Let's Do Lunch

Q: Tell me about your product line. It's called Arrojo, right?

The line includes shampoo, conditioner and styling products. I call them simple scientific solutions for the cleansing, management and styling of all hair and scalp types. They're all enriched with vitamin B5 and a gentle, rejuvenating fragrance. My plan was to build a product line for my clients. As far as distribution goes, I'm kind of winging it, waiting to see what happens. I'm in a unique position right now. I'll take it to trade shows like IBS New York where I'll have a booth in March, and we'll see if hairdressers like it.

Q: What kind of education are you doing at IBS New York this month?

We'll be doing classroom education on razor cutting downstairs. We did two classes last year, and they were mobbed. People were sitting on the floor. I'll also be doing Main Stage, which is always trend-focused. If you come to see my show, you'll definitely be inspired.

Q: Tell me a little about What Not to Wear, the show you've been doing on TLC for the past four years.

One of my clients referred me to the producers when they were holding auditions. More than 130 hairdressers tried out. I made it to the top three. Then they offered me the job. We do 40 episodes per season. I shoot every week. We generally have a six-week hiatus after the season ends, then we're back on again.

Q: How much time do you have to develop a new look for someone?

I see the contributor—that's what they call the person having the makeover—the day before we shoot so I can assess her haircolor and figure out what I'm going to do. I choose the colors that I feel are right. Most of the time it works out. She comes back to the salon the next day, and we start the process. It takes about five hours to do the cut and color and get the whole thing on film. I guess I've done about 150 makeovers since we started.

Q: You're originally from Manchester, England, aren't you? How difficult was it building a career in the U.S.?

I'd been with Sassoon for almost 10 years. I'd also worked for Wella as a creative seminar leader in London. That's how I met Patrick McIvor, who did a lot of work for Wella in the states. In fact, he was the only person I knew when I moved here. I stayed with Patrick, who lived in New Jersey, for a month. When I got a job at Bumble and bumble, I took the bus into Manhattan at 7 a.m. every morning. It took me two hours to get here. I'd get home by 10 p.m. I did that until I found a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan.

The upscale Greek eatery is located on 48th Street between Third and Lexington avenues. Eating outdoors at Avra is a real treat in warmer weather.
The upscale Greek eatery is located on 48th Street between Third and Lexington avenues. Eating outdoors at Avra is a real treat in warmer weather.

Q: Describe your career trajectory at Bumble and bumble.

I thought I'd just be a stylist there, but on my second day Michael Gordon [the owner] asked me to be education director. I was in charge of training all the apprentices. At the time, four or five of Michael's friends carried his product line, but he wanted to sell it to a much wider audience. A fire nearly destroyed the salon in the spring of 1995. When we moved back in the following January, I wanted to create a real education center there. I told Michael that salon owners were already curious about Bumble and bumble. Why not let them in, offer education if they carried the product line? We had an 85-percent success rate.

Q: You opened a salon with Rodney Cutler, right? How did that come about?

I hired Rodney to work as an educator for me when I was at Bumble. My goal was to put together a team of teachers who could actually teach. Novel idea, huh? Rodney was eager to have his own salon and suggested that we open one together. To get the financial backing we needed, I created story boards, almost a virtual salon, and presented them to Redken, L'Oréal, Wella and Aveda. Horst [Rechelbacher] owned Aveda at the time so he made the decisions. He thought having an Aveda concept salon on 57th Street would be good for business.

Q: Now you're in business for yourself. Tell me a little about Arrojo Studio. You've got your own magazine, don't you? And plans to open an academy?

The magazine was a way for us to connect with our clients. We bring them up to date on all the things we've been doing, and the education we offer. It's a great way to promote our product line. We also do collections a few times a year and feature them in the magazine. Our new Web site is in its fourth redesign, which is something for a company that just celebrated its fifth birthday. And yes, I plan to open an academy in the fall of 2007. We've got plenty of room to expand, so it just makes sense.