Denver Fashion Week Spring ’19 kicks off this weekend with the iconic hair show on Sunday, March 24. And who would be better to honor at the event than iconic hair stylists and educators, Traci Sakosits and Aaron Johnson? Before their DFW runway show debut, both as salons and honorees, our DFW Runway Producer, Charlie Price, got to talk with Sakosits and Johnson about their careers, the creative process behind their work and their favorite hairstyle of the moment (they both have the same.)
Traci Sakosits is the North American Creative Director of Sassoon and one of the industry’s finest educators. As North American creative director, Sakosits coaches and inspires all the Sassoon stylists in the salons and academies across the country. Her calm temperament, incredible talent and giving personality make her the ideal person for this role. Sakosits’ position also includes leading shows and seminars around the globe, presenting the latest collections on beauty runways and styling Sassoon editorial shoots. Thousands of fellow hair professionals and students have been empowered by her. “From the very start of my career, I knew I wanted to teach. I love the idea of carrying on the Sassoon ethos,’’ said Sakosits.
Charlie Price: Your work is known around the world but how would you describe your style as an artist?
Traci Sakosits: I hope that my style in hair emulates a beautiful modern look underpinned with the highest standard of technique and most importantly bespoke for the wearer.
CP: Watching you cut hair, I am always struck by the grace, lightness and calm you exude as you work, how do you stay so zen?
TS: Thank You for that description. It’s lovely. I have practiced perfectly for over 20 years which gives me the confidence and Zen-like control of hair. There is a methodology in hair that I follow, trust and rely on.
CP: If you were a haircut which one would you be?
TS: If I was a haircut I would be a BOB of course. A bob look is timeless and identifiable. It has structure, is definite and is complex yet minimalistic in its look.
CP: Can you reveal to us (fellow hairstylist or civilian) the secret to executing the perfect bob haircut?
TS: The methodical mindset and total focus on the moment is the best approach to creating the perfect bob haircut.
For a hairstylist or client, think first about where the length of the bob should sit to enhance the bone structure of the face and neck. What and where that length sits is more important to discuss that what amount is cut off, that amount winds upon the floor.
CP: In addition to the lightness I mentioned before, when you cut I also notice that you cut with computer-like precision — do you ever get lost while cutting hair?
TS: I do at times get lost in my head but at this point in my career, not in the hair. The principles of cutting hair are tried and true when understood and followed.
CP: What is your favorite thing about being the North American Artistic Director for Sassoon?
TS: The ability to #sharehair is my favorite thing about my role. As the North American Creative Director for Sassoon, I am so proud to be part of the team that gets to carry on the Sassoon ethos and creativity. Globally, the Sassoon team works in our salons creating beautiful looks for our clients, teaches in our academies to intimate groups of all levels and inspire large audiences through all the other platforms. One of the most special parts of my role is inspiring the youngest aspiring hairdressers to have the understanding and control of hair and professionalism “the Sassoon Way.” Sassoon Academy in Santa Monica California which includes The Sassoon Cosmetology school is my home base and has been for over 20 years.
CP: What current beauty trends do you love and which do you wish would disappear?
TS: Seeing anything that is well done is what I am most attracted to. Trends come and go, good technique is forever.
CP: You have done so much in your career — what else would you like to conquer?
TS: My career has given me the ability to travel the world and has exposed me to so many great people, places and things, leaving me with an open mind to new ways and ideas. When there is “no hair,” my focus is on my family. I have a nine-year-old son, Charlie, that keeps my eyes wide open and inspires me daily. Sharing the world, everyday experiences and having adventures with him is first and foremost. The successful balance of family and career is something to be proud of.
Photo by Kristian Punturere
CP: I know you love fashion and are always wearing something enviable. Who is your favorite designer?
TS: The way things fit and feel are very important to me. I like a label that is not obvious and I love a one-piece garment.
Yohji Yamamoto is my aspirational wear but Margiela and Adidas are more of my daily.
CP: What are things that inspire you creatively?
TS: People and the process of things are most inspiring; creatively I am so inspired by people. As a hairdresser and educator, I am always surrounded by creative people that do interesting things in great ways and I love to talk to them and share ideas.
Inspiration for me is in the development stages of ideas more than the end result. It is the process of things that intrigues me most.
CP: What is sexy to you?
TS: Positive energy, confidence, humor and a healthy fit mind and body.
CP: What do you think are the best and worst things about the state of our hair industry currently?
TS: The diversity in a career in hair is the best part of the state of the industry. There are so many different paths that you can take as a hairdresser. A hairdresser today can do so many other things besides the obvious of being salon stylist or salon owner. The possibilities are endless where a hairdressing career can take someone. The thing that I believe is missing is standards or rating system for the consumer. A global standards certification that hairdressers can strive towards that would validate their level of dedication, experience and skillset.
