From horse training to hair styling, Ammon Carver joins us to talk about learning to love yourself and your craft, plus his transition from teaching behind the chair, to mentoring on stage, to becoming a father.
Ammon Carver has gained recognition in the hair and beauty industry for his refined aesthetic, his continued passion, and his portfolio of flawless looks. With 7 nominations and awards for Master Hairstylist of the Year and Salon Team of the Year in 2015 by the prestigious North American Hairstyling Awards, Ammon is one of the most highly regarded hair stylists in the business.
- Learn about Ammon’s backstory, how he became ‘Hairdresser Ammon’.
- Ammon discusses his shift from being behind the chair to teaching on stage – what was his transition?
- Ammon was part of a power house team including future guests Michelle O’Connor and Nick Stenson. Ammon looks back at this time in his career ‘where it all began’.
- Children and the affect they have on your life.
- ‘Lead with the right reason and people will show up’. Ammon talks about being a leader and having a salon.
- ‘Here’s the keys, look after my baby’. How do you make the decision to let go?
Chris Baran (00:00:00):
When I was working my way up, I always wish that I had the chance to be able to have a little chat with the people that I looked up to and the ones that I saw on stage and really wish that I could be like, well my name is Chris Baron and I have been aang them probably about 40 plus years now. Couple of hair awards behind me. And I figured I’ve got the opportunity that I can bring to you the hair heroes that we look up to and admire and let you have and listen in while we have a conversation and find out their mistakes, find out what they did right and wrong. Welcome to Chris Baron’s head cases. This week’s head cases is really exciting for me. Why? Because I have a gentleman on that I’ve always been inspired by. And that is Mr. Airman Carver now to give you a few of his accolades, A multi naja award-winning artist, celebrity stylist, a stylist that has been involved on advertising and fashion campaigns. He is a New York fashion runway stylist. People give him the title of Global Creative Director. I give him the title of friend. So let’s get into this week’s head case.
Ammon, I have to say, I mean just wrote everybody knows out there. I mean we read that your bio and I to talked about how amazing you are at everything and I gotta admit that I’m still a little bit starstruck here with as well. I, we’ve passed each other in the dark at shows and so on. And we had a bit of a conversation the other day, but just for those of you that are listening and watching right now, it was really funny how you connect with somebody. Well, we hadn’t really been what I’d call really good friends before that we were acquaintances, but we had an hour and a half conversation the other day and I feel like you’re my best friend now. It’s like it’s mother, soul mother, et cetera. So I am just super excited about having you on here. And then I guess the first thing, I mean what I find that most people are is that they wanna find out what’s the backstory? I mean, everybody’s got their story about how they got into hair and everything is a little different. Most people think, oh, you started from day one and you wanted to do hair. And that’s tell me literally, tell me about prior to hair, what’s the take?
Ammon Carver (00:02:36):
Before I was hairdresser, I was the horse trainer ammond, believe it or not. I used to ride and train horses in Utah where I grew up. I thought I was going to be a horse trainer for sure. Had no intention of becoming a hairdresser or being in the BD industry. In fact, I will confess to Chris that prior to my experience with hairdressers, I was probably guilty of being one of those people who thought that being a hairdresser was what you did if you didn’t do well at college. Fortunately that’s not how I feel now but it came about because I was training horses in Utah came out when I was 16, had a bit of a difficult time just in my area, finding myself and letting go of the hangups or the kind of just finding myself and loving myself. Period. That was hard.
And so I went to Colorado where one of the guys who I was trading his horses, he had his horses there. And I’ll tell you one thing Chris, if we have little voice inside of our head, the worst thing you want to do is be all by yourself, isolated without any friends to help you talk that little voice out. So that’s what happened. I went to Colorado to kind of escape what I felt was an oppressed life kind of here in Utah. And then I went there and I didn’t have any friends or anybody and it was like bad. And so I literally the remember to this day, the gentleman who offered me the opportunity to go there, he made his living by when the chain of hair salons and a hair school in Colorado. So he had like 25 salons in Colorado and this hair school.
And he came to me and said, Ammon, I can’t imagine what you’re going through right now, but why don’t you go to one of my hair school and then that way you can be doing something or meet somebody. And I was like, are you crazy? I just told my parents I’m gay. I can’t become a hairdresser too. They’re going to lose it. And he was like, so honestly Chris, and the only reason I tell that story, the backstory is I fell in love with hairdressers because of the way they changed my life. They saved my life, they helped me learn to love myself. And it’s hard for me now to even talk about it without getting a little bit emotional because it became very, very much my purpose in what I do. I get on stage and I do what I do because I know firsthand that the beauty professionals or the hairdressers can change people’s lives and save people’s lives.
They saved my life. And I remember every time I get up on stage, I look out into the audience and it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, how it is, they hairdresser, it looks the same, they look like the same people looking back up at you. I know you have people. And so every time I get up there, whether it’s telling my story I have right now to impact one person or maybe many people in the audience can relate to it. But I have committed to being able to be transparent about it and to say, you don’t have any idea how great of an impact you can make in this role. So my job I feel like as a mentor, as a public figure now is to just help people remember that they are way more important than they realize,
Chris Baran (00:06:13):
You know, said something really important there. I think that, and I wanna deal with a lot more of this down the like, but I don’t wanna avoid this right now because you said something that I think is really, really important is that when you choose to help somebody in this industry, whether it’s one person, meaning I’m in a salon and I’m going to help the person I’m working with and I’m going to teach them something. Or whether you’re on stage teaching to five, 10 or 10,000, you do transform lives. And that I think the hardest person, and I’m, I’m going to speak from my side on this one, is that the hardest thing to do is to push yourself out there and you’re on one side of us, you’re thinking of yourself going, please like me, I want to do good for you. And on the other side, you really wanna get your message out there and do to help people.
So I think that it’s that whole point of where is that point in your life that you wanted shift from behind the chair to helping other people. Whether it’s listening out there that right now that do the same thing, but they teach only in their salons. But there had to be a link. Did you teach in this salon first and then get onto stage? What was the transition point? How did you get education? I think that’s one thing that everybody wants to know. Everybody works behind the chair, but there’s something magical that happens that all of a sudden somebody’s on stage whether they want to needed to, were forced to <laugh> as me et cetera. But how did that happen for you?
Ammon Carver (00:08:00):
That’s funny that you said I was kind of forced to also but not in a way that I, I avoided it only because I think that a lot of people, both my parents are teachers and I was like, I’m like I don’t wanna be an educator. No. I was like, it’s not me. But the way that it happened was I had just barely finished hair school. I was working in a booth rental salon and one of the sales reps there, I got really lucky Chris cuz I started working behind the chair and in the first year you’re going to think this is funny and maybe we’ll edit this down but I can’t help but say things happen for a reason for some people. I started behind the chair my first year out of hair school. There’s TV shows that comes on for the first time and now it’s old news.
But the first time it was called Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and it was the first season that it came out and I was this openly gay kid in a very small suburb of Utah where all these women were like, oh my gosh, that’s a gay guy. He must know how did you, well and it’s a little horrible to say, but I honestly think that’s what happened. So in the first year that I started within a year I was booked out six months in advance. It didn’t happen for other people. And I’m not here to say I’m not going to try to pretend to anybody cause I’m some miracle hairdresser who had all the right answers. I think it just happened at the right time and I paid my dues in terms of staying educated and staying on top of it. So the hairdresser or the sales rep, she saw me just basically drowning to keep up with these clients.
