ep81 – Sharon Blain

I was very honored to speak with my next guest. She has remained relevant in the hair industry for over 5 decades and she continues to win awards and accolades including two time Hair Expo Hall of Fame and the Order of Australia. She has traveled the world educating thousands of stylists. She is the undisputed queen of hairstyling. She is generous, creative, and unstoppable in her love of the industry. I can’t wait to share with you my chat with Sharon Blain!

Chris Baran 0:00
How great would it be to get up close and personal with the beauty industry heroes? We love and admire and to ask them how did you learn to do what you do? I’m Chris Barron, a hairstylist and educator for 40 plus years, and I’m inviting all our heroes to chat and share the secrets of their success

Well, welcome to this episode of head cases. And I have to say this if you’re a long hair freak or just curious about long hair, or if you’re a creative sort, or you’re just curious about becoming more creative, then this week’s episode is a don’t miss for you. Let me give you just some of the accomplishments of this week guest metal of the Order of Australia almost makes you royalty. International hair Legend Award for the IHA awards winner of the Educator of the Year. H A H F A Australian hairdressing Federation awards, winner of the business Educator of the Year Individual for AHH America. That’s the Australian hair industry awards. She has the two time inductee Hall of Fame hair Expo Australia and the same award systems was gave her no catch this five times Educator of the Year. That’s a feather in anybody’s hat. Three times educator Business of the Year at hair Expo and Australia two times Business Performance of the Year boot camp hair Expo Australia she is the seven times finalists for the hairdresser of the year at hair Expo Australia. So let’s get into this week’s headcase the lady who is the queen of long hair, Sharon Blaine. Sharon, it is. First of all, I just got to say welcome to head cases. And it’s absolute pleasure. And and if I get a little mumble mouth in here, just because I’m in awe of whatever everything that you’ve done. And I have to say just a super pleasure to have you on here.

Sharon Blain 2:09
It’s absolutely my pleasure as well. And thank you for

Chris Baran 2:11
I have to you know, it’s interesting because I was just talking to one of your good buddies, Sonya Duff just the other day. And she said to say hi to you when we do this, so that first of all, hi.

Sharon Blain 2:26
Oh, Sonia is just such a wonderful lady. I have great respect for Sonya.

Chris Baran 2:31
When I was talking with her, she said that she gave me this little hint that you and candy Shaw and her are like the three amigos that you guys are just don’t like mine. We certainly

Sharon Blain 2:44
I think we were kindred spirits or sisters from another mother. Right? So

Chris Baran 2:49
it’s just that your accent is better, right? Maybe? Listen, when I did I just got finished. And I did your intro and I saw on there that member of the is it member or metal of the Order of Australia?

Sharon Blain 3:08
Yes, it’s the Metal of Order of Australia. I was given that twice a year in Australia, the Nash, the government actually recognize certain people that have done something great within their career or their you know, their industry or their sport or whatever that may be. And apparently it takes about five years for someone to actually earn this and you need to be nominated. So I wasn’t even aware that I was nominated by a past staff member to be honest, I found out later and that he had to gather lots of information for them. He had to also get recommendations from other industry folks as well. And I’m on the Australia Day, honestly. So I was given this just a couple of years ago and it’s like the highest order that you could ever get. So my family now we’re just calling the Dame Sharon. But the dame isn’t there anymore. Well.

Chris Baran 4:07
Yeah. So I mean, I’d loved the dame Sharon, comment, I was gonna make that myself as do we have to call it because it really is like a it’s almost a royalty thing, isn’t it? Yeah. Because that was for the people that don’t know, I think that was recommended by Queen Elizabeth. That they do that in 1975. Is that correct?

Sharon Blain 4:27
Yes. And I actually have a signature on my, on my, my diploma, whatever you call it. My letter from her and I would gather, looking at the dates that was signed or recommended by her was exactly that. Not long after not long before her passing. So I feel like it’s probably one of the last lot of people that maybe was blessed by having

Chris Baran 4:53
amazing. Absolutely man I just heard from I did a little research on this. And for the people that Don’t know you met use you said about that people do some extraordinary work, but it’s in there it says demonstrated achievement at a high level, they’ve made a comp contribution over and above what might be reasonably expected. And, and it says who’s voluntary contributions to the community stand out from others, who’ve also made a valuable contribution. So, you know, it’s just to the level of that. I mean, that the only other people that I think we’ve had on here, I think we’ve had two others from London who’ve had a visit called in London, is it the is it the MBA members of British MBO isn’t? In the NBA? Yeah, yeah. So as long as I don’t know, if I have to curtsy or bow or anything, I’m working. No, kissing the rings, all that kind of things. But listen, no,

Sharon Blain 5:57
I look. It is phenomenal honor. And I’m blessed to, you know, to obviously be one of the few hairdressers here in Australia. We have a few of them have passed since but I think there’s probably in total, over 30 years in, in total, probably only five people, but not necessarily always have they received it for their services to the hair industry. They happen to be hairdressers that received it for contribution to other other things.

Chris Baran 6:28
Yeah, well, first of all, congratulations. And I just have to say I mean, well deserved. I you know, there’s so many people. And what I love about this, doing this podcast is, you know, we’ve never really had a chance to really meet in a formal meeting where we can just say, Hey, how are you doing and just shoot the breeze. So I love it. And I love the fact that I can be on here and and just pick brains. And you certainly are well deserved of that honor, as well as all the others. As a matter of fact, if there’s anything that I’m going to ever enter into, I’m going to ask you if you’re entering, and then just so I don’t know, because your work is absolutely spectacular.

Sharon Blain 7:12
Thank you know, at this stage, I don’t have any plans to shoot any images. And no, I’m not going to enter into any creative awards this year. They’re good.

Chris Baran 7:25
Accept third eye, all of those are fine with me. I’m just after trophies. Now, I want to do two things with you here I want to talk about, because let’s face it from the oh, what you’ve done, it takes a certain amount of creativity. And obviously all a lot of the awards that you’ve got are for education. I don’t want to make it about the awards. Because that’s not I mean, yes, it’s nice to have. But it’s what you do to change people’s lives in the education. And those are the areas that I want to kind of time permitting chat about why don’t want to jump into creativity first. And you know, I’ve talked to I was just talking with Laurie Zabel the other day, and she was in your, in one of your classes, I think I can’t remember if it was in, in LA, or one of the areas in San Francisco or somewhere or New York that you were in. And Laurie is able who is like, She’s literally one we call her our daughter. But just she happens to have different parents. But she was just raving about your class. And I know I’ve talked to everybody else that I said, it’s always about being how super creative you are. So when I when you hear people talk about how creative you are, how do you feel about that? What’s your thoughts on that? When people label you when that was funny?

