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Hairstylist Paul Labrecque: Don’t over-process or overdo, then you will only look good when someone else has primped you

Keep your approach simple;

Have attainable goals that you can recreate;

Keep your style as natural as possible;

Don’t over-process or overdo, then you will only look good when someone else has primped you;

Wear your style, don’t let your style wear you;

And have done only what you can afford to keep up

As a part of our series about how technology will be changing the beauty industry over the next five years, I had the pleasure of interviewing Hairstylist Paul Labrecque.

Paul Labrecque Salon and Skincare Spa was founded by Paul Labrecque in 1988 with a simple passion for beauty and fashion. This passion grew as Paul soon realized the power of beauty and how making people feel and look their best could truly change lives in so many ways. At this point he knew this is what he wanted to do in life and his entrepreneurial spirit took over. What started as a 2-seat boutique salon on the Upper Westside neighborhood of New York has grown into a highly successful full-service salon and skincare spa in Manhattan at the chic CORE: club, another full-service location at The Royal Poinciana Plaza in Palm Beach, Florida, and another location in downtown Philadelphia at The Rittenhouse Hotel. Paul has also created an award-winning line of hair care products, a thriving retail and e commerce business and a highly regarded education center for young stylists in training.

Selected as one of Vanity Fair magazine’s “Top 3 Stylists” in the USA, Paul quickly became recognized as one of New York City’s go-to salons. Paul prides himself with a focus on excellent customer service, personal attention and the best in beauty services. His natural penchant for carefree cuts, innovative techniques and custom-blended color has resulted in a loyal and dedicated following. His one-of-a-kind engaging personality combined with his creative hair-styling, sophisticated sense of style and spot-on eye for color keeps his clients looking beautiful and always coming back for a truly memorable visit to his salons and skincare spas.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I truly love hair and felt a calling at a very young age that I had to create and provide beautiful, wearable styles.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Traveling with Renée Zellweger! I have styled and colored her hair for a Golden Globe Awards red carpet and for some of her previous movie premieres.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

Yes, this happened when I met my husband Brian and he started to manage my career. I owe so much to us meeting and to him. He saw in me things I didn’t even see in myself. We are really complementary partners, and he pushed me forward in business so that I could no longer be complacent.

I let him help get me organized so I could pay off debt. When that burden was lifted I started to flourish. My creativity and business took off.

Know that you cannot do it all yourself! A strong business is defined by quality employees that are trained, engaged and presented with opportunity. Invest in training staff as that translates to the customer and their experience, creating a positive and respectful work environment for all. Accept help and you will have more time to pursue your passions.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Once again Brian Cantor, my partner. He runs the Paul Labrecque Salon and Skincare Spa business. I’m also extremely grateful for Paul Grasso, my best friend since childhood. He runs our internet/e-commerce business.

Remember to surround yourself with people you can trust. With Brian, our story really began when we fell in love and then it progressed to the point where we had to get him a green card. Working together made that possible in a time when two men were not allowed to marry — look how much has changed!

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The beauty industry today has access to technology that was inconceivable only a short time ago. Can you tell us about the “cutting edge” (pardon the pun) technologies that you are working with or introducing? How do you think that will help people?

Social media plays a big part in connecting with our customers and creating relationships with the Paul Labrecque “PL” community. It is key in sharing our work lives and expertise with our customers, giving them insight into our day-to-day and introducing them to all that’s new with our business. Social media enables us to personalize our business on a much higher level and customize the beauty experience. It also gives us a more global approach to our business. We have access to so much more information from around the world and our business can also connect with a much broader audience 24/7.

More and more technology is also becoming available for our service side of the business. We have always embraced the newest and best in beauty products. Now new technology is available like never before. From products that are driven by science to actual technology that helps us deliver better services and more results driven beauty experiences. Biologique Recherche skincare has really taken the lead in this area over the last 2 years.

Me and my team are also excited about new non-chemical formulas for hair straightening, advanced hair color technology that is less damaging to hair, a wider range of hair color options and techniques, advanced hair addition and extension systems, hair and scalp therapy, and hair loss treatments with micro-needling, LED Light Therapy and PRP. All are making a real difference in how clients approach beauty.

The science of skincare has made some great advances in the last few years with more advanced product formulations and technology to support them. Micro-current lifting facials, micro-needling for skin, LED Light Therapy and very specific treatment protocols are setting the standard and raising the beauty bar in the skincare category. It’s all about customized treatments designed specifically for each clients’ unique beauty needs.

The Vegan beauty movement is also taking hold. New technologies and formulations are producing very effective products in this category. We work with many brands including Londontown nails and Biologique Recherche that continue to make advancements in this area.

Information is the key to knowledge! We love working with our clients to cater to their individual hair and skin needs, concerns, desires and goals.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

Sometimes technology stops us from living in the moment. I don’t think everything has to be photographed. Technology today can either be a positive or negative depending on how you embrace. We must be careful not to get lost and disconnected from our clients and staff. However, if used properly it can certainly be a great connector to stay engaged and create closer relationships.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the “beauty-tech” industry?

We know so much more now about keeping hair healthy and thicker — PRP and re-bonding products for use during chemical treatments are just a couple examples. The envelope can really be pushed now.

The advancements in skincare science have taken spa treatments to a new level, too. The benefits go far beyond a relaxing experience. It’s all about real results with the new technology that is available. The new science of skincare has also propelled at-home care. Products today are much more effective, customized and results-driven. Serious skincare on a personalized level is now attainable for most, if they are willing to invest and commit.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

Blow Dry Bars — Untrained labor and this can steer people away from trusted salons.

At-Home Style Services that are discounted — These people have changed the price of a house call and ruin it for themselves when they become more experienced. Previously, leaving a salon to go out and do someone’s hair and/or makeup would garner a premium fee plus travel costs.

The Loss of the Large Salon where one Trained with a Notable Hair Stylist — This is being replaced by cubicle leasing with a central desk, with training now taking place on YouTube and Instagram.

I would first restructure state board and education training to properly educate future stylists about what is actually done in a salon every day. Juniors today can barely hold a blow dryer. I would also revamp the exam by implementing a in-salon mandatory piece to new stylist education, where testing takes place in a salon. Additionally, I would teach people how to talk to clients. Empathy is a must in our field and a stylist must know that we make our living from pleasing the client, therefore the client is always assumed right and we aim to please. Service, service, service!

You are an expert about beauty. Can you share 5 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Keep your approach simple;
  2. Have attainable goals that you can recreate;
  3. Keep your style as natural as possible;
  4. Don’t over-process or overdo, then you will only look good when someone else has primped you;
  5. Wear your style, don’t let your style wear you;
  6. And have done only what you can afford to keep up

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Giving back — paying forward to clients, employees and the community. We just did an event at my Palm Beach salon and skincare spa to help homeless children. I made all of the food we raised a lot of money. We try our best to make a difference and that in itself is beautiful.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

What goes around comes around and you meet the same people going down as coming up, so always try to be a gentleman or lady.

This is how I live life. At times I’ve wanted to kill when an employee I trained wanted to leave, but I composed myself as a gentleman and when they were quoted in a magazine about their beginnings they mentioned me fondly. Thank god I used self-control and knew that there is enough business out there for all of us.

How can our readers follow you online?

Paul Labrecque Salon and Skincare’s website:

On Facebook:

On Instagram @paullabrecquesalon

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.



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