David Stanko Interview with Sonya Dove

David Stanko and Sonya DoveThis month, Redken Artist and Colorist David Stanko talks with Sonya Dove, Wella Professionals artist, global ambassador for Hairdreams Extensions and co owner of The Doves Studio in Santa Monica, California

David: I'm thrilled that we can add you to our list of Voice hairdressers. You and I have known each other for a number of years, but we've never really got to spend much time together.

Sonya: I know, that's right.


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David: So this will be sort of our first and second date and everyone reading will have the chance to know Sonya Bass as well. Sonya, how long have you been hairdressing?

Sonya: 33 years.

David: You've had the chance to see a lot of interesting trends come and go.

Sonya: Yes I have. Also, when I read a lot of these questions, everything I've done I've done with Christopher Dove. Christopher is my business partner in our salon. So most of the things I've done it's almost like we've done-that's how the dancing of the Doves has been. So, it's quite interesting reading some of these questions!

David: Ah, so maybe they'll be sort of fresh and sort of thought provoking then.

Sonya: Yes! It will be, it will be.

David: How long have you had an association with Wella Professionals?

Sonya: With Wella Professionals, I've been associated 27 years.

David: Wow.

Sonya: Yes. All with the same company, yes.

David: And over those years, what were some of the different titles or positions you've held?

Sonya: First I owned a salon with Christopher in England. And then we did shows. But the first position we ever had was when someone brought us over to the United States-we were Heads of Education at his schools and salons. He was called Shelton Ogle. He was from Texas and, he had four salons called Shelton's and he had five hairdressing schools in the Dallas metroplex called Ogle's Schools. So that was the first position.

I've also been a creative director at Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salon for a couple of years. Then creative directors for Wella and ambassadors for Wella and for Nioxin, which is a brand under the Wella portfolio. And we're global ambassadors to HairDreams. We wear lots of different hats, which is actually part of what I love. Nothing is the same. And I own a salon as well.

David: What advice would you impart on the sort of new up-and-comers that want to partner with a manufacturer and go on the road?

Sonya: To partner with a manufacturer is an extremely good idea because when I look back, I couldn't have done half of the things I've done without the manufacturers' backing. You know, shows, classes. Organizing them alone wouldn't be possible without them. But it's a two-way thing because loyalty is important to a manufacturer-not jumping around. That's really something that I feel strong about. If you're partnering with them-a manufacturer-there's many different avenues you could be. You could be in education, you could be in shows, you can be in more the technical side of things. So really find what you love to do the most, find out what really appeals to you, and then carry that direction through to the manufacturer-it might be editorial hair. If you love doing editorial hair, every manufacturer supports session stylists. So I think, really find your own strengths, find your own love, and then work through the manufacturer line with that strength.

David: What advice would you give who wants to approach a manufacturer? Let's say they've determined what their passion is-as you've just explained-would they volunteer at a show or that they hang out at the back door of the stage?

Sonya: To get an in with a manufacturer, I suggest assisting and helping backstage free of charge. Really putting yourself out there, putting yourself forward. Because I know for a fact that a lot of people who have done that through the Wella side, that have just assisted, and turned up and helped, that's how they got in to through the manufacturer. Because the roster of people who do shows and do education is quite high, so you have to really sort of be patient. You have to be consistent, and you have to be always willing. Start to do things where you get noticed as a person. I've worked in magazines, and I'm a big believer in sending out as many pictures as possible to magazines and get your name built. So at the same time you've got the two going on. You're building a name for yourself and you're helping and assisting at the back of a show or something.

David: I think that's terrific advice and certainly long-standing words of wisdom. How many events would you say that you do per year, you and Christopher?

Sonya: Well it actually got less since we've had the salon. And we've had the salon six years. But at the moment it's about six days a month.

David: What is your intent, or the take-away that you want the audience to have from your presentations?

Sonya: I want them to be inspired, first and foremost. But also, I really want to show something that they can actually take away with them and do. At least one idea, even if it's small, just something that they can put into practice on their clients the next day. I like the big shows, but at the end of the day, I like to feel that I'm grounded and know it's a waste of their time if they can't put something into action.

David: I'm wondering-a little more insight into Sonya Dove-how would your family describe you?

Sonya: Oh my goodness. Uh, that's interesting. I'm easy to get on with. I'm stubborn. I am a Taurus. I'm not proud of it. I-should have been a Libra-I can weigh out both sides of something, so much that I can almost convince myself that I'm not sure which is wrong or right. I always see two sides of a story, always. I don't know how they would describe me.

David: Have you ever had your cards read or do you know anything in depth of your astrology?

Sonya: Um do I know anything about my astrology? I do know a few things about me that a lot of people don't realize about me. I can share that with you.

David: Yes!

Sonya: I have a passion for music, I always have. And my way of decompressing is going dancing. Like going to concerts. And I like, there's a festival called Burning Man. It's on the West Coast in Tahoe every year, and I go to that. And people say, "Oh my gosh you go to Burning Man?!" Because it's like camping and nature. And I have that other Sonya Dove side of me. People see me on stage in high heels and makeup and everything. I actually have 50% of me that could just be with a backpack on a beach on a hammock and that's it. I have those two sides.

David: You know, I think that's so amazing. If someone said to me, 'Pick someone you think would go to Burning Man,' I wouldn't pick you.

