There are many icons that represent a brand, but Sheri Doss stands out with one major word in mind: integrity. Her passion and trajectory in the beauty industry has her internationally known as the VP of Education for Redken Worldwide, keeping always her love for the Redken culture as well as a passion for future generations.
She shares with ESTETICA the essence of her passion through her journey within Redken, as well as all of the changes taking place within the brand and the education opportunities for the new generation of hairstylists looking to work with Redken. Sheri was born and raised in California and started working for Redken 21 years ago, as a Redken Artist. She pretty much rearranged her entire life to be part of the brand and loved doing it. And in 2008, she got offered an opportunity to head up the international training portion of the business and that led to she moving to New York…
You’re a real Redken tribe member, having been involved in the business for 20 years, which is amazing. So how has the brand changed from 1995 to 2016?
“I think they make things classic after 20 years. I’ve been there a long time, and the brand has had a lot of evolution. When I first joined the brand so many years ago, from a product and innovation perspective, we weren’t really cool. Where we were ‘cool’ was the education portion. There were so many other brands coming up in the industry that were cool, whereas if you told someone you worked with Redken the response would be ‘Well, my grandma used to use Redken’ (laughter) – that’s terrible! But the great thing is, in 1996 when we did our move to New York, right as I joined is when we were able to assume this Redken 5th Avenue identity, and that’s the time we started to say ‘the streets are our runway’ and utilized the streets as inspiration. And I think that’s when you started to see a real insurgence of ‘cool’ for Redken at the time. And then the interesting thing, especially now with so much social and everything online, I feel like things move so fast. Whereas before, trends might last longer or it would take longer to move out of a certain genre. Now, things happen so fast, we have to evolve ourselves so fast. Like anything we’re doing today has nothing to do with where we need to be tomorrow. So I think for us as a brand, what’s great is that we continue to reinvent ourselves.”
What was a memorable turning point in your career, other than title changes?
“I think that for me, the best advice that I could give is to remain open and not remain fixated on a specific position. If I’m driving down the road, and only looking straight ahead and focusing on that end destination, I could miss the exit that has an amazing opportunity for me. And I don’t think I’ve been fixated on one specific position, and so it’s allowed me to be flexible with what I do. If you’d asked me 20 years ago if I would have been full-time for the brand, I would have told you “no”, that I was going to be a high school math and English teacher, that I was going to go to college. If you’d asked me 10 years ago if I would be living in New York City, I would have said no. So it’s really just a matter of being open and flexible. That would be my advice for somebody as it relates to how I’ve grown, you know for us at Redken we say that our vision is for every salon professional – and for me, it’s everyone in the world – is to learn better so they can earn better but it’s that live better that sets us apart. And so we believe that it’s about working from the inside out. And so the amount of opportunities that have presented themselves to me over the past several years, where I could work on being the very best me possible outside of a skillset in an office behind a chair is amazing. And I find that I’m able to transform my own thoughts and work on things that are opportunities every day.”
In an industry like this, that is traditionally dominated by men, I think the history of Redken has emerged with amazing women leadership, starting with Paula Kent, Kristin Firrell, Ann Mincey, you, and now Leslie Marino… do you see that learship affect the company throughout all of these decades?
“That’s a great question, thank you so much. I think that we’ve had some great men as well (laughter) – I don’t want to exclude Pat Parenty, he was an amazing leader for us as well. I do think there’s something about Redken visually, that for me, as a woman, is very inspiring. So when I see the Redken woman in an ad, she’s strong, she’s bold, she’s confident, she’s sassy, she’s fun, she’s sparkly, she’s all in black. It’s something that’s inspirational and aspirational. So I think if you were to line all those women up, there’s a common denominator of confidence and passion and belief and heart. And I think that as a brand, I believe we attract those people to the brand. I do have an outside influence other than the industry that has been important to my life, and that’s my mother. She’s a huge influence and she’s the one that really instilled that confidence in me. From a young age she taught me that you can change anything, quite nomadic herself, you can change any situation you want and you can do anything you possibly would want to do. So I think from quite an early age that was instilled in me.”
