Gianni Scumaci tells us a hairdressing fable he often recites when running his educational talks.
“Many years ago there was a hairdresser who was sitting around a table with a group of professionals – a doctor, a dentist, an architect and so forth. They were going around the table and introducing themselves; when the hairdresser told the group what he did for a job there was silence.”
As Joico’s vision director, Scumaci is working hard with the brand to dispel the stigma that’s far too often attached to hairdressing. “My dream is when the next 16-year-old gets to a position where they’re around the table with that group of people, there isn’t silence when they say they’re a hairdresser,” Scumaci says.
While the spirited Scumaci believes the change will happen over the next five to 10 years, he admits there’s still a lot that needs to happen to raise the social function of the hairdresser.
“There’s been a change in perception to a degree, but I work with different cultures and you find there are different ways that hairdressers are accepted in society from country to country.”
It’s all part of the reason Joico and Scumaci launched game-changing Salon I-Deas – an educational concept dedicated to empowering hairdressers and teaching them adaptable techniques they can make their own. “Salon I-Deas is the most crucial step we’re taking,” says Scumaci. He goes on to explain that, traditionally, hairdressing education has encouraged replication of looks rather than creativity. In contrast, what Scumaci, in partnership with Joico, has done is create techniques that allow hairdressers to celebrate their individuality. “It’s really bringing out everyone’s natural sensibility,” he says.
As a third-generation hairdresser who recalls cutting hair when he was just eight or nine years old, Scumaci’s passion for seeing the industry get the respect it deserves runs in his blood.
“I’m using my position at Joico to make positive change through the power of education and it’s allowed me to spread that word on a global scale.” Although Scumaci and Joico are making significant strides, he believes we need to see a shift in the way creativity is embraced in the wider education system.
“Hairdressers are very visual and creative but unfortunately that’s a skill that doesn’t always get celebrated in the early years of school.
“We need to put more pressure on governments to change the way schools value creativity. At the moment literacy is given so much attention and creativity isn’t. There needs to be a parallel. It starts at the roots. And it doesn’t matter if it’s hairdressing or other creative careers, when this happens they’ll get valued.”
Scumaci’s also a staunch proponent of hairdressers being the change they want to see. “We need to pull up our socks, stand up and be proud. A lot of hairdressers are, but, in general, it would be great for all hairdressers to realise what they have to offer.”
Scumaci draws inspiration from London in the “swinging sixties” and the lasting impact his good friend and mentor Vidal Sassoon has had on him:
“He had his staff wear suits and command a greater level of respect because at the end of the day I’m not just a hairdresser, I’m a hairdresser. And that’s the mantra that I would like hairdressers to adopt.”