With his work appearing regularly in glossy magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and Vanity Fair, as well as on the catwalk for the likes of Chanel, Prada and D&G, we caught up with stylist Ted Gibson who has worked on the tresses of Angelina Jolie and other celebrities to find out how he built up an illustrious career in hairdressing.
What is your first memory of appreciating / noticing really great hair?
Being a military child allowed me the opportunity to experience many different cultures growing up. I was exposed to women of all ethnicities – black, white, Asian, Spanish. I remember noticing that no matter what the background or texture, all hair was so beautiful. This is how I came up with one of my taglines: “Beauty is individual.”
The Ted Gibson salon NYC
What is one thing you wish that you had been told before embarking on a professional career in hairdressing?
That nothing in life is easy. The business of beauty is cut throat and you have to have thick skin to be in this business. That it’s not only about the hair… It’s about helping people feel better about who they are. I listen to all things that happen in their life and really help them work things out. It’s a gift we have as hairdressers, there is no one on the planet like us.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to stylists just starting out in the business of hair?
Just say YES! Coming from a place of “yes” will open up so many opportunities for you! I would also tell new stylists to be patient, make sure that you are taking steps toward your career goals every day and success will follow.
How did you turn your hairdressing skill into a salon and then into a fantastic brand?
After meeting Jason Backe (he was a student in one of the classes I taught at Aveda in Minneapolis), we fell in love and moved to NYC to chase a few opportunities that had opened up for me. We had a dream to open up a salon in the city and call it “Fame”. We met with a high powered NYC publicist and presented our idea to her. She told us the name of the salon should be Ted Gibson. The rest is history!
What is your career highlight to date?
My career highlight would have to be when then editor of Marie Claire, my friend Lucy Sykes, called and asked if I was available to fly last minute to London to style hair for a celebrity client. I would be shooting 2 covers – both Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan – in one day. That celebrity client was Angelina Jolie!
At the time, it was all about the fashion hairdresser and stylists who did celeb hair were sort of frowned upon – I didn’t necessarily want to be a celebrity hairstylist. I took the job anyway. After that, my career exploded.
Where do you find inspiration to keep your hairdressing fresh and innovative?
I find inspiration everywhere – the streets of NYC, music, television. I especially love old Hollywood movies and like to take inspiration from there and make it current. The classics never go out of style.
How do you remain rooted to your profession as a hairdresser as your brand and status as a stylist rises?
I’ve remained rooted in my profession through education. I believe that education is how we feed our souls and our lives. I believe in education so much that I’ve contributed to the Milady’s cosmetology textbook as Creative Director, I teach numerous classes at hair shows across the country each year, and I am frequently asked to speak at cosmetology school commencement ceremonies.
I have the Ted Gibson Advanced Academy, which is a series of hairdressing and colour classes taught at my NYC salon. In addition to all this, I’ve just released my first online portal of education videos through month subscription via Pivot Share. All of these things keep me grounded. It is important to me to be an example to hairdressers of what you can achieve with just a beauty school license.
Who influences you to be a fantastic hairdresser and why?
For me, being a hairdresser is about so much more than just cutting and styling hair. As hairdressers, we are one of the only groups of people that are licensed to touch. Many of my clients are lacking touch – their husbands don’t touch them, neither do their children. It is my honour to be able to provide my clients with touch and to give them an experience that changes them. Being a hairdresser is so much more than just styling hair. Hair changes everything. My clients influence me to be a better hairdresser every day.
What can we expect to see from Ted Gibson throughout 2017 and beyond?
Haircare, more salons, the Ted Gibson artistic team growing to 100 people and expanding my education online and in my salon for the hairdressers globally that want to take their career to the next level.
Other ‘Ask The Experts: Jamie Stevens | Mark Leeson | British Hairdresser Of The Year 2016: Angelo Seminara