The Final Photoshoot Touches with Master Stylist Danielle DeGraaf

It’s hard to believe the day is almost here! Monday April 10th is just around the corner and Danielle has been eat, sleep, breathing photoshoot prep! In this last interview before the shoot Danielle reflects on where she started, how far she’s come and the process that will take place the day of.

“I started planning, or coming up with ideas in late summer, early fall 2016,” she begins, ‘I changed my mind 100 times since then and I’m still putting thought into the concept every day.”

Physically, Danielle has been hustling.  While maintaining her regular Studio hours she estimates having put in a minimum of 40 hours of work for the shoot and that number is still climbing.  With the required looks being more fantasy and avant garde focused, some of those hours were also dedicated to working with and colouring extensions, which is a very common practice in photo based competitions.

When asked what she’d do differently in preparation for her next shoot she was quick to answer, ‘I think the biggest thing would be to decide on my colours and styles and just stick to it instead of changing my mind so many times!’

In the last interview we discussed how styling had been her biggest challenge to date since it is so different from her everyday work.  Interestingly enough, even though the styles are different the products needed to create them are still the same. ‘I learned new ways to combine our products and worked out the exact amount necessary to build the style I wanted.’

Now that the day is so close I asked Danielle to walk me through what her day will look like. ‘The day of the shoot is pretty straight forward,’ she said. ‘All the colouring is done and the model’s hair will be set the day before.  We’ll get to the photographers studio in London around 8:30am. While I’m creating one model’s finished style, another model will be in makeup.’ With 3 models to prep in a relatively short period of time Danielle is thankful to have some help from fellow Stylists who can jump in and be an ‘extra set of hands’ for her when needed.  ‘The goal will be for each model to always be busy, either with hair, makeup or on set modeling for the photographer.’

With the new connections she has made for photography, makeup, education and with other hairstylists pursuing this type of work, I asked whether she’s found the network different from the behind the chair network. ‘I wouldn’t say its far different.  I believe the majority, at least the ones I’ve had the opportunity to meet, are still working and enjoy being behind the chair.  The hair industry has so many avenues and I think competition work is just an example of one where Stylists can come together and share their passion.’

To say it’s been a journey for Danielle is an understatement!  When asked what the first thing she will do after the shoot is complete her answer had me laughing, ‘Cry, laugh, drink (she laughs), I’m actually taking a couple of days off and will probably reflect on my experience and have a glass of wine!’ And it’s a well deserved glass indeed.

You’ll see a follow up blog post about Danielle’s shoot after she’s had a chance to relax and reflect on her experience the day of the shoot.  There has been so much support shown for Danielle throughout this process that we just want to say thank you for every word of encouragement, all the well wishes and to those simply just happy for Danielle and all she has worked so hard to accomplish! Your support does not go unnoticed!

Thanks for listening,





If you weren’t a Career Hair Stylist what else would you be?

Career Hair StylistReflection.  It’s a scary and crazy thing.  I’m forced to admit that I’ve had a lot of time on my hands lately to ‘think’. By think I mean worry, stew and contemplate what catastrophe will occur or more simply put – drive myself crazy.  I know rationally what ‘they’ mean by rest is not particularly what happens in my brain when forced to lay still and stare at the ceiling, but I’ve never really been one to zone out and have unproductive thoughts.  I’m sure you can see the problem.  So as I ‘rest’ one of the things that has crossed my mind many times is what would my career look like if I wasn’t a Hair Stylist? What other profession would allow me to be productive and continue to work right now?

You see, when you can no longer physically do the things you love (in my case colouring and cutting hair) you start to wonder where life could have taken you if you had chosen a different path or even where life will take you if faced with not only with a fork in the road where you can choose left or right, but a solid 3 million ft high mountain which you are either forced to climb (be productive) or sit down in the middle of the road and cry (which would not be productive).  I know I’m being dramatic.  Indulge me a little bit.

And so I wondered.  Then I wondered some more since I have the time to ponder.  Here is what I came up with:

I’d want a career that helped people.