And so she was like, she would take the orders for me and read, send them in. And I was just like, thank you just, and so I was working and using one of the lawyer L’Oreal brands using Matrix at the time and basically she sent in the matrix education rep lo locally and just said Mond’s using your collar and having to ton of success. And she came in and said, would you like to educate? And I’m like, no. And she was like, okay wait before you say no, she was like, you know can go to twice a year. We send you to get education somewhere else, then we get you the products before anybody else. And me with a little bit of business sense that I had was like, okay, if I know about the trends before any of their other hairdressers and I get the products sent to me before the other hairdressers, I’m going to have a little bit of a head start.
And that was literally the only reason I did it was because I was like, well if they’re going to send me this stuff for free and I get to go training for free, why not? And she was the same way. She was kinda like, yeah sure that that’s the benefit of it. But she knew that once I got up there, cuz the first time she was like, okay so I have a salon that I need to go teach a class, IM mm-hmm not into it. And she was like, all I want you to do is tell your story. She was like, just tell them what you do and why. She’s like, I’m not going to ask you to commercial talk about our products, just why do you use it? What were your formulas and then tell us your story. And she was right cuz they didn’t care about any of the specifics, they just wanted to know what I was doing and how it was working.
And so when I found that part, the whatever unlocking of the shackles or whatever where you don’t, and it’s no longer about selling something, it’s more just about connecting, then all of a sudden it became, yeah wow this is cool. This is powerful people, people just want to hear and they want to know that you’re a person and that you’re not just a microphone for a brand. You’re just like, it didn’t matter who I worked for at that point on cuz I’ve had the opportunities you to know, I’ve worked with lots of manufacturers and things and I made a promise to myself that education or not. I would always tell my story authentically and I would never talk about something that I didn’t believe in or that I was told from a marketing angle. Spew it out and just say if it didn’t actually come from here.
And I think that was probably, if I could coin secret to my success that sounds kind of weird to say, but I think I just feel like I promised myself and to everybody that I would only speak about things that I really believed in and that made it easier for me to get on stage. Whether it was big stage, small stage because if I didn’t like it I would just tell the brand. I’m like I can’t. So help me give me something else to talk about that I actually do because I’m not talking about that cause I don’t like it. So it made it easier for me because I made a promise that I wouldn’t be bull****.
Chris Baran (00:12:53):
Yeah. Well you know said something that was, well a couple things that I think that if anybody’s thinking about doing the things that getting on stage and doing everything, there’s a couple of things that you just said right in there that I think are really critical. Number one is you said connected number two is you said authentic. And number three you said is believe because the bull, if you don’t believe in what you’re doing, the bullshit meter goes up really fast and really high with the audience. They can read right through it. But if you are just yourself and you believe in something and talk about it, then people get it. And I think that’s what people will buy something. And I mean I’m not trying to turn this into how you sell and so on, but it’s just like everybody has a problem. So if you say, look, this is my problem, I’ve had that problem, I believe in you because you’re up on stage and I can consent your authenticity and you just tell me, here’s how you handle my problem, here’s how I got the results from it. And people go, okay good thanks now we’ll drink the Kool-Aid. Whatever you tell me I’ll believe. Right? Because you’re doing it for the right purpose. That’s
Ammon Carver (00:13:59):
Awesome. Well that was I think thank you Chris. I think that I almost took it upon myself to be against being an educator because I wanted to make sure it didn’t sound that way. And it wasn’t until I truthfully, not because I’m here on your shoulder or anything right now, but until I met yourself or Sam that I saw the ability of, it’s not about education because I’m trying to teach you something, but it’s about communication and being able to utilize words efficiently and effectively in a way that can touch people. So it wasn’t about learning how to teach so that I could sound like a robot. It was more or sound like the brand wanted me to. It was more about understanding that, oh I could still feel their heart, I can still feel their intention, but they’ve got a way of organizing it now to deliver it in a way that I’m like, I’m still trying to tell the story and help you guys connect and they’ve already effectively, you know what I mean? So that was when I was first really inspired by you was when I got to see the way you delivered it and I’m like, oh he’s got every bit of that heart part that I need. But he just found a really smooth way of placing it for me so I don’t have to chase for the message. So thank you for
Chris Baran (00:15:17):
That. Well thank you for that. And I love about what you just said in there is how if when it is just about touching people, that’s all it is. And if people would just know that there is, when people say public speaking is so care scary, I wonder, first of all, I had that same belief. I was that same person years and years and years ago, terrified to talk in front of our audience. I won’t even go there because that will take too long telling about all my foibles that happened. But the reality is once people realize that if you were with a friend and you’re talking to somebody at a bar, at a a Safeway store and if you’re out in public and you’re talking to somebody, you’re public speaking, the only thing is there’s other people around. So you just have to know a few things on how do that same conversation you’re having with your best friends now the people that are in the audience are just not your best friends yet.
And as long as you treat ’em that way that they’ll treat you with the respect as well. But I want to go back and especially with the connection that we talked about because you happened and you came in at a really magical time there’s really points in the hair industry and it happens between brands, it happens with people where all of a sudden there’s a certain group got together. I know what happened with the group when with the company that I represent. There was a magical time that got it. And I think that all of a sudden some you’ll notice another company sort of rises up and you got in that same time where I believed, correct me if I’m wrong, when you joined there was that all the, and I can’t even remember if you were called the art directors or if they were just, you had some fancy pants title, but the reality was there was you Nick Denton Daniel, Michelle O’Connor, I think Daniel Kling there. help me because it was another Nick French was part of that as well. Yeah.
Ammon Carver (00:17:29):
Chris Baran (00:17:30):
Magical time when you guys were so damn creative and the energy that you guys had amongst one another is I want you to talk about that. What was that like when you were with that powerhouse team and what was it like interactivity wise? What was it like for you being around those people? Was it intimidating? Was it just everybody sat back and you just jammed? What was it like?
Ammon Carver (00:18:01):
Well yes intimidating, absolutely inspiring. Absolutely. But I’ll talk about it from first you don’t realize that you’re part of something really amazing and big. Sorry, can you slow me? Yeah. You don’t really realize until you’re kind of in it and somebody pointed out to you and then all of a sudden you’re like, oh wow. Yeah. Cuz I remember when I first start talking to people about when things began, I don’t know why it always happens to me. I talk about when I first got on as an artistic director for Matrix, that’s when I feel like my career kind of started which was probably about four years into my actual career as a beauty professional license and stuff. But we had a general manager, and this is one of the things that I thought was really, really cool was that it wasn’t about anything that Matrix launched or did a product that suddenly became this thing.
It was all about the way that we were talking and communicating and were repre represented. So we had a new general manager by named his name is Colin Walsh. Love that. Not a lot of people knew who he was but he came in and he just changed everything. Just changed everything about the way that we spoke, about the way that we believed in things. I remember he’s probably the first person in my life that made me believe that I was more than I actually was. And I’ll say it in a way, it’ll kinda help. Yeah.
And it sounds so funny, even when I say it out loud, I was just going to get through it before I left cuz it’s embarrassing. But I remember connecting with him. I had just moved to New York City on my own dime. I remember I was from Utah and I was like, I don’t want to start a whole career in Utah. I had $5,000 in my bank account and I was like, I’m going to just go to New York City. I think they’d flown me, matric had formula to assist on a photo shoot and I fell in love with New York City no surprise. But I was fearless. My parents, they raised me to believe that I could do anything and I loved them for that. They gave me all this belief they’re the only thing that’s stopping you is. And so I’m sure that they were probably like, oh gosh, what are we help ’em believe they’re just getting ready to move to New York City, not knowing anybody.
