The Salon Of The Future: How To Run Your Business More Effectively With Ted Gibson And Jason Backe

beauty industry beauty salon celebrity stylist salon business model salon industry worth-up alliance Jan 17, 2021
THS 29 | Salon Of The Future

The year 2020 has been rough for everybody. Nobody is exempt from what’s happening with the pandemic recession. It is crucial that we think about the future of our businesses. On today’s podcast, Ryan Weeden brings on celebrity stylists Ted Gibson and Jason Backe to talk about the salon industry's future. Ted and Jason made headlines everywhere when they reopened their LA salon, Starring By Ted Gibson, despite the state of California's mandate for personal care businesses to keep doors closed. They reveal the model they adapted to create the salon of the future that survived the pandemic without worrying about the overhead and payroll expenses. They also talk about what inspired them to establish Worth-Up Alliance based on their own careers as beauty-preneurs.


Listen to the podcast here:


The Salon Of The Future: How To Run Your Business More Effectively With Ted Gibson And Jason Backe

I’ve got two awesome celebrity stylists in the house in the mob studio. I can't wait to pick their brain. We've got Ted Gibson and Jason Backe, two incredible gentlemen that continue to change and inspire the industry. Welcome to the show.

Thank you.

Thanks for having us.

When I reached out to you and said, “I would love to have you as guests on my show,” we've exchanged quick comments back and forth. I haven't had any real sit-downs or coffees or anything like that. How cool it was for you to say, “That would be amazing.” You said, "It was a dream,” and I'm like, “You made my day.” Thank you. You know who I am. This is cool.

The thing is that always tell the truth and it's important to do that especially now during this time of what we have been going through because everybody is going through it. I don't think anyone is exempt from what's happening. I'm grateful to be able to speak to someone who has such influence as yourself. I know that Jason and I talked about what we were going to talk about, a little bit about our history, and a little bit about where we're are at the moment and the future. All of us need to be thinking about what's going to be happening for the future for our businesses in the beauty space and the beauty industry. Thank you.

Not only are you icons that we all look up to and we've looked up to you for years and in awe of what you've created and how you're always happy, always smiling. That's probably one of the secrets to success. The more we smile, it's hard to be upset.

The thing for me and what's important is knowing that everything is for my good, even when it doesn't necessarily appear to be that it's for my good, if I can live in the space in my head, my body, and my heart about knowing that it's for my good then all I have to do is smile. It does change the world.

Also just watching how you both have stepped up as leaders in our industry during the pandemic and how we've been through a lot of BS in California with being called non-essential, and then we're essential, and then we're not essential again. There isn't any real hard data pointing that the way we run our salons, the majority of them in California and probably the world, is that they're sanitary environments, they're safe, and there haven't been outbreaks for COVID. The way that you opened against the state “laws.” I saw you getting written up with a fine and you were just taking it. We got to do this. We have to survive like everybody else. We have to show that we are essential, that people do need to get their hair done. Although on the outside, it doesn't look like maybe because it's for beauty, it looks like a luxury service. For a lot of people that come in to see us, we're almost like therapists. I was talking to Gayle Fulbright. She was like, “We're hairapists. They need us especially during these times.” What made you want to stand up and voice your support for the industry?

What's important is knowing that everything is for our good, even when it doesn't necessarily appear to be so.

It's because we're badasses.

That’s a given.

For us, it was more about making a stand for what our industry is about. It wasn't about the money. It wasn't about the client. It wasn't about a lot of those things that were wrapped into the whole idea. It was more focusing on the science behind it. There's no real evidence that salons are spreaders of COVID-19, we're 0.14% is what we're linked to versus restaurants are much higher. Retail is much higher and then the list goes on and on for where you're more likely to get COVID than the salon. Salons are at the bottom of the list. I felt like Gavin Newsom, Eric Garcetti and the rest of the politicians were labeling us as dumb and dirty. We're not smart enough to follow the protocols. We can't create an environment that's clean and safe enough to protect ourselves and our customers. That's total bullshit. It's not true.