I think another amazing thing from Redken is that the family is always growing; you’ve got –let’s say– the classic ones, Sam Villa, Chris Baran, Kris Sorbie… and then you are always including new people and having the old ones inspire them.
“When it comes to Redken, first of all, I think it’s that people buy people and then they buy products. And for us the brand is so strongly tied to the people that for me, changing someone out because a new stylist comes along and they have flashier hands and a better, more relevant-for-that-moment haircut, that doesn’t do me any good. I’m about growing people from a relationship perspective, not from whoever is the next ‘flash in the pan’ perspective. So for me there are icons in the industry –Chris, Kris, and Sam–, they have a heart that is bigger than anybody, and their desire is to grow people, to transform lives through education, and as long as they’re desiring to stay here is how long we’ll want them around.”
So Redken has this ongoing motto, ‘learn better, earn better, live better’. What’s your personal motto or favorite quote?
“I think for me my motto would be ‘Seek first to understand.’ So often, we hear something and jump to a conclusion before trying to understand what the is the thought process behind the thinking. It´s important to think about what they’re saying, what they’re doing, how they’re feeling, and once we understand that, it usually helps us relate to the person better, so that we can better help them or whatever that might be.”
Tell me how you manage work with Europe and Latin America Redken countries?
“Overall we have 42 countries outside of the U.S. where we distribute Redken in. That’s through South Africa, Latin America, Europe and the South Pacific. We have plans for expansion in 2017, so that’s super exciting. You know, I have an amazing team. That’s the best thing that I can say. Whether it’s here in the U.S. with Suzanne Sturm, I have Shawn Stearns who is our international VP of Training and Education, who works with each country’s education manager to make sure that they have what they need to support them from an education perspective. Overall, it’s more working with the global marketing department, as well as the zone directors to make sure that overall the strategy is the Redken education strategy from a holistic global level. And then I have a great team, they’re the best in the industry.”
Do you design all of the educational programs and guidelines from New York?
“Yep from New York! I have a team that’s an education and development team that’s led by Kathleen Maddie. Her responsibility as well as her team is to work with marketing to oversee the development of the pieces that support the launches, whether that be a technical guide, a step-by-step, etc. and then they simultaneously write all of the programs. So we have a foundational list of programs that we call our Pillar programs that are implemented in every country. It’s the Redken specialist program, Redken authority program, and certifications. So those are consistent, and then each country – based on what their strategy is based on marketing and sales – then they will add to that what’s best for their territory.”
The next big appointment for Redken on a global basis is the Eurosymposium in Barcelona, can you convey a little bit what’s going to happen there, such as who is going from the U.S.?
“Absolutely. We have an amazing team that’s balanced and international. So years ago it would be that all the talent that could perform –let’s say our Tier 4 talent that worked on a big stage, they were all in the U.S.– so when I was in a global role in 2010, I implemented a global mentorship program for Redken, and that was where we took people first that were tier 3’s that were around the world, and within a year we grew their status to Tier 4 through trainings with Chris Baran. And now we have this great group of people that are in Europe as well. So the great news is that it’s not just U.S. artists only coming and doing a show in Barcelona, it’s this combination of our European artists as well as U.S. The way that that Symposium rolls out is it’s Symposium on tour, which means it’s a much smaller version than the 10,000-attendee version that we do here in Las Vegas. So that will kick off on Sunday evening with a grand opening in April 24, and between Monday and Tuesday there will be five rotation on the same stage of classrooms and its anything from hair color, to design, sprinkled with some business skills throughout.”
Yesterday we saw many things that Redken has in store for 2016. If you had something to say about one that touches your heart, what would it be?
“I suppose what touches my heart the most for 2016 is the fact that we’re building a new home for our members and our stylists, which is the Redken Exchange. It’s been an iconic and award winning academy for years and to see it’s closed down after 20 years it’s very emotional, but then to know that it will open its arms in this area of New York that is next to fashion and garment industry and coming a little closer to that industry is probably what is most exciting for me!”