1 June 2023

Estetica’s Tell the Tale: Wella’s National Show Director Melanie Garibay on rocking out with Sebastian!

Sebastian Professional’s What’s Next Awards to be hosted on March 5th in Dallas, TX, will close with an exclusive on-stage set from hard-rock trio, Sixx:A.M. Not only will the band perform for more than 500 pros, Sixx:A.M. and Sebastian have partnered to give away an all-expense paid trip to attend the event.

Sebastian Professional first partnered with Sixx:A.M in 2014 when Sebastian artists Omar Antonio and Anthony Cress were lead stylists for the band’s “Gotta Get It Right” music video. Wella North America’s National Show Director Melanie Garibay sat down with Estetica to share how Sebastian’s groundbreaking partnership with Sixx:A.M. is pushing boundaries.

Tell us the origins of this amazing partnership between Sebastian Professional and Sixx:A.M. How did everything begin?
In 2013, I had the opportunity to meet Chris Nilsson and Konstanze Louden from 10th Street Entertainment, the management company of Mötley Crüe and Sixx:A.M., about a potential sponsorship between Sebastian and Mötley Crüe. That sponsorship didn’t work out, but I still believed there was an amazing opportunity to be explored between music and hair, so I came up with the idea for the Rock Star Round Table! This idea was really focused on 2 of the Sebastian stylists as artists, rather than them being a part of the Sebastian team. I wanted to sit the “rock stars” of their respective industries, at a table and interview them to talk about the similarities and differences between the two industries. Music, hair, fashion and art are all so tied together, so it seemed like a natural fit to bring them all together. At the end of the day, these guys are ALL artists, so no matter if they are creating styles on stage or music for the masses, their art is what it was really all about, and that’s what I wanted to bring to life. I asked them questions about how their creative processes worked, the importance of image, social media, and their thoughts on iconic hair! The conversation was organic and entertaining and we captured the segments and edited them for webisodes which the brand released on YouTube in 2014. Omar Antonio and Anthony Cress were also extras in the “Gotta Get it Right” video they filmed that day! That project started a unique relationship between myself, the band and their management, and I have worked for over 3 years now to continue to grow that relationship and to bring the Sebastian brand into the partnership which started last year at the What’s Next Awards in Miami. I asked DJ Ashba (guitar player) to be a part of the opening of the show, just to add another level of excitement to the opening model catwalk. It was an awesome performance, he loved being a part of it, and we had a huge jump in our webcast viewership! When we started talking internally about how we could make the show bigger this year, the conversation turned to having the entire band play the WNA. Since I had the relationship with them, and since the band are big fans of the brand, it came together perfectly. I am very proud of what we have accomplished together and I feel this partnership will continue to lead to other exciting opportunities for the brand in the music industry.

  • Why do you think Sebastian and Sixx:A.M. connect so well?
  • I feel there is a strong connection to artistry in the band and the brand, which I mentioned about the RSRT project. Talking to the guys that day, we could hear in the conversations that they all express themselves creatively through their art. Whether it’s hair, photography, music, fashion, tattoos, writing or drawing, they just all love to create art! In that interview James Michael (lead singer) spoke about being of the “same tribe”, even though they had never met and were in two different industries. When you looked at them all sitting at the table, they were all in black, all covered in tattoos, and all had a great sense of a unique style. It was easy to see those similarities, even though they were all unique individuals, and you could see that  expression of artistry really speaks to them. I started with Sebastian over 20 years ago, and I have always believed that, at its core, the equity of the brand is for true artists. That is something I saw firsthand working with Geri Cusenza and later, Robert Lobetta. And now working with Sixx:A.M. I have been able to see a little of the behind the scenes creativeness in music and it’s pretty amazing. On a more literal note on why I feel they connect so well, at that first video shoot I learned that DJ was a huge fan of Sebastian for years! Our Global Creative Director, Shay Dempsey, is James and Nikki’s stylist, and I have now enlisted Anthony Cress and Omar Antonio to style and create DJ’s new dreads look. PLUS Sebastian Professional is the official hair sponsor for the current tour, so everyone in the band is hooked up with Sebastian product!

Tell us about the idea of the contest and how did it go?
The Rock Star Makeover Contest was an idea I had to start some pre-show buzz. When we secured the band to play the WNA, we wanted to create excitement on social media prior to that performance in March. The band was planning a fall tour in Canada and the US, and although management offered us 2 tickets to each city the band was playing in, we picked 4 strategic cities where 2 lucky fans could meet the band and see the show. The brand sponsored the contest on Facebook and education sponsored our core team artists to go and give the winners a makeover before the meet & greet. We showed the before pictures and all the “reveals” live on Facebook and it was such an amazing experience to see the dramatic style change on these fans! The band really got into seeing the makeovers, and for the fans, it was life changing!! I mean, to be able to meet their idols was great, but having our Sebastian stylists come in and make them feel beautiful before that meeting was even more awesome. Here at Wella, we always say “beauty changes lives” and to see that live in those moments for these people, that was really one of my favorite things about the makeovers! We sponsored one more national promotion which was shared on Sixx Sense, Nikki Sixx’s radio show, and we will hopefully be able to show that reveal on local television at the WNA event on March 5th. This Ultimate Rock Star Makeover winner, and a guest, will be flown to Dallas to receive the makeovers by the winners of the 2016 WNA, as well as meet the band and get an autographed guitar!

