Being a hairdresser part 5: Tigi
Like most hairdressers I think my craft was chosen because once upon a time I must have had a burning desire to be a rockstar, a model, an actor, someone in the limelight …. and then growing up took over and instead of becoming an outrageous character ready for worldwide fame I became a shy young man who fell into hairdressing …. and ironically, it gave me a chance to express myself in ways I never thought possible.
If you have followed the story so far you will have reached the part of my journey where I left Wella. Before I joined Tigi there was a year of self employ which I will visit at a later date.
I spent just short of 7 years with Tigi and it was a complete and utter whirlwind.
Tigi…. it was like nothing I had encountered before, it was full of rock stars …. it was like stepping into the hairdressing world equivalent of punk rock in the 70’s. It clashed with anything and everything and was rebellious and crazy and fun and if truth be told I was out of my depth. Not in the ‘job’ just in the Tigi world. Chaos reigned supreme …. this young brand had shook and shocked the hair world with its innovative products and marketing. Anthony Mascolo, the driving force behind the creativity that made Toni & Guy and Tigi such a powerful force was now my boss … kinda!
For me it started when I saw an ad in HJI, Tigi were looking for an education manager in readiness to launch colour into the professional arena. I applied for the role and was granted an interview which was carried out by the education manager (wet-line), sales manager and marketing manager. Phil, Andy & Phil!
It was a tough interview, my first in a long long time, but I left the company H/O feeling fairly confident. I was called back to meet the MD, Simon Ostler the following week and was offered the job on the spot. I became Colour Education Manager (field team) on Dec 24th 2007.
On January 3rd I flew down to a national conference and met the sales team.
On January 4th I flew down to H/O to go and meet with Anthony Mascolo and the Tigi creative team.
On January 5th I started the process of recruiting a team of educators for the imminent launch of p.dot (the first colour range).
P.dot it stood for Penetration Delayed Oxidation Technology and boy oh boy did that explanation get some funny responses!
Whilst recruiting a team of educators and whilst flying up and down the country on an almost daily basis to meet with managers, developing the launch strategy and writing the training materials it became very obvious that this wasn’t what I was used to.
The rebellious nature of Tigi meant that there was very little structure in the monitoring and evaluating of educational roles, something that I felt was crucial to the new team I was building. Fortunately the anarchic nature of the company meant that I was more or less left to my own devices.
Against all the odds the launch date for p.dot arrived and the team …. Cath, Clare, Haley and Carla …. were good to go. I was very lucky in securing 4 of the best educators in the UK to help with the launch, alongside the creative team at Tigi academy, especially Sarah and Julie who helped spread the word with Tigi hair care fans, within a matter of weeks we had secured a good starting point for the brand.
Over the years the colour education team grew, and it’s good to still have friends from those days Ann, Bernie, Deb, Morgan to name a few alongside my original ‘bitches’ (their choice of name, not mine by the way)
P.dot was a good colour, once the tonal values were understood it was quite easy to use and it gave good results and some of the imagery that went with it was fabulous, it really captured the Tigi brand.
This though, it is without doubt the best image the brand has ever had.
We developed a fabulous training concept … ‘The Works’ which was a logical step by step approach to understanding colour and how to get the very best from it in salon.
The Works led to the development of ‘Spectrum’, a 9 day degree style course that was delivered only once to a group of hairdressers before changes in the powers that be (creatively) decided to take the brand down a different path. Spectrum remains to this day the most favourite project I have ever worked on. The material and the format was a collaborative effort with all the team and we created something special that ultimately wasn’t used as best as it should have been ….. but hey ho, such is life!
A 9 day course spread over 6 months, Spectrum literally covered every aspect of the colour spectrum and include the 2 non colours Black and white too. Every day had a theme ‘ESP’ which covered Emotion, Science & Product as well as other topics related to hair, colour and the world of hairdressing. I believe that Spectrum offered something special, however others disagreed.
But Spectrum and its merits weren’t the only issue, there were other things that made life at Tigi not always plain sailing, and at times it felt that I was the wrong kind of ‘rock star’ to fit in with the punks that had made the brand what it was. There were as many obstacles working with free minded spirits as there ever was working with structured corporate types.
Battles were fought, some won, some lost, but at times it was disheartening to work for a brand that had huge potential from a salon fan base for wet-line (Bedhead) who didn’t (all) buy into the colour concept. The team delivered outstanding education and the brand grew despite the challenges it faced, but it never reached its full potential primarily because hairdressers are fiercely loyal to their (long standing) colour houses.
However, bit by bit we won some of them over, we gained business and the team grew because of it. My role changed and with it came additional responsibilities and challenges.The clashes with the creative leaders stemmed from my need to have a structure and their intrinsic need to fight against it, but at the end of the day we were all after the same end result .. growth for the colour. Looking after Europe and a wet-line team as well as the original colour educators was stressful and at times chaotic, and if honest it never really happened like it was supposed to, despite that it was fun, if occasionally tinged with frustration.
Parties and conferences with Tigi were always fantastic, a lot of effort was put into making the sales team feel special. Simon and his team of managers, and Anthony and the team of creatives had a no holds barred approach to making sure that the company partied good and proper. It felt like I was in The USA every other month… it’s an exaggeration but there seemed to be lots of travelling and always a party at the end of it.
Whilst working with Tigi the rumour mill started about a buy out … oh dear, for me it was worrying as it was one of the reasons my Wella role ended and I was (rightly so as it turned out) concerned. Unilever came along and the rest …. well history is still being written about that!
But, before that there were some highlights that have to be bulleted;
- Flying out to and getting stranded in L.A because of bad weather in the UK and taking the team for a day out on Hollywood Boulevard and Santa Monica.
- World release in London with the infamous ‘man in a bath’.
- Driving through France with Phil Ivaldi (who became a great friend and ally) pretending to know what we were doing with colleagues who had their own agendas for launching products.
- Dancing with abandon at conferences, even though I should have known better.
- Winning Manager of the year (shared with Phil Collins).
- Meeting some genuine legends in the hair world.
- Visiting Harry Potter World in Orlando in its opening month due to being there for a Tigi conference. (yes it is a highlight).
Ultimately though the changes in leadership and the creative team led to more challenges and it seemed, faced with an every more fragmented creative and education team that the parting of the ways was inevitable. After Simon left things changed rapidly and then I left Tigi as the colour brand was going through some odd times, a relaunch (p.dot became copyright colour) just 2.5 years after its initial launch caused confusion and even though the education programme for the field team was structured, focussed and relevant the death knell rang for my time with the company. I took redundancy, the 2nd time in my career and I moved on to pastures new.
I’ve still got great friends from my days with Tigi and I still recall lots of great memories but my rockstar outfit was put away never to be brought out again …. well maybe one day ….