Sharon Blain 8:44
I don’t actually ever hear those conversations, because people have that conversation behind my back. And it’s quite weird. You know, I never saw myself as that creative, probably until I was about 50. Which sounds bizarre. Yes, exactly. And what came about from that was I was going through some old photos of different photographs that we had shorts over the years, and they’re actually on film or slide. And I was looking at them. And I was thinking, wow, you know, these are actually what we’re doing now. And yet I was flipping through pictures that were quite old. And I think we’re doing that now we’re doing that now. Wow, these are actually I could actually put these up and they would be like they were shot today. And I suppose I never saw myself as being able to think about things maybe before the time. And then another thought sort of came across my mind was that I always thought I was a great copier. So initially, you know, whenever I would do a photo shoot, I would just find these beautiful photos that people had created. I would make my storyboard out and I would try to copy infant every year. as per that photo, and I’m sure a lot of people will recognize this conversation, because I’m sure most people have a crack at copying one of their favorites. And I used to think I was doing a really good reproduction of some of my favorite pictures that some of my colleagues had created. And so I always used to say, Look, I’m a great copier, I’m not an inspirational hairdresser. But as time walked on, I started to think it may be I actually do have more creativity than I give myself credit for. And it wasn’t until let that each time that I actually started to think, you know, actually, you are creating material that and you’re not looking at other people’s stuff anymore. You’re you’re actually looking at a piece of hair and seeing what you can do with it and making something happen. So I started to give my my head a little bit of a chat, like we do need to do in hairdressing. And I started to change my mindset about oh, I’m just a great copier to actually yes, I think I could influence hair a little bit more. So I started my my own personal growth and journey based on that, that conversation with myself. So the biggest thing I tried to do these days, and whether it’s for a class, whether it’s for styling for a class, whether it’s styling for collection, or whatever it is, I want to now challenge myself to never create anything that I’ve seen before. So that comes with a little bit of a price tag, as you could imagine, and a lots of sleepless nights, and a lot of flops. But I feel more than ever, now I can just look at a piece of hair for what it is, and see what it’s going to do and start just working with what’s in front of me without having to think that I have to push it this way or that way to recreate a look that I’ve probably tried to recreate. So I feel like I feel like my styling now is growing a lot than what it has over the years. And it’s funny that it’s taken me that many took me till 50 years of age to realize that, and then I think my best work has been created from then on.

Chris Baran 12:14
Yeah, you know,

Sharon Blain 12:17
you know, we’re Yeah, and you know, I was we had a fabulous seminar, Justice Monday in Melbourne with two of my dear hair besties. And I was telling them, they were all saying, oh my god, you know, you create so many beautiful images. I said, don’t forget, there’s a lot of things I haven’t won. And I’ve been a finalist for Australian hairdresser the year on seven different occasions. And yet I’ve never won them. And yet, you know, I get to that stage where I’m thinking, Oh, it’s just because I’m the old girl and they don’t want to give it to me anymore. So I probably have to concede defeat move on, which I’ve obviously have. But I feel like creativity comes for me from so many different aspects has been one of the biggest. The key things that really resonated with me was many years ago, I was fortunate enough to be taken to Germany by Goldwell Goldwell at the time, and they wanted me to create some iconic images for them for the relaunch of the colorants clamp, colorants campaign. And they gave me images of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. And that’s where I had to get my creative. That’s where I had to take my inspiration from now, no one’s ever thrown me a building and said, You have to create inspiration from a building. And I didn’t know what the part of the building was I was supposed to look at, but I tell you what I wanted to do the best job I could because it was the first time I ever been blessed with the opportunity to create images for an international ad campaign. So I didn’t know whether it was the outline shape, whether it was a surface was whether it was the reflection of the shine. I wasn’t sure what it was. But believe me, I was ready to drop that, you know, walk away from the job because the pressure that I was getting to fulfill their desire was really tough. But it led me on this new direction and path of how creativity can evolve. And when I look at those images that I created that many years ago, they’re still the most beautiful images. And I honestly think if you look at them, you could probably see the form of the building, you can see the variation of the three dimensional shapes within. And that’s that was a great, great learning for me and that was very inspirational. And I think the other thing that helped me most with my inspiration was learning floristry learning what floristry so I went to college to learn how to create, to do flowers. Wow. So I learned to do casket covers, and massive big arrangements, I’d learned to do bridal bouquets, that taught me the principles of design. Wow. And although in college, the principles of design may be mentioned or not mentioned, they may be taught or maybe just crossed over. Until I understood the principles of design, I don’t think my work was ever that appealing. So now I know what looks good. Now I know how to look at the shape. Now I know that that’s too much, you need to take some off and know when to stop. So I think they’ve been that those couple of things within my lifetime that have been really key, that’s pivoted my brain to think a little bit more creatively, and how to use my brain to create, you know, creative images that we may never have thought about in the past. Wow,

Chris Baran 16:09
that’s, that’s, that’s absolutely amazing. And it just tells me how you can get something no matter what the course is, no matter what you’re taking, it still applies to what we do, because it’s art. Yeah, yes.

Sharon Blain 16:22
Yes. And, you know, I did flowers really well. And there was a moment in time where I thought, I’m going to leave hairdressing and just take up forestry. And even to this day, I mean, just give me a flower and I’m, I’m as happy with a flower as I am with a piece of

Chris Baran 16:37
hair, it’s just a different material. You know, I

Sharon Blain 16:39
think, yeah, and you know, it, people just take their little brain out of just trying to create a style and putting pressure on themselves, to look outside our industry to where two other things, it really is quite amazing how their inspiration can freely flow. I mean, I was just trying to think of that fabulous female architect headed Sahar did. She is She she died in her late 60s, I think, but she is probably the most iconic architect, as a female. And if you look at some of her buildings that she’s created, that she’s pretty much defined, what’s impossible, that turned out to be possible through her design. And so the thing that I think about with hair, and I think about with her is, you know, everything has to come from foundation. Everything has to come from foundation. So whether you’re trying to create one of her amazing architectural pieces, you know, that whatever is on the top is a massive foundation below to make it happen. So when it comes to how you can’t just make the top happen, it’s what you put into it at the beginning, that will make the top evolve. So you know, how it, how are you going to pin it, what sort of base you’re going to use, what texture you’re going to use, how you get that quality, finish, all of those things, to me are really relevant when it comes to creating beautiful images.