For me, it was important to use the voice that we have combined to spread this message that we're not dumb. We are successful and talented. We're smart entrepreneurs who can handle the responsibility of running a business safely. On top of that, we're licensed, which either means something or it doesn't. If it means something then we should be given the responsibility to stay open and conduct business under the protocols that are required to operate safely. If it doesn't mean something then deregulate. If it doesn't mean anything then why do we have to have one? It's like we go through all of the steps, jumping through all of the hoops to get our license that certifies us in safety and sanitation protocols, as well as learning some basic haircutting skills. We all know coming out of beauty school, you're not going to be a $300 haircutter. That takes years of practice. Beauty school is all about learning the protocols to protect the consumer. If that license doesn't mean anything, then why make us jump through the hoops?

If you go to a restaurant, you're ingesting something from someone that isn't licensed. Putting it in your mouth and swallowing it. We don't necessarily think about that. I do have to say that it's our fault as beauty professionals and hairdressers because people in the beauty business haven't demanded the respect that we deserve. What ends up happening is that we don't necessarily understand our worth and then the consumer doesn't understand our worth. It trickles down to your mom and dad, when you tell them you want to be a hairdresser, they’re like, “What do you want to do that for? You're not going to make any money. You’re going to stand on your feet.” This is my experience. How would they know that I would end up charging $2,400 for a haircut, owning four salons, having a successful product line, and working on covers of magazines?

That is an extreme of what a license can do. There are many different things you can do but it's our responsibility as hairdressers and as people in the beauty business to demand that respect. As Jason is talking about that, the reason why the first time we decided that we were going to defy that order is because of that. We know our worth and we know how important it is in our business of what it represents. As you were talking about feeling good about yourself and all those things, absolutely. At the same time, we're worth being open because we know that we're not spreading COVID.

I see that a lot of stylists do struggle with confidence issues. A lot of times they think that they need to get better techniques. That is part of it. A lot of them aren't doing the internal work or they don't know how to do that internal work. It takes people like you and me to step in there and say, “Working on your skills, you have to be good at what you do if you want to be successful, but you also need to find ways to have more confidence to charge what you're worth, and to say, 'No, I don't think I'm capable of reaching your unrealistic expectations and end up having an unhappy one-star Yelper as a client.’” We need to have that confidence. What are some good ways to teach a young stylist or any stylist that doesn't feel confident to charge what they're worth? What do you tell them? How do you change their minds?


For a lot of us in our industry, we take a lot of pride in being booked four months in advance when I'd rather take a lot of pride in charging $450 every 30 minutes. Ted has a $2,400 haircut. He does one haircut. The guy down the streets does 24 or 30 haircuts. If you're booked far in advance, raise your prices 20%, 25%. You might lose 20% of your clients but you're still going to make exactly the same amount of money and be working a lot less. It's thinking about how to run your business more effectively by following those numbers instead of running your business emotionally. As an industry, we have a hard time separating ourselves from our work. That's when it becomes hard to draw the line when it's our own fault.

We have a girlfriend who says, “Why don't you come over and do my hair? I’ll get a bottle of wine and order some pizza.” We're like, “Okay. That'll be fun.” That knocks us down a notch in professionalism and in our own worth. I learned early on in my career that your friendship with me has nothing to do with your hair. If you want me to be involved in the amazingness of your hair, then you need to book an appointment at the salon. I'm not coming to your house. You're not coming to my house. That was a long time ago. There was only one place for people to get their hair done, which was in the salon.

There was only one place for people to buy professional hair care products, which was in the salon. Now especially after months of COVID, the consumer is used to having people come to her house because we all know that most people were still working. Whether they were working in the salon or not, we still have to pay our rent. I understand the simple-mindedness of a blanket shutdown. The point that they're missing is people still got to work and pay their rent. Instead of doing it in a safe environment, now they're going to people's houses that they don't know and exposing themselves to all of these different elements within that household. That is where the spread is happening, by mixing households. How did I get off on that?