And they were like, are you really going? And I’m like, yeah, I mean if I don’t make it I’ll just come back here and we’ll start again here. And they were like, okay, you’re right. So I moved to New York and it went well New York can chew people out and spit them out or it things landed really well for me. And when I got out there that’s when the work with Matrix started to really click. And that’s where I started fast paced again. So Colin was in New York at the head office there. Excuse me. So he was at the home office for L’Oreal for Matrix. And so I got to have a really close relationship with him cuz I would cut his hair and I would see him three days a week. And I remember cutting his hair one day and there was a side of me that was sort of excited but nervous.
And he said something to me that nobody had ever said to me, and it’s embarrassing to say, but he said, oh you don’t understand. And I said, what’s that? And he goes, you’re ammond carver, you don’t know that. And I was like, shut up. And he was like, no listen to me. He’s like, you’re carver, you’re going to make all these changes. And he just let me sit with it. And I was like, I dunno what to say, I’m kind of embarrassed. Thank you. That’s sweet. And he was like, this is going to be really fun. He’s like, because I can see who you are and you don’t see it yet. He’s like, but I can’t wait for you to see it. So from then on, I think I told you this last time Chris was, it’s easier when you have somebody in the audience that already knows you’re going to be successful and they look up at you and they’re just smiling, waiting for you to fall into that person that they already see versus you looking out in the audience and seeing like, oh are they picking me apart?
Every time I would get on a stage for Matrix, whether it was 10 people or a thousand people, I would look in the back of the room and his smile just said, I can’t wait for you to discover what you’re about to do. And it made it so I couldn’t fail almost. And that was the first time where it was my was first hero. And so Colin, he helped me see who I was and put me on stage with people that I considered the gods, Daniel Rodan and Nicholas French. I was like, I’m sharing the stage with these guys. And it took a little while for me to actually stand up there and project from the same level as them cuz for a while I would shrink to the back of the stage while they would speak. And it just took some practice and some confidence to realize that I’m here just, we have different paths but the confidence comes in different ways.
And thank goodness that those guys also there can be just in any industry I suppose there can be some people who are threatened or who don’t want to see you do well. And so they could see that timidness and go, okay, I’m going to keep my thumb on you because you’re already not ready to take it. But those guys weren’t like that, none of them. Thankfully all those guys that I became close with as the kind of matrix heroes of the industry or even any other brands too, they saw somebody who was trying and they saw somebody who was like could use some mentoring and some excitement and all of them, I will say that I love this industry. All of the people that I’ve been able to be step in and go, wow, that’s Sam v, wow, that’s Chris Baron. Wow, that’s this person. And then as soon as I sit up there, everybody like you J the first time you saw me, I knew who you were a long time ago, but the first time we actually met you put your arm around me. We were buddies. And like you said in the beginning, we never got a chance to work on stage together. But through the years it feels like we’re just close. Yeah,
Chris Baran (00:24:35):
Ammon Carver (00:24:36):
So that’s that. I don’t know if I kind of got digress there with the story, but it was such a great time with Matrix and all those artists and I feel so privileged.
Chris Baran (00:24:45):
What I think that it is that, and I, I’m going to use a word here that would generally mean the opposite of what I’m about to say because usually insecure people are so worried about themselves that when they’re on stage with somebody or they’re see somebody else rising up, they wanna push them down because that they think that they’re going to get higher. But there’s like all the people that we talked about in there, I know them and they’re the ones that will go, listen, I know that if I make myself small and somebody else bigger than in everybody else’s eyes and this is what’s in their head. But when they do it, the audience and the people around you see them and you as bigger than what they saw them as before. And the reason why I’m saying that is that I don’t know, I can only speak for myself every time I say this.
Most of the people like you as yourself who have done it, you’ll say, if I say I basically an insecure person too, they always go yummy too. But I think there’s a difference between insecure and putting else everybody else down and being insecure where you’re, you just want to do better but you’re willing to help other people do better. And I’ll help everybody else grow in the industry as well. And I think that’s the biggest part of our industry is for so many years there was this thing of manufacturers and if you were an artist from one manufacturer and somebody else was from a different manufacturer, then you weren’t allowed to commingle. Cause God forbid when all it is is about we’re all hairdressers. And the more that think about it, if you would just have jam sessions where artists from all brands would get together and they’d just share tidbits and say, look at, this is what works for me and this is what works for you.
And I think look at what would that do for our industry. I think my motto has always been failing your way to the top. I talk about it all the time, but I think that if you can help other people so that their failures are more minimal and then they grow faster, it would make our industry so much better. And you referred to it at the very beginning where oh we couldn’t get a job anywhere else. I mean I know that people like you myself have this image that we wanna build our industry into the point where you can stand right next door to any other profession and just feel as comfortable in your skin when you say the word hairdresser as anything else. And I think that’s, God bless. That’s what I find people like you, whether it’s meeting people for the first time for a hundred years or whatever the kinship that we all have is that we just want our industry to grow. The people that just started off, how can we make their life better? How do we make it so that everybody else grows and gets more money? Everybody laughs when I say that cause they think it’s all this fufu stuff. But believe me, believe I’ve had money and I’ve had none. And I like money way, way more than having none.
Ammon Carver (00:27:45):
Yeah. We can’t do what with love. If we don’t eat, we can’t make a living. It’s like it’s all great to do everything with your heart, but if you keep, you’re starving, we be making money. I’m so glad you said that too because I think that before I got to be running or rubbing elbows, let’s say with guys like you I remember looking at the industry and seeing that divide that manufacturers were competing. And I feel very blessed because by the time I came into my role, that was the first time you started to hearing things like artists supporting artists. And it was almost like I got to be part of, I don’t think I’ll take as much credit as saying I was the initiator, but I definitely was on board when the influence of let’s not put borders up because of manufacturers. Let’s love each other because we’re artists. I got to step into that kind of energy for the first time. And it was perfect because it was like, no, you’re right. I don’t want to sit here and say I’m not talking to you because Sebastian’s not as cool as Matrix. It’s like, come on.
So I’m so grateful that was a point in time where I got to come in and go, these artists are just incredible regardless of the stuff that they use in their hearts and their creativity is just astounding. And so what a cool thing to be a part of now until the look back and have people now say, I don’t feel that energy between the industry anymore. And I hope it doesn’t ever go back there. But like you said, that’s my thing. Whenever I see new people coming into the industry, I’m like, do you guys know how it was? Do you guys know where we’ve been? So that as you take the reigns and move forward, do you know where we’ve been to get here so that we don’t slip backwards? Those are the kind of things that I kind of think about when I’m thinking about next generation.
Chris Baran (00:29:44):
And that’s part of this why people have to know the people in the industry. You’ve gotta know where people come from. I wanna do just a bit of a soft left here right now. Cause you and I were talking the other day about it being an education and Christine Schuster, who and I, I’m going to say the she’s vi, well I’m just going to give her this oval. She’s the gram PBA of the PPP D brand and all of cetera. I, I’m so afraid of saying the wrong title that I’m just going to say she’s the gram Pba s of principal of the PTD brands. But she asks everybody this, and I know she posed this to you cause we were talking about this. She was at an event when she asked everybody in the room, what do you want to become? And can you tell that story of what happened when that goes because that’s going to give us our link into where I wanna be now. Yeah,
Ammon Carver (00:30:44):
I mean Christine, it was amazing. We just first started, I just met her. I knew who she was, but I did not have any, I was afraid to talk to her at all. And then she came in and kind of asked our group what our goals were. I remember it was a small thing. She was like this matrix artistic directors you were talking about. And she sat in there and she goes, nice to meet you guys. I’m so excited that we’re all going to be working together. What are your goals? And everybody, I did too, not just say I something special or different, but I made it a point to make sure that I said from out loud from the get go years ago that I wanted to be a dad. And I said to her, I said, I have all these career goals but I wanna be a father. Just fyi, if anybody here is wondering, I’m putting it out there very strongly and very clearly. I am 21 years old but I want to be a dad. Okay.
