Known for her unique take on balayage and as a leader in balayage technique education, Amy McManus was a no-brainer addition to the Wella Professionals ambassador team. With over 30 years of experience, she knows a thing or two about haircolor. From her biggest career regret to why cutting clients loose can be a good thing to how balayage truly changed her life, the haircolor expert shares all.
What aspect of your Wella Professionals partnership are you most excited about?
First and foremost, I’m looking forward to learning and playing with Wella Professionals Color Touch and Koleston Perfect. Some of my favorite artists that I follow on Instagram use Wella Professionals color and their colors are just so creamy and beautiful. Second, getting to know my team. They are so inspiring! It’s mind blowing to know that I am a part of them now.
What’s your go-to Wella Professionals product to use on your clients?
Freelights and BlondorPlex. I instantly fell in love with the consistency and performance of both for Balayage and blonding.
What do you see for the future of balayage?
I think it will continue to grow. There’s so much you can do with it and still keep clients low maintenance. Given the state of the world, clients still want to come in to get their hair done, but definitely not as often.
What is your favorite thing about working in this industry?
There are so many facets to it to keep you inspired. I love that social media has given so many of us the opportunity to specialize in what we love to do without being in a big city. I also love that you can shift gears and focus on something different and not have to leave the industry. Between working behind the chair, business coaching, education, teaching, brand education, sales, using social media, online education and so much more, it gives you so many options if you’re bored, injured or you just become interested in doing something completely different, you still can remain in the field.
What do you hope to accomplish in your new role with Wella?
I hope working with Wella Professionals helps me find new and better ways to educate and inspire others along with growing as an artist myself. It's such a powerhouse in this industry, so I jumped at the chance to be a part of the community in hopes growing artistically and educationally.
Where did you get your start in the beauty industry, and who were your early influences?
I started 30 years ago. My area doesn’t have a strong salon foundation for building young stylists. It’s been a booth rental mecca for hairdressers since I came out of school. Because of that, in-salon education wasn’t there for me. There were no salons that had assistants. I actually didn’t even know that was a position in the salon until many years into my career. I didn’t have money at that time as haircuts plummeted to $8, so earning a salary was difficult and took quite a few years to bounce back.
About four years into my career, I applied for a job at Vidal Sassoon on Newbury Street in Boston. It was very prestigious. I had no idea what I didn’t know. They ultimately offered me a job and said I needed to choose between haircutting and color as they were departmentalized. While trying to decide which direction would be best, they told me that typically their training program was six months, but they would train me for 15 months since my skills were so weak. What ended up scaring me away from accepting the position was being told I had to go out into the street to get models to learn on. At that time, that was terrifying to me and I wimped out. To this day, it’s my only regret in my career.
I knew I needed education, so I decided the best way to learn was to be an educator for a brand. This way I’d learn and get paid for it. It was the start of trying to become a great stylist. Looking back, I was my own worst enemy. I made excuses for everything and remained a decent stylist but I always wished I was great. When I found balayage, it awakened something inside of me and I wanted to learn everything about it. I remember vividly thinking… What if this time I gave it everything I had and didn’t let fear get in the way?What if put my everything into it and see what happens? There were many, many, many disasters and failures along the way. A lot of tears. I took the evening to lick my wounds and feel sad but would come back the very next day and try again and again.
Since then, I’ve gotten to work with a few celebrity stylists, done photo shoots and taught my balayage technique all over the country. It’s been an insane journey for me and I’m so grateful for all of it.
Any words of advice for the beauty pro navigating these unprecedented times?
Use your downtime to educate yourself as much as possible. Find better ways to do things and cut clients loose that don’t respect your time or your business. This is important now more than ever as many salons are forced to work at half capacity.
Create new systems that set you apart from the salon down the street and focus your attention on retail as this can help your salon stay above water as we struggle to keep afloat. Focus on your social media. Putting your best foot forward is really important. Pictures should be clean and reflect the work you put into the clients’ hair. With so many professionals leaving the industry, there is a plethora of new clients looking for someone new. You want to be at the forefront on their list of possible choices.