It's a good point though. The business has changed and a few years ago we were discovering it for ourselves about the business. Being in a salon has changed. You wouldn't sit down after you do a haircut on a guest or color on a guest. You tell her, “This is the product that I use.” You could take her to the retail shelf. She would look at the products, she would get on her phone and she would order them from her phone. WTF, what is going on? We started seeing this a few years ago. Something is happening. The place where you can go and get your blow-dry for $30. The place that you can go online and order your product. There were all these different things that were changing that dynamic of what the salon atmosphere was about, and we had no control over that. We either needed to shift with the tide or we would sink or stay ahead of it.

When we came to California after we closed our New York store, we took some time to think about what it is that we loved about the beauty industry. What we less than loved and how to create the salon of the future with technology and thinking about the bottom line and what expenses as a salon owner did I hate paying. I hated paying hourly wages of five front desk staff, a front desk manager, a housekeeper, and twelve assistants that each assistant costs about $25,000 worth of education to put them onto the floor. We had to pay them hourly while they were building until they met a certain amount to live on their commission. I hated having $50,000 worth of retail, sitting on a shelf, waiting for a hairdresser to sell it when they don't want to sell it, and a consumer to buy it when she doesn't shop in that environment anymore.

When we opened Starring, we took all of those things and got rid of everything that we less than loved. There's no retail. The retail that we have, you can experience at the station or at the back bar, and then you order it online and it gets shipped directly to your house. We're not warehousing products for the manufacturer. There's no front desk so there's no one to answer the phone. Everything is booked through apps. We work with this salon booking software called Aura, which is forward in their thinking about the way that businesses can be moving forward post-COVID. We don't have assistants. We don't specialize. We're by appointment only. The front doors and back doors are locked all the time.

When a client comes to the door, the only point of contact that she has is her hairdresser that does her cut, color, chemical straightening services or whatever it is. That's how we built this model of luxury instead of being touched by 57 different people and then having to tip them all on your way out. We'd define luxury as like you're only with one person the whole time. You're not handed off to someone else. We define luxury instead of many chairs, one chair in what we call the cloud. They’re semi-private, they're 8.5 feet apart from each other. Through all of this redefining of what we thought the salon experience should be, we were open eleven months before we got shut down due to COVID. That's when we realized that we’re already by design. We didn't have to spend a dollar on changing anything on our system because our entire system was built for one point of contact and a luxury intimate experience.

It’s the salon of the future. We had no idea that we built the salon of the future.

Smile; it changes the world.  

Aside from the times that you did have to close the doors and you couldn't work according to the state mandates, you've created the new model for something that can survive a pandemic. You don't have all those overhead expenses to deal with. You can probably save a heck of a lot more money because you're making a lot more money net without having to worry about all of these payroll expenses and everything that goes along with employees and retail products that you can't sell. This is Starring. I love Starring by Ted Gibson. When did this idea come to you?

Maybe around 2017. We created Shooting Star Texture Meringue, our hero SKU from Starring with the plan of having many more, but instead we opened a salon and then we ran out of money. When we were launching Shooting Star Texture Meringue, we already knew that we didn't want to follow the traditional distribution model. We wanted to be forward-thinking and we wanted to create something that was different. We decided to be the first luxury premium salon haircare brand to launch exclusively on Amazon. That for a lot of people was like, “You're getting in bed with the devil.” We got a lot of flak from going with Amazon. We get called sell-outs more than we don't. By selling out, you mean thinking differently.

I remember talking to David from Pulp Riot. When they sold to L'Oréal, he initially got people calling them a sell-out like, “They probably got paid so much money.” They're just being smart. That's what you call being a business owner.

To be honest, as an entrepreneur, as a product developer, that's the end game. The goal is to be purchased by one of those big brands because in our own experience, in my experience, I only know how to do so much. I need people that know more than me to take over, to let it keep growing. I have total respect for that sellout.

The more successful that you and I can be, we're out of the same mind. I know that we want to give back. We can help many more people the more successful we are. The more reach we have, the more money we have, the more money we can give out, the more scholarships we can give out, the more lives we can change. You can't do that if you don't have anything to give or if you can't take care of yourself.

Speaking on that, we found out in 2020 especially during the pandemic, we looked at ourselves and we said, “The restaurant business has been well taken care of.” There are associations. You had Danny Meyer from Shake Shack on the television talking about saving the restaurant business, on how are we going to save the restaurant business, and raising all of this money, and getting money from the government to save the restaurants. It’s crickets about the beauty business.