Chris Baran 18:14
You know, I love where this is going. And I’m seeing like, there’s a thread that we just talked about in there, where you talked about copying, you know, because I’m sure when you took that florist class, you, you would have had to learn how to copy something first, you know, they had to teach you hear that you do x, y, z. And that will I can’t believe I said, being from being Canadian. I said, I’m starting to z, z, z, I’m getting more American all along. But you have to do it X, Y, Zed x, y, z, and then you copy x, y, z. And I think that’s what we do in education to and and I’m wondering, what do you think? Do you think that’s why some people don’t think that they’re creative? Because they go to a class, they watch you do? Color design, avant garde, whatever. And then they copy it, and then they go home and copy it. Do you think that that might be part of why some people don’t think that they’re creative?

Sharon Blain 19:22
Yes, I think it is. And I think they’re not pushing themselves to utilize the skills they’ve just learned in that class. And to take it on another track. They’re just gonna focus on what they’ve learned. And there’s and I think there’s no bout that those are boundaries that you can’t expand past. But the more I’m educating now, the more I’m saying to people, I am teaching you skills within this hairstyle. And I want you just to learn this skill. Yes, it will end up as a hairstyle, but it’s the skills that created the hairstyle that I’m teaching you With that you can take and transfer to create other styles that don’t necessarily look like this one. So trying to open their mind up while you are educating them to other possibilities, that seems to be, you know, resonating with some of the students as well. But I’m sure a lot of people would have would probably have my my mindset, you know, I’m not one that takes a piece of paper, I’m not, I’m not an artist, I don’t draw. I’m not like some of these wonderful hairdressers that can draw fabulous hair, I guess that I just, I just think about it. And, you know, I just look at it on the head, and I try to sort of push it. And if I push it in this odd shape, I think, oh my god, I love that shape, and I hold it there, then I’m going to work out how to create the base to make it work to hold there. And that’s not with a can of hairspray, because I’m an absolute, fanatical hairdresser when it comes to know this,

Chris Baran 21:01
because that can wreck your style, right? I mean,

Sharon Blain 21:04
well, it’s exactly what I say. You shouldn’t depend on a can of hairspray to create your image. It’s, it’s to create the images, the hair style will support the hairspray will support it in it in the end. But don’t just load it up with hair spray and pray. Because it doesn’t work.

Chris Baran 21:23
And I’ll bet you part of that comes from just habit, right? We have the clients that come in, they do beautiful head of hair, but they got to go out and say it in the wind and the humidity or whatever. So they we spray it with, with with it with hairspray to hold it in place. But you don’t have to do that for a for a photograph, because there is no unless you have and sometimes even if a wind machine is on it, it’s even a little bit better.

Sharon Blain 21:48
What do you know why? When I’m judging for competitions, and as you can imagine, I judge competitions worldwide pretty much every month. You know, one of the things that’s a real turnoff for me is seeing it so overdosed on product, whether it’s gel, hairspray, you know, texture sprays, half of them, you can see particles in their hair from too much of something, I think it’s a real feat to be able to create beautiful hair styles that looks like the hair is alive and breathing. And it’s a challenge I give myself every time because that’s the feeling that I want to see in my hair these days. I want it to look, I want it to look real and alive.

Chris Baran 22:32
The the one thing that I when I look at your work. And this is gonna sound wrong. But you have this amazing ability to get every hair in place. But yet it doesn’t look like it. You know, I’ve watched some people’s work. And you know, there’s mine included, that that’s a mastery in order to be able to get a polished look where every hair that’s going in a certain direction needs to go there. But it does, it looks effortless. And I think that’s where I’m trying to go.

Sharon Blain 23:12
Yeah, look, you know, I don’t know if you realize my background was competition. And I’m absolutely blessed to have had and Gary Bray as my coach. Now

Chris Baran 23:24
I get that.

Sharon Blain 23:28
Yeah, that many years ago now. I’m thinking my daughter was 16 when we went to America, she’s now 50. So that’s how though that’s how long ago I was working with and and Gary and I was an absolute avid competition hairdresser. I just wanted to be a world champion in styling, classical hairdressing. And I came to Huntsville, Alabama on a few occasions where these guys worked with me. And I was lucky enough to go on and coach Australia and do very, very well. For Australia. We won oceanic region and stuff like that. But what I’m saying the ability to make him move and polished and finished but in an effortless way. Definitely comes from my foundation of classical styling that I learned with those guys. I

Chris Baran 24:23
also saw on I was I was I’ll call it stalking some of the work that you were doing. I’ll call it research just for the purpose of this. But I noticed on on on your site that you were talking about your advanced course that you’re going to be doing I believe you’re doing it up in Toronto and in in in New York, New York. And what I loved because you you and your assistants name I apologize. A and she and you were talking Talking about how, and I want everybody to hold on to your seats when I say this, when your advanced course you’re going to be teaching them how to use rollers, and set the hair. Yes. Good on us. Good on you. Because, you know, that’s where, you know, I came from the bat, my background was before soons. And I’ve been in the business for 55 years. So it was before blow dryers and before curling irons, etc. So you had to learn how to put rollers at one on one, if you’re if you’re 25 years old, right now, I don’t want to lose you on this. But that’s where you learn how to make one, curl C formation fit into another C formation, whether it’s this information is big or small, you learn how to connect them together. And and I applaud you for bringing that back in.