So yeah, six months ago I officially have Zach, but I remember every, it’s been almost mean I’ve been a hairdresser now 22 years or something. But I remember along the way, Kristen and I was in New York and I’ve cut her kid’s hair and everything. So I’ve been through all these phases and she’s always touched base with M Andos, how’s it going with the kid? How’s it going with your baby? And so as soon as I announced that I was adopting, she was the first one to pick up the phone and be like, you did it. And I’m like, oh yeah,
Chris Baran (00:32:15):
I want to take you back to the BT C awards when we were there, whenever that was just a few months back and we were chatting. So there was this magic moment that we have all the displays and I think we were both taking and looking around in there. We bumped into one another and I saw you in there and I went up and we were talking about the adoption and I just found it just touching when you told me the story about when you and your husband talked about what you wanted and what the original goal was and then the story of getting your son and the difference between the two can just, I, I’d love you to tell that story cause I just found it fantastic, fascinating and absolutely touching.
Ammon Carver (00:33:02):
You’re getting me emotional urge. Think about yeah. So I think in life sometimes you think that you want something a certain way and so you have an imagination of how it’s going to be and then all of a sudden if you just let go of how you think it’s supposed to happen and just let it happen the way that it’s going to, I think that’s a big lesson that I learned was stop trying to manipulate your future and just be in the process knowing where you want to go with it. And so when I met Jeff the first thing I did, I had been through husband’s boyfriends without sounding I was some crazy, I’m very much a relationship person but by the time I met Jeff, I was had kind of done the boyfriend swap thing where I was, I was never single. I was like, oh my gosh.
So I just was so I met him and he was like, I want to date. And I’m like, I’m not dating anybody. I need some time to be single. And I said, but by the way, if we are going to date, I need you to know I wanna be a dad. I’ve almost let that go. And he goes, are you serious? He’s like, I would love to be a dad. And I was like, I still can’t date yet. But wow, that’s going crazy to find somebody who’s, he was almost 40 at the time, I just turned 40 now. And he was like, I would be happy to drop everything and have a child with you right now. And I was like, wow. So then he and I started talking about it. The more we got to know him, you just kind of know he’s my person.
We found each other for the right reason and now we want kid. And so we started talking about why do we wanna be a father? What is the objective? And I was like, I don’t have some biological need to see my offspring. That’s like, oh look at my mother’s eyes in my, I have tons of nieces and nephews that I can see my likeness and my pen is likeness in them. But I wanted the experience of being a father and I wanted to be able to say that of all the things that I’ve done and all the experiences that I’ve had, that there’s a child, that there’s somebody that I can tell my story to that makes it all worth listening to and makes my life less when I live every day now. It’s not about what I want or what I’m trying to do or the vacations I want to take. It’s about what am I doing for Zach? What is this money or where is this trip going? How’s it going to impact him? And I don’t mean that to sound like I’m some selfless perf perfect person, but I watched it with, I have six brothers and sisters and I watched all of them go from living their life for themselves to living their life for their kids. And it was hard for all of them, but amazing to see them all change from living for themselves to living for their kids.
Chris Baran (00:35:59):
And there I want to, we’re hitting on those subjects that I, I’m really keen on here. I want to go back in just a second cuz I want to hear, I want you to talk about what you and your husband were going to get because I think you wanted just this little swaddling baby and it’s not what you ended up with. I wanna know that story. No, no. But I wanna ask you this question right now cuz you’re there. What’s the difference between Al and when you became a father now versus what you were before?
Ammon Carver (00:36:34):
What’s the difference between me and Alan the way I was before? I mean think now I believed that I would be a good father. I don’t think I was as afraid of it as I should have been that I think that now I also realize that being a father is not in about the moments. It’s not about some teachable moment where he’s going to remember that moment. And from then on I made the right fatherly decision. I’ve realized from even just the short amount of time with Zach that it’s just about being there and the energy and being there consistently in his life. That’s going to be way more than I realized. It’s the long game with kids. It’s the long game when they can feel that that’s the steady father that you’re there that you’re relying for and not some moment that you whipped up out of a movie and hand pasted them for I think that’s the part of me that I was, I was taking all these notes from movies and stuff about how to be the right father in the moment. And I mean he’s probably going to look at some movies and be like, oh is that where you got that from Dad? I <laugh>.
But it’s not about that. You know what I mean? It’s about just, especially him. Zach is initially, and I think this is where you were trying to take me, Chris, was we went to an adoption agency or it was more of a, it’s an agency, but they were trying to match us with expected mothers. So we were essentially going to adopt having met a woman who was pregnant and then go to the hospital with her and then on the day of delivery we would take the child rather than her taking the child. And so there was no bond disruption. So that was our plan the whole time. We had this whole marketing pamphlet about us and everything. They even have these apps now that you can swipe. It’s Tinder for pregnant women and couples. It was the weirdest experience where they could save and look back at your profile and you could see how many of these pregnant women had actually looked back at you and you’re like, what’s wrong with us?
Why are they picking us as their dad? I’m like, oh my gosh. And then what happened was completely unexpectedly, like we said that we were opened any race, any gender but we just wanted a baby. We wanted the full experience. And all of a sudden what happened was a little two year old who had ended up with his grandparents because of some drug addiction and the mother had committed suicide. The grandparents were in a place where they were like, well how can we even be considering this? We cannot even be thinking about giving this kid up for adoption. He needs to know that he’s wanted. And you could just hear it in their voice where they were killing themselves with guilt for even considering this conversation but also realizing that they were in their eighties and here comes this little kid and they were like, we can’t keep up with him.
He means, and so the, anyway, long story short, we kind of grilled each other, why do you want this? And I was like, why do you think a gay couple is going to be better than a straight couple and all these things. And it was an amazing sort of like, wait, are you sure? Cuz I’m not sure if you’re going to do this unless we are. And then it was just before my 40th birthday we were going to go to Miami and she was like, well if you’re thinking about this. And I said, this kind of came up from nowhere. The agency said, well we have this couple, you can talk to them but they’re looking for a baby. And so the more we talked to her, she was like, well if you want, we’re going to come down before you go, if you wanna just meet him.
She’s like, my sister or my daughter from my other marriage lives in Draper. That’s like the city I live in. And I was like, no way. I was like, okay. So we met Zach when he was two years old at a Starbucks right down the street from my house now. And I remember talking to Jeff and I’m like, I’m going to bring him a truck and you watch him when I’m talking to the grandparents to see if we were mostly worried to see if, is there anything that had gone on with him in terms of exposure to drugs or anything that we’re, they were going manifest as complications or medically things that we didn’t. So we’re just check, we we’re evaluating cut. Right. But it’s some point, I’m just, don’t fall him up. Cause the kid you of course we’re going to fall in love.
I mean that little kid. Yeah, he killed us. Killed us. I remember we were sitting there and he was playing with his truck and I showed him on the front of his truck that a little siren could go off and I’d given him the truck and then I tucked when I tucked his truck and made the sound like a lot of kids, he just didn’t want me to touch his things. So he kind of looked at me and was mad that I had touched his truck. And I was like, and I kind of made a face. I was sad that he was mad at me. I was like, instead of being mad at him, I just was like, and it was weird, I’ve never seen a look. All the nieces and nephews, he kind of looked at me differently, watched me for a second and then he got up all on his own from his chair and he walked around his grandma and he laid his head on my lap and he hugged me cuz he didn’t want me to feel sad. And I was like, okay, I’m done.
