Butterfly Circus is Changing the Way We Think About Education

Butterfly Circus has taken off in the past nine months, and it’s changing the way we think about education.

David Thurston is not a hairdresser; his wife Alexis is. Together, the couple run Butterfly Loft Salon in Los Angeles, where they began hosting intimate gatherings called Butterfly Circus for a small group of hairdressers (no more than 80) about nine months ago. Since then, they’ve hosted similar events in Las Vegas, San Francisco and New York City. “Instead of one instructor droning on for two hours, we have six of them present 30-minute segments on everything from braiding to balayage,” says Thurston, who used Instagram to get the word out. All of the people on tap to appear at Butterfly Circus announce their participation on Instagram at the same time, creating an audience of half a million to a million followers instantly. The events sell out in minutes. Now here’s where things get interesting. All of the instructors have built followings on social media and offer pure education. “None of it is coming from any brand or manufacturer,” says Thurston, who prefers to remain independent, at least for now, because he knows that his point of difference is unique. “It’s coming from the beauty community, not the beauty industry,” he says. And yes, there is a difference. “This is a new model for education,” he says. Thurston prefers to work with people who are coachable, and he recruits instructors from all over the country. What he finds is that a lot of these people are very serious about what they do, but they haven’t been given an opportunity by the beauty industry. Instead, they took to Instagram or YouTube to build a following. Certainly not everyone with a YouTube channel is the next Sam Villa, and that’s where Thurston excels, separating the wheat from the chaff so to speak. “My job is to find out who’s a good educator,” he says, “and then make them better educators or help them put on better shows.” A lot of that one-on-one instruction is accomplished through GoToMeeting.com video chats. Thurston realizes that he has a big target on his back and that a lot of people are watching to see if he fails, so he instructs his team to act professional before, during and, more important, after each event when they mingle with the attendees, even posing for selfies. “The steak is the education,” says Thurston. “The sizzle is the opportunity to mingle with the people they follow on Instagram.” This month Butterfly Circus will be taking its show on the road and setting up shop at Front Row 2016, a four-day multi-media extravaganza hosted by Luxury Brand Partners in Miami. This is a model that’s wide open for anything. All we can do is sit back, watch and wait to see what happens.

Rising Stars of Butterfly Circus:


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Instagram Handle @theconfessionsofahairstylist
Real Name Jenny Strebe
Hails From Arizona
Specialty Boho-style, messy braids

Instagram Handle @hairgod_zito
Real Name Rickey Zito
Hails From New Orleans
Specialty Vivid colors

Instagram Handle @lalasupdos
Real Name Laura Kaszoni
Hails From California
Specialty Braiding and updos

Instagram Handle @jaywesleyolson
Real Name Jay Wesley Olson
Hails From Arizona
Specialty Balayage