Sharon Blain 25:58
Look, I feel that a lot of the people that I’ve had in my bootcamp over the years, and I’ve got to say America has been absolute champions of my education, I feel every time I come to America or Canada, you know, I always get booked out classes I am. So I feel like I’m like I could be an American. I’m so welcome. And I’m so I feel really appreciated. But last year when we did two back to back boot camps, and they were four day classes, so I taught people how to blow dry again, I taught, taught them how to tease and pin and just basic skills that would support any particular look that they were trying to achieve. And you know, I look at these. A lot of people, when you look at their inspirational boards, they’ll have a Marilyn Monroe. Look, I was only this morning, that one of my friends here who does photography sent me a picture of Madonna with a curly set. And she said, would you need a wig for this? Or could you do it on this model’s hair. And she had long blonde hair. And I said, Yeah, I could do it on her hair. But I said to safeguard you, I’m not sure who’s doing the styling on your shoot, I’d go for week because otherwise they’ll be there all day. And they probably still won’t be able to make that happen. But I think it’s because when you understand setting and what you need to do with it. It can evolve into anything. So it doesn’t have rollers is just one tool. That same pit setting pattern could also be done with a barrel Tom, if you’re clever, and you do a really good blow dry with good tension, and you allow it to cool down correctly, and you choose the right barrel size for the outcome, you can still get that same result as you would get with the roller, probably not quite as gutsy, but definitely movement that you’re looking for. So I think, as we know, the foundation of everything came from setting. So I’m going to have people in my class, they’re going to learn to set Marilyn Monroe John Kennedy, and, gosh, I’ve lost the last name. But three of our iconic women have those Swifties 60 zeros that had sets, right, because I want them to know how to do that. Because these people that will be coming to this advanced bootcamp will be hoping one day that they’ll be picked up by an agent and someone’s going to throw those last one day and say, I want you to do that. But how many people can do that? We can do it because we were brought up in that age. And that was what we cut our teeth on. But for the youth of today, it’s not something that they’ve done, but they had these desires and dreams to, at some stage work on movies or work within the editorial spare space. If you don’t know that you’re not going to get the you’re not going to get. And if you and if you do get the gig and you stuff up, you won’t get

Chris Baran 29:05
it because that’s a kiss of death. Because they’ll talk they talk and say well don’t don’t hire press because Yeah.

Sharon Blain 29:15
Yeah, he could Yeah, he kept it took him five hours to get something and everyone ran late and it was just a disaster. So you know, I love that I can share that information. I love that I have this full rounded knowledge of the skill set, then, you know, I just want everybody to have my knowledge because you know, I’m not here for a long time now. You know, and for as long as I can be here and share that. I think that’s what we have to do as you know, elders of the industry. We have to get back to this next generation coming through so and pray that they will pass through because otherwise it just stops with us. You know, I take my knowledge to my grave you know and that’s not that’s not My mindset, I want the best for our industry. And I think the more skills we can pass back on to our, you know, upcoming hairdressers, the greater I feel

Chris Baran 30:10
about that I think we’re kindred spirits in that way I, I often use this example that my dad who was a car salesman, he, you know, he was always about sales, and it was always about, but he was that old school where you were in business for 40 years, and then you retired, and so on. And so he always talked about to 20 year periods, he said, Your 20 year periods at the very beginning, when you first get married, and you’re having your family, that’s when you you, you give, you know, you have to give up money for everything. And then he said the second 20 years is when you get got everything you want. But now you’ve got it starting to get your you get savings, you get your cars, your everything’s paid for and so on. And like you just said, and I’ll pass this on to you, and you can use it if you want. As I always say that we’re past both of those 20 years. So it’s about give for the first 20 Get for the second 20. But you have to give back for the 20 after that. And I think that’s where we’re in a line. That’s everything that I believe that you’re saying is I’m so ingratiate it to simply because you’ve got to give back at the end, you can’t just sit back on your laurels. You know, that’s the way that that’s why you are who you are. But this is a great segue into education. But I would be remiss if we didn’t say, Okay, we talked about the creativity. I want to talk about education and, and all of that, but like, I’d like them to you to get some sensibility about your hair story. Like tell us like Where Where did you how did it all start? Why hair? And how did you get it?

Sharon Blain 31:44
Oh, it was never not going to be about here. And I tell this live really beautiful story. And I’m trying to recall my age but look like wasn’t even a teenager at the time. And we lived next door to a beautiful old couple and they’re in their 80s. And the wife was Was she wasn’t bedridden, but she definitely was quite immobile. So she would wash her hair on a Saturday morning, I’m still at school, obviously. Obviously, I’m still at school. And she would wash her hair every Saturday morning. And I would go in and put rollers in her hair and put her under one under one of those old fashioned blow dryer things. And then I would go in and I would brush it out. So I’d go back in about five o’clock in the afternoon. And I would brush her hair, put little bit of hairspray on it. And her husband was the most loving, adoring man, he had absolutely adored Mary. And he used to say, Oh, Mary, you look so beautiful. And I thought, oh my god, you know, if I do hair, that’s how people feel when they get you know, that’s the appreciation of me doing her hair. And I guess when you’re one of seven kids, and you’ve got five brothers, it’s a bit of a hard gig to get any appreciation from your dad. So I my mum obviously was different. But my dad, I’m always looking to Him to show some appreciation towards the female in the family. And I have one sister who’s slightly older than me. But unfortunately, she was born with a lot of health issues. So it was a given that she was going to get dad’s attention. So I was always felt like I was the one left out, but didn’t hear anything. I just felt like oh my god, this is such an incredible industry where people really love what you do. They appreciate you and I just loved brushing and doing her hair. And you know, I used to do my hair myself. So you know, when I’m going off to high school now I’m like the naughty kid in the class. To be honest, I didn’t want to be there. I did not enjoy school very much. And you know, I was probably sent out of the classroom more times than I was actually in the classroom. And you know, I said to my mum, I really hate school and she said, Well, you can’t leave school till you get a job. So I said I just want to be heard. But so so you know, 14 years and nine months that’s very young to leave school. So I left without any qualifications, obviously. And I got a job at a local hairdressing salon in Bathurst which is this very small country town in New South Wales, Australia. And I had a horrible boss he was really quite mean and and not nice. But you know, I stuck it out there and I was so unhappy. working there. Actually, I’m thinking this whole rug or reverse set back. My first boss was like a witch. She was really horrible. And I got sacked after six months because I don’t know if you recall when we used to have hair spray in a pump lacquer bottle. Well, I actually made a mistake. I didn’t do it on purpose. I promise you that. I put disinfectant into the lacquer spray by mistake because they were both brown And my boss now sprays the lacquer on her very long haired lady who’d been sitting under the drive for pilot an hour and a half to dry. And now she’s got disinfected in her hair instead of hairspray. So she threw the lacquer spray at me told me to get up and leave. So that was the end of that job. And they could do that in these days. And no one’s ever going to, you know, I could have written she could have been up for bullying, couldn’t she? So I did get a job with another guy. And they were really tough as well. And to be honest, I did in Australia, we have a four year apprenticeship. By the time I finally finished because of my probably not great behavior as as an employee. I ended up taking seven years to finish my training. But I never went to any colleges, everything that everything to this very day that I’ve ever learned has been self taught. Because in that country town, there were no hairdressing schools. And if you wanted to try and get a qualification at from college, you had to do it through correspondence, and that Nelson’s ideal for this personality. So yeah, it took me seven years I got married very young. I’ve got three children, I’ve got seven grandkids. And I eventually went on to open my own salon in another country town after I got married purely because I couldn’t get a job. How funny is that? So I bought my own salon. And my dad loaned me the money. And, you know, that was huge for my dad, because he was a hard worker, and he had to take a second mortgage on his house. And he used to say, Don’t you lose my money? And it was $3,000 $3,000. Believe it or not, that’s all my that’s what it cost me to buy the salon. So I was very proud to bring him up on the first day and let him know I’d made $85 for the day.

