Vision Quest: An Exclusive Interview with Robert Lobetta, Sebastian Creative Visionary
This June, Robert Lobetta was appointed Creative Visionary of Sebastian Professional, a brand of Coty Professional Beauty. After a 10-year hiatus pursuing creative passions and sourcing inspiration, Lobetta makes a return to the brand which he once led as Creative Director. In his new role, Lobetta will guide the brand into new territory, shaping a vision for the future. He is also looking to nurture the talents of up-and-coming hairdressers, mentoring them while introducing them to this iconic brand.
Lobetta was originally sought out in the mid 1980’s by the brand’s founders, John and Geri Cusenza. He dedicated over 20 years of his career to Sebastian Professional, leaving a legacy that includes classic products and imagery. “I may have left the building, but my heart never left Sebastian," Lobetta says. "I am genuinely thrilled to be collaborating again with this legendary brand.”
MODERN spoke with Lobetta about how he will be moving the brand forward in this new role.
MS: What do you see as the role of a Creative Visionary?
RL: It is to prompt, prod, inspire, and motivate people to grow within the brand. I’m a vehicle that will help them see and act differently. I will prod them into new directions within this rich culture. My job is to inspire them on their journey.
MS: What were you doing when the Cusenzas tapped you to join Sebastian?
RL: What caught their attention was both what I had been doing with hair and also what I was doing with photography to capture the work. When they approached me they wanted me to be a mini advertising agency. I believe they decided I was someone they could trust and they went ahead and let me do what I thought was right. They did say that out of every five projects you work on, you have to get at least three and a half right. Their openness to the creative process helped me grow tremendously and I think we all grew, together. Now, I have the opportunity to offer other people that room to grow, which is very exciting.
MS: What will you be looking at first?
RL: I want to try and get our culture to the point where it services the next decade. My role is very much about sharing the things we stand for and helping to shape that so we can help stylists. We’ll look at what was great about us in the past and take that essence into the future, incorporating it into everything we do. We can reinvent the brand in the most wonderful way.
MS: What do you think hairdressers need right now that you hope Sebastian can provide?
RL: Our industry is predicated on people coming through the door and getting more bums on the seat. That’s what salons and stylists need and what we know we can do for them. We will be helping them grow their business and make their salon a destination.
MS: In the past twenty years, the digital revolution has been underway. How might this influence how you work?
RL: Life is about movement and telling stories so digital media, social media, it’s another channel, another vehicle for sharing those stories. It allows us to interact and talk with, not only talk to. We’re excited to leap into videos and to provoke people, to engage with them and to encourage and inspire. We’ll use all the channels to connect with that hairdresser who wants to continue to grow.
MS: You talk about progression and patience. What ideas do you have marinating right now?
RL: I’m a great believer that actions speak louder than words. It’s more fun to actually see it happen and tell you the story then. It’s called creative avoidance.
MS: How would you describe your creative process?
RL: I think creativity has far greater control over me than I have over it but I just trust a process. There is a certain vagueness that I work with and that I’ll apply to the brand as I look for the next direction. I’ve worked on an idea for years because I’ll have a concept, I’ll execute but then I’ll let go of it for a few years and move onto something else.
I’m questioning everything I do at the moment, staying open, and then that one little click happens and an idea pops into my head. I don’t really know what it will be until it happens, I just know you have to stay alive, keep with it, and don’t give up so quickly. Leave it alone, move on and when you come back to it, it may be right there in front of you.