Independent Artist: Ivan Hernandez

Webisite: Salon GI   Stamford, CT



Ivan has been in the industry for 10 years. Yes! You guessed it, another great find on Instagram. When you check out his work below, you will see why I chose him to be my September feature. His work is so polished, and simply put, just stunning. You can truly tell he takes pride in every hair cut and color that sits in his chair. As you read our interview, you will learn more about his journey in the industry. "Working side by side talented artists gave me the confidence to be and independent artist." Ivan also takes education very seriously, and it shows. He was just named one of Behind the Chair's OneShot Hairpainting Finalists. " I was taking every class or training I could, anywhere and everywhere. I've always trusted timing and simply enjoyed the journey." As always, we hope this interview will motivate you, inspire you, and encourage you, to continue to share your love and passion for the beauty industry. Enjoy!




1.    What advice would you give to a stylist coming out of school? What should they expect? You're in for a beautiful and most rewarding career there is, if this is truly your passion. Otherwise it'll be just another job. Always surround yourself with positive vibrant people that will cheer and help you grow. I hear a lot of young talent saying, "I hate working weekends, ugh!" Always remember that we are in the service industry, we work with the public, and sometimes we have to sacrifice our weekends, especially when we're just starting out. It's really what you make of it.

2.   What makes you a stand out in the industry? What is your specialty? Most people know me for hair painting. I grew up painting at a very young age. I was always curious about mixing, blending, creating, matching or mimicking tones. Painting portraits and sceneries is where I found tranquility. I couldn't have chosen to do one or the other when it came to cut or color. Because I also have a passion for shapes, sculpting, and molding, there's something about cutting that's almost like a dance. I love to create texture and movement while thinking of where I will place my bold pops of colors and dimension, but the cut is the core or structure of the subject. It used to bother me when asked "do you cut?" lol

3.   How did you decide this was the career for you? When did you realize this was your passion? When I realized that I can calm and make people feel comfortable by putting my hand on their shoulder and simply making eye contact. I found that for some people this can be life changing. I find that you can sooth someone's souls by a gentle touch, eye contact, and smile. That's when I knew I was in the make people feel good business.

4.   You have quite a presence on social media. Can you give some tips on how you utilize social media platforms to grow your business behind the chair? I started my hair page about a year and a half ago. I've always tried to keep it clean, professional, and respectful for everyone. I’ve always said that your business Instagram is truly your portfolio, the audience is very visual and rely a lot on the work you are putting out.

5.   Besides giving a great cut and color what do you feel is also important in terms of retaining clients and growing a book? Educating the client before and after every service. Consultation is key! When booking new clients, I always give myself enough time to truly make sure they understand the process and have realistic expectations. Always under promise and over deliver. I also give myself enough time with every appointment to do a styling tutorial and talk about product usage. In the end, it's all about personality and being likable, treat every client like it's your first, and never make them feel rushed.

6.   What is your biggest accomplishment? What are you most proud of in your career?  I am proud to work for myself. It's nice to finally make your own hours and have the flexibility and time for family and friends. I'm passionate in what I do, reason I'm justhairobsession! haha. I love that I can now take my time and perfect my craft the way I see fit without feeling anxious.

 7.   What is the best piece of advice you would give someone that is interested in becoming an independent artist? Make the jump, it'll be the most rewarding most satisfying jump you'll ever make. Like anything unknown, there's always that fear, but also very exciting at the same time. Give yourself enough time to prepare and map things out. Start gathering all of your tools, furniture, color etc. months in advance so that you aren't overwhelmed when the time comes. Also, know that with this comes a lot of responsibilities so you have to be 100% always since you're now on your own.

8.   You are a balayage specialist. What are some tips you can offer to help another stylist create the perfect balayage? Saturation is everything, but also selecting the proper product is key depending on the hair working with. Tension or a good grip will give you a much cleaner smoother blend. Your tools, sections, technique and starting point should always vary depending on the desired look or client. Trust the process, really analyze the hair and always always always listen to the client. I can't stress that enough. If you aren't agreeing, look at pictures together in order to speak and understand the same language.

9.   If a stylist wants to get recognition for their work how do they go about that? What contests should they enter etc.? Social media is the best way to get recognition for your work. Instagram is a greatest platform given to us to showcase our work and be exposed to a massive audience. There's always something fun and interesting going on Instagram, including contests. Ask your sales rep or anyone involved in your training program, if you have one in your salon, about any upcoming contest.


Nina Tulio



Salon Owner: Melissa Socci
Ciao Bella Salon
Ridgefield, CT

Website: https://www.cbellasalon.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cbellasalon/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cbellaridgefield/


Let me just start by saying how proud I am of Melissa and her team. We have been working together since the end of February, and the progress they have made has been truly incredible. I have a special place in my heart for Melissa because she was one of my first salon coaching clients. It was important to me to share her story because I want you all to know you are not alone in the world of being a salon owner. There is real struggle, stress, issues with time management, leading your team, working behind the chair, and trying the run the business. The list goes on and on, right? When you read our interview you will learn the importance of branding, how she made some hard decisions that were best for her business, and how she has grown as a leader to help inspire her team toward success. It's never too late to invest in yourself and your business. She is now celebrating her 10th year in business this month. With an awesome team in place, doing some restructuring and adding a tier system, her salon has had record breaking months over this past summer. Melissa is a testament to how hard work, being open to change, and reevaluating yourself and your goals, can bring you true success within your business. As always, we hope this interview will motivate you, inspire you, and encourage you, to continue to share your love and passion for the beauty industry. Enjoy!


1.            Why did you feel you wanted to hire a salon coach?  With the salon business rapidly changing as a whole I felt it was time to think outside of the box. Being as I am busy behind the chair most days, I realized other aspects of owning the salon get pushed aside or overlooked. Basically, I needed some fresh eyes to see what I may be missing, someone viewing it from the outside in. I needed that person to reel in my team.

2.           What have been the 3 things you have learned most since working with your salon coach? How important branding is and what it means. Knowing numbers inside and out. Implementing strategies to make the team successful.

3.           What were some of your biggest challenges over the past few years?
Staffing, stylists/employees who didn’t want to play in a team environment and had a negative energy which impacted the team as a whole. Also, keeping up with current social media trends requires a lot of time.

4.          What were some of the hardest decisions you had to make within yourself in order to create change and growth within your business?
Letting go of some past employees, realizing they were not the right fit for my brand.

5.           You are celebrating 10 years this month, tell us how your business has changed and evolved in the past ten years?
So much! Recently renovated and we are busier than ever with team members who bring great energy every day.

6.          How has your leadership style changed since we started working together?
I’ve learned so much. Most importantly treating everything from a business stand point and doing what’s best for my brand. Setting team goals with employees and strategies to help them succeed.

7.           What advice do you have for salon owners that are feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or feeling like they are just working to keep their doors open?
Change is good across the board. Don’t be afraid to reinvent your business. This business is always evolving. Take a deep breath and reassess what it is you need to get to where you’d like to be. Don’t give up!

8.          If you could tell your younger self just one piece of advice when you decided to become a salon owner what would it be?
Always trust the gut feelings you have.

9.          How differently do you look at your salon business as a whole now as opposed to say 1 year ago?
So happy where we are now. I have done so much within a year, and the change has been amazing.

10.      What are you most proud of since becoming a salon owner?
My team. I’m honored to work beside this group of true talent.

Nina Tulio