Chris Baran 36:48
Did you save your first dollar

Sharon Blain 36:52
I knew it was as proud as I was that I’d made 85. But I didn’t tell him about a few days, we made nothing. But I realized very early in the stint that I really needed to be skillful. So what we took bank loans out, and each year in the middle of winter, even though I had little babies, my mum would come and stay with me and I would go to saloons in London booking for a month. Good for you. And I would go back repeatedly and repeatedly and repeatedly. So although I’m recognized as a, you know, a skillful stylist with dressing here, I could say that my cutting skills are pretty much up there as well. So you know, then, of course, once I’m getting the skills for cutting, then I’m growing a really good business and in this little country town and there was only about 12,000 people there. I grew to a staff of about a my friend was one of my apprentices said we had 26 on stage. It was It was wild. But I do attribute the success also in that little country town as I took on half an hour stint on local TV every single week. And they they never paid me, I paid them I think $50 a week. And I had this gig on the local TV station all about here. And dressing here. And whatever was happening at the time, we might have an EPC machine in so we do EPs and we might have launched a new hot roll or a new color, whatever it was. And I did that for three consecutive years on local TV. So that grew that our business massively. So then we moved to Sydney I was lucky enough then to be introduced to classical styling by a person who was working in the salon that I joined and he was the Australian champion in styling for competitions nominated side so he and I work together and he taught me then I came to Sassoon. I then went on to open my own salons, I ended up with three. Obviously, I’ve sold a whole lot of them now, but have employed massive numbers of people train X amount as I can’t even imagine how many young folks that I’ve trained as apprentices. But now I’m pretty much freelance educator. So I’m not I’m not an ambassador to any brand. I’m sort of free to work with anybody. But I just love the education. So that’s a it’s a short story about well,

Chris Baran 39:18
I have to one quick thing I was out visiting one of my good buddies as an I know you know him as many, many taught me and he and I are like brothers. And I remember and I don’t remember which area was but I remember him walking by him driving by and he said that’s that’s one of Sharon’s salons right there because so even that was back when I had been at least

Sharon Blain 39:42
you would have been in big Croft in probably Yeah. And you know what, it was an iconic salon we were well before our time. You know I had I had free childcare in that salon and we had a purpose built locate a purpose. Build area. And we employ two child carers, so any of the kids and parents had bought their children were able to book their kids into the childcare. And also what it was was there for all the staff members that decided to have babies that would have probably left me, they knew that they could go and have their babies. And when they were ready to come back, they could bring their babies to work. And they would be looked after, while they were working with their clients. So I’ve really lost a lot of these young mums, where we find these days, when someone has a baby, they’re never or it’s never convenient to go back to work in the normal location, they tend to open up, maybe a chair at home or something like that. So I was able to keep a lot of these girls coming back to work, which was great, but it had a massive reputation. This particular salon, it was an old supermarket, which took us seven years to run or seven months just to pull apart and rebuild this beautiful location

Chris Baran 40:57
with ideas like that, I can understand why you got the business awards that you’ve got in there as well. So it No, I think that was really meant because not many people think about that. They’re always thinking about, well, what’s this gonna cost me, you know, and so on. And I think that sometimes you just got to put things out there and just do them, you know, and just shake, check the world up a bit. So when you said, Hey, you don’t have to worry about your kids going at home, or you can come in during the daytime, you got to wait till your husband zone, bring your kids in. That’s it was a brilliant stuff. So,

Sharon Blain 41:29
and a lot of not only the staff appreciated, the clients appreciated the fact that I was being, you know, a very caring boss to staff. And that made you know, that makes good all round energy. We then Agreed,

Chris Baran 41:45
agreed How did what did the you know, I think your IT people always think that you’re gifted being able to teach. And, and I it’s not that I disagree, I think you have a personality that can teach. But being able to teach is completely different than knowing the skill and discipline of how to teach and getting a message across is different than doing hair. You know, they’re two completely different genres. So yeah, where did your Where did the the teaching part of it come from for you.

