Hairbrained Q&A: A Brighter Future with Robert Lobetta

Robert Lobetta, newly named Creative Visionary of Sebastian Professional, has an eye that’s ever trained towards the future. Though a hairdresser by trade, he’s not limited by this title. Rather, Lobetta’s skill set is esoteric, and his dedication artistically broad. His vision is simple, yet not easy.

“I think for hairdressing to go forward,” Lobetta says, “there’s got to be a better affiliation of brands, and who they choose to represent them.” Ultimately, he explains, there should be more collectives and more groups who can help brands go where they want to go, and then that group can move onto a different brand. “That way you have this revolving door of individuality, but within the group situation. Everyone has a chance to play within that. It seems far more exciting for both sides. The brand doesn’t get trapped in by the same people it’s working with all of the time, and the individual doesn’t get stuck with the brand all of the time.”  

Read on to discover how Lobetta plans to re-imagine the future of Sebastian Professional, plus learn about how this forward-thinking artist embraces fear, and learns from his failures.

Q. Moving forward, what’s your vision for Sebastian?

A. “Everything changes. In the past, Sebastian has gone in a particular direction. In the future, we’re going to hopefully change that direction, because basically the world that we live in has changed dramatically. We’re going to push a lot more education, where we put our advertising, what we put our money into, where we do our shows. I wan to change as much as we possibly can, because without that change, nothing is going to happen for us.”

Q. Under your leadership previously, Sebastian was known for it’s visual presentations. Do you plan to reestablish that presence?     

A. “Not necessarily. Our visuals were always very strong, our shows and our content were very strong. Obviously we want to get back to strong content, but with a slightly different audience in mind. Instead of doing very large, elaborate shows, I’d like to do smaller events. Instead of doing wonderful advertising every three months, I’d like to do something that comes out every three weeks. The world has changed, and I’ve got to adapt to it.

We’ll be following a slightly different path, with the same outcome, and the same strength in visual output, which I’ll call visual narcotics for now. I want people to fall in love with the brand because we’re going to do things that look different, and which will be different. We want people to think differently within that, as well.”

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Q. In your opinion, how has social media impacted the beauty industry?

A. "Today, people upload their images to platforms such as Instagram, and you view them for five or ten seconds," he says. “So the immediacy of an image has no power, like it used to 10 years ago, because we never had that platform then.” Instead, images were carefully curated and brand-specific. They were placed in high-gloss magazines, where they lived permanently.

“Now things are different,” he says. “You have to have something that comes out on a permanently new basis, otherwise, you’re defined as past it and old. So, the catch-up situation for us, as a brand, is to be able to put something new into the market place every week that hopefully will be visually stunning and electric. It will be a continual and purposeful way of putting imagery out there. We’ve got to be fast to market, as fast as we can.”

Q. Share your thoughts on the phrase ‘collaboration over competition.’

A. “In truth,” confides Lobetta, “collaboration is one of the most difficult things to do. We all want to go or own direction.” The key, he adds, is collaborating with the right people. “You have to have everyone with a similar mindset, which is a really tough thing to do. I would like to see individuals collaborate together, because I have a strong sense of the ‘secret society,’ or people that work together as a unit to put a body of work out there. It becomes far more interesting than if just an individual were to do it.”

“We all have a tunnel vision of where we’d like to go, and how we’ like to see things.” But oftentimes, adds Lobetta, three heads are better than one. “But our ego somehow gets in the way, and stops us from working collectively. Which is a shame. This does occasionally happen, but it doesn’t happen very often. My job here at Sebastian is to get that together, where people are willing to work together, share together, open up together, and put bodies of work out together.” It’s all about the group of people that you pick, he explains. “They have to have a harmonistic value to one another, and be comfortable with one another.”

"We can’t live alone, as an individual, and hope to gain what we once did years ago. I think collectively, we can stand out and make a difference. As a group, you have far greater opportunities for longevity.”

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Q. How do you move through your fear?

A. “Fear is the killer, it stops you dead in your tracks and fear of failure can destroy you. Believe it or not, I’ve failed more times than people can possibly imagine, so I don’t quite have that fear anymore.” Having the opportunity to fail is invaluable, he explains, because there is always a lesson to be learned, or knowledge to be gained, from that failure. “By taking more risks, you find out more things, and things come through to you. Once you get it into your brain that things won’t always be right, it’s not so difficult to handle. The fear inside of us all is meant to be there. We are meant to fail in order to move forward. Without those particular failures, we don’t really grow.” Lobetta explains that some of the things that he’s failed at have taken him in the most unexpected, and best, directions.      

About: Founded by two like-minded hairdressers: Photographer and hairdresser, Randy Taylor, plus world-renowned educator and platform artist, Gerard Scarpaci. Both share a deep love for the industries professionals and the craft alike. @hairbrained_official