SM: What are the three hair products you can’t travel without?
CALIFORNIA: I always take a moisturizer. I also really like these face and eye masks – the ones from Iceland. And Color Wow Shampoo in travel size. I am a simple guy.
SM: Your recent viral parking lot haircut for Kim Kardashian West got me thinking about modern customer service expectations. How can salons raise their standards to meet modern customers?
CALIFORNIA: Customer service is about making someone feel like their needs have been met. Great customer service goes beyond that, you almost have to learn their love language; do they want to feel cool, sexy or confident? I also love finding out who their alter ego is and what their ultimate hairstyle would be. When Kim wanted to go blonde, we talked about it for a long time, including how she didn’t want the shade to be too yellow, which turned into a conversation about creating a new kind of blonde. that had not been done. before.
SM: What’s your favorite hair trend right now?
CALIFORNIA: For me, there is no longer a specific look, there is rather change and people want to change their look every day. I’ve always had a natural urge to push the boundaries with hair and individualize the experience. Over the past two years, more and more people recognize my work because of who my clients are. It also coincided with the social media culture that constantly demands new looks.
SM: You described your creative process as a collaboration with your clients and you drew inspiration from your environment. But, once the look is set, how do you go about bringing it to life?
CALIFORNIA: If I’m really honest, I tend to work better under pressure. If I have too much time, I tend to think too much. So even though I’m not caught up in the process, I plan ahead. I prepare a project making sure I have the inspiration for the look, hair and products I need and an understanding of the overall vibe. But it doesn’t always work. I was hired to work on one of Jennifer Lopez’s music videos and the vision was all about black and white hair. But when I got on set Jen walked in and said she wanted the look in her own color. So we had to make it work with just two hours before the first take.
SM: What’s the biggest mistake people make when it comes to styling their hair?
CALIFORNIA: I always want people to express themselves and that’s why I love what I do; when someone wears a look with confidence and you can make it stand out, it’s pretty magical. I don’t like it when people don’t reach their full potential.
SM: Which beauty look do you think should come back in style?
CALIFORNIA: I really like the look of Marilyn Monroe. It must be done very well, otherwise the curls of the roller may look a little “granny”, [but the style] it looks so good on a platinum blonde.
SM: What trends can we expect in 2020?
CALIFORNIA: The color options are really changing as Kim’s chocolate brown. It is very difficult to get a cool brown because there is usually a red undertone. Luxurious hairstyles are also making a comeback.
SM: When you’re not working or traveling, what would we do for you?
SM: We read that your very first “client” was your mother. What is the best advice she gave you?
CALIFORNIA: There was a time when I was going to be either a hairdresser or an actor. When I said this to my mother, she asked me if I could act like the Prime Minister and how could I make a different impression. I think that’s what stuck with me; always thinking how I can stand out from the crowd.
Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.