This month’s Spotlight is on Tyler Fenix, one of Simply Organic Beauty’s long-time trusted educators. Being in the hair industry for more than 30 years, he has witnessed and experienced the various health-damaging effects of constant exposure to toxic chemicals on his well-being and his clients. This prompted him to look for healthier alternatives and set up his own salon suite in North Miami Beach, Florida.
Read Tyler’s interview below.
What gives you motivation in the industry?
I have always been motivated by healthy hair. Since I began at the age of 16 as an apprentice in Baltimore, I was guided by some great individuals who taught “If you can give them what they want, while also keeping their hair at its healthiest, you will have clients for life,” and “You break the bonds when you break the hair!”
What motivates you to help inspire your clients?
I would have to say that Oway, the company, and the products themselves has been my most recent motivator when it comes to inspiring clients. There is an ease that the apothecary-like retail and color system lends to helping clients want to take better care of their hair and the environment.
Do you specialize in anything? If so, what and why?
Since about the late 80’s and early 90’s I focused solely on specializing in hair coloring. I love it. In many ways the application process is meditative for me. I find satisfaction in the weaving of a traditional foil application and I get my creative juices flowing with techniques like Balayage and Hair Painting. I also focused on Hair Cutting throughout the years and hope to infuse some new energy in that area soon to add to my list of educator’s skills.
Do you have a favorite formula you can share?
Hmmm, this is a hard one. I love all formulas from simple natural grey coverage to complex dimensional applications. I would say more about a technique here which can be used with many formulas.
I apply a color to my clients hair like 15g 6.34 + 7.34 + 20vol.
After application root to end, I will paint a mixture of 15g 0.0 + 5g 0.3 booster + 30vol around the face and artfully crown over the applied base. This gives a very natural, subtle highlight that is easy to repeat in a few visits. It is excellent for shorter hair, as foils or plastic is not necessary. Just between us holistic colorists – it is a great ticket up-sale to put a few more bucks on your book without taking a lot of time and is also great for those who are afraid of bleaching.
What practices do you have as a holistic stylist?
I choose to work one on one with my clients. This gives them a sense of being really cared for. I have a salon suite, which is great for this because they feel like they have my undivided attention. Most of the fear they have is related to previous salons where they were left to “process” well over time and made them feel like they were unimportant.
I have purchased a sink which allows them to lay almost fully back, while also allowing me to sit while I am shampooing, which saves my back while giving my legs a rest. I also have always given a massage therapy shampoo! This gives my clients the ultimate feeling of peace and relaxation that is very hard to find on a consistent basis anywhere else.
During the processing time, I offer herbal and green teas with raw organic honey or liquid pure stevia. I try to steer them toward decaf options and do not serve coffee, as even the aroma is too stimulating.
I use floor cleaners I make with essential oils and an atomizer that diffuses a soft aroma upon the client’s arrival and during shampoo. I use ONLY ammonia/formaldehyde free color and chemicals. My clients notice this usually by the middle of the visit when they are not having problems with breathing or their eyes tearing!
What are some good tips for new stylists trying to break into the industry?
Always go back to basics. The laws of color will never disappoint you, but will assist you by helping you formulate and/or add techniques to your practice which will assist you in achieving artistic but consistent results that can be repeated with each visit.
When you shop at Ikea, then bring it home to put together, you will do much better if you read the manufacturer’s directions. No matter what color line you choose, it is always worth it to read that company’s guidelines over and over until you understand and have it committed to memory. There is no shame in keeping the manual next to your color stations and referring to it until you feel comfortable with that brand’s mixing ratio for grey coverage or formulations for refreshing the ends. This practice will save you many hours of having to correct things. It also strengthens your knowledge of the line so you can break out and create with confidence later!
Consistency is key to repeat business. Fashion techniques and colors are a blast! If you are in editorial hair color work, then have at it with artistic fervor. But if you are looking to build a salary by way of repeat, returning clients, do yourself a favor and be consistent in your applications, formulations, and recording WHAT WORKED and WHAT DID NOT.
