Q: Please give your name and what you do for J Beverly Hills.
A: Ryan Teal, Director of Education.
Q: Why did you become a stylist and how has it affected your life?
A: I wanted to become a classic car mechanic or an actor. I’m super dyslexic and I can’t remember anything so I knew acting was out of the picture. I knew nothing about cars, but I had the cool hair back then and the cool wardrobe, so I knew I’d look really cool standing in front of an old car, but nobody wanted to hire someone who didn’t know anything about cars. I was sitting around not doing anything, pretty much watching daytime television, and my girlfriend at the time said you have to get a job because we’re pregnant. I had no skills, no goals, no talents, no nothing and she said suggested I go to hair school because she was a hairdresser at the time. So I went to school and hated every moment of being in school, I thought it was the worst experience ever. I hated everybody there and I would go outside and smoke cigarettes for 9 hours straight. It has affected my life because it has become such a major thing in my life and I’m not just Ryan Teal who works behind the desk, and I’ll never be just Ryan Teal who works behind the desk. I wanted to help other hairdressers behind the chair, because so many other people complain about other hairdressers, education or whatever and I’m one of those people who was complaining and I just got to the point where I decided I was going to do something about it. I’ve been a hairdresser for 21 years and my career can drink now officially and I’ve been all over the world, stood on stage in front of thousands of hairdressers in Las Vegas at one of the main stage presentations where you couldn’t even see two rows back because the lights were so bright. I’ve done pretty much everything in the industry and it’s really awesome. It has been an awesome career!
Q: What do you enjoy offering in your class to inspire others?
A: Every time I teach a class, I don’t like to only teach a haircut. I feel like if you only teach a haircut you only get the haircut, so I always try to teach some sort of moral to the story. You know, I’ll leave a quote or something inspirational, and not that I’m the most inspirational person on earth, but I feel that if you can remember the moral you’ll remember the haircut and if you remember the haircut you’ll remember the moral. Another thing I do to inspire others in my classes is not believing I’m better than anybody. I feel I’m just like everyone who stands behind the chair. Yeah I have my awards, but those are awards from years ago, and I’m just a hairdresser. And I know a lot of people don’t like to say that they are JUST a hairdresser but I am JUST a hairdresser.
Q: As a stylist, what are the elements or people or environments that influence you? What are your motivations?
A: My motivation for being here is really to kind of put my money where my mouth is and to stop complaining and be a part of a change. If there’s something that needs to be changed, I need to be a part of that change and I feel like I can do that with this company. I feel like we are getting ready to pop and we’re getting ready to do something really cool, and if I can affect the education and then maybe some of the other companies will follow. Then I know I’ve done my job and that’s really my biggest motivation. The things that influence me, yeah I have a group of hairdresser friends that I like to call “friendtors”- they are friends that are my mentors – and that’s kind of nice because we push each other really hard and environments – the bar.
Q: What does working with Juan Juan and J Beverly Hills have to offer?
A: It’s funny cause there is a quote on Juan’s wall that says, “Everybody is beautiful, I only make it obvious.” Juan definitely lives by that. That is what’s awesome about Juan. He teaches you taste and attention to detail, I like that a lot. He’s a super genuine man and he’s super generous. He’s accumulated wealth from nothing and now that he has wealth, he likes to give that away and spread that around. I believe that’s one of the biggest things about this company, plus the other people that work here. I learn from everyone on a daily basis. And it’s not necessarily what is behind the bottle, or the man behind the bottle, but it’s everyone in conjunction together that makes us a good company.
Q: Which J Beverly Hills product is your favorite to use when cutting/styling?
A: You know, one of my favorite products is the ‘Shine Mist,’ I use it a lot. I put it right at the shine line. I also really love the ‘Bodifier’ and ‘Lift Up’. The ‘Lift Up’ is great if you spray it on your brush and then use it on your hair, it dirties up your brush but it also applies it evenly. I love the ‘Hold Me Firm,’ but I really love the ‘Hold Me Lite,’ because I can really go a long way with that one. There are a lot of products I like a lot.
Q: Tell us a little bit about how you first became interested in the craft of being a stylist?
