Douglas McCoy: Pop & Circumstance
Douglas McCoy is a member of the R + Co team and travels nationally for education and editorials from his home base in Spokane, Washington. He is a two time Hairbrained Video Award winner for his work in lo-fi inspiration and technical videos. He is an icon, he is his brand, and he is the owner of House of POp, a perfect illustration of what a salon should be in the 21st century.
Pop is now. Pop is accessible. It permeates our everyday lives and its place in the last fifty years are heavy influences of inspiration for Douglas McCoy. An avid fan of Andy Warhol and with marketing that includes references to Pulp Fiction, Star Wars and iconic 1960s art, his work is instantly recognizable.
“DON’T WAIT FOR ME TO DO IT, YOU DO IT.”
~Advice to Douglas from mentor Howard McClaren, Co-Founder of R+Co
There wasn’t always a House of POp. Before the salon was a decade of growing his craft. Not only did he fine tune his technical skills, he was a forerunner in social media participation. Remember Myspace? It was a way to get photos and media out there. Since the salon he was creating for wasn’t biting, he did it for himself. Media for the 1% wasn’t the goal, it was to create consistent and palatable work.
“A lot of us put out work directed at other hairdressers, but we need to be putting out stuff that attracts both stylists and guests. “
Douglas McCoy sees the future of hairdressing. Many of us in the industry lament that the collections and the award winners. He, as well as the Future Trends Department at the Trichology Project, see more and more people putting out un-photoshopped, raw photos. Reality, not retouching is what speaks to the next generation of hairdressers and guests. So what do we need to get ready for the revolution?
McCoy says it’s time to go back to the basics. Aside from a one week study in beauty school, how many of us can do a wet set? Know how to do a Marcel wave? Does your salon even have a hood dryer anymore? Would you panic if the salon owner wheeled out a tray of perm rods at team training? Can you name all the types of brushes? The 1980s with all its permed hair, high fringe and Depp stickiness followed by the trenches of the 90s grunge meant there was a solid twenty year period where it was scrunch and go or ‘fuck it I’m gonna just shave it off”…and many of us never got a chance to fine tune those glorious Mod styles, hearkening back to a time when hairdressers were not afraid of creating or controlling texture…and that is where we are headed, boys and girls. Douglas McCoy insists on training the stylists impeccably, while still keeping it simple. He can keep it simple because of the vision for House of POp: Simplify EVERYTHING. At his salon they focus on cuts, color, and blowouts, and being damn sure they are the best in town at those things.
So what does it look like to work at House of POp?
“A place where James Bond’s girlfriend would want to come and get her hair done.”
Milk Studios in New York, with a back room that is all white inspired House of POp. The entire salon is white, which allows the stylists and guests to stand out and speak for themselves. Hand-made mirrors with inlaid lights provide the right image that blends functionality and encourages patrons to post a perfectly-angled photo on social media. The lobby is called a living room and is decorated in mid-century modern items, fitting in with the clean philosophy of House of POp.
There are two sides to the beauty industry; the flashy celeb stylists and the majority who work behind the chair. McCoy has found balance and promotes that yin & yang to his team and in his classes nationwide. The salon is not the only aspect of the business, it is also each station and each chair in the salon. 21st century dress code is about expression, not conformism. He has rock and roll stylists, and high end stylists, Hipster stylists and grunge stylists. Clients come because of each stylist’s brand, and clients get to know the characters. Developing that, being that, all the time is what strengthens the hairdresser/client bond. In hairdressing and at House of POp, a hoodie and leggings with a ponytail don’t cut it.
21st century means new rules for stylists. Technology isn’t even encouraged it is required, to capture makeovers and techniques, to showcase the work being done at POp. One of the highest priorities is to teach guests how to recreate what the hairdresser has done. It sounds surprisingly simple that this one element elevates House of POp beyond most other salons, but think about the last time you spent longer with a guest to put the tools in their hands and really show them how to style. This is critical for Douglas McCoy, who also educates his staff in conversation etiquette. Talk about the hair, how to style it, what products to use…not about a crappy date and getting schwasted session from the weekend before. McCoy and House of POp is about the craft, not the business, which further intertwines the artistic and the business together. To alter a quote from one of my personal favs: ‘if you are IT, they will come.’
“Be your brand behind your chair but be real to yourself.”
From His Mouth To Your Ears (aka ‘Advice from Douglas McCoy):
Beauty students get out of school and either get freaked out about how much they still need to learn, or the other half (really ¾ but we’ll call it a half) think they are the shit and know everything. The latter fall the hardest. Or they go to the hottest salon in town ready to make six figures the first year our and seasoned stylists destroy them. They don’t know how to get clients and get frustrated.
So what is McCoy’s advice?
YOU HAVE TO ASSIST. If you’re serious and you want to do this forever you have to find someone to assist for one to three years. If you can’t do that, go to Sassoon academy classes every chance you get. The first five years you will live below poverty but take every cent and do education. Master classes, more classes, get out of the beauty school mentality.
If you aren’t in Spokane and can’t immediately indenture yourself to him, you can follow the work of Douglas McCoy and House of Pop on Instagram, at Facebook, and at hairbrained.me. Because for McCoy, the future’s so bright, he has to wear shades.
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