What I Learned at ARROJO EXPO

Erin Hundley is not just one of our contributing editors—she’s also a salon owner who works behind the chair and has a staff to oversee and mentor. When the invitation came through for Industrie to attend ARROJO EXPO, Justine and Kerri had to make a decision: Who would benefit more from going? Two non-hairdressers who own a website and a creative agency OR a hardworking salon owner who wants to continue evolving her technical and business skills? Well, the answer is simple so let’s have Erin walk you through her experience attending ARROJO EXPO.

A few weeks ago, I was finally able to experience ARROJO EXPO for the first time in my career. It’s an event that I’ve wanted to attend because I’ve been dying to learn more about the ARROJO culture. I was given a choice to attend this 2-day event either as a salon owner or as a stylist. What that meant was look and listen (with the other salon owners) or get hands-on (with the other stylists). I opted for the hands-on because I am a stylist first and a salon owner second. Before we got fully immersed in the education, there was a party to attend.

The ARROJO Welcome Party…

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To kick things off, ARROJO opened up the ARROJO Cosmetology School in TriBeCa and invited all the attendees to mingle and enjoy some presentations. For those of you do not know me personally, music is my kind of scene and ARROJO was completely on-point with what they were playing: old school hip-hop. Fun Fact: Lina Arrojo is also a big fan of hip-hop!

I’m also a big ARROJO Master Stylist Paul Merritt fan so I was thrilled and completely entranced in the Men’s Trend Collection titled “Alpha” he presented with ARROJO Master Stylists Rea Winter and Crystal Blu. It captured the current zeitgeist of men’s style and served as a means to announce a new fashion-forward Men’s Barbering and Grooming program that will be available at ARROJO Cosmetology School in 2017.

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I feel like the welcoming party was a must and a great way to kick off the next two days because it gave all of us an idea of what to expect at EXPO. I also got to meet some cool people, and honestly, everyone was so damn cool! Before I proceed, I’d like to talk about the music one more time. Did I mention that ARROJO has an in-house DJ who doubles as a hairstylist?! Now that’s when you know you have the juice! I have a great love for music and DJ’s and if I could DJ I would, but my hand-eye coordination is a little to the left, so I shall leave that up to the true masters.

Okay, onto Day 1 of ARROJO EXPO…

It consisted of learning about editorial hairstyling and razor cutting, which as we all know is what the ARROJO brand is most known for. The first look we created was a tribal inspired upstyle. The three pony faux-hawk was pretty easy to achieve. It is definitely a look you can bring into the salon. We did a simple version of the look, but there are so many ways one can diversify it. You can keep it simple or make it completely avant-garde. We had the choice of adding a long cord (I chose red of course because that is my favorite color). The color cords added amazing visual texture to the braid, which was the core of the style. Being I’m a texture kind of girl, this look came second nature to me. The next look we did was a razor cut.

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Side Note: A couple weeks before attending EXPO I took the Rooted Thoughts, Creative Wig Design Workshop, facilitated by Mitchell Cantrell and made a super dope wig. When I was creating it, I had wanted to give it an unkempt fringe that is all the rage. The razor cut that I learned at EXPO was right on-trend so I’m planning on returning to my studio and using this newly learned technique on my freshly made wig. Maybe when I’m done I’ll share with you the finished product!

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Prior to attending EXPO, I had never used a straight razor to cut before and it was everything. At first it felt a bit foreign and was definitely uncomfortable. The freedom of the technique was so addictive once I got the hang of how to hold the razor properly (which is something that takes practice and retraining of the brain). Now, I don’t know about you, but I live for being uncomfortable, especially in this industry. There is still so much I don’t know and I consider myself a “forever student” which I think is something great to be able to say. Being the “best” doesn’t leave much room for growth! One day I would love to take ARROJO’s Razor Cutting courses to really get down to the nitty gritty of it all. Oh I think I’m addicted…

Look, another party!