A: In 1997 I was doing the ISSE Long Beach hair show and my mentor at the time comes walking over and says, “Ryan, how good of a hairdresser are you?” He trained me, and I was kind of cocky and said, “I think I’m kind of good,” and his response to me was, “Well, prove it.” And I realized at the time all the models were gone, and I definitely wasn’t going to cut his hair, or my hair. So I asked him, “How do you want me to prove how good of a hairdresser I am?” And he replied, “I don’t care how you do it, but prove how good of a hairdresser you are.” At this point I don’t think I can and he tells me, “I don’t care if you can or not, if you don’t prove it in the next 20 minutes, you’re off show season.” And I was really busy with show season at the time, that was my whole life, so I started panicking and crying! Finally, I remember saying “John I can’t do it, I can’t prove it.” And John starts laughing and we were actually sitting backstage smoking a cigarette,(which we weren’t supposed to cause it was a nonsmoking area backstage but he was very British) and he said to me, “of course you can’t prove how good of a hairdresser you are, and he gave me the best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten in my entire life, and he said “You can never prove how good of a hairdresser you are unless you photograph your work.” He said, “If you are only as good as your last haircut, how good of a hair-cutter are you?” And the last haircut I did, was this past Monday, and I thought it was a pretty decent haircut, but before that I don’t even remember the last haircut I did. So does that mean I don’t even remember how good of a hairdresser I am? If you’re only as good as your last haircut and your last haircut was bad, does that make you a bad hairdresser? Well yeah, but if you shoot your work, you have proof that you ARE better than your last haircut. So I really took that to heart and I found a photographer and we started shooting almost every weekend. My daughter was there and she was really young at the time. She would sit under the photographer’s arms and tell the models how to act and move, and now she’s a photographer and hairdresser herself.
We shot for about 10 years together and I found this competition called North American Hairdresser of the Year Award (NAHA), and two people in Portland had previously won and I thought to myself, well I could do that! Because that’s kind of the way I always do things. You know if someone else does something, well I can do that too! So I decided I was going to win this award and I started shooting for that and it took me about 10 years and I remember vividly, 2007 rolls around and I woke up and it was on a Sunday morning and it was really rainy (that was the normal weather for Portland) and I was kind of just feeling down. I remember thinking, I’ve shot so much and I’ve been in so many magazines, but I’ve never even had a nomination for this “NAHA” thing. So right then and there I decided this is it, I’m going to get at least a nomination for 2008. If I don’t, I’m going to quit doing hair and I’m going to quit doing everything that has to do with hair and find a completely different career. So in 2007 I decided that all blocks are pulled and I was just going to pull out all the stops. And I wasn’t super wealthy, I was a hairdresser working behind the chair. So I started doing some research and I pulled together a really good team and I found a photographer and found out he was going to charge me me $21,000 for two days. Basically, the price of like an entry level Mercedes. And I was like well that kind of sucks. So the photographer shows up and he didn’t really talk a whole lot and we did the photo shoot and we wanted to make sure we did a really good job for him because we wanted to hire him, but he was very expensive, but we wanted him because he was very talented. We figured it was a good team so we did the shoot and he leaves and then nothing really came out of it. We were wondering, does he even like us, does he want shoot with us again? Well, around January we get an email that says “The Teal’s 2008 North American Hair Dresser of the Year Salon Team Collection” and I remember bringing my family in and we all shut our eyes and decided we were going to open the email at the same time. When we opened the attachment together, it was amazing and it took our breath away. I literally couldn’t breathe! I almost wanted to cry for a second because it was one of those things that, “Oh this is awesome, this is my work,” and I’ve never been so proud of something in my entire life! About the second week of February was the submission process and that’s when things started getting crazy. I started developing OCD habits, like playing solitaire every day and I had to win it before I could move on to my next task. I remember April 29th rolling around and that was my birthday and I get a phone call, and it was someone from Phoenix, Arizona, and they asked if I knew who they were and I said well if you’re calling from Phoenix, Arizona, you must be the people from NAHA, and she says “Well, do you know why we are calling you?” I said, “Well, you’re either going to make my day, or ruin my life.” And she said, “Well I think we are going to make your day, you’ve been nominated in two categories, for North American Salon category and Fashion Forward category.” I didn’t have a whole lot of emotion cause I wanted to keep my cool and so I said, “Can I ask you a question, is Charlie Price nominated in any of my categories?” And she replied, “Why would you ask that?” And I said, “Well, because he is so good, he is going to kick my ass and if he is nominated in my category, he is definitely going to win and I’m not, so I don’t want to spend all this money-” She told me he is not nominated in your category and you should come anyways. So I went ahead and went to Phoenix and it was actually 2008 in the middle of the recession, and I remember driving to the airport with my daughter thinking no matter what happens here, we’re not coming home the same people. If we win, we’re one thing and if we lose, we’re something else, but we’re not coming home the same people. It was one of those times in your life where there’s a border that you cross and you’ll never be able to go back to where you were. It was actually really interesting and there was a lot of really wonderful people. Our competition for fashion forward, our first category, was a woman named Maureen Anlauf who used to work for Aveda, and she was an amazing hairdresser and won a ton. Another woman by the name of Lisa Vann, also a great hairdresser that works for Aveda, one of my dear friends now. We ended up losing the fashion forward category to Maureen Anlauf that year, who deserved it. She did a wonderful job.
