Kristen Heinzinger is the managing editor at American Salon magazine, based in New York City. Born and raised in New York and a graduate of Boston University’s journalism program, Kristen has experience as a copy editor and writer for finance and art publications in NYC. Her combined passion for writing and the beauty industry brought her to American Salon, where she reports on the latest and greatest in hair, skincare, makeup and nails.
With more than 30 years experience in the world of hairstyling, Nick Arrojo has a long list of accomplishments: his own salon, product line and education programs. Here he talks past, present and future.
Hairdressing heavyweight Nick Arrojo has been making strides in the beauty business since age 16. Raised in Manchester, England, Nick got his first taste of the industry working at his local salon. “I loved music and socializing and I wanted to do something creative,” Nick says. “There was a cool-looking salon in my town, and I felt that working there would be fun.”
It was during this time he realized hairdressing was the career for him, so he began searching for the best training. After peers suggested Vidal Sassoon’s program, Nick applied and was accepted. Little did he know this training would years later lead him to become the youngest creative director of Sassoon, as well as a salon owner and creator of a professional product line.
After two decades working as a stylist and creative director for a variety of haircare brands, Nick opened the Arrojo Studio in New York City’s Soho in 2001, beginning with just six chairs and four hairdressers; in 10 years, the staff expanded to more than 100 employees. “I wanted to be in control of my own destiny,” he says. “I had worked for the best companies, so it was time to break out on my own.” While the Arrojo Studio operates an in-house cosmetology school for stylists, the attached Arrojo Academy offers advanced education and seminars to licensed hairdressers. Nick spends about 175 days each year traveling to teach, but says the biggest event on his education calendar is the two-day Arrojo Expo of hands-on classes and seminars in New York City.
With a successful salon and education programs in place, in 2007 Nick launched a line of more than 25 products, from cleansers to finishers. When asked how it all started, Nick says, “For me, Vidal Sassoon is the original inspiration. He was the first to build more than a hair salon—he built a brand.” Nick also credits three others for inspiration: Horst M. Rechelbacher, Jerry Gordon and Gordon Nelson. “Rechelbacher had a vision to bring organic products to the industry, and he made it happen,” Nick says. “Gordon has been a hairdresser for more than 50 years, and his business acumen is second to none. And Nelson, as a stylist at the original Vidal Sassoon Salon, has incredible heritage in the industry.”
Looking at his own accomplishments, Nick notes how rewarding it is when a young stylist graduates from the 18-month Arrojo training program to become a stylist on his salon floor. “These young talents are going to be the next generation of leaders in the industry,” he says. However, Nick says his proudest moment was winning the 2008 Global Salon Business Awards, judged solely on business rather than reputation or styling skills, by an independent panel of industry experts and leaders. Although he was trained in hairstyling, Nick notes he had no business coaching, making this award even more profound. “We were rated the best in the world,” he says.
As for future plans, Nick says he’s intent on keeping his brand completely independent and growing each element of the business. “I want to build my advanced education so we can offer even more to our fellow professionals,” he says. He also says he hopes to build up his cosmetology school, which currently has 16 students per six or seven classes. “If we expand the school, we’ll expand the amount of young stylists coming into the industry with advanced skills, which can only strengthen the industry as a whole.”
Ultimately, Nick says he hopes to make his professional product line America’s favorite. “I want to have the number one product line, while it’s completely and solely owned by a hairdresser who still stands behind the chair and works with clients.”
✂ —Kristen Heinzinger
CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP: Nick Arrojo, Nick Arrojo gives a presentation at Orlando Premiere; a look from Nick’s Primsters collection; the Arrojo Studio in New York City offers a range of education.