Sara Viklund: “Never give up! Understand that everybody fails, and that each failure is a chance to grow”

Work with your texture and not against it. If your hair has natural wave, enhance it! Find a good moisturizing styling product that works for you and you will have a style that lasts all day and takes 2 minutes. When it comes to hair styling it is important to know what your hair wants […]

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Work with your texture and not against it. If your hair has natural wave, enhance it! Find a good moisturizing styling product that works for you and you will have a style that lasts all day and takes 2 minutes. When it comes to hair styling it is important to know what your hair wants to do and how it behaves. Nobody knows your hair better than you! Understanding it makes it easier to tame it. The overall trend right now is a more organic look and there are amazing products you can use to enhance your natural hair texture.

Asa part of our series about “Five Things Anyone Can Do To Have Fabulous Hair”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sara Viklund.

Sara Viklund is a Swedish born international hairstylist. Having worked across the globe, Viklund has gained knowledge and expertise in various textures and techniques of cutting, coloring and styling hair. Now living and working in Manhattan as a freelance hairstylist doing fashion shows and celebrity clientele, she has recently launched her very own plant-based hair product line.

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?

Iam the youngest of six kids born and raised in a town in the south of Sweden. My father was a musician and my mother was a teacher. They always encouraged creativity and we traveled a lot to different countries throughout my childhood. I was exposed to different cultures and that really broadened my horizons and made me unafraid to step out into the world.

I wanted to be a hairstylist from an early age and chose to do this as work experience in school and then continued my training at college. I have always enjoyed the process of creating, as a child I enjoyed painting and doing hands on crafts, I think that is one of the reasons I choose a career in hair. It is a wonderful thing; you get to sculpt and shape with different types of hair as if making things out of different materials and fabrics.

During my college years I got the opportunity to travel to NY to the UN on a school project. The subject of the conference was to discuss “Businesses roles in today’s society” and on that trip I fell in love with New York!

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

I think I have had a few eye-opening moments, living and working in different parts of the world has been very educational in understanding how my craft is interpreted in various countries. In Sweden there is absolutely the same respect and social status for a doctor as a hairstylist. However, moving to Asia, I realized extremely fast that there was a different view on who did what in society.

Having 2 assistants stand and hold my tools for me while working on a haircut and an “auntie” with a strict uniform and an earpiece come running with drinks for my clients was a whole different world for me then what I was used to.

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 think leaving Sweden in my early 20’s and moving to Singapore for 2 years was when I discovered how many opportunities there are within my industry. I worked for a very high-end salon and I had to learn about Asian hair-cutting techniques and the etiquette of different cultures and traditions. In the beginning that was quite a challenge and I made a lot of mistakes, but I persevered and the knowledge I gained was so worthwhile.

In Singapore I was given the opportunity to do hair for high end shows and attend many glamorous events. So, in my early 20’s I was exposed to top class hair styling and that gave me the vision and the motivation to develop my skills to peak level performance.

I think my years in Asia really taught me to fail hard and keep going. For me there was no option to give up as I have a “whatever it takes” mentality, which I have applied to my years here in New York too.

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?

When it comes to growing your clientele, I believe word of mouth is one of the most powerful and reliable ways to develop your business. When you connect with someone and do a great job your client will recommend you to others. A stylist can grow their business by having a good relationship with the person in their chair. This is crucial to customer relations.

In my spare time I paint, and I have arranged art shows to display my work to which I invite my clients. This is a great opportunity for social networking both for me and my clients that has been greatly appreciated.

When it comes to the sales of my hair products, I would say it is a mix of online presence- marketing your product through influencers on blogs and other social media platforms but also from behind the chair. When other stylists love and use my product on their clients it is the absolute best way to promote it because the client trusts their stylist and they also get a quick run through on how to use it from an industry professional.

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?

I am so extremely grateful every day to so many people, there are a few special ones that helped me elevate my career and whom without I could never have gotten this far.

Mirjam Bayoumi is the absolute color guru and a close friend of mine here in NY. She personally trained me in doing color and highlights for blond hair. She pushed me to really grow as a colorist and to have the highest standards for myself in my work by producing excellent results.

Jorge Luis is a hairstylist extraordinaire who brought me on his hair team for multiple New York fashion week shows and has also been a wonderful mentor when navigating my way through launching my own product line.

The Kim Robinson team in Singapore lead by Daniel Ng that sponsored my work visa and gave me a chance to learn and grow has been defining in my overall success.

John Allan was the man that gave me a chance in New York and sponsored me as a hairstylist to come to the city of my dreams, I knocked on many doors in this city with no success in getting a work visa as a hairstylist. Not giving up finally paid off, He gave me a chance to come work for him — allowing me to specialize in men’s hair-cutting for a few years and really get an insight in to barbering and men’s grooming in Manhattan.

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?