Sonya: Oh I have for years, and I love it.

David: I think that's amazing. That's why I asked if you know anything more about astrology, because the seeing both sides part is the Gemini aspect, which is what I am. And I think that-isn't it right after Taurus?

Sonya: Yes, it is David.

David: Yeah, hmm…And I feel that it's terrific to have that duality.

Sonya: Well I only just discovered it-it's only been in the last four years. I've been taking a most long personal journey myself over the last four years. Realizing that I want to balance my work and my pleasure. Because I'm a very A-type workaholic. And I realized that you can only go so long and be like that before you've got nothing else. So, I'm really sort of trying to say no to some things and trying to sort of balance my personal life. That's why I encourage people to do classes. I'm so grateful for what I've got, but I know I need to balance it to be able to carry on in order to be better, better to other people. Do you know what I mean?

David: I do. I feel we could end the interview right now, because so far you've just passed on so much wisdom. Not only professionally, you know free of charge and volunteered, but also the personal aspect of self-realization, where you just have to throw down or pick more wisely.

Sonya: Yes, you just do. And since this year-I'm really into astrology. I am really into signs and things like that. But there's been such a huge shift-it started in 2012, and it's getting stronger. More and more people are having an almost epiphany or-I don't know how I can say it-you really see there is an underlying movement in the world of people starting to realize they have to look inward at themselves and not outward. I believe that's such a lot. It's so funny, since I've always been doing things with Christopher all my life. And all of the sudden, out of the blue a year and a half ago, I start getting asked to do all of these things on my own, and I was like so nervous about it. "Oh my gosh, they don't mean just me; they mean me and Christopher." Part of this shift that's going on-I've had to grasp it rather than look at it through fear. And even when you asked me to do this, I was like, '[Gasp] are you sure you mean Sonya?' and looked from you and Chris. It's quite a learning experience, all of it. The color council, everything.

David: That's right, you and Belinda Gambuzza are the newly appointed council for Intercoiffure. Congratulations!

Sonya: Thank you, thank you very much.

David: What qualities do you think makes for the perfect assistant in the salon?

Sonya: Someone that's always one step ahead. Looking at what needs to be done, instead of being asked for something to be done. Courteous, caring, caring for the client. Always obviously in our industry, always looking good, always looking professional. Someone who has the ability to leave their personal life at home, and not bring it to work. I think that's very important. Very difficult to do, but important. And somebody that has an openness and eagerness to learn, soak everything up, not be judgmental of anything and then has the ability to be able to filter what works for them, rather than trying to take everything on.

David: In terms of hair coloring, can you tell me is there any strong pet peeve or dislike that no matter where you are, if you see it, you just have a reaction to it?

Sonya: It's more about application. I like a clean application, being tidy with the client or model, whoever it may be. Making sure that it's clean and tidy. My pet peeve is if I see someone and they've got color all over their gloves and then they're handling the cards and they're touching things. I really like a tidy colorist. Very precise and methodical, as well as with application. You know without having the color applied too far down the forehead and so on. As far as color and technique, I think everyone has something to give. I don't have a pet peeve or a strong dislike in technique, but definitely in application.

David: If you had to put in order: salon work with clients, stage presentations, or prepping models for photo shoots-what really speaks to you?

Sonya: Oh gosh, that is hard, because I love my clients. And I love the others. Creatively-prepping models for a presentation and doing the models for photo shoot, then lastly the clients in the salon. But then, I love my clients. They keep me grounded!

David: Yeah clients keep you honest and grounded. That's for sure.

You're jumping on a flight-whether it's work or pleasure-what are a couple of items that you have to have when you fly? Items you just can't go anywhere without?

Sonya: My music on my phone. Usually blank paper and a pencil, because if I think of something I like to write it down so I can just release it. Um…what else? Uh, the first thing I do when I go on a flight is I order a glass of wine, but I can't bring that on with me, but if I could it would be a nice bottle of red wine in my carry on. In other words, I'm a stickler for red wine.

David: That's terrific.

Sonya: And then some moisturizer. I'm so low maintenance. Even my boyfriend laughs at me that I'm just low maintenance. Really I am. It's not what it appears, to put it that way.

David: I think we have similar flight pattern, you know. I put in the ear plugs and then the noise-cancelling headphones.

Sonya: Oh my gosh, that's a fantastic idea. I'm going to have to do that, that's great.

David: Yeah, and I can still hear music and I can journal. And I'm the same way. I've got post-it notes everywhere and pieces of paper that I just write down everything.

Sonya: You know, we're going to have to have an offline chit chat for some fun.

David: I know, I fully agree! I just love your whole recognition of the change that's taking place that starts inside and it just snowballs.

Sonya: Yeah, but you felt it. There is a change going on. There is, definitely. We're coming out of a certain age and going into a new age. That's what's happening. It's the Mayan or the Yogi calendar-coming out of the Mayan Age.

David: When you brought that up earlier, I wanted to mention that I went to a yoga retreat in June and one of the lectures was about coming to the end of this era, and it's everything that you're talking about.

Thank you again for being part of this sort of elite group of salon professionals and I look forward to swapping emails and chatting live and seeing you somewhere on the road if not just magically popping into your salon in Santa Monica.

Sonya: This has been such a lovely opportunity thank you!