I come from a Mexican family so my mom told all my family that I was nominated to win the academy award of hair dressing, so the entire east county of L.A. showed up and there were kids playing with piñatas and making tamales, and I freaked out because I thought I was going home a loser, because I had just lost the fashion forward category and I was like “Oh my God, my life is over.” Then our competition for salon team was Salon Pure out of Montreal, Quebec, which has 250 colourists in their colour department alone, a 7 floor salon and they’ve actually been asked in the past not to compete in the NAHA’s because they win too much. Anna, who does third generation hair dressing, (I think she walks on water by the way), you have my other competition which is Tony Ricci who has 7 salons in Alberta, Canada who has won master hairdresser of the year as well as international hairdresser of the year over and over again. Van Michael’s Salon, those guys are like just a monster in the south, they own 75 apprentices and any one of their salons in Georgia and plus you have Daniel Holzberger who is an amazing hairdresser and Van is amazing and then you have Teal Salon which has 2 people on the team, and I remember them announcing the nominees and then announcing the winner- Teal Salon, Milwaukee, Oregon, and it was amazing, it was a huge feather in our cap. I always talk about how awesome it is to win NAHA, when in reality, and I’ve said this before, it’s not necessarily the award that I needed, it was the fact that I needed to prove to myself that I was worthy of teaching. I was worthy of being able to stand up and have people listen to me. I just needed it for myself and my self-worth.
Q: The J Beverly Hills product no guy/girl should live without is?
A: You know I can’t just pick one favorite product but one of my favorites is ‘Hold Me Lite.’ I’m a hairdresser and I believe there are three types of people that do hair. First there are hairstylists, and they just style hair and it looks great, and they are the backbone of our industry. They may not go to hair shows or keep up with things but they’re the hairstylist and I love those people because they make our industry strong. Secondly you have finishers, and finishers are the people that do wonderful haircuts and colour, and they’ll sometimes do it on an absurd level, where it doesn’t necessarily flatter the model. They’ll do it in their own way and beat their chest a lot. They’ll be like, “Look at this awesome haircut and colour, that doesn’t even suit my model, but look how awesome I look doing it.” Those people have certain types of products they like, but I think the type of person we should all strive to be is a hairdresser. I think to me, a hairdresser is the ultimate compliment you can give somebody who does my line of work, someone who dresses the hair. Somebody who doesn’t get in their own way to flex all the wonderful things they can do, like, “Look at this great haircut I can do with all these pretty colors.” A hairdresser is someone who at all costs, makes the client or the model pretty. Pretty hair to me is only pretty if you can touch it. Sexy hair is only sexy if you can touch it. So to me, I like product that can be movable and is touchable. Our founder, Juan, has the saying, “Everyone is beautiful, I only make it obvious,” and it’s essentially the same thing with sexy hair. Everybody has a sexy, you just have to find it. So with that being said, the products I like are the more touchable, movable products that say “I’m not trying.” The more weightless products, like the ‘Hold Me Lite,’ is one of my favorites because it is a super light hairspray and it dries almost on contact. It’s a very small mist, plus the more I put on, the firmer and firmer it gets. I also like the ‘Shine Mist,’ but I think a lot of people use shine sprays incorrectly. I think a shine mist is spraying it right on the shine lines of the hair. You look at your client/model and see where the sun is going to hit them. You want to access where the sun is and when you do that, you leave some of the hair matte and some of it shiny, and then the whole hair looks shiny. Where as if you spray it all over, the whole hair just looks greasy. So a good example is back in the 90’s, the main actress from the TV sitcom, Dharma and Greg, had platinum hair and everyone would come in and want their hair platinum like hers. But I would look at her pictures, and she wasn’t even platinum. She was kind of gold, with platinum pieces. But because she had the gold with platinum, the platinum pieces looked so much more light than they were because they had the light sitting on top of the gold so it looked like there was more light to it.
Q: The look I’m into right now is…
A: The 90’s – in the 90’s we were into a lot of texture, everybody had raw, super texture, and it looked like they just cut it all off with broken beer bottles. There were no lines whatsoever, it was just texture. Dixie Chicks is a great example, anybody from the Victoria’s Secret catalogue and Jennifer Aniston as well. In the 90’s I loved it, and then I got super sick of it because that’s all you ever did and I really wanted to cut really pretty bobs. Bobs that were super tucked in, laser line, where the bottom is so precise, and no matter what you do everything goes back into place. So in the last couple years, hair-cutters do just that. We are really focused on these lines, and these pretty little bobs, and now I am bored of that and I want to go back to the maximum texture! So I’m really into 90’s hair right now and a lot of texture. Not shorter necessarily, but mid-length, so just above the bra to about shoulder length, and lots of texture. Like I just crawled out of bed, super messy texture! With colour, instead of being ombre, which everybody has right now, what about a little bit of root raw, where it’s darker at the roots and lighter at the ends, so it looks like you have a ton of hair. That’s what I’m into. And maybe like short, short bangs, but there are only a few people that can pull that off!