MODERN EXCLUSIVE: An Interview with Donald Scott
Donald Scott's passion has driven him to develop tools, products and techniques that he needed in his own work as hair artist and educator. MODERN SALON asked Scott to share background on his brand, Donald Scott NYC, and the actions he is taking to educate hairdressers on the creative possibilities of working with razors.
MS: Please share a bit about your beauty background.
DS: I grew up in a family of talented hairdressers and barbers so beauty, fashion and hair design has always been in my DNA. I started my career at Henri Bendel’s salon on 5th Avenue in New York City. After Henri Bendel, I went with Paul Mitchell to open Paul Mitchell Super Hair. After PM Super Hair, I opened my own salon on Madison Ave in NYC, Salon Donald Scott, which catered to many celebrities, models, as well as Manhattan socialites.
I worked with Paul Mitchell as a Master Associate and traveled throughout the United States, Asia and Europe as a stage artist. It was during this period in my career when I knew I wanted to continue to engage with, educate and inspire other hair artists. I love the energy—the onstage moments, the finished look and the opportunity to have an impact on other hair artists.
It as this passion that led me to my role as an inventor, creating new tools and techniques. Once I started, I knew I had something special and it inspired me to set out on my own and make my vision a reality. I embarked on a new journey to create my own namesake brand, Donald Scott NYC. We now offer six unique razor tools, as well as the first ever liquid tool, Prepare and The Blade Club, an industry first. It’s an auto-replenishment membership program that delivers fresh, very sharp blades to hair artists once every three months.
MS: When did you start the process of designing and sourcing your tools and how long did it take?
DS: I had the idea for the Carving Comb in 2000. I wanted something fresh and exciting to create new looks for my clients—I wanted to break the mold! I began to brainstorm and play around with different things and ended up creating the original prototype of what is now my hero tool, the Carving Comb. It’s now in its fifth design generation. I glued razor blades to the comb I was using (a champion 16) so that I had a texturizing side on one end and then blocked out every other tooth on the comb and glued that to the other side. The result was a razor tool with three working sides—a cutting comb and two covered razor cutting edges. It’s the cornerstone to my brand and to my exclusive free form precision- cutting technique. The development of the Carving Comb led to research and development of other tools in the collection.
MS: Why did you feel there was a need for these tools and products? What trends in professional beauty were you responding to?
DS: They say that necessity is the mother of invention and I had a need for something that wasn’t available so I made it myself. I often found myself with razors and scissors in my hand at the same time and thought, there must be a better way. My tools are the ultimate multitaskers and can be used with shears or alone. Now I want to share them with others, while I continue to explore new tools and ways to use them, challenging my craft and creativity.
MS: How are you supporting your product launch with education?
DS: I am a huge advocate of education. It’s so important for our community and all of the emerging hair artists who are just starting out in their careers. We offer educational videos and tutorials on our website (DonaldScottNYC.com) that explain how to use each tool. They are all very solution and benefit- driven so that hair artists can understand exactly what each tool will do for them and their clients. I’m also very passionate about trade shows; I love sharing and teaching classes, doing demos on stage and interacting with all of the hair artists. As a brand, it’s also important for us to continue to create new and engaging educational content including video how-tos. I also always welcome the opportunity to connect with a fellow hair artist, I’ll make the time for a phone call or a Skype session to share with them about my tools and talk them through how they perform, so they know how to use them properly and to see how that they are safe, fun and easy to use. We are also launching a new earning opportunity for qualified Donald Scott NYC educators to break in March.
MS: Where are you distributed and/or are you looking for distribution?
DS: Currently, Donald Scott NYC razor tools and Prepare are carried through select professional distributors, chains and beauty stores in the United States and Europe, including BSG, Regis and Cosmoprof. The company is interested in engaging additional distributors who embrace the world of razor artistry and the incremental growth opportunities it provides. Donald Scott NYC is also focused on expanding its digital business to maximize access of products and education as well as creating a new sales commission and social selling platform in the spring for qualified educators. We find this helpful as many stylists spend their time online and the industry is focusing on the digital space. We are taking a new and progressive approach with an aggressive digital strategy but will also be launching an exciting new program that we hope will help to expand distribution later this year.
MS: How has the Blade Club been received and how are you reaching out to beauty professionals so they know about this unique service?
DS: The Blade Club has been extremely well received. We are active on social media and have a very loyal customer base who tell us how this program has changed the way they work. They love the convenience and continuity of receiving fresh blades and no longer have to worry that a blade is dull or that they can’t do a certain look because they need new ones. It helps put the spontaneity back into our creativity, which is really important to us. We also love that we can offer our Blade Club members exclusive offers, tips and access to the latest, news and insider information.
MS: Anything that wasn’t asked that you feel is important for our readers to know?
DS: I really want to debunk the myth that razors are intimidating. They aren’t! I want to empower hair artists to really take the time to learn how to work with razors if they don’t already know. Not only will it allow them to be more creative but it will offer more options in terms of how they cut and style and how they create movement-remove bulk- create volume-texture ends, etc. All DSNYC razor tools are easy to learn, fast, safe to use and versatile. Great for all your clients, male, female, kids, and all textures. A basic bob can become something completely unique and unexpected if you go in with your razor instead of just scissors. Challenge yourself to be better than you already are and get out of you comfort zone— Try our exclusive point cutting technique with either the Carving Comb Or the Swivel Twist Razor. Using both sides of the Razor in a rapid back and forth movement. It will blow you and your clients away.