This kid, he just wants somebody to be proud of him. And that’s today Nominat, I’m going to emotional. That’s like the driving force behind this little kid. He’s such a good kid and he has these little tantrums and everything. But to see a little kid that I take him in the bath and he is afraid to get his ears wet or his eyes wet or something. But I teach him that it’s going to be okay. And the second that he does it and he pops up and his face is just like, are you proud of me? Are you proud of me? And I’m like, Hey buddy, I’m so proud of you. He’s all he wants, he just wants us to be proud of who he is and who he’s becoming. And I’m like, shh, I’m done <laugh> Ill I’ll be your forever family. I’ll be proud of you for the day you die little kid. Yeah.
Chris Baran (00:43:29):
Yep. That’s not Sarah quiet cartoons. So that’s not fair. But no, I listen, that’s one of the main reasons and you can hear it right here. I know I asked you that other question about what’s the difference between the before and after. And I think that was it right there is that I, I’ve talked to so many people, Sam Via who had kids later in life, et cetera. And I said to him when he and his wife were pregnant, I went,
You are going to, you’re going to change. Because I found, even though we had our kids very young, let me rephrase that. When Rita had the kids, I just was standing by <laugh>. I was a slight contributor but cheated all the work. But when you’re changed for you’re changed forevermore as soon as you have a child. And I don’t think it has to have from birth, it’s about the responsibility that goes along with having somebody else in your life that you need to make sure that they number one coexist, number two, get better. And number three, have a better life than you had. And I think that it forever changes you as soon as you, you have that child. So we can hear it in your voice right there
Ammon Carver (00:44:50):
Too. I’m so happy. And honestly that’s the part of me that I have to just stay a lesson for myself right now is I have worked so hard for 20 plus years and it’s been nonstop. And I think you and I kind of even lightly touched on it the other time. I have run myself in circles trying to make sure that I kept up and kept on pace and upfront and there’s no time for vacation or I can’t get sick because I have X, Y, z and I don’t know how many people are listening, but have you ever heard of yourself say, I can’t afford to get sick right now or I’ll just need to get through this time. And then your body will, I remember quite openly the ab Bs show or whatever it is that came across our roads, it was like, now’s not the time to be sick. And I could kind of delay it and push it and then as sure enough as they actually had vacation time or something downtime, then all of a sudden my body just manifested all this. Okay, well and it would just shut down.
Chris Baran (00:45:53):
It’s true. I’m going to say something on that that I am guilty of is I don’t take holidays or I don’t take ’em as much as I should cuz I’m, hi, my name is Chris and I’m a workaholic liberty. And the audience has gone, hi Chris. But the point is that I think what happens is when you’re constantly pushing your body so hard that it doesn’t have a chance to recuperate. And I think that’s why I take my hat off to people. What I hear them taking their good extended times for some people call it sharpening the saw other people just calling rest and relaxation. But the other thing that I found is when I do take time off that it literally helps me focus and I get ideas that I didn’t have when my mind was going so crazy the other day. You talked to me about that mindfulness and I just said to, I don’t want to hear anything about it. I want you to save it for the show. I wanna know about it. And cuz you said, this is what I heard and I want everybody to hear this, whether you’re listening or whether you’re watching right now is you said it, it’s because it’s become a game changer for you. So tell us about it.
Ammon Carver (00:47:09):
Chris Baran (00:47:10):
Got into it and you even said something and helped you with your child.
Ammon Carver (00:47:15):
Oh yeah. So the reason I got into it, let’s say mindfulness is essentially for those who, and I’m not going to try to become the person who defines it. So you guys can all investigate what mindfulness is for yourself. But for me the way it came across for me was and in a point right now in my life where I’m like, okay, I’m trying to make decisions about what’s a priority. And I am a big believer in having people who are, they’re coaches for reason. So a coach for a specific sport or a specific skillset set that you need helps you attune. So I started working with a coach and the biggest thing that I told, yeah, well for my career and stuff, I was just, gotcha, okay, so what I, what would like to have happen? Got this child. Now I met this kind of crossroads with do I jump on board with another manufacturer or what should I be doing?
And all this stuff. So without her telling me anything about what I should do, it was more about why don’t we take a step back and kind of observe who we are for a second. And so mindfulness for me has been just all the reasons that I said I didn’t have time for, I have time to meditate or I don’t have time to have all this self-awareness because I’m already, I’m busy, find somebody else to help you. And so mindfulness is really, for me, what I understood about it was more like you can even just be going through the regular stuff that you don’t even think when your brain goes onto autopilot, you can then check in with your mindfulness. For example when you brush your teeth, you’re usually thinking about something else cuz you’re going on autopilot. If you take a second instead of thinking about the next thing you’re rushing to and just pause and think about everything sensory wise that’s going on with your teeth brushing, whether it comes down to the ingredients on the toothpaste or whatever it is.
I think that what my coach really helped me was she was like, okay, so you’re drinking your coffee right now, right? She’s like, instead of just drinking your coffee and talking to me, take a second and just say, I’m going to be mindful that for five minutes or three minutes she’s, and just look at your coffee, smell your coffee, appreciate where the coffee came from, all the people that it took to get that coffee and that coffee cup and all the things that you’re kind of like, but you’re just taking a second. You’re being mindful of before you just chug it down and throw it away and move forward. Just take a second and stall and appreciate and savor all the things. And then all of a sudden when you put it in your mouth and just sit, swallow and taste it and think about all those people and taste the flavor.
And then when you, all of a sudden when you’re swallowing, there’s a greater appreciation or it’s more of an experience than just chugging. And that’s not to be like everybody wants you guys to every little bite to be like, oh I’m not that way. But it changed for me cuz all of a sudden I was like, wait a second now I could say things, hi anxiety Ammon. I recognize what that feeling is, right? Instead of where what I had gotten accustomed to doing, Chris, and this is me being very vulnerable I became aware of anxiety later in life in my thirties. All of a sudden it hit me that I was like, what is this? And I was crippled by anxiety and I went to the doctor and we started to, I take medication but nobody had ever talked to me. This coach where I could actually just say hi, I know what you are.
That little vibration in the pit of my stomach. I recognize you as anxiety and I don’t have to scramble to find a pill to squash you or try to psych myself in a kicking you out. I can just recognize that’s what you are and say, instead of saying I hate you, say it’s a part of me that’s afraid or that’s afraid that it’s, I’m going to put myself out there and get hurt. And so instead of looking at it, something needs to be pushed away. I almost need to look at it. I look at it now when I get anxious and this is going to sound so stupid, I’ve never actually said this all while you were the first person, cause I’ve started this. But I feel it and I think of it, we have two kittens, we have two cats that Jeff came in, I remember Stella when she was just teeny list, little big and everything in the world made her terrified and she just needed somebody to come to, it’s okay, it’s okay.
And so I feel almost like Stella, a little baby kitten or a little puppy in my stomach that’s just kind of like, but what if you go out there and it’s scary and I’m like, Hey, I’ve done this before. It’s okay, I’ll be here. And it’s like me talking to myself that it’s okay and it doesn’t make you go away, but it’s a lot better than trying to run to the medicine cabinet or just try to pull over eyes it cuz it’s part of you. And so that was the long wind away for me to say mindfulness is a way for us just to recognize who we are, what we’re doing, and be more intentional with what we’re doing. And some of the exercises that she’s given me are so cool, Chris, because now I can take coaching exercises that I would normally just take, but I can apply them and ask Zach.