Unless it was something like, “Those dumb hairdressers had COVID and went to work and possibly spread to 150 people,” which didn’t happen to anybody. The press that we did get was not positive.


Nobody talked about the beauty business, the house salons, the barbershops, the nail salons, and lash bars. It’s all around the country were suffering, and there was no help. There was nobody to come and give them information or how to help them in a way. The Professional Beauty Association did what they could, the manufacturers did what they could, but there wasn't this thing that said, “We are here to help you.” With that being said, Jason and I looked at ourselves and we said, “What can we do?” What we did is we came up with a nonprofit called the Worth Up Alliance. It is a part of Beauty Changes Lives. If you're not familiar with Beauty Changes Lives, Lynelle Lynch is a real good friend of ours. She put together this nonprofit many years ago. I was the first ambassador for Beauty Changes Lives.

It went like gangbusters. Lynelle Lynch would be a great guest for you. She came up with this whole idea of Beauty Changes Lives and how scholarships and helping people go to beauty school and in-depth of what that could be for them, she created. It was amazing. Worth Up Alliance is a part of the Beauty Changes Lives family but it is the next step of that. Ours is about being able to help beauty entrepreneurs fulfill their dreams, whether it be opening a salon, launching a product, finding a space or whatever it is that a beauty entrepreneur wants to fill their dream. We're going to be able to be of that service. Our goal is to raise about $300,000 in six months to start giving grants out, that we're super excited about. If you go to, you'll read more about it. It's something that is going to be the legacy for us and for myself. Even after doing all of the celebrities and the salons, the product, and everything that I’ve done. Worth-Up Alliance is going to be the thing that's going to change the way that we think about beauty.

We have had great support from other professionals in the industry from Rodney Cutler, Van Council, and Jo Blackwell, the list goes on and on of people that are high profile and successful. Van has the Van Michael Salons in Atlanta. He's got 400 employees. Rodney Cutler has 3 or 4 salons in the Manhattan area and has been doing Fashion Weeks with Redken forever. We have Jay Fischer who has a salon and is building out an education facility and salon suite facility in Northwest Indiana. We've got a great variety. Miki Wright in Florida, who's a business coach. Faatemah Ampey who's a NAHA winner. All of these people have come together to share their experience and their knowledge to help create this library of information.

We have the first nine interviews on the website that anyone can go to for free and hear what these amazing people have to say on certain topics about writing a business plan. Zan Ray and Tom Collins, also salon coaches out of Houston, Texas. They talk about how to find funding and the important steps that you need to take before you go to the bank and try and get a loan. We have Kellie Rucker in Southeast Florida. She talks about finding a location and the importance of location. All of the things that a would-be entrepreneur would have questions about. We're going to create content in this video library that they can go to.

The next step then for people is there are going to be some people who see this series of videos. They're the YouTube learners that are like, “I got it. I can do this now,” but then there are going to be some people who want more than watching the videos. For those people, they'll be able to apply to have mentorship with our ambassadors to help get them through the writing of the business plan, to help get them through creating an employee manual, to help get them through how to find a formulator for their new product line. All of those things that are scary and big, that a lot of people don't how to figure out on their own, we'll have coaching there for them to do that.

Of those people, they’ll be able to put together a demonstration with their business plan, with their location, with their whole model and present that to four judges from the Worth Up Alliance and four judges from Beauty Changes Lives. We will be giving seed capital to these entrepreneurs ranging from $5,000 up to $50,000, depending on the need, the location. In central Iowa, $5,000 can go a long way for a buildup. On Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, $5,000 is not even two weeks of rent. We have a lofty goal of raising $250,000. At the end of the third quarter of 2021, we'll be able to start giving money away to help these beauty entrepreneurs fulfill their dreams. It’s exciting.

Worth Up Alliance, that's great. I love Beauty Changes Lives. I have spoken to Lynelle briefly before. I was at one of the Wella Beauty Envision Awards and they were a part of it. Wella gave money for that for scholarships and things.

They’re our first substantial funder. It was a pivotal moment for Beauty Changes Lives.

