Award winning educators, successful salon owners and skilled artists-Matrix Artistic Directors Brian and Sandra Smith bring it all. And this long-time husband and wife team have twice as much to offer because, says Brian, "It's all of the individual components that add up to make us strong. Together we can cut, color, do long hair and avant garde work. And we admire and inspire each other."
Those skills have served the humble, funny and charming couple well as they have racked up an impressive number of top industry awards. Among them-ten time as finalists and three time North American Hairstyling Award winners in the Avant Garde, Haircolor and Masters categories; Canadian Mirror Awards International Stylists of the Year; AIPP Award finalists and designated as two of the Top 75 Educators of the Century by Modern Salon Magazine. They've contributed to a wide range of international professional publications-including Hairdressers Journal, Peluquerias, Modern Salon, American Salon, Haircolor & Design, behindthechair On Paper, Estetica andPassion-as well as numerous consumer magazines; and they've represented the beauty industry on television in the U.S. and abroad.
Appearing on stages and before audiences worldwide for the past 20 years, the Smiths pioneered the live makeover concept, in which they not only transformed "real people" in order to educate their fellow stylists, they also captured and shared these individuals' compelling stories to punctuate their profound makeovers. "Everybody has a story," relates Sandra, "which is probably what makes our makeovers so popular and relatable."
Born and raised in Scotland, Brian is a Sassoon-trained artist who owned several successful salons in the U.K. before moving to the U.S. Sandra was beginning her career in her home state of Georgia when the pair met at a hair show in Chattanooga. They married and settled in Sandra's hometown, where they ran two successful salons and worked as educators for Redken and Aquage. Four years ago, they joined the Matrix team, a relationship that they characterize as one of "mutual trust and admiration."
Today, one of the most rewarding aspects of their work, they say, is the opportunity to mentor other educators and platform artists. "Nowadays, the expectations and standards for these young people are higher than ever," comments Brian, "We love helping them, and we want to prevent them from making the same mistakes that we did!"
Get to Brian & Sandra Smith:
Proudest Professional Moments:
Brian and Sandra: "Winning the NAHA Master Stylist award. It's the highest honor because you have to be invited to enter. It's an award we always wanted to win."
What Inspires Them:
Brian: "We watch other hairdressers every opportunity we have and they all inspire me. If you have an open mind, you can learn from anyone."
Sandra: "I'm also inspired by other hairdressers. But I'm also inspired by the makeovers that we do, which gives us the ability to touch people. That brings it full circle-when you can bring someone happiness and fulfillment and true beauty. That's why we do what we do."
Mentors and Role Models:
Brian: "I worked for (former Sassoon International Creative Director) Roger Thompson for a year and it was the most inspiring time of my life. He was the best there is and will ever be. Julien d'Ys is an amazing session artist. And Nicholas French. He brought me over to America. If not for him, I wouldn't be here. And of course Sandra because she makes me look so good."
Sandra: "Alexandre was a genius as far as hairdressing and styling. Annie Humphreys pioneered the Sassoon style of strong color, as did Daniel Galvin. Their work still stands up today. And Brian has been a huge inspiration."
Brian: "Classic with a slight twist."
Sandra: "Modern glamour."
Brian and Sandra: "We've been called unpredictable. We don't have an easily identifiable style because we try to adapt to what we're doing at the moment to keep exploring new things."
Best Advice They Ever Received:
Brian: "Regarding education, Bill Peplow said, ‘Too many people teach by intimidation. Teach by suggestion and make it fun.' We never forget that. We want people to feel confident and inspired when they leave our class. And I once worked for a salon owner, Mr. Abbati, who told me, ‘Shut up, look, listen and learn.' I had no choice-he was my boss. So I did it and he was right!"
Sandra: "My mother told me, ‘Treat others the way you want to be treated.'"
On Their "To-Do" Lists:
Brian: "I want to be a better hairdresser. I will never be as good as I want to be, but I will keep trying."
Sandra: "I hope we will be known for making a contribution to our industry."
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