Seems simple enough.  I would want to make a persons day better in some way so that after they spent time with me they would feel lighter, more positive and just all around happier because of the time we spent together.  Many professions have the pleasure of helping people – you just have to have the genuine want to do it. You simply can’t fake this kind of stuff.

I’d want a career where I could form genuine relationships with people.

In order to help people and form a genuine relationship you need to see a person on a regular basis.  That being said you can’t make a profitable career talking to people or that sort of pushes the boundaries of a ‘genuine’ relationship.  For instance, you don’t have a relationship with your therapist since you pay them to listen to you talk.  See my point? Psychiatry or Counselling, not an option.

I’d want a career that gave me the opportunity to teach.

This goes right along with helping people and forming genuine relationships.  Obviously the first thing that comes to mind is a Teacher and although I have a very healthy amount of respect for the profession, the thought of facing a room full of young children that still need assistance pulling their pants up and down or a room full of teenagers that stare daggers at you simply because the hormonal winds have shifted, is for me downright terrifying.  I get enough of the hormonal winds at home thank you very much.  Being a Teacher is not an option.

 I’d want a career where the amount of effort I put in mattered.

This one might seem a little off but it’s very important to me.  I’m an effort person.  I want a career where my effort can get me results.  I don’t want to work alongside 15 other people who are doing the exact same job, all putting in different amounts of effort yet all earn the same wage.  It’s just not for me.  It’s actually occurring to me right now that there are fewer and fewer jobs out there that offer this option.  Interesting.  When did it become a negative thing to recognize hard work?

I’d want a career where I could create my own business IF I chose to do so.

I thought this point was coming from hindsight but I should know myself better.  I always wanted the option.  Knowing that if ever my circumstances didn’t provide an environment that I could grow and flourish in I could take things into my own hands.  This has heavily influenced how I run my business – there is never a ceiling for Stylists who choose to work with me – no end, no limit.  If they have the ambition to take their career in a certain direction or have the desire to do something different from our ‘norm’ you’ll find me behind them applauding and supporting.  People shouldn’t have to leave a job to excel at their career.

I’d want a career that allowed me to express my creativity.

Here’s where things get a little more selective.  A lot of people express their creativity in their hobbies, not in their everyday jobs.  This was important to me mostly because creative people are generally more emotional people.  Don’t shoot the messenger.  I need to let that creativity out on a daily basis and not just outside of work hours. Everyone that is creative has their medium.  Identify it and embrace it.  My medium is hair.  I can’t explain why or how my medium is hair, it just is.  Don’t ask me to sketch, paint on canvas, carve, sculpt, build, compose a symphony or any other creative thing.  Just let me be creative with hair.


The consistent thing in each of these points is that I have always wanted a career.  This is what it always boiled down to for me; the difference between having a career and working.  A Career is defined as ‘a chosen pursuit; a profession or occupation’, while work is defined as ‘a mental or physical activity as a means of earning income; employment’.  Can you see the difference? We all need to be gainfully employed but we are lucky if we can do that through our chosen pursuit. A Career.

If I weren’t a Career Hairstylist, what would I be? Simply put – I’d be unhappy.  There are so many other careers I could have chosen but for me they’d merely be working.  I’d be creatively stifled, working only for the end result, and not getting to live out the things above that are truely very important to me.

So at my current crossroad, without the physical ability to pursue my career do I wish I had chosen something different? Not for a second.  I still have a career where I am helping people, forming genuine relationships, teaching, where my effort matters, creating different opportunities for business and the outlet of expressing my creativity.  Do I miss working with hair? Like you’d miss the air you are breathing.  It’s simply part of who I am. But on my 3 million ft climb straight up this mountain I’ve discovered that creativity is best shared, best never taken for granted and most of all best appreciated through the hands of others.

In closing my advice for anyone who feels my words resonate with them; If life throws you a curve ball – just catch it with your other hand.  There is always another way to live happily. 😉


Thanks for listening,



What is a Hair Show?

hair show‘What is a Hair Show?’ I’ve heard this question countless time over the years from clients so I thought I’d take minute here to explain.  Please comment below to let me know your thoughts!