Know your worth and the importance of your business because of what it represents.

I love to see how many more people are stepping up. There are more and more people doing what you're doing. You're trying to give back to the industry that's been good to you. If there's any way that I can help out too to help you raise the money, I’ll definitely contribute. I can't contribute $300,000 yet. I'm not that rich yet. One day, that'd be cool. I would love to help out and get the word out for you as well. If you need any help, I could potentially be a mentor or something. I’d love to contribute my time for a good cause. You seem like such a power couple. You've been married for many years. I know that was before it was even legal and you've stuck through the times. I'm sure you've seen a lot of good times, hard times but overall, probably wonderful times together. I want to hear about how did you two meet.

Ted was my teacher in beauty school.

It was in Minneapolis. At the time it was called the Horst Education Center for fashion and arts. Horst Rechelbacher was the Founder of Aveda. I was fortunate to be able to work with him for about seven years of being in his pocket and learning a lot from him. I can say that that experience helped me. We all need to find a mentor or coach regardless of what your age is, and never to trust anyone who doesn't have a coach. That period of us and how we met, I was one of his teachers in beauty school. The thing that I can say about that is you can't help who you fall in love with. You just need to fall in love. There's nothing greater than having someone who supports you that can handle the craziness of being an entrepreneur and being an artist because we all are.

It's been a long time that we've been together and we have built brands together. We have created an amazing life. One of my favorite movies of all time was the movie called Mahogany. On our first date, I made him watch it. It’s with Diana Ross and Billy Dee Williams. There's a period in the movie where she becomes this successful fashion model in Milan and all over the world. She brought him to Milan to be with her for a second. She felt like she was on top of the world and they got into this big fight. He told her that success is nothing if you don't have anyone to share it with. That's a good lesson for all of us as people and human beings that having success with no one to share it with is not that successful.

Making him watch that movie, was it like a test? If you can survive this test, there's a potential future.

He loves it as much as I do.

How did the next day go? Jason, were you like, “It's my turn. It's movie time. Let's do this?”

The next day I was like, “Stay the night.” I was like, “You're my boyfriend now.” He’s like, “No, I'm not going to be your boyfriend.” I said, “I'm going to introduce you to my friends as my boyfriend. You can take me to your friends however you want to.” We were together for three years in Minneapolis. Horst said to Ted, “You need to be in New York and you need to be doing fashion. You shouldn't be in Minneapolis. I’ll move you and Jason to New York, I’ll give you a job.” I was like, “Nope, we're not going to New York. I like Minneapolis. I want to stay here.” Ted was like, “Okay.” Horst asked him again. Ted said, “I don't think he's going to ask me again.” I said, “We'll go for a year.” We ended up being in New York for twenty years. I like to tell that because there are a lot of times in our life or in our career where we're offered some good advice. Maybe we take it and maybe we don't. It's important for people to get used to saying yes to things.


We were lucky enough to be friends with Joan Rivers. She told the story of when she was blacklisted from Hollywood and television because of whatever happened between her and Johnny Carson. She was struggling. Her husband had passed away and she didn't know what she was going to do. This opportunity came along to sell nail polish on QVC. That relaunched her into the public eye in a way that was different. She said, “On the scale of my life, it was such a small door that anyone could have walked past it without seeing it. I opened that door and it changed my life.” It's the same feeling that I get when I tell the story about when we were first in New York, if you were working in fashion, you didn't do celebrities because fashion was where it was at. Fashion is where the trend came from. If you lived in LA and worked on celebrities, it's because you weren't a good enough hairdresser to be in New York doing fashion.

The tide started to shift a little bit. We started seeing celebrities appearing in magazines. That's when Ted was getting a lot of pressure to work on celebrities. He said, “I'm not a celebrity hairdresser. I'm a fashion hairdresser.” Lucy Sykes, who is the Fashion Editor for Marie Claire said, “Ted, I know you don't want to do celebrities but this is a great opportunity. You should say yes. We're shooting two covers in one day in London. One for Cosmo and one for Marie Claire and it's a celebrity. You should do it.” Ted was like, “Who is it?” She said, “Angelina Jolie.” Angelina Jolie at the time was that weird girl who gave her brother an awkward kiss at the Academy Awards. She was not a fashion icon. Ted said yes and it changed his career. It changed our careers by listening to someone else's advice and by saying yes. That's an important thing especially as we're now hopefully, reaching the other side of this pandemic and there will be a whole new normal to our business.