Aaron Johnson is a world-renowned educator and content creator with 12 years of industry experience. His approach to haircutting education focuses on the WHY behind the choices he makes to best support the WHAT and HOW. He was the recipient of the 2014 Hairbrained Video of the Year award and is a constant contributor to the online hairdressing community. Throughout his career, he has shared the stage with industry icons such as Stephen Moody, Traci Sakosits, Dj Muldoon and Robert Cromeans. He is the founder of Collective Salon Education with videographer Tom Crawford, contributor to the online hair education site Hairbrained.me, and was the former Artistic Director for Walk-In Salons by Robert Cromeans.
Charlie Price: You do it all — cut, teach, appear at hair shows all over the globe and do conceptual hair photography and highly provocative beauty videos. How do you make time for it all?
Aaron Jonhson: You forgot, own a salon, father a seven-year-old boy and play guitar in a touring band! I have an incredible support system. My wife Maddie is literally the rutter that steers this ship. I rely a lot on my team (the collective) to bounce ideas and streamline the creative process so I don’t get bogged down. This last year, I actually kind of reset and didn’t do as much. I wanted to enjoy family time and playing music, but I’ve got the itch to start producing more content.
CP: If you were a haircut which one would you be?
AJ: That’s easy — a graduated bob with bangs.
CP: If you could pick the thing you love most about your career as a leading hairstylist what would it be?
AJ: The opportunity I have to collaborate with different people. I think doing all this stuff alone would be really boring; I’d much rather hang out with friends and make art.
CP: How would you describe the vibe of your work as a hairstylist?
AJ: I’d describe it as effortless and cool. But I’m not sure if that’s what others would say. That’s what I want it to be. I try to work with structure.
CP: What is your favorite city in the world?
AJ: Tokyo, Japan! I’ve been twice in the last few years, and it’s the weirdest, most incredible place I’ve ever been. My goal is to go once a year.
CP: What is your wildest dream?
AJ: They change. Graduating hair school was once my wildest dream. Then getting to cut hair with DJ Muldoon, then winning a Hairbrained Video award. I don’t stay singularly focused, I want my desires to change with my growth. As I’m [saying] this my wildest dream is to go take a nap.
CP: What type of hair do you most love working on?
AJ: Curly! I love how it changes as I cut it. I’d prefer to work on that more than anything.
CP: You created a creative collective of prominent uber cool hairstylists that get onstage and do what I would describe as performance art as much as hair demonstration. How did that project come to fruition?
AJ: There was a point in my career where I said if I ever received any kind of notoriety, that I would not hog it to myself. I think a lot of people in our industry hold themselves up as these really spectacular artists but backstage they don’t actually do all the work. It takes a village and I wanted to bring that out to the front. Everyone I work with is more talented than me, and I’d rather have them shine. I want that to be my legacy, lifting up other people.
CP: What’s on your playlist?
AJ: Oh a bunch of stuff that most people wouldn’t like haha. I’m an old hardcore kid. I grew up trading tapes of bands like Gorilla Biscuits and Youth of Today, growing up in middle America there wasn’t much of that, so we created it here.
CP: Who are your style icons and hair idols?
AJ: To me, Traci Sakosits is the perfect hairdresser. I love watching her hands, she’s so graceful when she cuts hair, her process is as beautiful as her end results. I got to cut hair with her on stage once and it was the most terrifying experience of my life.
I never really got into fashion that much, I grew up in small-town Oklahoma so that wasn’t really on my radar until later in life. But as of style, I really grew up liking skateboarding culture and streetwear. So sneakers, jeans, hoodies and flannels. It’s not a very sexy answer but I love how effortless it is. Wake up and go.
CP: What beauty trends do you love and which do you wish would disappear?
AJ: I love “wash and go” hair. I think it’s here to stay and it makes happy. I love all the work coming out of Hairstory Studio, that brand is super cool. Just normal people with sick style.
I’m not into the whole “unicorn” thing or extensions. But I’m also not one to say what people should like. I never knock anyone’s hustle. A lot of hairdressers make a killing doing my little pony hair and seven-foot tape in extensions, and I say do you.
CP: What is the best and worst thing about the current state of our hair industry?
AJ: The best thing is easily how connected we all are. Social media has made it to where we can communicate ideas and find inspiration daily. Some people say it’s ruined our industry, and those people are old and probably complain when music is too loud. It’s not going back to how it used to be so either embrace it or get left behind.
Worst thing? I’m going to catch some flack for this but licensure and schools. The system is set up to benefit those in charge, and we are pumping out a generation of hairdressers that have to no skill, no respect for the craft, but think they are the next great talent. I’d like to see the whole system blown up, but that’s capitalism and that’s a whole other bag of worms for us to get into.
CP: What’s sexy to you?
AJ: My wife. When women cut all their hair off. Confidence. Street Fashion. Massive Attack songs. Butts.
See the magic of Sakosits and Johnson person at the Hair Show on March 24 at 7 pm. Tickets to the hair show can be purchased here.
Denver Fashion Week Spring ’19 returns March 23-31 with a week of fashion, veterans and new designers, kid & teenager show, industry workshops, panels, parties and more.
DFW Sponsors: Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum/ NATIV Hotel / 303 Magazine / VISIT DENVER / Denver Arts & Venues / Blu Haven / Colorado Fabrics / Alice 105.9 / Forney Museum of Transportation / Getaround