So it’s so cool to say affirmations. If you get up in the morning and say Good morning a I love you, big deal. Nobody knows, right? But if I start telling Zach, just say that it is the cutest thing and the proudest thing in the world. And I don’t wanna take his thunder, but he gets up and if people ask him, they’re like, Hey, what’s your name? He’ll go, I’m Zack cover and I’m smart. And I am kind. He doesn’t like it’s this, it’s the cutest thing in the world because since he first came with us, I remember him standing in the mirror and he was brushing his teeth. And I said, Hey, look at that guy. Look at that guy. And he was like, I go, who is that guy? And he goes, that car. And I go, what about it? And they go, who is he? And he goes, he’s handsome. I go, no, no, no, not like that. How do you say handsome? And I was like, all these things that I’m like, come on, say it out loud. Every day I’m hearing myself use the same things that this coach is giving me and I’m feeding them to Zach and watching it have an instant reaction in a three year old that you don’t take seriously as an adult. Cause you’re like, oh yeah, whatever. But we do gratitude list at night with Zach.
I mean he’s, I’ve had him for six months and he already has a notebook, a three-year-old, a notebook with every night what he’s grateful for and he gets to see what it’s different from now. And six months ago, lemme tell you, the first time you asked him and he goes light table data. And now he closes his eyes on the edge of his bed and he goes, grateful for sunny days, grateful for swimming. And then all of a sudden you’re like, listen to him, be mindful about what he’s grateful for. And it’s like, I’m so happy that I can give him these tools. And that’s kind of what I’m like, so I’m over appreciative, I guess I don’t know about the word anyway, but my coach is like, wow, you’re really taking this? I’m like, no I, it’s cuz I can see how impactful if I actually listen and do it and we’re, what’s the word that I was just thinking of earlier?
Just let go and go with, go get into the process. Just stop thinking about where you’re trying to have happen. Yes, Emma, you wanna be a dad, but it doesn’t mean you have to be a surrogate or you doesn’t mean you have to go find a doctor. Just lift the energy of the world. That how the process happens. So that’s what I’m focusing on right now. Chris. If anybody ask me right now what I’m doing, I’m just like, I’m in the process. <laugh>. I’m just living the process of appreciating and showing the gratitude to the world that I have been so given. I mean, I’m so fortunate we all are to be where we are now. And I have been blessed to have this little kid in my life that has forced me to pause. And right now that’s all I’m focusing on is being there for him and remembering all the things that I’m telling him. I’m like, oh Emma, you’re not teaching Zach. You’re reminding yourself that this is how you need to be. And I’m so grateful for that.
Chris Baran (00:56:33):
It’s interesting, isn’t it, that our family does gratitudes and it took us, well probably it wasn’t till about 10 years ago, our coach started giving gratitude and probably that has a little wrinkle. Not as much as you’re going into with your coach, but about, I find that the biggest thing I found about gratitude is your mind doesn’t know the difference between real and made up. So whatever you tell it is what it is. So when the more that you are just spout, we’d be, I remember in our family, I remember us driving around Italy and we were just in the car. You’d say okay, everybody, 10 things you’re grateful for and you just have to spell it off the cat, whatever it was. But you just sp off 10 things. You’re great, you were grateful for and it didn’t matter how you felt before that, you feel amazing after it.
Yeah. So gratitudes, affirmations, et cetera, all there. Now I to believe it. We’ve talked about all this time and we have hardly talked about you, your work and the hair, et cetera. But I mean, I said this to you the other day, and I’m going to say it again, what I love about your work is you have a way of making hair just really beautiful and you push the envelope with it. And I that when I watch the work and I see the work and I’ve always been just a huge admirer of it. And I know that when people see your work and they see your work in the magazines, they see you on stage, they admire you and when you’re walking by and they don’t see us, who we are after and so on, but they just see you as that superstar on stage. And I’m sure that even with this amount of success that you’ve had every once in a while, you probably have to go and pinch yourself just a little bit because you made it. But I wanna talk to you just a little bit about what was the climb as you went through there and then what was the climb like? Are there times inside there that you did doubt yourself?
Ammon Carver (00:58:57):
Yes <laugh> still happening. That’s an ongoing, are we our own worst critic? But yeah, I mean I think that the climb would be for me, just the first step in the climb for anybody is just being willing to try. I like to think of it as the, and it’s not that this is always the gauge, but it’s, it is such a great gauge for me is that the North American Hairdressing Awards, the first time that I ever entered was my second year as hairdresser. I had just started and I was like, and they said, this is the OST Oscars for hairdressing and all these things would make you go like, oh, I’m not going to try Cuz then it’s the easiest thing in the world to just avoid. So that way you don’t have to be set in front of and said, well here, this is why you’re not where you could be.
But if you let that stop you, then you’ll just forever, there always will be a reason. You’re never going to be totally prepared. You’re never going to have as much money as you think you’ll have. Just do it. Stop making excuses, just do it. And if it sucks, then you look back and go, oh my gosh, shut up of don’t tell anybody. Yeah, yeah. I mean don’t tell anybody you don’t get nominated. Nobody knows us. Right? It’s only you just telling people. Right. Exactly. But I, I have had the best career making some stupid photo shoot ideas happen. And I think it’s just because I’m, that is in my brain something that I feel so passionate about and then that’s where I feel, so that’s where I get so excited as a creative when I’m able to bring forth what’s in my mind and in my heart and it has actually transpires onto an image.
And if I can have somebody see a picture or a collection and feel without me saying words, but they can feel and tell the story, then I’m like, bam, I did it. But if they’re just pretty pictures, okay fine. But now that’s where I try to push myself is to go, you did, what am I saying? Yeah, cool. Pretty pictures. Yay shiny hair, lots of great stylists out there. But what’s the point? What are we trying to say and who are we? So that’s where I challenge myself now is do I really need another photo shoot in my portfolio? No. But if I’m going to do it, what are we saying? And so that’s where I think my work has changed probably in the last five to seven years, maybe a little bit more, is that now when I conceptualize and put together photo shoots they really are, they have a story behind them.
And if you dig in a little bit or if I have a production company that’s captured some behind the scenes dialogue, then you can go, oh, I totally get it. Even if you didn’t get exactly the story, you could see it a little bit. But I, I’m tell you, I am grateful that I was raised to be able to handle critique that I never shut myself off to saying like, oh wait, you don’t like it. Well f*** you. Yeah, it doesn’t help any of us grow. Cause it’s hard to hear that somebody doesn’t like your work and it’s a very personal feeling. Sometimes it feels like you’ve been personally affronted if they’re ew and you’re like, but tell me why. Is it just because you don’t like that color? Or what is it about it? And obviously there’s things that you learn also you’ll know better than anybody.
But the way you tell somebody right now that I’ve had the opportunity and it’s probably my proudest thing next to winning these awards, now I’m looking at my work is being able to go to that award show, go and hear people and realize that I’ve impact. I didn’t win any trophies but I impacted almost every category. And my name was the winner of every category was saying something about an influencer or an impact that I had made. And I was like, that’s freaking awesome. Makes me feel like I’ve touched and not just done the work but I’ve actually inspired people to think bigger or believe in themselves more. And so I think that’s where you start to go. At first the process was just literally, am I capable? And then as you grow, you’re like, okay, I know I’m capable. Am I able to communicate it to the team or as a photographer, this is what I’m trying to see.
