Sustainability: Living Well

Sustainability also means the ability to continue a defined behavior indefinitely. Want to sustain a long-term career? We show you how other hairdressers have managed to do just that.

The power of positive thinking has been well documented—from stress reduction to learning to love and accept yourself exactly as you are. Rev. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale coined the phrase in 1952; his book, The Power of Positive Thinking, which provided tools to channel negative thoughts into a positive current, remained on the New York Times Bestseller List for 186 consecutive weeks. Practicing gratitude—appreciating what you have instead of focusing on what you don’t have—is one way to experience more positive emotions. In her book, Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life, cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien examines the practice of deep appreciation with lessons from major faith traditions as well as indigenous spiritual paths. Matrix Artistic Director Robert Santana starts each day by making a list of things he’s grateful for and three positive things he hopes to accomplish that day, say, reaching out to someone he hasn’t connected with in a while. 

Christopher Belmont is a salon owner and educator from Rutherford, TN. The positive messages he has been posting on his Facebook page since 2007 have resonated with hairdressers like Ginger Boyle, Mark Garrison, John Simpson, Christopher Dove and many more. “A bad attitude is like a flat tire. You can’t go anywhere until you change it,” Belmont wrote in February. “Continue to be encouraged and show love to one another. Today is a beautiful day that we’ve all been blessed with. Let’s enjoy it.” Inspired by the homespun wisdom dispensed by his grandmother, Mildred Wade, Belmont tries to  use the words “thank you” every day. “My grandmother always told me that when you put good out into the world, it comes back to you.”


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His personal Facebook page has maxed out at 5,000 friends, but you can read his posts on his business page, Chris’ Inspirational Moment. “I’ve had so many people tell me
that I make them smile,” he says. “And we all know that a smile is contagious.”


Going the Distance
With 40 years in the business, an eponymous salon in Manhattan and an impressive body of work as a session stylist in Paris, Mark Garrison is arguably one of the most gifted hairdressers on the planet. He’s also one of the most disciplined. “I’m 58 years old, and the reason I can still bounce from chair to chair with high energy every day is because I am committed to staying fit, eating right and, above all, living in faith, not fear,” says Garrison, whose three-pronged approach to living well includes living in a state of gratitude at all times and staying connected to the source that allows him to find balance in an often chaotic world. Garrison thought he might become a dancer someday—he’d studied ballet for years—so when he worked for Yosh Toya in San Francisco right out of beauty school, he went straight from the salon to study dance. “I did nothing but shampoo clients all day long, and I made the connection pretty quickly that my back didn’t hurt as long as I was practicing ballet,” he says. When he moved to New York City in the 1990s to work for Frédéric Fekkai, Garrison discovered yoga, which not only worked his core but also improved his posture just as dance had done. “I try to keep my spine as straight as possible while I’m working,” he says. “I’ve learned not to bend over to cut someone’s hair. Instead, I have them stand up. I remember this older guy who worked at Yosh. He looked like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and I swore I’d never end up like that.” For years, Garrison did all of his errands on his bicycle, which kept him fit and trim. Nowadays, he prefers to take spinning classes instead of risking his life on the streets of Manhattan with “the traffic and the crazy New York drivers.” Garrison goes to Flywheel because it’s so competitive. He’s referring to the proprietary TorqBoard, an in-studio display that provides riders with the option to compare their performance against the rest of the class in real time. “The thing I like about spinning is the cardio workout, which you don’t get with yoga,” he says, though after further reflection he allows that hot yoga can get pretty intense. “I have to admit that when I leave Bikram I feel like I’m going to die,” he laughs. “They really crank things up.”
Strike A Pose
At five o’clock, three times a week, something amazing happens at the UNITE San Diego Headquarters. Everyone—from the CEO to new interns—meets together on the lawn and practices yoga together for an hour. “It’s a part of our company’s culture,” says Andrew Dale, UNITE founder and CEO. “It builds a tighter community and creates wellness. If you haven’t found inner peace within yourself, how can you be expected to perform well at your job?” Even though the event isn’t mandatory, hardly anyone ever misses it.
Yoga for Hairdressers
Mark DeWitt is a Los Angeles-based certified yoga teacher and massage therapist, who has developed a program of yoga poses specifically for hairdressers. “Think of how much time you spend with your arms lifted, which tightens the chest and neck muscles,” says DeWitt, who suggests holding your arms behind your back, interlacing your fingers and lifting your hands toward the ceiling in order to open up the chest and back. Anterior head carriage—essentially, your head is in front of your shoulders—is another problem that seems to plague hairdressers. ‘The ears are supposed to be in alignment with the shoulders,” says DeWitt, who suggests standing with your back against the wall. Now try to touch the wall with the back of your head. If you can’t, you need to work the neck muscles until you can. Our heads, says DeWitt, weigh about 14 pounds. Now imagine adding an extra 10 pounds for every inch you hold your head forward. That’s a lot of weight to carry around all day. DeWitt’s two-hour workshops include techniques for using massage balls about the size of a soft ball to relieve muscle tension. “If you use self-massage to release trigger points, which are specific areas in the muscles that hold tension, you’ll find relief,” says DeWitt, who also uses aromatherapy in his practice. To relieve muscle spasms, he suggests massaging the area with a combination of essential oils, like wintergreen, peppermint and clove. To boost your immune system during flu season, he recommends Thieves Oil, a powerful combination of clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus radiata and rosemary with a pleasant, spicy scent.
On A Roll
Van Council, Artistic Director for Intercoiffure America/Canada, is a self- proclaimed “country boy.” That’s why he bought a mountain house in northern Georgia. While there Council noticed people biking on some nearby trails. “It looked like a great way to get in some cardio, so I bought my first bike,” he says. “It was perfect, being in the woods, not seeing any cars. I loved it.” Never one to dabble, Council threw himself into the sport—eventually competing in world-class mountain bike races, typically finishing first. After mountain biking for 20 years, Council fully understands the benefits the sport gives him, both personally and professionally. “Pushing myself athletically—I ride for at least 15 hours every week—recharges me, it helps me accomplish more than I ever thought I could. As a salon owner, it’s helped me focus on coaching day to day—instead of reverting to coaching after the fact, or months later,” he says. Another positive effect, it keeps him feeling young. Council often goes riding with his teenage children, and they can barely keep up with him. He knows the day is coming when they’ll surpass his biking skills. “But for now,” he says with a wry smile, “I’m going to fight old age as hard as I can.”