Emily: Hi Tress, you are looking stunning as always!
Tress: I put my makeup on/did my hair (laughter), usually I’m in quarantine/mum mode! This is the first time I’m curled my hair in a month or two!
Emily: Are you going out at all or are you in full lockdown?
Tress: We’re going out but social distancing. Laz [Tressa’s baby] will sleep in the car so we just keep driving. We live right by the ocean, on a big island, and we were driving by and there were so many people! It’s been beautiful, it’s 15 degrees and everyone is tanning! People are all along the beach, etc…Some people are taking it [social distancing due to Covid-19] more seriously than others but lots of businesses are closed here in Victoria [Canada]. We’re kind of wanting to order takeout to help restaurants and are worried for them to, but then I don’t know and I get nervous, and I’m sure people are taking precautions, but we just drove all the way home and made dinner at home. My dad hasn’t seen Laz in a month, so they [Tressa’s parents] stayed on the steps and we stayed on the lawn and we just waved. I met a lot of the girls from the salon and I hadn’t seen them in a long time! We did a parking lot hang out - we all brought lawn chairs, social distanced and hung out. We were able to hang out, follow the rules and have social distancing in mind.
Emily: We’re fortunate that we’ve got this kind of technology - we wouldn’t be able to see each other otherwise, we’d have to do this over the phone!
Tress: I was going to visit my grandparents so they could see my son. They don’t have a computer, internet, Facetime, etc. My cousin was bringing their phone to my grandparents so we could Facetime, but she’s a nurse, and so she’s not seeing them now either, so I’ve been printing off pictures and sending them to them! I’m really excited for the whole quarantine to be done.
Emily: So for those of you who don’t know this is Tress. She’s an amazing colourist and hairdresser, she cuts and styles also. She is our Canadian ambassador and has been for 3 years now…?
Tressa: Yeah, I don’t know! (laughter) We’ve been in contact for years! Back in the days, ordering the foils from Australia, and wanting to have them in Victoria!
Emily: Yes, we’re finally in Canada thanks to West Coast Beauty and Tress! So Tressa, tell us a little about yourself?
Tressa: I grew up here, on the West Coast of Canada. It’s a ferry ride from Vancouver. When people hear I’m from Canada they think ‘ooh it must be cold’, but not we’re we live! (laughter) Mark’s from Ontario. The joke is we’re not really from Canada, because I don’t know how to drive in the snow, etc! I’m definitely a West Coaster! I grew up in Victoria and have been here my whole life. Born and raised!
Emily: What made you want to be a hairdresser?
Tressa: I wanted to be a hairdresser since I was 3. I played with my mum’s hair, my Barbie dolls hair, I told all my friends that’s what I wanted to be! My first hairdressing job when I was 13 or 14! I was a competitive gymnast and I was the designated hairdresser for the team, and so we would make a schedule! I did my own – no one touched my hair! (laughter) Then I decided, well, I’m doing all this hair anyway, so I ended up doing my friends hair, took photos and printed them off in a photo album. Then I went to the gymnastics competition board and these girls would come up with their mums before the competition, pick which hair style they wanted, and I would make money from doing that [their hair]. It was my first real hairdressing job! I’ve always been passionate about it. I always did my own highlights and my friends hair. I would mix the bleach and did the foils, even though I was using box dye. Hair was always my passion, but I did university for 7 years doing a Bachelor in Biology. I wasn’t sure if it [hairdressing] was a hobby or something I was going to do for a living, and I loved science! So I did my degree and ¾ of the way through I wasn’t sure what I was doing. One of my girlfriends had moved to Calvary and did her Bio-Psych degree, and we had a talk one night when she came back to Victoria. She asked me what job would make me happy and we both knew it was hairdressing. So I applied for hairdressing school for 10 months, then worked hair for 2 years and finished my degree. This was about 6 years ago. It took me 7 years to do my undergrad, because I only took a couple of semesters where I was doing the full course. It was so draining but I did it and I was really proud I finished! The conversation with my friend was at the right time. And now Holly, who worked in Calvary working in various kind of jobs, has started to make candles (called Milk Jar Candle Co) and she’s doing so well! She opened a factory! I didn’t necessarily find any pressure from my family that I needed to be doing something with science, but I just feel like, it’s a perfect example that you don’t have to do what society thinks you need to do. This trade has benefited me a lot, and some people think ‘oh you’re just a hairdresser’, but the way it is now is a lot less people thinking like that. I always say in my classes, follow what you want, and if hairdressing is not for you, go do something else. Hairdressing has been my number one since I was a kid and I’ve never regretted it.
Emily: Yes, I’m a strong believer that everything you’ve done in your past leads to what you are doing now!
