My name is Michael Levine, and I have been a hairstylist in Vancouver, BC since 1993. I am also a multi-salon owner, educator, academy owner, photographer, website designer, father, husband, and hopefully a mentor.
Before I get too deep into me, it’s important that I mention that all of my articles on success hinge on exceeding client expectations. So if I am writing about raising prices or making more money, it must always be rooted in becoming a better, more professional, and attentive hairstylist.
I became a stylist because of the lifestyle. I used to hang around a salon and it seemed my stylist was always getting visited by pretty girls who would often invite him to dinner or to fabulous parties. Naturally I decided to become a hairstylist.
I quickly figured out the reality, and discovered how hard the job was. To make a long story short, I put in my time, developed a real passion for hair and fashion and was eventually recruited by Aveda to lead their cutting and colouring education in Western Canada. This fast-tracked my career and allowed me to train under some of today’s most influential stylists. I have had the luxury of learning from some of the best, including Ted Gibson, Nick Arrojo, Harry Josh, Tim Hartley, David Adams, Antoinete Beenders and many others.
Eventually, ego got the best of me and I decided to open my first salon in 1998. It was in a crap neighborhood in a decrepit building. I thought it was New York-cool so my now-wife and I went with it. We physically built the salon with a lot of help from friends and got some great press and became a sensation. Within 2 years we outgrew that space and moved to a better location in that crap neighborhood.
Two years later, we decided to make our move again, doubling our size and changing hoods entirely. We came to South Granville with a staff of 4 and within a week grew to 8. All of our growth has happened organically, training and developing our staff as apprentices, and never hiring a stylist with a book from another local salon. Well, we did once. Disaster. Perhaps I will one day post about him.
20 years after our modest first location, we have 30 staff, 2 salons ( Caramel and Space), 2 locations of the Vancouver Hairdressing Academy, a product line we develop and more drama than I’d like. We have won 6 Contessas (Canadian Hairstylist of the Year Awards and are 6 time finalists for North American Hairdresser of the Year Awards.
No real complaints here, but once in a while I may vent. I hope that’s OK. I encourage all comments and sharing.