Bennie Pollard of GAGE for Men: “Take a few minutes to practice styling techniques”

Take a few minutes to practice styling techniques (that your great stylist taught you). It’s very difficult to try new techniques when you’re rushing to go somewhere. Practice a few techniques when you have the time to do so. Rushed hair looks rushed. Always wear a hairstyle that is designed for you and your hair type. […]

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Take a few minutes to practice styling techniques (that your great stylist taught you). It’s very difficult to try new techniques when you’re rushing to go somewhere. Practice a few techniques when you have the time to do so. Rushed hair looks rushed.

Always wear a hairstyle that is designed for you and your hair type. Good balance is always the most complimentary.

As a part of our series about “Five Things Anyone Can Do To Have Fabulous Hair”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bennie Pollard, a renowned hair expert, stylist and founder of GAGE for Men, a full line of multipurpose, high-performance men’s hair care and styling products designed to carry the sophisticated man through their everyday life.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I grew up with my mother and several family members working in the hair industry. As a child, I remember my house always have the unique smell of perm solution in the air. I watched my mother do hair every day and because of that, when it came time to make a career decision after high school, hairdressing came to me naturally. Hairdressing school required less time than attending college and was less costly — so I thought, let’s give this a try! The owner of the school I attended was very competitive and was involved in various hairstyling competitions, so I was able to compete as a student in a state competition. I came in third place out of more than 50 competitors and at that point, my eyes were opened to the vastness of this amazing industry known as the hair industry.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

At the beginning of my career, I looked at hairdressing simply as a cool and fashionable way to earn a living. Then I realized what it truly meant. I realized the importance of the hairdressing industry and the positive power it holds. Hairstylists have the opportunity to share in people’s most important events. For example, we experience the first haircut of a child, school dances, prom, weddings, and more. We’re virtually involved in every aspect of society.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

I believe the tipping point in my career happened when I realized that I had been in business for seven years before I “decided to be in business”. What I mean by that is I had opened my business as a successful stylist and proceeded to run my business as a stylist instead of as a business owner. Upon that realization, I started to understand that I needed to develop different skill sets. First, having a better understanding of the financials. Secondly, leadership skills. And thirdly, understanding organizational and operational systems. Slowly but surely, I became a leader, and I understood the importance of casting a vision for my company as well as applying the correct training protocols and branding practices.

In your experience what were the most effective ways for your business to generate leads and sales? Can you share a story or give an example?

There are various ways one can generate leads and sales. What I find to be most effective in our industry is to simply ask for the sale, ask for the referral, develop the relationship with the customer. It seems that a lot of people are simply afraid to ask for the business. Be specific when it comes to the type of client/customer that you would like to have. For example, our GAGE for Men hair care line is designed for sophisticated men who appreciate good design, quality over quantity, and cares about style in all elements of his life.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

We’ve all heard the phrase “self-made” and lots of people believe that to be true. I used to think that was true also, however, this is what I’ve learned: I believe that there is such a thing as a “self-starter”, and when one starts on a journey then people come into our lives to help facilitate that journey. Sometimes they’re casual acquaintances, sometimes they’re friends and/or mentors, and sometimes they’re people you’ll never meet, like authors, speakers, etc. I’ve had several people in my career that changed everything and believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself or to even know what to believe about myself. One person who truly helped me understand what was possible was a gentleman who led an international hair design team. As one of the members of this design team, I had the opportunity to facilitate large hair fashion presentations for thousands of stylists throughout North America. A few key lessons were eloquence in delivery when presenting, understanding the aspect of design and design rhythm, and the growth that came with traveling and presenting. I find myself sharing the lessons I learned from him with other young people.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

About four years into my career as a stylist, I was getting very busy and I would humbly say, full of myself. One day I had a gentleman in my chair, he was in his mid-30’s with long hair. He wanted a short and tight haircut, and, in my excitement, I told him, “yeah let’s rock and roll!”. I proceeded to cut the hair very fast and very short only to discover that he had a scar about the size of a dime in the back of his head. I was shocked and was frantically thinking about what to do next. To match it, I decided to shave another spot right next to it. When I was done it looked like a pair of eyes! (It was the height of MTV, music videos, and wild hairstyles after all). Needless to say, he didn’t pay, and I never saw him again. The biggest lesson here is, do your homework, due diligence, and pay attention to what you’re doing. Had I looked thoroughly through his hair and scalp, something we as stylists should always do, this mistake would never have happened.

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed?

Hairdressing is much more challenging and detailed than most people recognize. As in most things in life, when we start on a particular path or career, all we have in front of us, generally speaking, is the unknown. The only way we begin to know is to get started. All of us will have setbacks, trials and tribulations, and sometimes even great heartache. One of the things I’d like to highlight is that it’s ok to change your mind and go in a different direction. Sometimes people tend to “stick with it” so that they don’t have to go through the embarrassment of looking like a failure, sometimes people stick with it because of pure stubbornness, and sometimes people simply go through the motions.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you please share “Five Things Anyone Can Do To Have Fabulous Hair”? Please share a story or an example, for each.

  1. Establish a great relationship with a fantastic stylist. Your stylist will know how to prescribe the best products for a healthy scalp, which is very important, as well as the best products for your hair type and desired style.
  2. Take a few minutes to practice styling techniques (that your great stylist taught you). It’s very difficult to try new techniques when you’re rushing to go somewhere. Practice a few techniques when you have the time to do so. Rushed hair looks rushed.
  3. Always wear a hairstyle that is designed for you and your hair type. Good balance is always the most complimentary.
  4. Correct styling product application is very important. Think of it as a strategic application. If you want volume in the crown area, spray a little volumizer in the crown area only. If you want smoothness on the ends, apply a little smoothing crème only on the ends, and so on.
  5. Always remember that you don’t have to wash your hair daily or even every other day. If you need to reinvigorate it you can use a hot tool or your blow dryer, combined with a dry shampoo or dry texture spray.

Can you share 3 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. To feel beautiful is to talk beautiful. It’s important to have positive/beautiful conversations with ourselves.
  2. Dress to feel beautiful for yourself. The only person you need to impress is yourself!
  3. Wear your favorite perfume/cologne that you love the most. Fragrance is a very powerful thing.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

We have to be good for ourselves before we can be good for others. I would love to inspire people into thinking about themselves in a strong, positive light and to talk to themselves with kindness, love, and respect. I would name this “The self-talk movement”.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Love is a verb”. I have realized that to love takes action and I want to encourage as many people as possible to love one another.

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!

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