Tressa: Yeah, I’ve had people ask me if the background in science is helping, but no, it’s gone. You do learn good work ethic though, and how to be persistent in something! There was a point, my dad had a stroke 4 years ago, and he had a lot of speech deficits and he was in hospital for months. He lost his full ability to speak, read and write. He knew what he wanted to say but he couldn’t say it at all. So I did a lot of research , particularly on speech pathologists, and so I got back into science and I was interested in working in the biology side. I was actually about to go back to university to do my masters, but then I just decided to volunteer for a year in a neuroscience lab to see if it was what I wanted to do, and it was not what I wanted to do!
Emily: Well, that’s amazing, that you had that foresight to do try it first!
Tressa: I messaged one of my friends in the lab…in my undergrad. I worked in the lab and I hated it! I’m a talker - I love talking to people and I knew that, but I thought it would be different this time, and I was like…this is not different, this sucks! Maybe it’s a different part of science, but I’m very happy I volunteered. I also got really busy with hair then too!
Emily: So, you’re known for your blonde hair/blonde guests. Is lightening your preferred technique?
Tressa: It was just kind of very popular! We’re on the West Coast and people want a lot of the beachy balayage! It’s what I have, my friends have, etc. I’d love to do some fashion colours but it’s not what I’m putting out there.
Emily: I’m starting to realise you’re very influenced by where you work, your colours depend on your guests…
Tressa: Yeah I get it! Platinum beachy blondes…the application style at least…and styling are very influenced. I get a lot of brighter blondes and I don’t get a lot of darker clients/tones. Generally, a lot of my clients are blonde. Sometimes it gets a little different and I have a lot of red heads!
Emily: Do you follow Colour Kristina here in Australia – she’s a specialist on red-heads?
Tressa: I just try to do it all by eye – I wing it!
Emily: Tressa, let’s get to your inspiration. You said that it was mothers – how has this impacted your daily/work life?
Tressa: How hasn’t it?! (laughter) Everything changes immensely for dad’s too – they deserve a lot of credit for those that are presence – but it’s one thing to carry a baby, have it, and take care of them, and they are completely dependent and alive because of you – it’s the craziest mental thing to get over! I understand all the science behind it, but I still cannot comprehend how this creature is here because of me! You just can’t believe it! Its impacted me a lot because you can’t really prepare. I had a lot of preparation because all my friends have children, and I went every single week to my best friend’s [house] with her now 4 year old daughter.
The name Lazlo is a family, Hungarian name. My dad is Ukraine and my mum is Hungarian. My grandpar was born in Hungry and he moved to Canada when he was 13 and met my Grandma and his favourite uncle was Lazlo, and my grandfather wanted to name his first born so, Lazlo. So technically, my uncle was supposed to be named Lazlo. My mum would have loved to have a Hungarian name, but my grandma only wanted their first child to be given a Hungarian name, so my mum wanted to name my brother and I Hungarian names. Tressa is after my grandma but it’s not a Hungarian name. My mum took us to Slovakia, and it was like a time capsule! She went there when she was 19 then she took my brother and I back 41 years later! We mostly call him Laz, my dad calls him L.J. His middle name is Julian, which is after my grandfather’s name [Julian]. My mum always wanted a Hungarian name and I told Mark you get the last name so I get the first name. (laughter) He’s [Mark] French Canadian.
This whole shutdown is kind of crazy because it’s a forced maternity leave for me. I was planning on gearing up in salon when he was 3 months old, but the silver lining is I’m doing a lot more with him. He’s getting very ‘mummy’ though…I thought I’d be really clingy but I was very good at passing him off around the salon, etc.
Emily: You and Mark seem like two peas in a pod – I’m loving your videos, they’re hilarious! He seems like he’s not being a good sport but you can tell he is. He’s like a comedian that doesn’t know he’s funny!
Tressa: We laugh a lot.
Emily: You can tell!
Tressa: We’ve got a good balance, it’s pretty fun.
Emily: Tell us about your hairline technique – because from what I’ve seen, experienced and the education classes I’ve been too…not may colourists tend to focus on the back?
Tressa: I think because so many of us wear our hair in a messy bun! So you know, my hair was always up and a lot of people didn’t like how dark it was at the back either. I kind of started playing with highlights and other ideas and now I’ve figured out how to get a nice blonde! It’s such a gamechanger and I teach it in my classes! It doesn’t work for everyone and a lot of people don’t have a hairline for it - you can’t be super sensitive either as I’m essentially painting on their skin!
Emily: It was definitely on the biggest engagement posts when we reposted the nape of the hair in a French knot from you!
Tressa: Yeah! That one did really well – people love hairlines.
Emily: It’s different, it’s a good technique and people love that.
