Every spring for the last 14 years, the Van Michael Salon leadership team does their part to create international goodwill by sharing tricks of the trade and latest trends with stylists who come all the way from Japan to learn from these experts.
Upstairs at the Aveda Institute on Peachtree earlier this summer, 40 students watched Van Michael Salon’s Director of Color Natalie Gurley demonstrate the newest color techniques (a splash of magenta, an exclamation point on a head of smooth dark hair). The students–all Van Michael partners/salon owners and their top stylists from Japan were noticeably alert, making notes, recording every word on tablets and smart phones, taking photos and straining to hear the interpreter.
“You’ll never find more attentive and polite students. They want to soak up as much as they can about our tools and techniques and especially American trends,” says Van Council, one of two brothers whose names grace Van Michael salons in Atlanta, Miami and Japan. Van welcomed the guests, introducing his Atlanta directors, who served as teachers for the two-day workshop. Brother Michael Council was at the salon in Sandy Springs, where he cuts and styles some of Atlanta’s most beautiful people.
Van Michael Salon has welcomed Japanese partners annually, including more than 80 one year. “They learn about how we operate the business and take some of our best practices back to Japan where we have 38 salons,” Van says.
The guests spent half the first day learning the Van Michael Performance Wheel, a list of services and practices stylists use on every client at Van Michael. It’s the basic outline of the experience from beginning to end. “We then discussed each point and why they are important to the client experience,” explains Van. After that, Natalie Gurley and Jeffrey Goldenstein, Van Michael Director of Cut Education, demonstrated a few color and cutting techniques, and Johnny Plant demonstrated the Evolve volumizer hair piece.
“At the end of the day, the group dines together and shops. And shops and shops,” says Jay Pollard, Director of Operations. He and and Van’s assistant and Director of Recruiting, Jamie Shetler, organize the event and keep the students corralled and entertained.
“We have a blast–once the work and studying is done, of course,” says Shetler.