Don’t Be a Tool

Recently I was in two situations that gave my confidence a little shake. 

My friend noticed that the haircutting combs I use are the cheap plastic ones with the ruler. “You still use those?!” She meant absolutely no harm. But I wondered for a moment, “What combs am I supposed to be using? What is everyone else using?”.  

The second occurred during a haircut demo I was modeling for. The cut was being filmed, Instagram Live was happening, someone asked the educator “What shears do you recommend?” Both educators in the room quickly answered with a few brands they recommend. I sat there thinking, “My favorite shears are the first pair I purchased 20 years ago. The logo is rubbed off. I have no clue what brand they are.”

Out of the blue these moments would pop up in my head. Not necessarily in a bad way, I just couldn’t figure out why they kept surfacing in my mind. Finally the real issue became clear: I’m bothered by the idea that tools may be considered more important than skill. I’m creating the haircut - not my shear and my comb. At the end of the day it is YOU doing the hair, not your tools. This very simple fact is unfortunately so easy to forget. And forgetting this can be detrimental to our confidence. 

What makes an artist great is their creativity and skill in their craft. Tools of our industry have evolved over time becoming more ergonomic, powerful and inventive. The result is we have more choice in what we use and why we use it - and we don’t all prefer the same tool! As an artist, when a client walks in wanting a specific color, and you realize you are out of that specific color...you figure it out. You assess what tools are currently in your toolbox, you use your brain, you pull from your experience and you create something beautiful. 

When situations like the ones I experienced arise it is easy for us to immediately feel like everyone knows the secret and we do not. Instead of going down that rabbit hole, I quickly reminded myself that it’s pretty awesome that I create beautiful haircuts using my cheap plastic comb and nameless shears! I am proud that the looks I create come from within me and are not the product of my tools. 

I am not saying that there are not amazing tools and products out there. There are and I use and love them. I’m simply saying that if you took all the fancy, expensive, shiny, amazing, new, too-good-to-be-true tools away, you would be just fine. Know why? Because you are skilled in your craft. You would know what needed to be done, find a way to make it happen and produce amazing work. 

In an industry that is changing so quickly, and has SO MUCH STUFF, it is easy to forget that YOU are the real magic. And the best part about that realization? No one can take that away from you. 

- Anny VanDriel

Amber O'Hara