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If you’ve visited JATAI Academy, you most likely have seen a number of videos that feature Russell Mayes. Russell, a proficient hairstylist and former salon owner, is JATAI’s Director of Content. From teaching how to cut a bob with a razor to cutting long hair on men with scissors, Russell has a wealth of knowledge and expertise meant to be shared with the world. Not only is he well-versed at his craft, but he’s a great educator too. It’s not easy being both! Get to know Russell as we grill him about his career path, his biggest influences and of course his favorite food.
1.What made you become a hairstylist?
Both my parents are in the business. My mother is a barber and my father was a barber and cosmetologist (he went to both schools). So, when I was looking to take a year off between high school and college, I decided to try doing hair until I got bored. 35 years later I’m still not bored of it.
2. What kind of training have you had to get where you are today?
I have always been willing to travel wherever I needed to learn what I needed. I have moved from Kentucky to NYC to SoCal. Ultimately, I went where the mentors were and worked for them. I would find the best, and then ask if they’d teach me. They have all been super giving and I try to pay that forward by sharing what has been so freely shared with me.
3. Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
My biggest inspirations in the industry are Erika Hawkins (her work is always so fresh and pretty), Japanese hair stylist Kazuya Kobayashi and Yuki Katayanagi as well as Stanley Man. They are all amazing haircutters that do some intense shapes, but they are always pretty. In today’s world that is finding beauty offensive, I appreciate their work more and more.
4. You’ve owned a salon. What are your biggest takeaways from that experience?
Owning your own salon with staff is more about people management and training new staff than it is anything else. Ultimately, your success will come from your ability to train brilliant hair stylist and barbers, not your ability to market on social. While marketing is very important, if your staff can’t live up to expectations of new clients, you will struggle.
My favorite tool is my JATAI Osaka Scissor. It’s sharp, has the perfect blade to handle balance and hasn’t cut me!!
6. What are your future plans in the industry?
I want to get better at my YouTube hair education, and I’ve been working on a texture styling spray so I’ll be marketing that in the near future.
7. Give some tips to hair professionals who want to become an educator.
Practice your craft until you are excellent. Expert level only comes with repetition. Today, if you want to be an educator, start a YouTube channel or Insta or whatever your preferred platform and just start making educational content. It’s simple, there are no longer gate keepers preventing you from sharing and becoming known. It’s not easy, you will feel lost, mess up and figure it out along the way. That is all part of the process.
8. What do you love most about being a hairstylist?
I love that what I do on a daily basis (cutting and styling hair) means something to someone. I’m not in an office pushing papers around in a thankless job. I can make someone feel better about themselves and give them the moxie they need to go take on the world!
9. How do you see the industry changing? And what do you think the future holds?
More specialization. For the longest time I though the hair industry would force stylist to be skilled at cutting, styling and coloring etc. for everything and everyone. But as I see it now, stylist will become more and more specialized at their chosen craft: balayage specialist, graduated bob specialist, taper/fade specialist etc. And they will attract that clientele via social media.
10. What are some things you wish you knew before becoming a stylist?
Invest in my future EARLY, save a little money EVERYDAY, even if it’s only $5 and invest that into a Roth IRA (S&P500) for my retirement.
11. Just for fun…what is your favorite food?
Japanese katsu curry and Korean BBQ!!! Now I’m hungry!
JATAI provides innovative and professional quality beauty implements with world-class customer service and educational support. To offer great products as a master distributor, we seek out and select only manufacturers who demonstrate superior workmanship, the most advanced technology, and respected business core values of reliability, honesty and integrity. Accordingly, JATAI represents three major ‘workhorse’ brands that dominate within their categories. Feather, Seki Edge and Fuji Paper. JATAI Academy brings beauty tools to creative life. It’s the ultimate professional information resource where Education, Artistry and Trends CONNECT for Stylists and Barbers.