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After a long day filled with techniques, training and styling, it was nice to unwind at Marquee NY for a party and a runway show. Honestly, there’s only one word to describe the energy of the show as a whole and that is “ELECTRIC.” There was NO holding back from the entertainment on the runway. I asked Lina Arrojo, “What was the seed of the idea?” She had this to say:

“One night I was watching CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story and it clicked to me; this was the genderless era. Girls wearing big baggy pants, underwear showing, you’re a guy, you’re a girl, it didn’t matter. That really kind of connected with me. I see what is happening today—Forever 21 and Ghost Sport. That’s their motto—genderless. You’re not gay and you are not a lesbian. You’re just decorative. It doesn’t matter. It’s the sportiness and the individuality. You’re not pigeonholed into one particular style. Sonic Boom are the genderless cool young girls and guys—you know, New York people. Sugar Candy is more of a decadent disco feel. In my head I’m not thinking drag queen; I’m thinking, ‘Well, what if Studio 54 reopened and my date is Prince.’ He wore high heels and sequins and fur and any girl would f’ck him. I wanted to focus more on the texture of the hair and you can see how everything was threaded together.”

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It was great to take a look inside Lina’s mind since she is the Creative Director for ARROJO and essentially the mastermind for what wowed us after-party attendees.

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 Up next, Day 2…

Day 2 is where we learned the two ARROJO techniques; Square Lights (color) and American Wave (texture). For those of you who aren’t familiar with the American Wave, I highly suggest you do so. This is the answer to texture and it is not your grandmother’s perm either. This is the perm for millennials—girls who are looking for unkempt, disheveled yet put together hair. American Wave offers clients the look without the work. Come the New Year, I plan on adding American Wave to my salon’s service menu. I didn’t always enjoy doing perms, but the first thing they say in the hair world is, “If you hate it then keep doing it because you’ll learn to love it.” Well, that’s what happened to me once I realized I didn’t have to do the conventional partings that we learned in beauty school. I learned how to follow the shape of the head and play off the growth patterns of the hair. By using various sized alternating rods, I was able to create realistic texture, the way I envisioned. Once I figured this out, my perm game became stronger. Adding American Wave to my arsenal will give a different option for texture. I also think it will bring in the younger, hipper client who wants to rock the undone look. It’s also a minimal tool use service. You must be very precise and exact with execution. The key is combing and making sure the hair is thoroughly saturated to ensure you get a clean wrap around the soft tool. Also make sure there are no bends at the base of the hair and be sure to get it as smooth as possible otherwise the bends will become a part of your finished result. I definitely recommend you become certified for this service. You will not be disappointed.

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Square Lights is all about hair painting. The great thing about this technique is it was efficient. I gained some great takeaways that I will definitely use for future painting services. For instance:

  • Make sure you bring the hair out at 90-degrees from the head and hold it taut. Then shake out any little loose hairs. These are the hairs that steal product and hang out where they don’t belong. We all know who they are: the bleeders and the little dots left behind. Doing this simple step really made a difference in the cleanliness of my application.
  • Knowing when to saturate the whole strand versus surface painting. Surface painting is exactly what it sounds like: you’re just applying product to the top of the hair section you’re painting leaving negative space underneath. Negative space is hair that is left out in-between the hair you’re applying product to.

My overall thoughts…

My introduction to ARROJO’s culture and education was intriguing. I am very interested in learning more about the brand and I absolutely enjoyed the education team. They moved with one voice and I think that says a lot about a team. One must be able to pick up where the other one leaves off. That means that everyone is receiving the same message and understands their purpose within the team. Terminology is very important and the verbiage was consistent across the board. Learning to speak to your clients in a professional manner will separate you from those that don’t. It elevates the experience. It is so important that we educate not only ourselves but our clients too. Utilizing proper terminology is key. Next time you have a client in your chair try it out. Speak to them professionally; use your hair vocabulary. Show them why you have chosen to continue your education beyond the chair.

Be the standard.

I have seen many variations of education teams and I will say ARROJO is in my Top 5. The continued education offerings for professionals are some of the best I’ve seen. I love the extensive cutting curriculum that is offered. The level of education the cosmetology students are exposed to is prepping them to be eons ahead of some seasoned stylists when they complete their programs. When I left cosmetology school I had to figure it out on my own, but not these future creatives. They are being bred from conception all of the things that make up this industry we crave. ARROJO is setting the standard in our industry one stylist/student at a time. The training programs are not for the faint of heart.

Be ready to not know everything.

Be open to new techniques.

Be ready to do it again and again.

Teaching is repeating until its learned and I stand by that statement.

Keep learning my fellow creatives…

Love & Light –

Erin H.

For more information about ARROJO Cosmetology and upcoming education events/seminars, visit www.arrojonyc.com/academy

SEE: ARROJO Blacklight

SEE: More Pics from EXPO

Photo Credits: Erin Hundley & ARROJO