What do people can expect about Sixx:A.M. coming to this year’s What’s Next Awards?
Well, I have seen them perform a few times now and I have to say, they really put on an awesome show! People can expect a rock show full of great songs and high energy, which will be a perfect ending to the What’s Next Awards show itself! We will see lots of great hair artistry, both from the competitors and the Sebastian International Design Team that night, and I believe the performance by Sixx:A.M. will definitely make this a show to remember!

What is your favorite thing about an event like What’s Next Awards?
I’ve produced many shows and events in my career but this one holds a special place in my heart. First, because I started my career in this industry with Sebastian. And second, because it’s still a fairly new show for the Sebastian brand. It’s at a point where we still have the opportunity to make it grow. It allows a lot of creativity and “outside the box” thinking. It’s the type of show where I could have a major rock star come and play guitar as the models walk by and obviously, where I could have a rock band come and play the finale… that’s my kind of show! Rocks stars and models… hasn’t that always been a good fit?

WNA is celebrating its 5th anniversary in 2017. Tell us about the evolution of the event since the its beginnings.
As I just mentioned, this show is at a great point because we still have opportunities to make it grow, and it HAS grown in the 5 years I have been producing it! The first 2 years were in Los Angeles, our backyard and where Sebastian started. We moved to NYC in year 3, Miami in 2016, and we are excited to bring it to Dallas next year. We didn’t start webcasting until the second year, and the viewership has grown every year, which has been awesome. The first webcast,  we had ~1000 viewers. The second, at Gotham Hall in NYC, we were at ~3500 and last year in Miami, we had an exponential jump to ~12,000! I believe having DJ Ashba perform definitely helped our numbers and next year we are hoping for an even bigger viewership with the whole band performing. It’s really a win-win partnership, which I think both the brand and the band can agree on! We are able to reach their large fan base and they are able to gain new fans in our industry who may not know them yet. The competition artistry and the number of entries has also grown since the beginning and that makes it exciting because we know we are reaching stylists and inspiring them to enter!

What can you say about your journey as a producer and also as Wella’s National Show Director? 
I started my journey with Sebastian over 20 years ago as a hair model, ironically, in Dallas! Geri and the Sebastian Team were in town for a large hair show, and I was chosen by Edwin Lombardi, which for me at the time was beyond the coolest experience I could imagine! They were all “rock stars” in my eyes, and that first show I did exposed me to a whole new world I never knew existed. I moved to LA a couple of years later and coincidentally ran into the colorist from the Dallas show, Kaz Amor, and he told me they were always looking for models at the corporate office in Woodland Hills. So I came to the Sebastian International pyramid and was even more blown away by the world that existed at 6109 DeSoto Ave! I was a house model for a couple of years and by doing that, I got to know the people in the show department and a little more about the ins and outs of the corporate hair industry. One season, I was selected by Geri to be a part of the Laminates (product) relaunch which gave me the experience of doing hair shows on the road, and gave me a better understanding about the coordination and production logistics of hair shows. I realized then, that I didn’t want to be ON the stage anymore, but I wanted to be the person IN CHARGE of the stage, so I had to figure out how to do that! I started in the Sebastian Show Department full time in 1995 as a model coordinator, and then moved up to be a production coordinator, and eventually a production manager very quickly. I got to travel to many cities around the world and meet A LOT of amazingly talented people who have inspired and helped me along the way. Over the course of a couple of corporate mergers, some outside freelance production work within the industry, a lot of time spent on the road with many stylists and a/v crews, and of course producing shows both big and small, I started my position as the National Show Director in 2011. I am now responsible to lead my own show team in producing best in class events across North America, so I feel I have come full circle since that first hair show in 1990! I love the opportunity to mentor my production managers in their regional events, but I still produce and direct our big national shows, the North American Trend Vision Awards, and of course the What’s Next Awards. Calling a big show is still one of my favorite things to do and that keeps me inspired after all these years!

  • Does it still give you the chills?
  • There is nothing like the excitement of directing a live event! And as soon as the first cue starts, I know I have a huge responsibility to make sure everyone in that audience is inspired and has a great experience! Yes, it’s stressful and of course, sometimes things happen that may be out of my control. (Like the monsoon that hit in Vegas during our NATVA in 2015, and knocked out our power backstage!) But I get through it, with the help of some outstanding technical people I have the privilege to work with, and later I look back and it’s a funny memory to talk about. People say to me, “you have the most awesome job, how did you get to do what you do?” It IS an awesome job and I love what I do, but it didn’t come to me overnight, nor did I just walk into Wella one day and say ok, here I am, hire me! I have put in years of hard work and dedication to doing what I love to do most. Finding inspiration by surrounding myself with creative environments and talented people to bring the most amazing events to life on stage!

What is the most memorable moment in your producing career to date?
That’s tough to pick one! The first time I called a show with multiple international teams (language barriers included) for 4500 people was my biggest confidence boost for sure. Having Debbie Harry from Blondie thank me from the stage when they played the NATVA in 2014 was pretty awesome I will say. And now getting to work with the guys in Sixx:A.M., I am in the middle of creating more memorable moments which I think will culminate at the WNA on March 5th. To be able to bring that show to life for my favorite brand is really a dream come true! But I still can’t wait to see “what’s next…


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