Sharon Blain 42:21
To know, I was a really good retailer in my salon. And I used to think if I just keep telling the client, what she needs, and I continually instruct you on how to create this look, tomorrow, I will have a good client base, because they will appreciate the time that I’ve taken to instruct them. They’ll appreciate the time that I’ve shown them in some stages, say take my brush, hold it like this, do it like that. So I’ve always been very strong about instructing my clients how to recreate their hair. So I obviously had a massive, huge client base. I think just I think the biggest thing with teaching is is I don’t want to hold back. I think a lot of the problems with education these days is people will only teach you this much because they don’t want everybody to know everything I have this philosophy is like, well, it’s taken me this many years to learn this, you’re not gonna learn it in one day anyhow. So I’ll tell you everything, because to be honest, here only going to pick up x amount of it anyhow, and take it away. So I’ve always been very open and sharing with everything I teach. I want people I honestly genuinely want people to do the best they can be, I’m not going to walk around the room when I’ve demonstrated a look and say, Oh, that looks fabulous. That looks fabulous. When it looks absolutely rotten. I’m going to say Do you mind, I’m just give me your comb. And let’s just work with this because I really believe we can work and get this better. So I won’t allow anyone to just dish up anything that’s mediocre in my class. I want them to feel proud. And you know, and motivated and walk away feeling that they can recreate what I’ve taught them. I don’t want this situation where you say, Oh, that looks amazing. But you need to do this. You know, just keep practicing. We all know you have to keep practicing, but I want them I want everyone to try and do it the as good as what I’ve done. And that that to me is really important. And the appreciation for that approach is significant. The other thing that I’ve also spent a lot of time as looking as I realized people, and particularly in our industry, we do attract a few people with, you know, various learning disabilities. I’ve had it as my own staff members. And I’ve always tried to work out how we best accommodate people that have various ways of taking on information. So some of them will be visual where they can watch you and pretty much go and recreate it. Some of them have to take notes and you know Some of them have to, you know, listen, take notes, watch, do, there’s all different ways to approach it. And so I tried to bring in all the different learning styles, unbeknownst to the people watching me. So we’ll have a board where we’re writing up notes, you’ll have me watching me trying to not just explain a technique, but try to give a, you know, like, a side explanation. So it might be something like I saw a girl called Ashley Norman this week, and I thought, I’m gonna take that she was talking about the cuticle on the hair. And she had two pair of jeans that she had a brand new pair of jeans in one picture. And on the other side, she had jeans that were all shredded. And I thought, How good is that explanation on what a cuticle looks like? Because this is a good head of hair. And this is the head that the cuticle is all blown out and shredded off. So I try to explain a little bit like that to them to get some good underpinning knowledge. And not it’s not just about the hairstyle. It’s not about the finished hairstyle. It’s about the underpinning knowledge that got to the finished hair stuff. And I spend a lot of time researching that. I mean, even with my book that I wrote through locked down, it’s I spent hours and hours and hours. You know, I knew what I knew. But I really wanted to make sure that I knew what I was what I wrote in that book was right as well. So I would go down a rabbit hole, seeing what this person says the net and explanation and trying to give a good informative lot of information, you know, whether it’s texture, whether it’s cuticles, whether it’s fine hair, thin hair elasticity, you know, all those things are all relevant for creating a good hairstyle. And I think that’s probably why I do well as an educator, because I go into it a little bit more. I’m not as shallow with my education. And it’s definitely not about a product sale. And that’s one of the things that people really appreciate most for me is that I’m not standing up there selling a product, I’m selling skills,

Chris Baran 47:13
you know, the I want to just jump back to your book, is the book that you didn’t lock down is that the one with the blonde on the front that has the zigzag pattern across? Yeah, where can they get that

Sharon Blain 47:28
it’s available on Amazon,

Chris Baran 47:29
and just go to WWE. If I typed in and I went Sharon Blaine

Sharon Blain 47:34
book you typed in Sharon Blaine or the confidence stylus, it would immediately come up. And it’s an it’s in a system that’s called Print on demand. So when you book it, when you pay for it, they print is a couple of days print time, and then it’s sent to you.

Chris Baran 47:54
This episode is sponsored by the salon associate accelerator from trainers playbook.com. Are you struggling with the time and cost of associate training? Do you feel like your salon is running you will get your associates on the floor, all with 90% Less time from you. So you can get back to building your business. Get them world class design, finishing color and client care skills they’ll use every day for the rest of their career. While you focus on realizing your vision, go to trainers playbook.com and get the salon associate accelerator. And now back to the show. I think you’ve almost answered this next one. But I want to I want to put this out there because I think it’s so important. The we were we’ve been talking about education. And there’s so many people that look at you, they see your style. And you know, I think when people see that authenticity, and they they want to emulate that say I would love to do what Sharon does. So if you had to if there was a young kid that was out there and said, I want to be like Sharon, and I want to be an educator what were either two or three things or whatever that you would say to them that they could work out to become that educator that you are.

Sharon Blain 49:31
Well, I think the most important thing is to be incredibly knowledgeable about your subject. You can’t be everything to every person. So I never I never wanted to go down the cutting route because to be completely honest, it was very competitive. So if I decided to be a cutting educator in Australia, I’m going to be up against any and all those other people at that time in my life, but I Seriously knew no one was able to style quite the way I do. Now currently, as we know, there’s a lot of people who classify themselves as stylists, on Instagram. But their stylists only do probably three or four things well. And they are, it’s a trend that a lot of them are doing. It’s the waves, it’s a ponytail, it’s a messy bun and on the nape and the messy bun on the top. And I don’t think there’s anything else there, there might be a couple of braids mixed up with that. That isn’t to me, a stylist, that’s person creating images for social media that is trying to get numbers. When you want to be an educator, your skill set has to be surpassing that type of work, you have to have, I’m just blessed that I’ve been doing it so long that it isn’t a hard gig for me because I grew up. But when you’re a young kid wanting to teach like Sharon Blaine, and I get so many beautiful young students in my class, that I know that some sage with their drive and determination will be there and get there. They they all they know intuitively that they need to know more than what they currently know. And they’re not learning it in college, as we know, they are only touching on any sort of styling for a very short amount of hours. So I feel that you have to I would start with just learning to put a role. And if anyone’s ever looked at Nicolas Jean Jacques, do you know Nicolas?

Chris Baran 51:42
They don’t?

Sharon Blain 51:44
Well, you need to, I did a podcast with Nicolas in lockdown. He’s a French editorial stylist and I most identify with him. I think he’s quite phenomenon. And I asked him how he started. And he said that he was assisting for many years. So that was one thing, how we got into the editorial arena. And one day someone didn’t show up. So he got the gig. But he realized there were certain books at that stage of his career that people edit, edited video editors were looking for, or directors were looking for in the photographs. So he would focus on one look. And he would practice and practice and practice to lose utter perfection. And only then would He say, I know how to do this and move on to the next one. So he researched what was code out there what people were doing, and not necessarily your Instagram doing but more looking at your editorial stylists, whether it be you know, you Shane, whether it’s Sam McKnight, you know, a lot of these wonderful people that do beautiful work, and trying to get an idea of how they might have created that. I mean, we just looked at that runway show. It’s Chanel did in June in Edinburgh, did you notice that one that’s just