I don't know how old you are. I'm old enough to remember when we would go to the dentist and the dentist wouldn't wear gloves when he put his fingers in your mouth. AIDS came around and it became normal to have people wearing gloves, the phlebotomist or whoever. There's probably going to be some new normal for us after this is over. Maybe masks will stick around like they do in Asia. When people are sick, they wear a mask because it's socially polite. It's going to take a little while for us to regain consumer confidence and to let them know that we are a safe place to be. We also have to remember that there are a lot of opportunities that came out of COVID. Women are used to getting their hair done at home now. They can get on an app and have somebody at their house in 30 minutes after they put their kids to bed and they can have a glass of wine and chill and whatever. We're going to have to compete with that as salon owners. It's one of the things that we need to focus on. Focus on the services that are uncomfortable to do at home.

Don't worry about the blow-dries. Don't worry about the single-process color. Don't worry about the basic cleanup haircut or a trim. Focus on chemical straightening, focus on extensions, focus on complicated hair color corrections or changes. Focus on specific hair cutting techniques that aren't easy to do. George Clooney was on CBS Sunday Morning saying for many years he's used a Flowbee. The most handsome man in the world is cutting his own hair with the Flowbee. We have to be prepared to offer something that's going to be uncomfortable to do at home because 90 days makes a habit. She's been getting on an app now for ten months having somebody come to her house. We need to think about how we can do the things that we do in a way that makes them feel special, makes them feel taken care of, and makes them feel like the money that they're spending is worth it for the experience.

It's that. The salon is going to be the place where it is going to be a luxury experience. That's what it's going to have to be. She's used to having someone come to her house now and that consumer confidence of them coming back is going to take a long time for that to happen. If the salon tells me if I asked them, “How are you doing?” and they say, “We're doing great,” I'm like, “You're a liar.” Not everybody is doing great and you're not special. You may be doing okay but you're not doing great. That's a lie. There's no way that you're at the same level that you were before the pandemic. It's impossible.

We'd had conversations with the most famous hairdressers in the world and everyone is saying the same thing that it's a scary, challenging time. Thinking about how we're going to reinvent through this is critical.

That's what's important for us is to reinvent it. We have to reinvent it. We can't think of business as usual or business the way that it was before the pandemic because it's not going to be. The world is not going to be. Throughout the social unrest, throughout the pandemic, through all the changes that are going to have happened in government, everything is changed and it's not going to be the same. All of us as entrepreneurs have to be forward-thinking on what that's going to be like. I do want to say something that if you feel like that your business is an anchored weight, drop it.

We all need to find a mentor regardless of what our ages are. Never trust anyone who doesn't have a coach.

I closed my salon for that reason.

We are too. We had three of them. Absolutely, for that same reason. Don't feel that you cannot move forward with your life if you are unhappy. We have a good friend of ours that is in the fitness business and she was struggling with that for years. We have many conversations about it. She finally decided that she's not going to go forward with her business in a brick and mortar because their online business is successful. Don't have that anchor weight on you if you feel like you are struggling in a way that is making you miserable, you're fighting with your husband or your wife, and everything is miserable in your life. Let go.

Just because something isn't going the right way or you have to close your salon, it doesn't mean you failed. It's a chapter that's closing and another chapter is opening. That chapter can be brand new, anything that you want it to be. You have touched on many things over what you said. You talked about how you need to have courage to take a risk. One of the best pieces of advice that you said here, and you said all kinds of great advice, was that you should say yes to everything. Say yes to everything especially when you're getting started. A part of the industry is telling us that we should charge what we're worth but at the beginning of our careers, we're not worth anything because we don't have the experience.

