28 May 2022

Leaders of the Month: Wella Professionals’ Eric Lindsey and Michael Haase

For over 130 years, Wella Professionals has delivered innovations and services that enable hairdressers’ creativity. Estetica Magazine had the pleasure of interviewing with not one but two of Wella Professionals Top Artists: Michael Hasse and Eric Lindsey.

Michael Hasse who is known as a “triple threat” in the business and one of Wella Professionals Top Artists serves as both an educator and stylist.  When Michael isn’t presenting on stage, mentoring, competing, fashion designing or educating he is running his own salon entitled Platinum Black, in Brentwood, California. Michael has cemented his place in this industry as a leading professional hairdresser.

Eric Lindsey who is another one of the acclaimed Wella Professionals Top Artists is also a proud owner of Kharisma Hair Studio in Houston, Texas and has also worked as an educator and portfolio artist for major color companies. Eric, who specializes in balayage, color, and color correction is best known for bringing out the inner blonde!

In honor of these Wella Professionals Top Artists have contributed we acknowledge both Eric and Michael for their work as our Leaders of the Month!

After reading the interview don’t miss the exclusive video below featuring Wella Professionals and Eric Lindsey!

What makes Wella such a great company to work for?

MICHAEL: “I believe education is a want not a need and that being said I want to work with a company with similar values. Wella not only gives me quality performance products but also an educational philosophy and platform that I believe in and also support my growth as an artist and salon owner.  Helping my team at Salon Platinum Black in Los Angeles is so very important, it takes a lot to be part of something today and hairdressers need that sense of belonging.

ERIC: “Wella elevates all their artists and offers more opportunities to grow both in technique and skill set by their comprehensive trainings and by staying at the forefront of trends in beauty and fashion. Wella is truly a family and I always look forward to connect at our gatherings biannually.”

What are some of the exciting new projects we can expect from Wella this year?

ERIC: “Obviously, Freelights and Instamatic are both huge launches and exciting new technologies.”

MICHAEL: “Product innovation is definitely a part of Wella this year, also celebrating 135 years in the industry is pretty cool. This season, Spring/Summer, we have Blondor Freelights and Color Touch Instamatic, the first demi you can use with Wella Color.id for color separation without using foils. You know they are up to something year after year, and I love playing a part in anything innovative when it comes to hair.”

What inspires you?

MICHAEL: “Inspiration comes to me on many levels, architecture, music, film, definitely fashion and designers and their history.  Working in the salon and on set, I need the music to get me in to my brain and anything can come of it. European designers like Ann Demeulemeester, Yohji Yamamoto, Rodart and others of the great art houses of design are an amazing influence in my work also. And yet, it could be a cool new pair of shoes from All Saints that get me going, after doing hair so long there is a lot rolling around in my head at all times.”

ERIC: “I’m inspired by almost anything but recently architecture and music seem to be my biggest inspirations.”

What is your definition of a leader?

ERIC: “First and foremost I believe true leaders are full of humility and wisdom and are not afraid to make a fool out of themselves in front of other people to get a point across. Also I believe leaders love to teach and share their knowledge and are completely selfless.”

MICHAEL: “Leading by example always comes to mind. Leadership has a presence that attracts want for learning, it engulfs your attention to become successful, and plays a big part in becoming someone. I often refer back to Vidal who was an amazing leader and captured the attention every time he spoke with such strength and yet had a personal softness to what he said. He captured your attention immediately and made you want to succeed. Truly an amazing man, I feel so fortunate to have spent so much time with him.”

Eric, public speaking is one of your strengths. What do you love most about public speaking?

ERIC: “I have learned to truly enjoy public speaking! I’m addicted to sharing ideas to groups of 4 to 400 people and the feedback I get when I teach on stage.”

Michael, as such a young stylist in the core team of the legendary Vidal Sassoon, what influenced you to work in this industry?

MICHAEL: “Growing up in the circus and traveling Europe, had a lot to do with it. I was always surrounded by color and shapes. Creativity kept my hands out of trouble, at least some of the time and I was good with them. School was not my best friend so as time went on I thought work with my hands, living in Warhol’s loft secured my thinking, it was ok to be an artist and be creative and I felt I belonged. The core team at Sassoon was made up of an amazingly creative team with talent and skill that was awe-inspiring, they gave their skills to me as a gift in return for hard work and work I did. My biggest influence were Vidal’s words, to this day I still guide my professional career by his advice and his guidance, and I’ll never forget him.

How has this industry changed in the last 10 years?

ERIC: “Technology is one of the biggest changes in the past 10 years and haircolor. It really is exciting to know that every year something new is being launched that makes our job and inspiration increase tenfold.

MICHAEL: “The industry is always evolving. What needs notice is that the basics of study and mastership in hairdressing don’t change that much, you still need to put in the work to become who you are as a professional, you still need to pay your dues to become successful and in some cases this is misunderstood. It is not possible to rush training, it is not an entitlement, and it certainly cannot replace the time it takes to become skilled.
The hair industry is amazing with so many new approaches to hairdressing on so many levels, take the time to study and search out that mentor who will help you succeed.