Can you see it and check your pride? Cuz you’re like, I know he’s taking good pictures but is he’s seeing what I’m trying to say. And so that’s when you start to develop relationships where you can push with other artists and say, I know you’re great. I’m not saying you’re not. I just need you to see it this way. And that’s when I found that other artists that are so amazing have I’ve earned their respect is when they’re able to go, oh see that’s a really key quality to be able to take what you are proud of and with other artists or photographers or people that are really good and say no and not, I’m not against what you’re saying but hear what I’m trying to say and kind of massage it and work it. Cuz that’s the only way. And I’ve been able to probably, Chris, one of my favorite things as I’ve grown is I love putting together teams. Mm-hmm. Like that Amman Carver studio team that I had in New York City. We were like,
Chris Baran (01:05:12):
You have to tell the story about when you left.
Ammon Carver (01:05:14):
Chris Baran (01:05:15):
First of all, finish what the feeling of the that was. And I’m sorry for jumping on you, but that you told me that story a while back about when you left it, it’s so different than anything that I’ve ever heard about When somebody left the salon that they owned and tell us about the team and then tell us that
Ammon Carver (01:05:35):
Story. So the idea is for me and this actually this happened because of the coaching. So she, I’ve told her my story and I’m telling her all these things and she’s like, what I’m hearing is that you have a really huge pride in being able to put together a team of people that have the right culture and the right idea and the right vibe. And I’m like, I do. I’m very proud of that. Any team that I’ve been able to call myself the leader of that you’ve known Chris, I am entrenched. My heart is entrenched in those people and it’s because I am a firm believer that people will follow you, but then if you are leaning with the right reason, you don’t ask them to do anything. They just show up. And that’s where this Ammond Carver studio team, I mean moved to New York, told you already earlier with no money, nothing.
And I landed working in freelance, working in the salon that was in the Plaza Hotel. And so I got to go from Utah to all of a sudden I was in the top place salon where I was like, how are these people even paying all this money? And I kind of got an idea to where the clients would come in and I got to know them as real people and I was kind of trying to relate with them and they were, I mean let’s be straight up, I don’t really need coffee cups with gold plated, I don’t fucking care. And I was like, why are you paying this them? So it was a great way for me to, when I went to open my salon, I remember my manager, she was like, Emon getting complicated because you work in this high end salon, but that’s not really your brand.
But then we have some people in and they get filtered through the salon and they come sit with you and she’s like, we need a place that’s clearly says this is Amman Carver from the experience. And I was like, okay, because I’m not about trying to tell the stylist from the salon to make more money behind the chair. She goes, no, just you be and love them and nurture them and I will be the business person. I’m like, okay, deal. So she and I opened up this studio and it was cool because I had aspirations when I moved to New York of not becoming a salon owner but becoming, I wanted to be editorial stylist doing where for magazines and stuff like that. And so over the years I had developed this really great onset eye and I loved it. And she was like, let’s not open just a salon.
Let’s open a salon photo studio. And I was like, okay, now you got me. So we basically made it to the front of the salon was one way and the back of the salon, the front of the salon always stayed open of the salon and the back of the salon had rotating stations or could be set up as a photo shoot station. And so that was became kind of the at epicenter of how I met all of these people that I now work with. They kind of filtered through where there was a photo shoot and I was like, oh you’re fantastic. I’m going to keep you through my little filtration and just clinging to you. And that’s how I met Richard Messier. I was working with a brand and he was a photographer that came from Holland and was like, it is my dream to work in the States. And I was like, you are amazing. Let’s make that dream come true my friend. And now he is the most requested hair photographer in the US when it comes to all these hair rents. And he just started off as a Dutch photographer who was like, I wanna try so sorry. So the team thing was so fun. I thought the salon, I was like, if I open a salon, the stylist will just, they’re going to be amazing. They’re just going to show up <laugh>. My gosh.
Oh no, no, let’s just say it doesn’t happen like that. Okay. So I remember I was almost a year open and I was like, is anybody going to come trying to play GU work for me or what? And finally I just said to myself, I go, I don’t want to hire people. I want to hire a family and put together a family. I don’t want have a front desk version or somebody that’s watching everybody close things. I’m going to give every stylist that works here access to the slung it’s theirs. So that if they have a V I P client that needs to go on the news or see whatever today show and then they got one at 4:00 AM cuz I’ve been there, then they have access to it. But they also have the real responsibility of putting it away and taking care of it.
So I set that precedent up from the beginning. I was like, listen, I would love to have you. Here are the rules. And so there was this trust thing right away. And the reason I stated that’s really important is because the first year that we finally, it was year two of Amman Carver studio being open and I finally had enough stylists to actually put together a photo shoot submission for Naja. And so we submitted, and that was the year that Amman Carver Studio Warf won for Salon team of the year. And I won for Master of the Year. So we had all eyes and I remember going to Vegas with my team and a lot of ’em were like, oh my gosh, I do not hide. This is so crazy. And I gave them all a little necklace and I said, you guys, I’m tonight we’re going to have the award show.
I go having been here before tomorrow, you might go, what happened? And we might never feel this way again, but take this and have something intangible that you remember and think about the way this feels. Cause this is awesome and this is a really cool moment, but it sleds away really quick. So we got on stage, we won. It was crazy. And then we went back and I remember we got back to New York and I called a team huddle or team meeting and they were like, what happens now? And I’m like, I go, well there’s not prize money or anything. I go, the trophy is right there. You guys are welcome to hang out with it. I go, but really? And I said, very serious. I go, honestly, the only thing that happens right now is we have one chance, we have an opportunity to have the microphone, but they’re going to pass it to us for one second and say, what do you wanna say?
I go, so we’re brand new on the scene. Who are we? What do we wanna say? And I was so happy because it’s almost like I had forgotten for a second, Chris, why I started as a hairdresser. Remember I told you I became a hairdresser because I needed to find a way to love myself and I became a hairdresser because I wanted to remind people that that’s why we’re our jobs are important. And then I got caught up in chasing the fame of being the hairdresser in New York City who had the most covers and all this stuff. And then I asked my team what they wanted to say and they said, not me. They said, we wanna be known as the team that can do that kind of work, but that we do what we do because we wanna make a difference in the world.
And I said, what do you mean by that? And they were like, let’s set up. And one of ’em raises. She goes, I’ve been going to this homeless youth shelter, let’s set up so we can go there every eight weeks and we can be regularly there to support. And it just spiraled. And I just sat back and they all just were like, yeah, yeah, yeah. And then all of a sudden we had a trip to Mumbai, India organized, and it became this huge thing. And we started a nonprofit called Humane Beat for Change. It’s still pumping. But the people asked me and all, I’ve gotten a lot of jobs since then about how did you, in 10 years in the salon industry, I had zero turnover. My stylist, I had to let go, a couple of stylists, but nobody quit. Nobody wanted to leave. And I’m like, I didn’t have some special sauce or recipe for giving them the right amount of money for how much they made.
I was like, it’s about purpose. It’s about giving them something that they could be proud of and that they felt connected to was bigger. And so I said they all came because I was like, yeah, we can do some cool stuff, but this is what it means to be part of this family. You will take care of yourself, you’ll look out for each other. And also what we do with our hands and our hearts is not just for the beauty industry to make people know, take it one time, Chris. It takes one time for a hairdresser to go into a beauty, a homeless youth shelter, a life-changing moment for me. The first time I went in with them and this kid comes in, I don’t know his name. All I know is he will not look at anybody. He looking at the floor only. And I was like, Hey, what do you want?
