1 April 2023

Top Ten Things You Should Know About Industry Icon Vivienne Mackinder

Vivienne Mackinder is one of the most respected leaders in the global hairdressing industry today. Estetica Magazine got the opportunity to discuss with Vivienne about HairDesignerTV.com, her relationship with Intercoiffure, and her vision for the future of our industry. Here’s the top ten things to know about Vivienne Mackinder…

1. During your life you’ve received several awards – this is the first time you are getting an AIPP Award, one of the most prestigious global recognitions at it’s given by the world professional press and not linked to any brand.
“Yes, it means a lot to me because hairdressing journalists are exposed to the world’s finest work, they are intelligent and in some cases more well informed than the hairdresser. So to be acknowledged by the international press means a huge amount to me. I was so shocked. I’ve entered before and got nominated a few times and never won. So this time to win it I was so, so surprised. It is a real honor.”

2. What do you think the awards mean in general?
“I think awards are good because they give you something to stretch yourself to. I think healthy competition is important because it brings something out of you that’s maybe undeveloped. Being challenged is critical, otherwise it gets boring. It forces you to reinvent yourself and try new things. I would say to be in the company of great, great hairdressers. If an extraordinary hairdresser beats me, I just feel really good because I was beaten by someone I admire. So I think it’s a very good thing to do.”

3. Last October it was your last show as Intercoiffure North America Fashion Director. Why?
“The way it goes is the President Lois Christie, was allowed to select her Fashion Director. So she asked me to be the Fashion Director. She was actually resigning in October – so I thought: ‘Well, she’s resigning, so I should probably go with her and maybe allow somebody else to do it.’ It has been an amazing 4 years, I’ve learned a lot and it’s been great to be in the company of such amazing people. So I feel sad actually because it has been fun to be a part of it, but the new President will select who they want from now on.”

4. What does it mean for you Intercoiffure on a worldwide level?
“I think it varies from country to country. In America, Intercoiffure is strong. In America I know that there are the most successful hairdressers and salons. So sometimes it’s nice to pick up the phone and say: ‘Hey, I’m having this problem, how would you handle it…’ Because you are part of a club it opens the doors. We are working together without the brand, the product line. We are working together as pure, sharing what we love the most. It’s good to do that. Pure, pure hairdressing is what I like.”

5. Let’s talk about your company – HairDesigner TV: what’s your desire to become in the next years?
“I would like to be the support for salons to produce 5-star hairdressers. Because so many times it is the 80:20 rule. Where 20% of the stylists is bringing in 80% of the wealth. And every time I talk to salon owners they go ‘yeah, but what about the 80% are only bringing in the 20%? How do you shift that around?’ What we are really focused on is how to make salons 5-star and who is not a 5-star stylist and how do we make them 5-star, how do we motivate them, inspire them and keep them on a career path so you don’t lose them to a booth rental. Which is such a threat in the United States to our industry. I wouldn’t get the success that I have enjoyed if it wasn’t for the iconic, amazing hairdressers that I’ve worked with. They are my teachers, they are my mentors. I want through HairDesignerTV.com to be able to continue helping salons have extraordinary in salon educational program. So when people watch a tutorial they have to recreate it, and then they upload their photographs and we give them a review and we score them. So at the end they’ll have a scoring of stars and what they would have to do to become a 5-star. We have to build incentives around it. As a British hairdresser I have always been proud of what we do in England. Nowadays, I’m walking around the place and thinking the only hair that is super exciting are men’s. I’m literally turning my head and looking at these cool haircuts. So I’m looking around to the women going ‘Girls, what happened?’ I feel that hairdressers need to stop being so boring. So, that’s part of my mission too!”

