Sam Villa Lets the “Buzz†Drown Out the “Little Voiceâ€

sv-headshot-high-resI’m frequently asked, “What’s the buzz?†For me, hair follows fashion. All year I’ve been talking about the collision of fabrics and silhouettes that sees, for example, a billowy chiffon skirt topped with a black cropped leather jacket. Metallics are the latest to enter into the mix, so a sexy, skintight bustier dress might be paired with a prim and proper cardigan sweater.

This trend is reflected in hair through multitextured finishing—a sleek ponytail that goes into an explosion of frizz, or an “undone†look created by crimping underneath and curling over it. Volume has been moving all over the head! It was on top at the diagonal, the way Amy Winehouse wears it, and then low to the nape. Now we’re seeing volume move back up to the crown.

Another trend is toward blunt, solid lines. Hairdressers ask, “What’s the strongest angle you’re cutting right now?†The best way to explain it is “short to long.†When I layer the hair and let go, the hair goes from short to long but produces gentle edges, while disconnection—the strongest element in design today—creates this season’s looseness. Fringes this summer are wide, blunt and heavy—or they can look chewed.

We’re seeing braids in various lengths and degrees of thickness made popular by TV shows like The Hills. You can braid just one side of the head, or you can take a braid from ear to ear so it has a headband effect. If there’s one shape that’s most popular, I’d say it’s the rounded braid.

So that’s the buzz, and lately I’ve been thinking how difficult it can be to hear it over what my favorite coach and motivator, Blair Singer, calls your “little voice.†I notice that other guests on this blog are talking about this, too: Eva Scrivo talks about facing your fears and Wendy Watkins encourages you to redirect negative thoughts. Fear, negativity and questioning yourself are all little voices that keep you from reaching the next level as a professional.

In the beginning of my career behind the chair, my little voice was saying, “Will she like the cut? Does she like me?†I wish I could have managed my little voice better. That’s why I warn young hairdressers about their own little voice. I try to get them to turn it around and discover the hero within themselves. I don’t want the stylists who take my classes to be unable to learn because in their heads they’re hearing, “It looks so easy until I try it,†or, “That’s not the way I like to do things.â€

You can’t eliminate the voice, so don’t every try. It’s not always a bad thing; sometimes it serves you well. But you do have to learn to manage it. Recognize that it exists and listen objectively. Often you’ll realize that there’s a battle going on inside your head. It can be your confidence fighting your insecurity or your ego justifying poor behavior. If necessary, detach yourself and tell that little voice to shut up! Assess where the voice comes from and what triggers any damaging conversation. Your voice is the combination of the experiences you’ve had in your life, and once you identify those experiences, you can begin to reprogram the message.

Clients can be intimidating enough at times. You don’t need your little voice making it worse! Besides, you want to be able to hear the creative voice that often can’t get a word in edgewise!

—Sam Villa

Sam Villa has more than 25 years experience as a platform artist and educator for major salon professional companies. Part of the Redken family for the past 11 years, Sam is Redken’s Education Artistic Director and Design & Training Consultant and appears on as a spokesperson for consumer consultations. He is in constant demand at international and domestic trade shows and in-salon programs, where his progressive teaching approach enables stylists to absorb new techniques quickly and for practical use in the salon. In 2008, Sam launched his website,, along with his own brand of digital media education and styling tools for salon professionals.