Anyone who knows Sam Villa, co-founder and chief creative officer of Sam Villa and global artistic ambassador for Redken, knows that he believes education is the key to growth in the industry—and life, that focusing on purpose will bring wealth. and that creating a positive, memorable experience is more important than what hair looks like. He has a fresh perspective on what it takes to be relevant in today’s world and shares that knowledge to challenge, inspire, and motive change. Here’s what’s on his mind lately.
What inspires you?
Inspiration is the spark that ignites my passion and fuels my drive. I love common creative environments such as museums, galleries, cultures, streets, music, and fashion, yet a big source of motivation for me is human interaction. Just having conversations with friends or colleagues can trigger new ideas, challenge my perception, and ignite a creative flame. Listening to different opinions, experiences, and perspectives drives me to explore new ideas, places, and platforms.
I enjoy networking and collaborating with other hair professionals as a source of inspiration as they push my boundaries—I believe the pursuit of knowledge leads to inspiration. Another huge source of inspiration comes from social media platforms, as the world is now at our fingertips. Keep an open eye and mind and remain receptive and open to everything around you as inspiration is found in unexpected and surprising ways.
Can you share a moment where you knew you made an impact on a student’s learning?
Whenever a student or colleague comes up and thanks me for teaching them something, it’s the biggest compliment. Over the years, people have asked why I do what I do and the answer is that I’m proud to be a teacher focused on growing hairstylists by adding educational value to the industry. I deeply understood my impact on hair professionals when I was honored to be the recipient of the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award. Awards represent achievement and to an extent, they show more about who you are as a person because they show desire, ambitions, goals, and accomplishments. For an industry that has given me life in my career, it was an honor for that same industry to give tribute to my achievements. It was a very impactful and meaningful moment in my life.
What’s unique about your teaching style?
It’s been said that stylists can go to a class of mine and always walk away with a learning experience and information immediately applicable for behind the chair, so I’m kind of like the hairstylist’s hairstylist. My teaching style is learner-focused. By understanding that questioning skills are life’s greatest resource, I listen to what the learner needs, keeping it interactive and understanding that the voice and body speak louder than words. There is simplicity is today’s brilliance; I love taking complex concepts and breaking them down into understandable, actionable steps. I do love taking an innovative approach, simplifying a concept so it can be understood. If the learner understands the “why,” it makes the “how” so much easier.
What is your educational focus for the next few months?
I want to awaken the fundamentals of hybrid cutting. Hybrid cutting is incorporating discipline with compressed cutting—working smaller sections in some areas and larger sections in others. We’ve had a lot of focus on texture, and we’re now heading in the direction of precision but not letting go of innovative ways of layering hair. We’re discovering new ways of cutting layers from short to long. Layers are getting longer and growing out, so maintaining shape will be important in months to come.
- Detaching the crown area from the underneath to enhance volume at the crown.
- Undercutting the side and back areas to narrow a shape.
- Cutting short to long layers to maintain length but with volume and movement.
If you were stranded on a deserted island (where beauty and fashion reigned supreme) what would be the one tool you would bring?
Having a pair of shears would be very useful for grooming and any crafting tasks. I could make accessories or carve other survival tools. Imagine an island with a sense of self-care and style with just a pair of scissors!
Tell us something about yourself that we don’t already know.
After graduating beauty school I started to work in a salon, but I discovered I wanted to go back to college and take fashion design courses. I’ve always had a passion for fashion and a love for the art of design. This was another career that fascinated me, as a fashion designer is also able to bring their ideas to life. Having the ability to influence and impact the way people dress and present themselves—to contribute to their self-expression—was interesting to me. But when I got to the sewing part, I lost interest. However, I walked away understanding how to cut fabric on the bias. And guess what? Years later, I’m standing on a stage talking about how to cut layers on the bias!
Share a moment where another educator made an impact on you.
So many educators have impacted my career in numerous ways. I remember attending a show in San Francisco and watching a team by the name of Toni and Guy, and a specific artist, Anthony Mascolo, caught my attention. He was using hair as the fabric to weave stunning hats. That moment fostered a sense of enthusiasm and dedication as Anthony inspired me to see how hairstylists can uplift and empower each other and shape the creativity and the experiences of students, and an audience, in profound ways.