6. Who were the persons that most influenced you and why?
“I think Vidal is the first one. I went to a college where I was trained for hair, film and theater. So I had classic hairdressing and when I went to Sassoon’s they taught me architecture. They taught me how to cut to bone structure. Vidal gave me a strong technical foundation. Then Trevor [Sorbie] said, ‘Viv, don’t compromise beauty for creativity. Use your imagination, but keep it beautiful. Stretch yourself, but make it fashion.’ He was the one that said, ‘Wait, you’ve gone too far. It’s creative, but ugly.’ I think Avant-Garde should be fashion forward but not a tree. I think that’s fantasy. Both Vidal and Trevor have been hugely important in my career. Because they gave me such a foundation. Now I think I’d say I look to everybody. My students inspire me, editorial guides inspire me, I’m constantly learning. All you have to do is a Google search and you find something. I was watching a 16 year old in her bathroom doing this braid and I was thinking ‘That’s very clever.’ And then I’m thinking: ‘Here I am with all these years of experience and a 16-year old is teaching me… Nice, that’s good.’ You have to stay really hungry!”

7. Looking back at those days, in your career what have you done to stand out?
“I’ve always looked to how can you make it classic with a little twist. What is the 10% that will make it original. That’s something I’ve always tried to do because I hate copying. Because I’ve had so many disciplines and so much training. Now I put it all together. I think if you understand that there are women that like minimal fashion and there are women who want to be bohemian, eclectic, glamorous, edgy rock’n’roll… When you look at the different lifestyles and different senses of fashion then it opens another door. If I thought that everything needs to be minimal because I am minimal, I would be wrong. I like to dip into the landscape where people live and figure out how to make them fabulous! That’s why hairdressing never gets boring!

8. Do you recall the exact moment when you decided to come to America?
Trevor Sorbie sent me. It was never a plan to go to America. He said ‘Just go there for nine months. Get British hairdressing started in America.’ Nine months and I hated it. A month turned into 2 months and then I got married to my first husband who was an American. I did so much and the jobs got bigger and bigger over here. I thought everything I am doing here is very intentional, I thought I brought something here so… ‘How do I leave this now?‘ It became very difficult because it gained momentum. My heart is really still in England. Don’t get me wrong: I do enjoy being in America and I really have a great husband now. I have a really good lifestyle here, but there is something different about being around European hairdressers. When I talk to European Hairdressers that care there is a passion. Here in America I feel like I have to explain why you should be fashionable, why you do these things. I feel like America has grown up to be more of a wash and wear, casual sort of thing. It’s different.”

9. What do you think is something people do not expect from you?
“How normal I am and stupid (laugh). I’ve got a really funny sense of humor actually. I try to look at the funny side of life. I try to do extraordinary things, but I’m not extraordinary. For my last Intercoiffure show I brought two ladders from the garage and I think it’s funny that my massive ladder is walking around this really posh hotel (laughs). As for my ‘guilty pleasures,’ I’m not guilty about it! My husband is my number one person in my life. When I’m with my horse and wearing no make up and spending hours playing around with my horse, I can be there all day long. Sometimes I conveniently leave my phone somewhere else and they all know where I am and I won’t answer the phone. When I can escape I don’t like having my phone with me. If it’s important enough you will find me, but it may take a while because I am hiding (laughs).”

10. What’s the best advice you would like to share with young hairdressers or those who would look at you as an icon?
“You have to ask yourself: ‘What would you do if you were not paid? What is your passion?’ Because where your passion is, is your desire. I think you have to be true to your desire and your passion. When things go wrong the ‘why’ should still be big enough that you still want to do it. There are so many different parts within our industry. You’ve got to be true to that path. When life knocks you down as it will, keep remembering why you are doing it. We all need people to guide us. We all need direction, we all need support. I could not do any of the things I do without the team around me. I intentionally pick amazing people. I intentionally listen to them and ask them questions because I want to learn. So it’s knowing where you are going and why, being true to your passion and surrounding yourself with the best of the best of the best. What can I do to make myself better. And then the opportunities unfold. I don’t think people realize some of the things that you do, how hard they are. I think when you do it really well it looks super easy but it’s not: that’s the biggest deception of all. People go ‘Wow, she made that look so easy,’ – yeah, but I practiced it and practiced it. I still pull out my mannequin head. You’ve got to have passion and then success will be yours, a genuine success. I have failed so much in my career, but they have taught me a lot on how to do things differently or better. When you see someone else about to fall down that same hole you can tell them: ‘Don’t do that.’ Then you can help someone else. It’s getting to that right place where you are being mentored and guided.”


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