Don't pretend like, “I’ve got a license so I'm worth all this money now.” Not until you prove yourself. Just because you went to school, it doesn't mean that you're ready to start charging $100 a haircut or more or anything like that. We need to prove ourselves. In order to prove ourselves, we need to say yes to many opportunities, any opportunities that are coming at us even if it's free a lot of times to begin with because we can build our books, we can meet the right people. We might not have these opportunities again. You were lucky, Ted, that you got Horst to push you over and over again. He said, “You’ve got to go to New York.” What if he stopped after the first time? You probably still would have been successful but it might have taken longer.

It would have been completely different. Having a mentor, I’ve had several in my life and I still have a coach. Her name is Zan Ray and we don't necessarily make any major decisions without talking to her. We make major decisions every single day, it seems like. Having someone who can not only make you feel good but tell you when you're an asshole at the same time. It can help you navigate those tricky things. It's important for all of us to have that, to have someone that you can trust and someone that you can bounce ideas off of and that you can go to, that can make a difference in your life. I’ve had that. I'm a definite opportunist, 100%.

I know that when I decided that I wanted to be a hairdresser and I wanted to work at Zan’s in Austin, Texas back in 1989. I wanted to work for her. I have to tell you that I would call and I would show up because I knew that there was something that she had that I needed and wanted. I knew that there was something there that I needed to have in order for me to grow and I was going to get it, and I did. It was the same thing with Horst. I’ve had those experiences that are vital and the success that I’ve had and my parents. My mom, they were strict with me. Those core values of who I am as a person helped to navigate my career and my life. I'm fortunate.

There's one other thing I want to touch on and then we can touch on anything that you wanted that we forgot about or you want to highlight that we may haven’t spoke about yet. I want to hear about this Ted Gibson experience. Let’s say I go to your website or the app or however I decide to become one of your probably elite clients. I'm like, “I want the $2,400 Ted Gibson experience.” What can I expect?

I would probably say that you wouldn't expect anything different than coming to you for a haircut.


I don't cut hair in a cloud.

What I'm saying is that my $2,400 haircut is an experience. What you get from that experience is that you book an appointment. How you book the appointment is you have to go through Jason, you pay a deposit. After you pay that deposit, you're vetted. You come in for your experience. For me, it's about the consultation. The consultation is the most vital in how we build our relationship as a client and as a service provider. The consultation is the most important thing because getting a great haircut, you can get that anywhere. It's not about necessarily my haircut is better than anyone else's because I'm a great hairdresser, but there are a lot of great hairdressers. What I am able to bring is myself.

Ted has literally perfected the art of being able to see someone's beauty differently than she sees it herself. There are not many people who have been publicly transforming women in the way that Ted has for this long. From what not to wear where he was making over women every week on a television show for 5 or 6 years, whatever it was, to cutting bangs on Anne Hathaway for The Devil Wears Prada to Kate Gosselin. We put extensions in her hair.

I can go from the A-list star to the reality star. It doesn't matter the color of the skin. I didn't care if you were black, white, Asian, Latina or Indian. It didn't matter to me. To me, it's all about the textures of hair and what I can create the most beautiful hair. Thank you for that, Jason. I appreciate that. I feel like that's what I was put on this planet to do. I love to be able to show a woman or man what's something different that they don't see in themselves. That's what a true artist is about.

There was this moment that Ashley Greene, she was one of the kids in the Twilight series. Alice was her name there. I never saw the movies. Ted was working with her and I was coloring her hair and we became friends. There was this moment when she was going to the Met Gala. We were all in an apartment waiting for her to get there to start the glam. I hate that they call it the glam now but that's what it is. To see this young twenty-something girl come in off the street with her hair in a ponytail, in jeans, a leather jacket and a t-shirt, and looking like a regular pretty girl on the street and watching the whole process of the stylist putting her clothes on and Ted doing the hair.

Julie Harris did her makeup. Seeing this girl turn into a movie star. The process of taking her from a vulnerable 22-year-old kid or however old she was at the time, to be able to step out on the red carpet at the Met Gala, with all of the confidence in the world, knowing that everyone is going to be looking at her and judging her. That armor that that process gives her and Ted being able to do that for an everyday woman who comes in off the street because her daughter is getting married or she's switching to a new job or whatever that moment is, to have that experience with Ted is profound for them. That's what you get. You get many years of experience in making women feel beautiful and confident for a $2,400 haircut.