What is your most significant accomplishment as a professional?
I would say Eco Hair Color Style has been a great accomplishment for me. It is a small salon suite, but it is also my start-up. I have a larger goal over a period of foreseeable years, but I feel like this small start has taught me so much, in bite sized bits (mostly). It has been fun and fulfilling creating my holistic, organic color business. I celebrated 2 years since opening in March. But I have to add that becoming an Educator for Simply Organic Beauty and sticking with that over these last 5 or so years has really kept me inspired to achieve my own personal goals!
My answer is not just one product but the whole Oway Hsystem. This has truly made my work stronger and enhances every aspect of Holistic Hair color practice. Hmilk is paramount for delivering a stellar canvas for toning after Hbleach and, in my opinion, replaces Olaplex 10 times over! Hscreen has been a skin staining savior and Hrestore has helped me prepare and repair while I color refresh ends. Hscreen saves me time and allows me to use that time during the shampoo to relax and restore my clients’ minds.
Outside of work, what are your main goals in life?
For most of my adult life I have studied/practiced many different and varying forms of spiritual/energetic modalities of meditation, healing, and self enhancement. I think I am being called to refresh those and maybe even teach locally in small groups to carry the message and share the teaching. This also mirrors my Educating in Holistic Hair Color as giving back is part of learning. After so many years in the business, it is like a rite of passage!
How do you handle a challenging client?
This relates to the previous question. I have to be real here because that is what makes me shine! I am not ever going to try to tell anyone that I have mastered this area of my field because days change and people coming in are very, very different. This is truly a challenge for any of us at times in our career, as we are in a very emotional business of beauty, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Refreshing my spiritual, energetic, healing and meditative practices will enhance and strengthen my ability to handle challenging clients.
I am only as ready as my spiritual and mental condition allows. In my humble opinion, this is part of a core holistic practice of any kind because the peace we want to impart must first be generated within ourselves and then maintained by our own personalized feedback system and daily practice.
Clients can push our buttons without a doubt! I wonder sometimes if it is like a part-time job for some. I feel at times like I am being tested, and perhaps I am. Sometimes I score high, other times not so much. But it reminds me I am a human being and I have found over the years that clients must be made aware of this fact too. Not in a harsh way, but instead in ways where we as holistically minded hair professionals create spaces where we can care for, listen to, and uphold one another in the way we would like to do for our clients. I don’t mean screaming in the back room or talking behind the back of the client in the salon. I mean in forums for holistic hair peeps where we can let it go and find solutions or know we are not alone.
So in my stronger moments, when I am centered and balanced, I try to change the direction with humor. I take a quick break from the moment by grabbing another towel, breaking eye contact, excusing myself, and then starting from zero. I have been known to actually say, “let’s start over” when I sense some tension. I work harder to listen. I work harder to explain options. I work harder to get it right!
But here is what I do as well, and I think this comes from years in the field and some of my personal practices: I have created my boundaries and put them in writing on my website and I refer to them in certain times when I feel the client is a boundary buster. Things like: By appointment only; charging for consultation and applying that to appointments within 7 days only; and not allowing clients to blow out their own hair.
I say what I mean and mean what I say, but I don’t say it mean. I say no when no is needed. But I offer an alternative when possible. I stay true to myself and my practices as it pertains to healthy, holistic hair.
Ultimately, if it seems we are just not connecting, I bow out and release them with love by suggesting I may not be the best for them. But this is rare and I have only had to do it a few times as a last resort.
Lastly, I go above and beyond to deliver the best work I can deliver, regardless of the challenging client or events that transpired. Before mixing, I find a place where I can ground and center myself and my mind before I formulate or mix. Many times, this wins them over when nothing else would!
With that said, I am still human. In light of our Holistic Hair Practice discussion here, I must remember I am an emotional, spiritual, and physical being. I am affected by variables and must ultimately be forgiving towards myself and others in trying times. This is my learning curve where instead of speeding up the car, I slow down or stop to gain a better perspective so the road ahead is safe and enjoyable for all.