As co-founder of hairbrained.me, the popular online hub of craft hairdressing, Randy Taylor is at the top of his game, and education is what made it all possible. “Education is the fiber that holds our industry together,” he says. A hairdresser for the past 24 years, Taylor is the owner of U-Turn Salon in Palmyra, PA, but before going into business for himself, he traveled the country as a national educator for Aveda. “My students and I'd have a great experience and then at the end of the day they’d say thanks and go back to their salons, and I wouldn’t see them again until they came to another class,” says Taylor, which left him longing for more interaction once a course was over. Enter Gerard Scarpaci, who had just come to work at the Aveda Academy in New York City and, like Taylor, felt there was a void in the professional beauty world. The two joined forces, ultimately filling that void with an online community of hairdressers they called hairbrained.me. Initially the site was a way of staying in contact with their students, but over the years it’s taken on a life of its own, offering inspirational photos and videos, color and styling education, and advice on tools and business. Members (there is no cost to join) can also poll each other on a variety of topics.
“My love for education is what seeded the idea for Hairbrained,” says Taylor. Content is about 98-percent user-generated. The other two percent comes from photographs Taylor posts to the online community. Before going to beauty school, he worked as a photographer’s assistant and is now a fixture at industry events, known for his photojournalistic style of backstage photography. Some of those photos, including pictures of Hairbrained members at trade shows, end up on the site. Taylor claims that travel and education have given him a different perspective that he couldn't have gotten any other way. “Working with people from diverse backgrounds and different skill levels has given me a fresh look at the process of hairdressing and my approach,” says Taylor, who stresses the importance of attending trade shows and other educational events, especially in a world where we increasingly live online. The networking that takes place at these kinds of events, he says, is invaluable. “It’s about the people I’ve met and the memories I’ve made, the friendships to last a lifetime,” says Taylor, who readily admits that every stitch of knowledge he has is because of the generous educators who shared their gifts with him over the years. “I only hope I've passed it all on to students, so they can do the same.”