Sam Villa Urges: “Complete, Don’t Competeâ€

We talk a lot about teamwork in a salon, but that’s because it’s so important. When I visit salons, I see that the best ones have a great sense of everyone working together—many voices but a single heart.

Think of the movie The Great Escape: How many people did it take to build that tunnel? Yet the word never leaked out. That’s why it succeeded. In the salon, we may not experience quite that level of pressure and challenge, but we still accomplish a lot more when we complete each other than when we compete with each other. Working together precedes winning together.

It starts with having a supportive attitude, not a suspicious one. If I show you how you can do a color service for my client while I’m on vacation, will the client stay with you? It’s easy to think that way, but there’s no room for suspicion on a supportive team. The big picture is that you’ll all have more business if you look at each other as collaborators, not competitors.

Some of the artists who surround me do hair better than I do in some ways. On stage I always like to give the other artists credit for creating the looks they do, even if they’re working backstage only. When I’m on the road, I perceive us as one unit. I try to figure out everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and always ask, “While I’m here with you these next three days and we’re preparing for a show, what can I do for you?†When you take that approach, you attract the best talent because good people want to work with you. In the end we have a higher quality show to present.

Further, a team culture encourages everyone to grow professionally. Instead of focusing on why something can’t be done, you’ll begin to ask how it can be done—because even if you don’t see a solution maybe someone else has a good idea for you. Opening yourself to other people’s ideas is what helps you grow. There’s danger in staying in your comfort zone. When we achieve the result we want, we tend to stick like a postage stamp to that method and that result. But that’s exactly when we should try something new. Once you can do it with your eyes closed, find something new to master. Then you’ll always have one foot in your comfort zone and one foot out of it. Be willing to pitch in without worrying about who gets the credit.

That’s why team players have the easiest time adapting to changing conditions, fashions and techniques. They’re always ready to learn the next lesson—to accept coaching as well as to coach others. Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape!

sv headshot high res 180x300 Sam Villa Gives a Glimpse at Life on the RoadSam 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.