There is always some excitement from stylists and clients alike when news of a hair show rolls around.  I’ve come to understand that from a clients perspective this is the place stylists go to learn new techniques and to prepare for the new trends and styles we will be asked to create in the upcoming season.  For some stylists, it seems to be the place where we promote and market to our clients that we are furthering our education, and how we become more ‘skilled’ stylists just by attending.  I’m only one person and as many opinions as there are on what a hair show really is, I’ll give you mine for what is worth.

Hair Shows are the place where companies SELL themselves to hairstylists.  Whether they are selling a product, image or an idea these shows are filled with flashing lights, big screen tv’s, platform artists sporadically snipping hair between busting out the running man or a pirouette.  These events are called ‘shows’ for a reason and I have always been highly entertained.  There will always be the odd lecture on business, creating photo shoots, marketing, salon design, etc but what part of those lectures (and highly entertaining dance routines) am I able to bring back to the Studio and improve the day-to-day experience of a client? Not much really.

Don’t misunderstand – hair shows are instrumental to the industry by spotlighting new products, networking, providing opportunities to enter hair competitions, building awareness and a sense of community to our industry. They are a place that push stylists to dream big and inspire them to create like the artists they truly are.  I’m sure they provide much more for some stylists that I can’t even begin to comprehend and for those stylists where that holds true I’m immensely grateful that the industry provides the hair shows they do.

What I mean to express is that contrary to popular belief,  hair shows are rarely the place we can learn something to bring back TODAY and improve a clients experience.  Nor do they provide access to the smaller brands and suppliers who may have amazing products to offer, but simply cannot afford the price tag of having a booth at the hair show to get that product in front of stylists.  Classes of true technical education and unknown but wonderful products must be researched and found through hard work and persistence by the salon you frequent or by your hairstylist.  Hair shows are merely a tool, not an answer, in the quest for higher learning.

So, should you be disappointed if your stylist hasn’t attended the latest hair show?  Not really.  For a good look at upcoming trends and new products a good scroll through any industry inundated social media site can keep stylists abreast of what’s going on.  What I’d suggest you be more concerned with was the last time your stylist truly educated themselves.  When was the last time they attended a hands on class, pulled out a mannequin and practised something new to perfection? When was the last time they said to you ‘I’d love to try this new technique I just learned at a class!’? Those are the thing you really want to listen for.

Thanks for listening,



Hair Styling Tools for Curls!

Hair Styling Tools for Curls

The latest thing in the world of hair styling tools comes by many names – Curl Secret and Miracurl just to name a few. Basically the concept is a curling iron that does all the work for you, giving you a head full of beautiful curls without you having to know the technique behind curling, not to mention saving you from burning yourself.

Overall I think the concept behind these hair styling tools is great. Anything that will make doing your own hair easier is a wonderful thing. I know people that have used these irons with success and are quite happy with them but you won’t be finding them for sale at the Studio.

Please understand that this of course is just my opinion. As I said, I know people who are very happy with these hair styling tools and I also know fellow hairstylists that use them on clients and love them. I’ve had a lot of clients asking me my thoughts about these irons so here it goes.

Generally when you are curling your own hair you don’t spend a lot of time sectioning your hair cleanly. Most of us are a little haphazard when grabbing pieces of our own hair before we try to curl them. This is no big deal when using a curling wand (what I prefer to recommend) since you are in control of wrapping the hair and there is nothing clamping or holding it but you, just incase there are a few stray pieces that could snag. An automatic curling iron may be a little more territorial about who’s in control of your hair.

As a stylist when I curl your hair the ends of your hair spend the least amount of time on the iron since they are the most fragile part of your hair and the most susceptible to heat damage. The curling wand works great for you to mimic this technique when curling your hair at home to protect your ends. The automatic curlers treat the whole section of your hair the same heating the ends equally as it would the stronger, more resistant roots and mid lengths. Heat protectant sprays are of course helpful but even they have their limits.

I encourage you to do your own research on hair styling tools for creating curls and find what will work best for you and your hair. There’s a lot of ways out there to curl your hair – be sure the check all your options and of course keep in mind what will be the most ‘hair friendly’!

Thanks for listening,



WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien