Headmasters: Walter Claudio

Vidal Sassoon created a system for haircutting that could be taught and replicated. Now Aveda Global Master Walter Claudio has done the same for haircolor. ✂ —Marianne Dougherty

When Walter Claudio opened an Aveda Lifestyle Salon in Santa Barbara, CA in 1993, he designed his business to drive haircolor. From the get-go, one of his biggest challenges was inconsistency in pricing—one colorist might charge $100 for highlights, while another might charge $155. And don’t get him started on over-mixing, which cost him $13,000 a year in product that never made it onto the hair. That’s when he decided that he needed to create standards that would allow him to grow his business.

“It was frustrating to me until I started looking at the restaurant industry,” says Claudio. “The chef doesn’t make up the pricing as he goes along, and you can go into any Starbucks and get the same cup of coffee no matter who makes it.” That’s when the proverbial light bulb went off inside his head and Claudio came up with a system he called HeadMapping. “In a nutshell, it’s a functional segregation of the head that allows colorists to create, formulate, replicate, communicate, mix, price and schedule color services accurately.” At first he did everything manually. Then he worked with Neill Corporation to come up with software called ColorBiz that does the calculations.

Another plus: no more disgruntled clients. With HeadMapping, they know exactly what they’re paying for beforehand, and there are no more surprises at the front desk when they check out. “It’s completely eliminated what I used to call ‘pricing chaos,’” says Claudio, who is convinced that his system allows colorists to formulate with precision, to communicate what they’re doing to the client and to deliver the same results every time. This is huge for the salon owner, who doesn’t have to rely on a superstar to grow his business. Instead, he’s relying on a standard to grow his brand.


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Okay, so what about creativity? Doesn’t standardization eliminate it altogether? Claudio doesn’t think so. “Our industry operates on creativity and not standards, but you need both,” he says. “Vidal Sassoon created a system of haircutting that could be taught and replicated, yet Sassoon is probably the most creative team out there. Why? Because they have standards in place. You don’t deviate from those standards until you really understand them. Then you can manipulate them.”

Want a free assessment of your color business to find out if HeadMapping can help you reduce waste and save money? Visit headmapping.com.

Photography: Eric Smith