Tressa: I used to do it on my own hair but I love teaching it and it always turns out! Its harder to do on people that have darker hairlines so like a level 6 or 7. Generally I paint more on blondes, I don’t like doing to the root on darker colours. I’m always changing my technique. I found a technique that worked better and I found I’d be doing it to the root and toning it down and I kept reapplying toners! When you’re a darker brunette – I just like it being a little more gradual. My chiropracter asked for it when I was doing her hair…having it slightly off the face. You’ve got to try and keep it different, if you’re doing the exact same thing every time it can get monotonous. My client’s trust me. If it doesn’t turn out, I’m going to fix it! It will always fix it/it will always work out! I’ve always been like that as a hairdresser. A lot of people are doing the really cool 90s grunge look at the moment!
Emily: Yeah, some hairdressers get stick in a rut/get burn out and feeling like they’re always doing the same thing – you should ask your client if you can change it up!
Tressa: Yeah, you know the clients you can ask. It’s definitely something you have to be doing, it’s really important in this industry, to let your ego go and not try to cover anything up. That being said, there are clients that are going to be unreasonable. But it’s when you try to do something different, you have to speak up if you need to fix it. Own your mistakes.
Emily: Yes, it’s integrity. It’s wins every time. …I would love to talk about The Tressa…
Tressa: You mean The Tressa foils?! I sleep with them Emily! (laughter)
Emily: Yes! I haven’t really had a chance to talk to you about them because all the Covid-19 stuff happening around the same time we sent them to you! Are they what you expected?
Tressa: They are so great! I’m obsessed with them! They’re what I designed; I love them!
Emily: I love the periwinkle colour. Like Evan, I don’t like doing what other people do.
Tressa: Periwinkle is more the purple tone I like. When we’re doing any kind of formula in the salon, I like doing a blue purple, it washes out nice.
Emily: Did you know that periwinkle was also a flower?
Tressa: I knew it was a flower but I didn’t realise all the other components you discovered.
Emily: I love that it [periwinkle] can symbolize blossoming friendships. It’s a real ‘awe’ moment when we found that out – I love our foils to tell a story! And then the bobby pin to match your tattoo…
Tressa: Yes! The bobby pin because of my tattoo. It’s real! (laughter) My doctor said to me once when it was a fresh tattoo and a little raised, ‘you have a bobby pin stuck on your arm’. (laughter) It happened frequently when it was crisp! I was always like, ‘Oh, what?!’ (laughter)
Emily: I have a bumble bee tattoo, because my dad used to call me bumble bee. I wonder if people ever thought that about mine! I do want to talk to you about social media, but I know it’s getting late…
Tressa: I have to go down stairs and install a shower door so… (laughter)
Emily: So, in regards to your social media, it’s very much a driving brand behind your salon!
Tressa: I had Instagram when I was in hair school about 8 years ago. I thought it was an app to edit photos. I didn’t know posting was a thing people could see, I was just using it for editing and posting to get the image!
Emily: So you didn’t know other people could see?
Tressa: (laughter!) No, not until there were likes- so then I started deleting things! It was my personal account, and I had the same photo with 3 different picture with different filters. (laughter) I was deleting and was like, ‘okay Tress, relax on the editing!’ Anyway, I started doing some hair ones, my friend Courtney was one of the ones I posted her balayage from hair school. Then I decided to make a hair account. It’s really hard to start right now, but it’s 100% worth it. Not that I’m big or anything, I just know people are like, ‘I found you on Instagram’. So at a staff meeting, I was an employee, and I was like, everyone needs to get Instagram. Kirsten, who’s my partner, and at this point it was just me [using Instagram], and I was like, you need to get a Instagram account! I had to teach her how to use hashtags. Obviously, it’s been insanely beneficial. When I opened my salon 8 months ago, it was tough to get some of my staff to have Instagram, but it’s your portfolio for new clients - when one stylist is booked out they [the guests] check out the other stylist. Word of mouth is still really powerful for sure, but people want to see your work! You can be a phenomenal hairstylist, and if you’re crappy at taking pictures, and you post that, they are not going to want to go to that person. Even when I’d just had my baby and I was at home, I would do consulting with my girls, and I would pick the best one [photo] from a shoot/help edit/etc. One of my stylists, Becky, got a DSLR camera, which ups your game!
Emily: There is so much hard work that goes behind that picture and people don’t realise. It could have taken 3-4 hours to create the picture, the during shot, product shot, but they’ve set it up, checked the lighting, and the editing…
Tressa:… yeah, my clients know. They all have to wear a black top, and there is half an hour photo time after their colour, but I am spending a lot of time still doing that. So when I was consulting with the girls and I’d be like, send me all of your pictures…you’ve got to take 50 to find the one shot! I find it more difficult now that I’ve got a kid over me all the time, and to be honest, I don’t care. There are other things that are more important. It’s important to stay active, hashtags, commenting though. I did a test one time where every day, 3 times a day for 15 minutes I would be active. I did that for a week and I had a huge bump in my follows! I don’t have the energy to do that at the moment. Once I’m back in the salon, at the moment I don’t have much content obviously, but eventually.
Emily: Okay, well, we’ve been talking for ages and I love it but I know you’ve got to get to that shower screen… (laughter).