Chris Baran 53:07
haven’t seen that one yet what

Sharon Blain 53:10
they’ve set here, and it’s a short, wavy set. And it’s absolutely significant. It’s so beautiful, it reminded me of the probably a little little more freer. But you know, when you’re in the 60s with the new look, when that came through that beautiful wave setting and all of that, it, it just melted my heart. And but you know, it’s a skill, you can’t just do that. You’ve got to know how to do it. And the bones of that come from the basic things like so you focus on your setting, you focus on doing really beautiful braiding. You focus on smoothing here and getting good quality polish. And you focus on creating beautiful shape, and create your skill set so strong, that when you stand in front of someone, if they question you, you’ve got an answer for that. If they you know, and you will stand there and not mess up. I mean, no one’s going to tolerate someone presenting, that doesn’t get a great result. So even for me when I’m going to do a class, I’m going to spend a week practicing, before I even show up even at this stage, because I want to know that I’ve got every step down pat, I want to know where every year has to go. So I’m a bit like a machine. I know exactly where it’s all going to happen and how it’s going to happen. So you can’t just go in and pray. You’ve got to be absolutely polished to perfection before you can get there. And I think you’ve also got to have a good I think one of the things I would highly recommend is if you could have a great mass. Someone who’s a really great mentor that you admire, that’s doing some incredible work out there. And even if you look at some of the celebrity stylists that are doing some As a you know, iconic stylists, approaching people and say, I know it’s not easy in America to hop on a plane and go in and up bobby pins. But if you can do that, that’s half the battle, if you could get onto someone’s team at Fashion Week, you’re probably not going to do here. But you might end up bobby pins. But the more you can be within the clique, the more you can be exposed to everything, the better your skill set will evolve. And the stronger you’ll be, and that’s not good. And to be a recognized educator, I really think you got it takes us, it really didn’t happen for me overnight. There’s no doubt about that.

Chris Baran 55:36
You know, it’s interesting how this conversation has went, because we almost ended up back at the beginning again, because here’s what I here’s what I heard you said, you know, because if you want to, if you want to be to the caliber that Sharon Blaine has that you have to, you’ve got to know all the skill sets, it can’t be just trend and what What’s the flavor of the month, you have to be able to practice to so that you can polish that skill and you’re there ahead of time, and you’re not wasting people’s time. And the other thing is you have to put in your time preparing for the events that you do. And I loved what you said about that, you’ve got to do the research. And I know that in doing research that we’ve done, like when we’ve done them for some major production shows and doing things for the, for the finale, or the in between pieces that we’ve done for is I remember working with, with our team, and 85% of the time, if you’re creating something 85% of the time is on research on the screw ups that don’t work. So you can do it right each and every time after that. But so people give up in the research. And what I love that you said is you put in the time in the research, so that you are Sharon Blaine, who can do that look each and every time to perfection when you’re on set. Whereas if you didn’t do it, that’s where you might stuff it up. And I think that’s just absolutely brilliant. And, and part of that comes from copying. Part of that comes from having like an Gary that you know, mentors of yours that taught you what you do, I just think that this whole conversation has married the creativity we talked about at the beginning with the discipline that takes education. So absolutely, and

Sharon Blain 57:39
pivot point, you have a fabulous textbook, and it’s a very, very old textbook. And I do have the list of it. It’s styling component of that book that I think goes back 40 years, it’s a very old textbook, I think it’s design, the art of design or something like that. And it’s all about putting rollers in all write everything about how you set to get to a result. And that’s like my Bible and even if I’m not sure of I want to move the hair in a certain way, I’ll pick up that book today still, and just see how they’ve actually set it. And it’s not for me to put a It’s not because I want to put a roller in but I might want to blow dried or toilet. But I know when I do it that way I will get them on the result because that was one thing that Leah massage I believe was synonymously clever with was his design principles of the setting. So I always identify setting and styling with the OP massage, and definitely the cutting component with the gel. And there’s my two people that I most you know, accredit to my skill set and not not them personally but what they’ve created and what I’ve followed and and created my philosophy so a

Chris Baran 59:00
lot of those people set the ethos for what we do. You know, they’re like, you know, similar for me like everything when I was a kid as everything went to soon started off I just went that’s what I wanted to do. And quite frankly, it’s because I almost got sacked from my first job because I was working at a salon this is when everything was shampoo and sets and I would create people wanted monstrosities they wanted to build volume and the higher the hair the higher to heaven. And because I was I wanted to be a cutter i i went into all the shapes when they were walking out the door you could see them sort of like the air was leaving out of them and they would collapse because I didn’t know the principles of setting and I didn’t know how to how to how to back home the hair properly. And it’s funny how that went full circle for me because like you I got them hooked on competition and and everything that I learned in competition made me the hairdressers that I am today. But I, I say that all of us there like kids nowadays that is MSA, it’s like, you know, I talked like the old man that’s out there now but, you know, if they understand that everything is still about an on off and half based setting what whatever, Julie, placements are everything you do. salutely. Absolutely. So, Sharon, we’re at kind of that our rapid fire segment in here. So I’ll just throw some stuff out at you. And, and just quick one word answers, couple couple words, whatever. So here we go. And we might have covered a little bit of this in what we’ve done already, but let’s just work with it. What turns you on what turns you on in the crow in the creative process?

Sharon Blain 1:00:54
I think the design from the beginning, creating the design and coming up with the inspiration and

Chris Baran 1:00:59
what stifles creativity for you.

Sharon Blain 1:01:04
Being my brain being too busy with other stuff, so having too many other things to deal with, and I can’t seem to clear that the form to get into the good stuff. And in

Chris Baran 1:01:17
life, what are the things that in life in general? What are the things that you love most?

Sharon Blain 1:01:26
Definitely, family first, all the way.

Chris Baran 1:01:29
And what do you dislike the most in life?

Sharon Blain 1:01:35
Probably people with egos that can’t support it with skill,

Chris Baran 1:01:40
a thing that you love about our industry, what do you love most about our industry?

Sharon Blain 1:01:45
I love the youth. I love this searching for wanting to be better. I really believe I know a lot of people have different opinions about this. So the youth of today in the industry are lazy and this and that anyone that I’ve had the privilege of meeting have been absolutely like a breath of fresh air and they’re just like little sponges. So I’m lucky enough to meet the best of the best. In my class

Chris Baran 1:02:08
and in in our industry. What do you dislike the most.