He won’t even say anything. And I just cut his hair and I’m like, all I know is that people that have come in there could have come in there, could have sex trafficking because of their home lives are either their L G LGBTQ and their parents don’t or whatever. But somehow these kids are there because they haven’t been seen or because somebody has told them, has never ever told them that they are anybody or worth looking at. Or my imagination only can only tell me what brought that kid in. But I remember finishing no word or exchange, Chris, it’s so weird for me that this still hits me. Cause all I did was he had the dego coloring. I think he was something he was ally insecure about at the time. But I remember cutting his hair and when I finished I said, Hey, what do you think? And he looked up and he just paused and he just looked at himself and I could, it’s almost like you could see in a little movie where all of a sudden he was like, I don’t know who I will be, but I can see somebody and I could see him look at himself for the first time. Hey, you. And I was like, okay, I’m addicted to this feeling now. I’m going to do this for a long time.
So then when you share that with a team and then you get to go back and talk about it together, that’s when you start to create relationships. And all this time later, when I closed dynamic a cover studio I remembered, this is the part I wanted to make sure you and I talked about, right? I was like, I had gotten this opportunity to go and take that sort of idea and go with a big corporate chain that had 1300 salons and they were like, Mond, imagine what you can do with a team of 12, but now we have 10,000. And I was like, sounds like a bigger purpose, let’s go. So I went on board to go with this big mission and my team back in New York I think felt a little abandoned. I had just left them and they never said that to me.
I think they could see where I was trying to go and what was my heart was intending but I very quickly felt like my name was on the wall, but I was that salon figure that wasn’t really present. And so I came back after about two months in that other role and I sat down with a team again, had a team huddle, and I said, Hey guys, I have a little announcement. And it was so funny that day as I was talking with the manager and stuff saying, I need to let them know that I’m going to be closing the salon. Two things happened. The first was as I, she was like, I love you’re going to tell ’em today. And she was at the Timeout magazine today. And for the first time since I’d opened, we made New York City’s top five salons. And I was just about to close the magazine by it.
I was like, Hey listen. It’s like that’s good, let’s go out on top. So that was one thing that kind of hit me. I was like, well this, it’s a good sign. Don’t hold onto it. That’s great. You just made the decision going to let it go, let it be proud of it. And then right as I was saying that, I said, I don’t know, I want to be able to say something to have their future feel secure. And so one of the biggest first guys that I worked with, and he came about, I did not even in intend for him, and that’s what I’m trying to say again, trust the process. Mark Buso, right? Yes. So Mark, I wanted him to work for me so bad and I used to go to get my haircut and I used to pay Mark Buso prices like $200 or something to get my haircut with Mark Buso always trying to lure him into coming to when I opened my salon and he was in a great place.
He didn’t need to come to my salon. And I kind of let it go. And all of a sudden one day I’m like doing hair and there’s a photo shoot and Mark goes, Hey, this is my buddy Manny, and Manny is dreadlocks and a beard to here. And he is like, what’s up bro? And I’m like, Hey. And he goes, this place is dope. And I’m like, thanks. And I like, okay, so Manny and Mark are the barbers. Amazing, amazing, amazing. But both of them are the ones who are cutting hair for homeless guys on the street on the weekends. And Manny brings all of his love and all of his energy and becomes like my MVP at Am Carver Studio. And I’m like, mark, it was just meant to be. I was like, this is amazing. So I told Manny first thing, I was like, I think I’m going to go close the salon.
I go, do you still have aspirations of being a salon in New York? He goes, I will never own a salon, a salon in New York City, if you will, if you are. And I’m like, what if I wasn’t? And he goes, I go, you can have the salon, you can have the books, you can have the staff, everything. Just keep them together. Gimme the opportunity to stay together. And he was like, I would be honored. And so it was great because I was able to tell the team, Hey, this is what’s going on. And they were, it was mutual respect. They were like, that was a hard decision. We respect you for making it and not trying to trail us along the way. And also I said, you don’t have to, but Manny’s our brother and he’s going to take this. And so you guys still have a home and it’s still there.
They, they’ve moved locations and they change names. But if I go in there, it’s my family. They’re all still there working elbow elbow. And it’s a wonderful story that I get to be able to go back and feel like Ammon Carver Studio never really had to have a time where it ended. And I think that’s just the great thing about our industry, about how leadership and how the way you can impact people’s lives doesn’t have to be definitive or timestamped. It’s like it’s just, it’s going on and on. All these guys are so talented and they’ve made so many individual little marks. God, that team that started that first year as salon the year, now I look at it, I’m like, we had the juggernauts just starting now they’re going to all these different brands. And I’m like, you’ve go. You’ve go. And it makes me so proud. But it’s all, I think it’s starts from somebody who gives you the purpose, right? Yeah. They say, don’t forget why you’re doing it. And I’m grateful for that because they reminded me too. I’m like, yeah, that’s why I started doing this.
Chris Baran (01:21:18):
And I wanna just remind me, everybody of this story is that when somebody’s going to leave a salon, I find so often they either wanna close it or milk it for everything that’s worth. If you went, here’s the keys, take care of my baby.
So I thought that was just brilliant. So I’m going to ask you one last question, but just before we let everybody go in here, but at head cases, and for those of you who probably know already, I always say if you’re going to be a hairdresser and in particular if you’re going to get on stage, you’re going to be a head case. But I find that most of us, everybody that’s out there that I know that’s truly successful, they operate from what a technique that I call it, my technique that I named it. I didn’t name it either but there’s this Goya method where you have to get off your ass. Sex, I call it it sounds much more pg, but there’s always these things that people are always, they’re holding onto doing wrong or whatever. There’s something that’s out there that they should let go of. Or if you had to tell the people that are watching and listening right now of something that they should let go of, what would you say that is?
Ammon Carver (01:22:38):
I mean, I think without being set up too much for it, I feel like the thing that I had to let go of, and that’s kind of resonated throughout our conversation here, is just let go of the expectations. Let go. I think that you should absolutely visualize where you want to go and have a clear set path of where you’re going, but stop trying to make the steps happen because you’re going to have to do the work one way or another. And it may not be the exact steps that you plan. Most of the time it doesn’t work out. I don’t know about you Chris, but most of the times the things that I’ve gotten to very rarely happened on the path that I thought I was going to have to get them there. And so just let go of the idea and just release yourself to the process of it.
If you know that your heart in your head are in the humble place and you’re in a place where you’re, my thoughts and my actions are aligned with where I want to go, and then just let it guide you and stop trying to force it. I think that that’s where people are like, well what should I do if I want to do what you have? Would you have changed this? And I’m like, I mean <laugh>, first of all, if you’re trying to ask me how to get a shortcut to where I got to, it’s not going to happen Person,
Chris Baran (01:24:03):
Ammon Carver (01:24:04):
Take the stairs, b****. Don’t like the get off the elevator
Chris Baran (01:24:09):
What you said because it’s like our good friend Johnny Stellato always says is just be you. Just be what you’re at. So I am Ammon. I just wanna say again one more time from one brother to another. I just wanna say thank you so much. Telling your stories about your family and just your rise and the situations that go along the way I think are just invaluable to other people. So listen, from the bottom of my heart to yours, I just wanna say thank you. It’s been a pleasure and an honor being on here. And I already know that I want to have you and some of the Matrix gang together and get back on one of the podcasts so we can just talk about some of the kickass stories, fun stuff, and pranks. I’m sure you played on one another. So Ammon fun our team to yours. Thank you so much. Pleasure.
Ammon Carver (01:25:00):
Thank you Chris. Bye.