Inside Scoop: Colin Walsh, Matrix

EDITOR'S NOTE: A version of this article appeared in the June 2012 issue of American Salon. In the print version, Nick Stenson was incorrectly left out of the list of Matrix artistic directors. Nick Stenson is a Matrix Artistic director as listed below.

Inside Scoop: Colin Walsh, Matrix

Whether it’s providing top-notch technical and business education or helping a salon support a worthy cause, Matrix has made beauty pros’ needs a big priority. Executive Editor Lotus Abrams got the scoop from Matrix Vice President and General Manager Colin Walsh.

Q: Matrix puts a strong emphasis on salon business-building and stylist education. Please tell us what the brand is doing in this space.

A: What makes Matrix unique in this area is the context and format of the education we provide that we believe is most powerful for hairdressers and really speaks to our “Imagine All You Can Be” belief system. One of the big events we started at the end of last year that captures this idea is our Imagine All You Can Be series that we’re holding regionally all over the country. Our artistic directors—Ammon Carver, Brian and Sandra Smith, Chrystofer Benson, Nicholas French, Patrick McIvor, Daniel Roldan and Nick Stenson—are teaching empowering, exciting education. We also have Dr. Lew Losoncy with us motivating and reminding stylists of the role they play in their communities and the world. In addition, we host Business Happy Hours, which mix inspirational and fun elements with classic business tools and support, and we offer an expanded four-day format called Money Matters for salon owners in partnership with Summit Salon Business Center.

Q: Matrix launched Chairs of Change in 2011. Where is the program today?

A: We launched Chairs of Change in January 2011 to encourage, enable, inspire and celebrate stylists and how they impact their communities and the world, and to help bring focus to the fundraising efforts they do, for example a cut-a-thon in a town that has been devastated by a natural disaster. Stylists create projects on to engage other stylists and share their efforts and what they’ve learned with each other—there are a few thousand stylists currently involved and we want to expand to as many people as possible. In 2012, we are increasing awareness through a partnership with, an organization that shares the same belief system as Chairs of Change. They support and celebrate people under 25 who are creating social change in their communities. Matrix will be working with by sponsoring one-day boot camps where stylists will receive hands-on knowledge on how to create a fundraiser or hold a cut-a-thon.

Q: This year Matrix introduced a new message: “Hair+Heart=Imagine.” Can you explain the meaning behind this statement?

A: The philosophy behind Hair+Heart=Imagine was to translate the idea of “Imagine All You Can Be” and make it accessible to all stylists. It starts with “Hair” and your technical abilities being strong and being able to rely on product performance and education of the highest level so you have the tools you need to be successful. Then it’s the idea that you need to activate your “Heart”—your own personal passion, whether you want to be a celebrity stylist, platform artist or salon owner—so you can achieve all you want to achieve. We believe these are the keys to imagining all you can be.

Q: How has Matrix kept the legacy of Arnold (Arnie) Miller, the brand’s founder, alive 20 years later?

A: Arnie changed the perception about how we all think of stylists. He believed that stylists touch and change people’s lives every day. He also believed that this industry should be passionate and fun. He made sure that everyone who was a part of Matrix felt like it was an extension of their own family. As a result, within 10 years of him founding the company in 1980, it was the number-one brand in the industry. Our commitment today, 20 years after his passing, is to honor that vision in everything we do, from educational  events to product launches and our everyday salon support. Some of the greatest and most humbling compliments I’ve received are from people who knew Arnie and have shared with me that there is no doubt in their minds that Arnie is looking down and smiling about what Matrix is doing now in this industry