I have made a lot of mistakes! I think the most humorous one was my second week working for the high-end salon in Singapore. The entrance floor and the corridor of the salon leading into private rooms for especially important clients is covered in wall to wall silky carpet. I was wearing new stilettos (that I could barely walk in) because I wanted to look fancy and fit in. Well- I fell and went sliding down the corridor, like a Swedish seal! The assistants and other staff of the salon must have thought my employment there was a complete joke, however looking back now I laugh every time.

When it comes to hair related mistakes (they are usually less funny) I think one of my main things early on was over promising unrealistic results. I wanted so badly to please the client in my chair-like guaranteeing going from black to blond color is something you can achieve in one session- not possible! Nobody wins with wishful thinking and when the results do not match the consultation. I learned early on that being clear about expectations and results are so important and that is honestly what clients pay for when seeing a professional, the opinion and advice from an expert. Tailoring the client’s haircut and color according to what enhances their beauty and working with what they have is key.

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?

Never give up! Understand that everybody fails, and that each failure is a chance to grow. Ask people to teach you, I have been truly fortunate to have had extremely talented mentors- But I was the one knocking on their door. Leave your ego outside and ask for the jobs you want, do not wait to be discovered or endorsed by someone, go get it! Do not fear rejection or not getting the job, just make sure you get a chance and when you do take every opportunity to grow and learn. People can see the passion in you, even if you start out as a disaster or sliding across the salon floor on your face! Do not be too hard on yourself and believe in the dreams you have. They are every bit as important as everyone else’s!

Ok super. 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.

Be aware of the ingredients that are in the products you use. Try to avoid products that have ingredients such as parabens, sulfates and unnecessary dyes. Usually the shorter the ingredient list, the better. Plant-based haircare is a great way to go when it comes to both cleansing, conditioning and styling. Investing in a good shampoo and conditioner is the foundation for how your hair looks and behaves.

Do not wash your hair too often. What happens when you do that is your scalp starts producing more natural oils because they are being washed away too frequently. At the same time the lengths of your hair become dried out because they are exposed to an overload of constant shampooing. I recommend washing your hair 2 times a week for a well-balanced scalp and shiny hair.

Work with your texture and not against it. If your hair has natural wave, enhance it! Find a good moisturizing styling product that works for you and you will have a style that lasts all day and takes 2 minutes. When it comes to hair styling it is important to know what your hair wants to do and how it behaves. Nobody knows your hair better than you! Understanding it makes it easier to tame it. The overall trend right now is a more organic look and there are amazing products you can use to enhance your natural hair texture.

Know the shortcuts, like putting your hair up in a sleek, chic bun on a bad hair day takes 60 seconds and looks fab! Have some cute hair accessories at hand so you can add some sparkle. One of my favorite tricks for a total transformation in under 10 minutes is clip in hair extensions, if you have them pre curled and ready to go you can achieve red carpet glam in no time at all!

Invest in a good haircut. Whether you have short, long, curly or straight hair, a good haircut is all about the shape. It can determine how much time and effort you need to get it the way you want it, a good haircut grows out better and it can still look great even the week before your next appointment. Consult with your stylist on how to best manage the cut you are given.

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

Confidence is number one. The way you feel about yourself reflects in how other people perceive you. So, make sure you are comfortable with your hairstyle and general appearance.

Get lots of sleep! I am not sure if this is because I have recently entered in to my second year of my thirties but getting a good 8 hours is for me a necessity in feeling rested, focused and beautiful. When my mind works so does my creativity.

Recognize and cherish that you are unique. Positive self-talk is extremely important, pay attention to how you speak to yourself. Embrace who you are and the phase of life you are in and make the most of it.

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. :- )

I believe that it is especially important to keep handcrafts alive. I see the world moving in a digital direction as it has done for years and I think there is something so beautiful about creating with your hands. Children draw on iPad screens and color without crayons. Writing is learned on computers, Touch and tactile skills are underestimated and important for brain development and relaxation.

I would start something called “Hands On” and it would focus on connection through touch and be driven by the goal to keep creativity alive. Music, painting, sewing, writing and so much more.

My mission would be to grow connection through crafts and develop people’s confidence by practicing and valuing simple pleasures. Hands On.

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

“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire”

By Jennifer Lee

I think being fearless is one of the things that has gotten me this far. Fearless of going to new places like Singapore and New York. Fearless of meeting new cultures and really pursuing my dream. Being an artist and being unafraid of showing the world my art and who I am. Starting my own product line and learning as I go, it is all part of a driving fire inside. My happiest life is living true to who I am and what my soul desires.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂

Mindy Kaling!

(The office is one of my all-time favorite shows)

She is such a power woman in the best way! She is intelligent and humorous; I admire how she has navigated and built her career. She is so original and has stayed true to herself. Having a private breakfast or lunch with her would be super fun with lots of laughs! I feel like I would leave with great and valuable advice from her and happy tears from all the laughing!

How can our readers follow you online?

IG @Saratoninhaircare



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

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