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East County Monday, May 16, 2022 3 months ago

Lakewood Ranch hair stylists get lessons from a legend

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Stephen Moody, a noted educator of stylists, teaches his craft at Yellow Strawberry Salon.
by: Jay Heater Managing Editor

It was a snip of Stephen Moody's education style.

Facing 30 hair stylists at the Yellow Strawberry Salon in Lakewood Ranch, the man who turned Vidal Sassoon's Academy in Santa Monica, California into the "Harvard of Hair," placed scissors into the palm of his right hand and began manipulating the position of the scissors by only using his thumb.

"Look at my thumb, look at my thumb, look at my thumb," he rattled off in rapid-fire progression.

Thirty sets of eyes (23 stylists and seven assistants) followed his every move May 15 as if they were trying to discover a magician's secrets.

Then he manipulated the scissors again, this time using only his pinkie. He was showing how the stylists could handle the scissors without worrying they might poke a customer in the face while moving their hands around during a haircut.

"Look at my pinkie, look at my pinkie, look at my pinkie."

Salon owner Caroline Behan, who has operated the business along with her husband Desmond for 18 years, stood back and watched her employees soak up Moody's every word. She had done some educational clinics for her employees through Zoom with Moody, but it took her seven years to line up a live visit.

"What I love is that everything he teaches comes from the heart," Caroline Behan said. "He doesn't have an ego and he has such an easy way about him."

Besides setting up Moody, who now works as an independent educator, for her students, she also brought in Wella Brand Educator Johannie Jacquitte from Washington, D.C., to teach her students.

"If we don't continue our education, we are going backward," Caroline Behan said.

With more than 40 years in the business, Moody worked from 1987 to 2012 for Sassoon and then for Wella through 2021 before becoming independent this year. He travels the world teaching hairstylists, and especially in the U.S. and Asia.

"He is the god of hair education," said Jacquitte, who at times has taught at the same seminars as Moody. "He lights a fire of inspiration and he has a contagious personality."

Jacquitte had to talk quickly as Moody was getting ready to fire off another lesson.

"You've got to practice and practice and practice," he told the stylists.

He noted that such practice is necessary so they aren't thinking about each move with their scissors. He held the scissors up again.

"I am not thinking about this hand," he said of the hand holding the scissors. "This is my stupid hand. All it does is open and close, and the hair falls to the floor."

It was smiles all around as Moody talked about his clever hand, without the scissors, that planned each step of the haircut.

With the stylists out to lunch, Moody had a moment to talk about the most important part of cutting hair.

"Passion," he said quickly.

Yellow Strawberry stylist Willow Sanders acts as a model for Stephen Moody as he passes along his four decades of hair cutting knowledge.

"My purpose is to ignite and excite their passion for hair," he said. "When you have customers every day, (the hair stylists) can get diluted. This is about elevating creativity. This is about elevating imagination."

He said the role of imagination is key when each customer walks into a salon. He suggests the customer should listen to the stylist at first, and let the stylist tell him or her what is seen and perhaps where they should go.

"There is no point otherwise," he said. "You might as well go to Supercuts."

When Moody talks about his craft, the passion flows from him despite 43 years in the business. It was a business that changed for him very early when he decided that while he liked his customers, he would rather work with the salon owners and stylists.

"I have a vested interest in elevating them," he said.

Owners Desmond and Caroline Behan stand outside their Lakewood Ranch salon with Stephen Moody and Wella Brand Educator Johannie Jacquitte.

As he travels the world, he said he can walk into a salon and sense whether the culture is right to present the public with outstanding options.

"The training process fits with the culture," he said. "Those salons are investing in ongoing advanced education. It's like a battery where it is going, and going, and going, and at some point, the battery will go flat. You've got to recharge the batteries."

Guinevere Lucree has been an employee at Yellow Strawberry for more than 7 years. She said the continuing education is important to her and Moody definitely helped to recharge her batteries.

"I've met Stephen at hair shows and he brings an interesting perspective," she said.

She talked about how Moody gave them tips that will help her immediately to save a little wear and tear on her body when she is cutting hair. He told them that instead of bending to reach a certain area during the haircut, to move the customer around so that area is more accessible. It might seem minor, but Lucree said stylists are forever bending forward and putting a strain on their backs instead of giving the customer a gentle nudge.

Stephen Moody goes through a lesson with the Yellow Strawberry stylists.

"He talked about ergonomically how we push our body," Lucree said. "We kill our bodies."

Lakewood Ranch's Willow Sanders, a stylist at Yellow Strawberry, agreed.

"I like the techniques," she said. "He moves the person instead of moving himself into an awkward position. He does things differently.

"And you can see he enjoys this. Perhaps a long time from now I can enjoy it as much."

Lucree said all those seemingly minor tips are vastly important. She said in today's hairstyling, where shorter cuts on women are popular, that if you have even the slightest error that the style "shows you everything that went wrong."

Moody said that kind of talk helps him enjoy his time in Lakewood Ranch.

"My best days are when I walk out and people have a spring in their step," he said. "The most important thing to me is that every single one of them takes away at least one nugget."

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