Life of a Stylist – Buying Back your Brand with Frederic Fekkai
Frederic was known for giving the most expensive haircut in the world from his namesake salon located in Bergdorf Goodman, New York City, but now he is focussed on providing sustainable products through his product range, which he bought back in last year. He had previously sold the brand to P&G in 2008.
Here, we spoke to him about buying back his namesake haircare brand from a conglomerate and the complexities involved in making the brand sustainable – a move in line with his new mindset and life choices…
Tell us about your hairdressing journey
At the beginning I was interested in hairdressing because I realised very quickly that hair and salons were treated as a commodity. So I said, let’s do something different with it, let’s make a luxurious salon, not pompous but a clean, healthy, fun and sexy salon. We made sure everyone that worked there was very specialised. Colourists were purely colourists – we didn’t want the colourist and stylists mixed together.
Where did you learn hairdressing?
I learned in France, in Paris and then I moved to New York at a very young age. I was doing photoshoots as well as styling models and backstage at fashion shows.
Working in both the salon environment and the session world, which one do you prefer?
I actually like both, it’s so nice when you create these amazing hair creations on one side of the industry and then you apply it in reality on the other and give customers great hairstyles.
How do you think that the industry has changed over the years?
I think people are much more aware of creating hairstyles and fashion that is more believable. Trends aren’t so outrageous, they follow trends from Instagram and Pinterest, which looks great in many countries.
What’s your view on the lack of apprentices entering the industry?
It’s harder and difficult to find talent. Personally, I think this is because of social media, I think people now want to be different and I think the hard work isn’t is as attractive as it used to be. I think it’s the biggest issue facing the industry, less and less people want to do hair. It’s sad.
There are so many young people that are now doing content and are on apps, all things they can do from home. Who doesn’t want that, do anything from anywhere?
Your brand is now hinged on sustainability, what made you look to that when you relaunched your brand?
When I bought the company back, my name is on the bottle, so the brand needs to reflect the right message and we cannot just depend on the consumer or the hairstylist we need to do it ourselves.
I wanted to make sure that I brought an incredible product to the market that was also sustainable in its formula. It was achievable and we did it and we’re really proud of that.
Even in the salon, we don’t use foil anymore. We try to make sure everything we do is sustainable.
We had to find out if the manufacturers recycled plastic, we found a good one which recycled plastic from all over the United States and that was number one, a product that was recyclable, which is great.
Did you have any concerns when you bought back your brand and changed the formulation?
Absolutely. We spent nine months testing the products and sometimes it was not working, so you worry, so we did it until it was working. But you have to take risks, otherwise you don’t get creative. It’s great, you worry and you take risks, it’s a part of life.
I was fortunate to buy the brand back and now I get to do want I want with it. Which is to be responsible for the environment, but also to have a beautiful line, if it goes down the drain, it won’t kill the fish, which is great.
What else can consumers/clients do when they go home and style their hair – what can they do to be more environmentally aware?
First of all, I think it is our job to educate people, but it’s also to deliver a product that is risk free after all. For the consumer, I would say that they need to make sure they use the product correctly, but not to overuse it. Make sure you rise your hair very well, then take a brush to take the conditioner out of your hair. Alternate your shampoo, one for shine, volume and colour.
What is next for you and the brand?
I have three new collections coming out, all spaced out in the next nine months. These are different ranges. We’re going to have a shea butter line and one for the scalp. I’m going to look to improve everything, to make it more sustainable and that’s it. The idea is to make sure we still get creative and are responsible at the same time.
Find out more about Frederic Fekkai here