What are some of your favorite Wella products?

MICHAEL: “Freelights! It’s amazing, painting hair without using color separators like cellophane or cotton and the Actifuse system that locks in the moisture and encapsulates the lightener to protect surrounding hair is pretty innovative. The other would be Instamatic by Color Touch, the first demi with temporary commitment that can incorporate Color I.D. the additive for permanent hair color for color separation without foil, now used also with Instamatic. How can you not love coloring hair today, it’s an art and Wella supports the artist in all of us.

ERIC: “Freelights – hands down is my favorite new Wella product and part of my everyday professional life. I also can’t live without Velvet Amplifier and Brilliance shampoo.

Michael, what does your team mean to you?

MICHAEL: “Team is a group of individuals that believe in one cause, one vision, and one culture. Working through the decades, teamwork has always been my strength, it supports creativity and the flow of your success, I can’t imagine not working with a team in my salon or with Wella.

Eric, how important is education to this industry?

ERIC: “Education is the single most important factor in the beauty industry. Without education, technique and inspiration will suffer which ultimately impacts how all artists are elevated.

Share with us one of the most memorable moments since working in this industry?

MICHAEL: “There were so many memorable moments in my life in this industry, I have been so very fortunate. Working with iconic rock groups in the 70’ and 80’ for music videos, working on celebrities, the real movie stars of our time beginning very early in my career. In 1978, I had the pleasure of working and studying with Louis Raymond (Alexandre of Paris) and we were called to work a day in Monaco. The client was stunningly gorgeous. Louis explained that I was not to speak unless spoken to which was OK and consistent with my training as an apprentice with Sassoon. I was instructed to remove hairpins from the client’s French twist and lay them out precisely to be reused later. Louis had such a finesse in his hands, piece by piece he re-constructed this amazing French twist. The client was Grace Kelly! What an honor.”

ERIC: “The first time I ever had to give a class in front of 100 or more students. I presented techniques for almost 3 hours. I was so nervous I barely remember anything after stepping on stage. Public speaking can be one of the most nerve-racking experiences. I enjoy it today but still get very nervous before going onstage.

What are some of your strengths?

ERIC: “One of my strengths is the ability to connect with other people. I really love the diversity of the industry and the people who work in it. I also take humor as one of my strengths as well and I love to make fun of myself. Humor usually disarms people and makes them more open to your teaching style.

MICHAEL: “Not being afraid of hard work, continuous education, probably because I love hair and the industry I am involved in every day. Work at it and become.”

What advice can you give to other entrepreneurs who are up and coming in this industry?

MICHAEL: “Don’t stop learning. Early in my career, I adopted the principle that respect was not a choice but an expectation and I practice this on a daily basis in my work and with the people I work with. Education is a want not a need, search for it and embrace it, study hard and succeed.

ERIC: “Believe in your vision and always listen to your gut. Hire people you trust and have proven integrity and listen to the wisdom of other successful salon owners.

Michael, can you describe a regular day in your shoes?

MICHAEL: “Up at 6:30am, check emails, sketch ideas that might have dreamed about the night before, head to work, clients, plan photo shoots, meeting with my salon manager, help assistants with growth, explore new techniques with my seasoned hairdressers, wow – such a colorful way to begin.”

Eric, what is something that most people may not know about you?

ERIC: “I was a U.S. Marine from 1990-94.”

What is the secret to longevity in this industry?

ERIC: “Staying fresh and inspired. Live life as a student and keep learning.”

MICHAEL: “Stay hungry! Keep wanting to improve, never stop being hard on yourself and always ask, “what if”. Mentorship is critically important to success. Watch, listen and learn, then, pass it on. We as an industry cannot be powerful if we don’t pass on our knowledge to the youth. They truly are the future of the hairdressing craft.

What is your vision for the future of this industry?

MICHAEL: “I would like to see change in hair continue and the level of education become a bigger part in the way we work behind the chair. Clients today view many as a commodity instead of as true professional hairdressers, it takes a lot of hard work to do what we do, at least at an elite level. I see this occur when as hairdressers we discount our craft and race for celebrity participation. We are not a commodity, we are professional hairdressers, we need to be part of a team of successful artists that create beauty and make people feel better about themselves. This skill has a price and we as a culture need to stick together so we do not discount our work as professionals or the education needed for continual growth.”

ERIC: “I see the industry becoming more and more of a respected profession because of the advanced training and access to trainings at Academies like the Wella Studios growing across the country.

If you were to choose a book title about your life what would it be?

ERIC: “That’s a tough one… with all I’ve experienced the title would be too long for the front cover of the book! Haha!

MICHAEL: “My life in the Circus – Hairdressing”. 


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