmetology school and get my cosmetology diplomas. It was also where I did my apprenticeship (one day at school and four days working in the salon). I had two years of ladies basic training, and two years of basic training for men. Then, in the evening for two years I studied ladies advanced and two years of men's’ advanced.”

ten Koppel joined Pivot Point in 1991 and ten years later, she opened an advanced beauty academy in Holland, Engels & ten Koppel Advanced Center. In those ten years, she went on to win hairdressing awards (Coiffure, the NAHA of the Netherlands) and to raise her profile in print, on television and stages worldwide. Pivot Point named her
Educator of the Year for three consecutive years and in 2001, she was named Pivot Point International Artistic Director making here responsible for the new salon education collection, Design Forum.

“I advise new beauty professionals to explore all the different options available, so you can see what will suit you the most,” she says. “If you find that out, try to hang out with good and talented people who can lift you up to where you want to be. Don't be afraid to ask! Offer to work for free and assist somebody you admire so you can see how they work. This is a great way to differentiate from the rest. Get as much education as you can. With passion and drive anything is possible along as you focus.“

In the end, the true testament to a teacher’s skill is her students. Alison Shipley, Editor of FIRST CHAIR and MODERN SALON’s Executive Editor of Social Media/Video, studied under ten Koppel.  “While I was a student at Pivot Point Academy, I participated in a study abroad trip to London where we were lucky enough to have Yolly ten Koppel as our educator for the hands-on workshops help at the Sassoon Academy. As we were beginners, the sculptures Yolly intended for us to learn seemed extremely advanced. But her style of educating is so clearly understood that there were never any questions at the end of her demos. She really is so fantastic—it’s no surprise she’s won so many educator awards.”

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