At the so close! But-not-quite a teen age of 12, Carrie Butterworth had the career epiphany most us of lack – until a later age or never acquire – of wanting to become a hairstylist. While many of us were pining over the latest music sensation, saving up for the new “it” fashion item or experimenting with a hair color ready to make our parents disown us, she had a clear vision of her chosen profession. This enlightened artist, blessed with hands to create beautiful, life-changing looks sat down with me to discuss her career as a professional hairstylist in editorial, advertising and as part of a celebrity glam squad.
DSMC: How long have you been a hairstylist?
CB: I did a lot of interning at salons in New Jersey, but really got a feel for the profession assisting stylists in NYC since 1997.
DSMC: You knew from a young age you wanted to be a hairstylist. Can you describe that experience to us?
CB: I’ve always lived in the suburbs of New Jersey. There wasn’t much experimentation with hairstyles in my neighborhood and people didn’t have any trend-setting dos. My mom took me to a salon in Ridgewood called New Wave and I was so impressed with the haircuts people were getting. It was 1988 and these individuals had these awesome Mohawks and jagged-styled hair. They looked so artistic. The hairstylist was wearing these fierce leopard pants. It was so cool. I knew this was what I wanted to do.
DSMC: When did you get your big break?
CB: I started working with Patrick Melville at his salon in Manhattan. He is well known in the business and I assisted him on these fantastic editorial shoots and campaigns for Saks, Calvin Klein and Bill Blass. We did some work for MTV and backstage at the New York fashion shows. It was nerve-wracking, but exhilarating at the same time. Having these opportunities and being able to handle them really shows what you’re made of – they can make or break you.
DSMC: Who are some of the hairstyling greats you admire?
CB: I really like Oribe and Guido’s work. Stylists who do lush, gorgeous artistic hair.
DSMC: What are some career highlights you’ve experienced?
CB: Touring with celebrities and being their go-to stylist, meeting incredibly talented people who love what they do and being inspired by them.
DSMC: What do you abhor about the business?
CB: I came from the tail end of learning skills – a professional hairdresser is required to know from the old school regime. It’s important to have mentors and absorb as much as you can from them. A lot of my clients do come from word-of-mouth, and from other colleagues in the industry. A few years ago I thought about having an agent represent me. They wanted 20% right-of-the-bat and expected me to bring my own clients. It’s one thing to get hired by new clients the agency exposed me to, and they take 20%, but not take a percentage from clients I’ve built long-lasting relationships with, on my own. It’s unfair and a shady business practice. I also worked with PR firms that have no clue who some of the top hairstylists are. These are people who are supposedly experts in hair care and selling products for brands – their representatives!
DSMC: What is the biggest misconception you find people have about hairstyling?
CB: You don’t have to disfigure yourself with a crazy haircut to turn heads and be shocking. A new look that suits you will do the trick. It’s important to trust the hair professional. Make sure you research the person. Look at past work they’ve done. See if their work falls in line with the style you’re going for and let them do their job. It’s a legitimate profession. Would tell your dentist how to do their job?
DSMC: What advice would you give aspiring hairstylists?
CB: Nothing comes easy. Tenacity and perseverance is crucial in this business. Keep learning. Improve what you do and constantly see what’s new and stay up-to-date in the profession.
*If you would like to book an appointment to up your fabulosity, or are in search of a hairstylist for your next campaign, please go to: http://www.carriebutterworth.com. Follow her on Instagram @hair_by_carrie_butterworth and Roy Teeluck Salon: http://royteeluck.com