It's almost like you're connecting with your soul to feel confident in the beautiful person that they are.

You were talking about the experience of coming out of beauty school and thinking you can charge $100 for a haircut. I understand that. I get that because people look at Instagram, we're all influenced by the same thing. I do believe that there is something about that experience of being able to know and guide them into what you know is going to be best for them. We don't have that from the beginning. I didn't have that from the beginning. That's taken years of perfecting who I am as an artist to create those moments because they're always moments. They're moments of a woman's life. If you ask a woman of a certain age, “Tell me what you were when you were 33.” She goes, “My hair was this.” They’re defined by those moments on her hair. It’s always those moments of hair that they define them. Women have different periods of their lives. I know for me as an artist, which I’ve had to come to terms with, is that I am with actresses for periods of their life.

Success is nothing if you don't have anyone to share it with.

Just like clients in the salon. It’s rarely do we keep them forever. A good client relationship is probably three years and then we outgrow each other. We either have to fire them or they fire us and move on. It's the same with celebrities. The relationship is great when it is and then it’s over. That's a tough one for Ted. He falls in love with them.

I used to fall in love with them but I don't fall out with them anymore. You can't fall in love with them.

It's been incredible to have you here. You've been humble, kind, easy to talk to, and you inspire me and our entire industry. Thank you.

Thank you.

Wrapping up here. Your products, Starring by Ted Gibson, are available on Amazon.

They are for the consumer. You can also shop professionally on our website. Go to our website,

Tell me about this Shooting Star Texture Meringue. I love the name and I feel like I want some. I want to eat it.

It’s the hybrid between a mousse and a foam. For those of you who have used a mousse, you know how it can be sticky, alcoholy, and you can't maneuver it after it dries. If you used foam and foam tends to be watery and it doesn't give them that oomph that you love. This is right in between. What I love about Shooting Star Texture Meringue is that I’ve used it on every single celebrity. If you go to my Instagram @TedGibson or if you go to @Starring on Instagram, you can see all of the hair that we've done with Shooting Star Texture Meringue. It is fabulous because it smells like fig, coconut and amber. It's a provocative fragrance. You can use it on wet hair for a voluminous, sexy blow-dry which I love because I love a great blow-dry. If you put in some beach waves or you put in some curls, you put it in after that and it creates this beautiful texture.


I might be going on Amazon after this. Send me a signed bottle.

A lot of Starring products give a conditioning slip to the hair. You'll feel it when you're blow-drying. It gives it toughness. Instead of a soft, silky limpness, it gives it a bold toughness that is still soft. We call it a matte shine. Instead of an oily looking shine, it's light reflective but not oily looking. It has a different finish probably than anyone has experienced before. It's fun for hairdressers to play with it and figure out how they're going to be able to use it. The people that have been the most successful with it are the people who try it on everything because it is such a versatile product. It is unlike anything else. It's fun to play with.

I feel like there should be this timer on the clock now. If you buy it in the next ten minutes, you can get a second one free.

What I will do is that your audience goes and they send us a message at [email protected] that they've purchased a case of Shooting Star Texture Meringue. I will do a 30-minute Zoom with them, with the salon team if you buy one case.

I'm going to hold you to that. That's incredible of you. I can't wait to share this with the world and you are probably going to have some people that are going to be buying some cases of that.

We’ll give you the best 30 minutes and the best investment you've made in a long time.

Maybe I’ll buy twelve cases and say, “That's twelve Zooms.” Thank you for being here. I appreciate you.

Thank you.

Important Links:

About Ted Gibson

Ted Gibson has created some of the most iconic looks of our generation as an independent hairdresser, salon owner, and celebrity stylist.

His sought-after editorial work has appeared in such publications as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Marie Claire, Vanity Fair, W, Allure, and he has led teams backstage for runway shows for Chanel, Prada, Pamella Roland, Carmen Marc Valvo, and more.

Ted’s past and current celebrity clientele includes: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Brosnahan, Jessica Chastain, Angelina Jolie, Lupita Nyong’o, and more.