Meet the Hair Care Entrepreneur
Hair visionary and entrepreneur, Paul Labrecque believes simplicity is the key to natural beauty. Renowned for clean, modern cuts, custom-blended color and a fashion-forward sense of style, Paul promotes a “less is more” approach to daily hair care and styling. He opened his first salon in 1994, and today he and his team regularly host a “Who’s Who” of celebrities and personalities. Currently, his universe includes three salons in New York City, numerous “Best Of” awards and work on special projects such as the Golden Globes and New York Fashion Week.
How did you get into hair styling?
When I was a young boy, I began helping my aunt style wigs in the synthetic wig shop she owned. I went to college and received a BS degree in Special Education, but the love for styling hair stayed with me and I ran off to beauty school.
When did you feel like you’d really made it in the industry?
My partner Brian and I opened our first official location of Paul Labrecque Salon and Spa in the Reebok Sports Club in 1994. It flourished quickly and established my name in NYC as a top stylist. Toward the end of 2001, we opened our second location on 65th St. between Third and Lexington. Having the second location open as its own space that wasn’t connected to a club or organization was really thrilling. It reminded me of Dolly Parton’s character in “Steel Magnolias” yelling out, “it’s a chain!” To have two thriving locations in Manhattan was a dream. I now have three growing locations and a staff of 200 employees that makes me need to pinch myself every so often.
What are your specialties? What do your eponymous salons & spas specialize in?
I perform every hair service offered on our menu, but I find my specialty to be in the art of color. Clients have been coming to me for many years and have put themselves in my hands for their color. I believe color allows for the most artistic expression with someone’s hair.
My salons specialize in education. We run a school here each week where training is an absolute mandatory must. Every service we offer from cuts, color, Keratin treatments, relaxers to extensions are taught, tested, and taught again until the apprentices are ready to be moved to the salon floor as a junior stylist specializing in each treatment, not just one specialty.
Do you prefer working with models at shoots/shows or with personal clients?
I love the excitement and intensity of Fashion Week shows and editorial shoots, but my heart has always been with my clients. Some of my clients have been with me since the very beginning and others have started with me recently, but to be a part of these people’s lives and become their “hairapist,” not just working on their hair, but allowing them to vent and share their lives with me has been a gift.
In your opinion, is there a difference between the East coast and West coast hair scenes?
In fashion, beauty, and trends, the West coast typically follows the East coast. When it comes to hair, I find that the West coast is about a polished ease that tends to stay pretty safe. My hair-care line has done very well in Los Angeles at Fred Segal because there is a product for every hair type and style. The East coast clients like to be on top of what is new, hip and different.
Do you advise your clients to adjust their hair care regimens with the seasons?
Definitely! You have to treat your hair like you would treat your skin and your body when the seasons change. The summer sun and heat can take a toll on hair, and it needs more protection. The winter months can leave hair very dry from heaters that take moisture out of your hair. Every season has one or two products that are needed to keep hair looking healthy and fabulous.
What are the current major trends in hair styling and care?
Everyone is all about keeping things simple; a hair trend that has caught on like wild fire is the Brazilian Keratin treatment. My version is called the Keratin Reconditioning Treatment. It eliminates frizz from the hair completely and makes blow drying and styling incredibly quick and simple.
Your Facebook page features daily “Paulcasts” – a combination of weather updates and beauty tips. How did you come up with this idea, and which beauty tips do you swear by?
My clients always ask me about what products they should use during certain weather conditions and seasons. On a rainy humid day, they want to know the best product to enhance their natural wave and curl; other days they want to know the best sunscreen to use. I thought it was a perfect way to help everyone who follows me on Facebook and Twitter to see my beauty suggestions for any weather situation. Some of my tips may be a service I offer in the salon or I can talk about one of my favorite products. I like to vary it so everyone can take something away from the “cast.”