Sharon Blain 1:02:15
Um, I dislike the fact that people feel that we’re a lesser sort of industry. It really upsets me knowing to think that way. If you’re skillers if you’re a dropout from school, you can be a hairdresser. That’s very sad, because I believe we are not given the credibility that we deserve. But I think we we drive that a little bit as well by not having the confidence to demand and you know, and realized

Chris Baran 1:02:46
I couldn’t agree 100% More of that person that you admire the most.

Sharon Blain 1:02:53
Oh, gosh, so many I think Eugene at the moment. Absolutely

Chris Baran 1:02:57
brilliant, brilliant person. Your most prized possession

Sharon Blain 1:03:04
Um, oh my God. God, I don’t know. I’ve got so many. Maybe my partner and my

Chris Baran 1:03:12
little dog. I love it. What kind of dog?

Sharon Blain 1:03:16
I’ve got Clive, he’s a cover.

Chris Baran 1:03:20
The doodle part of what’s the cover part.

Sharon Blain 1:03:23
So it can charge heavily No. Yeah, Clive can

Chris Baran 1:03:30
go see him. It’s, I mean, I’ve heard of so many with cross mixes with with different with different poodles, but I’ve never all that. Oh, love it. I love it. I love it. And then a person that you wish you could meet

Sharon Blain 1:03:52
um ah, gosh, you should have told me about this before. I feel like I’ve met a lot of great people. I do identify a lot with some of the celebrities. I do like that. Anne Hathaway. She’s a little bit of a little soul. I’d like

Chris Baran 1:04:14
I’ll arrange it because Anne Hathaway and I are like this, but this is me. This is me. Okay, let’s see something that people don’t know about you.

Sharon Blain 1:04:30
i And I love cooking and I love entertaining for heaps. So nothing gives me more pleasure than to cook a whole pile of food, throw it on the table and invite a mass of people over. And I also love gardening. So I do love digging in.

Chris Baran 1:04:46
And you can use your own your own veggies for cooking with a month a month off. Where would you go and what would you do?

Sharon Blain 1:04:58
a month off Oh, I’d still want to do Hey, Captain here.

Chris Baran 1:05:02
Just got to have to take some time off or Oh, would you go? What did you do?

Sharon Blain 1:05:06
I think oh, I think probably back to Santorini.

Chris Baran 1:05:09
I love it there in Greece. Something that what is that’s where to try something that terrifies you? Um Okay, favorite curse word? A curse, curse word do you remember that? Do you remember that adds that they had on that I think somebody would always put on the barbie. I love those are great. favorite comfort food?

Sharon Blain 1:05:49
Oh, well, I do love a cup of tea and a biscuit.

Chris Baran 1:05:53
Okay, something in the industry that you haven’t done now. I don’t know what that would be something in industry that you haven’t done but you’d still want to.

Sharon Blain 1:06:03
I would like to work at the opera. I would love to work take some some hours at the opera company working on that would be amazing. I’ll it’s probably the only thing that I have to

Chris Baran 1:06:15
pass pins. I’ll fly out and I’ll pass pins to you on that one. One do over. If you can ever do over in career in life and whatever we do.

Sharon Blain 1:06:27
Offer me to do something over again. Ah think oh, gosh, you know, I’d probably be happy to sit in a class. It’s as soon as with Tracy, but she’s not there anymore.

Chris Baran 1:06:42
Oh, well. I’ll go with Mark Mark’s amazing. Yeah. Okay, tomorrow, you couldn’t do hair? What would you do? Flowers when saw that one coming? And just done before? I’ve got one last question for you here before we start to sign up. But what if people want to get a hold of you want to do a class with you want to book in some of the classes that are coming up for you? Where should they go to find that?

Sharon Blain 1:07:13
I’m sure in Blaine education on Instagram and just click the links you can get straight through for any of the products, classes, books, any information at all you’ll get there. But pretty much our Instagram page is probably the most you know, we post a few times a day on that. So pretty much everything about me is there. Alright,

Chris Baran 1:07:34
so last question. One wish that you had for industry, what would it be?

Sharon Blain 1:07:42
To have everybody charging an absolute bomb for their services, to have a very very skillful, confident, competent individuals that are out there doing hair for all of them to to feel their way. That’s awesome.

Chris Baran 1:07:58
I’m all for that as well. So, Sharon, I don’t know where time goes. But this seems like this just flew by in a flash. And I just can’t thank you enough. You’ve given up your time. It’s got to be what, nine or 10 in the morning tomorrow for us. Yeah, it’s

Sharon Blain 1:08:14
bad. It’s not too bad. But I want to thank

Chris Baran 1:08:16
you for giving up your time and sharing your knowledge with us. And that was just absolutely pleasure to bet to have you on here.

Sharon Blain 1:08:24
And thank you so much for having me. I love doing this. And I was absolutely you know, thrilled when I opened the email and asked if I would do this, I thought oh, wow, I would love that. So you know, thank you for thinking of me. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities that I’m afforded through podcasts and the other opportunities that I’ve had in my career and I just feel pretty proud that still at this age and stage that people still want to have a chat to me. So I want

Chris Baran 1:08:53
to do this again because I’ve got this brainwave where I want to have you and and candy and Sonya on at the same time and talk about stuff and I think that would be a great one I’m really looking forward to that

Sharon Blain 1:09:07
you think will be do you think we’ll be able to get well you know, I

Chris Baran 1:09:11
can sit back with a glass of wine and just watch you guys go at it so well

Sharon Blain 1:09:15
you better make sure we don’t have a glass of wine because that’s when I’m

Chris Baran 1:09:19
gonna insist you’re drinking wine when this all happens. So listen, I just want to say thank you to say thank you again it won’t be the last time we chat.

Sharon Blain 1:09:30
Thank you I really appreciate you and

Chris Baran 1:09:31
listen for any for those of you watching and listening right now. If you could do us a big favor if you loved what you you’re hearing and seeing and you want to go to your your favorite areas that you go to listen and watch this and you just want to give us a good rating on there that we’d really love that so that we can get out to this out to more people. So share it one more time. Love it and thank you so much. It’s absolutely pleasure talking to you.

Sharon Blain 1:09:58
absolutely my pleasure as well. Thank you


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