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Interview with Balayage Legend Candy Shaw

Candy Shaw, AKA the Balay Lama, is a salon owner, hairdresser and educator you don’t come across very often, with a salon empire, world renowned academy and stellar legacy to her name. She graced Hair Expo and educated about her skills with freehand colour, while also sitting down with us to explain just how she got here.

It takes a long and storied history (as well as the requisite hard work and talent) to reach the career heights experienced by Candy Shaw, and her professional trajectory was almost pre-destined. Candy comes from a long line of hairdressers, including her father, who was an internationally recognised hairdresser in his own right and the first American to win Hairdressing’s Grand World Supreme Championships in Amsterdam in 1962. Her house was frequented by the likes of like Vidal Sassoon, Paul Mitchell and Aveda founder Horst Rechelbacher, so her passion was understandably sparked early, initiating her bold career that has now spanned over 35 years.

“Like my father, I too never went to college, in fact, I never even went to beauty school.  I’m dyslexic so I got through high school by trading haircuts for math homework,” Candy said. “When I graduated at 18 I made a bee-line for Paris to study in Europe’s great salons. I was influenced by hairdressers like Jacques Dessange, John Louis David, Alexandre de Paris and the Carita sisters. I developed as both a French cutter and a balayage painter.”

Her education led to her proficiency in these ever-trending skills, also eventually allowing her to build to owning three businesses. She currently operates Jamison Shaw Hairdressers, a salon with 50 chairs and 50 employees that spans over 5000 square metres, as well as running the Advanced Training Academy for the past 20 years where she educates in French cutting and balayage. Her newest venture is Sunlights Balayage, through which she offers products and education to achieve her techniques. Within all this, Candy still works behind the chair at her salon, seeing as many as 35 clients a day.

“It’s probably accurate to say on a busy day we will see between 150 to 200 guests per day and we are 99 per cent balayage,” Candy said. “In addition to ‘hair painting’ we are also French cutters, which is a fast, soft and feminine method of cutting and finishing hair.  Since launching Sunlights Balayage our revenues in our salon are up in excess of US$1,000,000, all without increasing prices, extending our hours of operation or hiring more staff.  The increase is attributable to the fast, efficient, consumer driven techniques we are able to achieve with Sunlights’ products and our method of balayage.”

With an established career behind her, Candy’s trajectory is still always hurtling forwards, and she just debuted a brand new training facility at her headquarters in Atlanta, becoming something of a global balayage epicentre. Candy also manages her international network of educators, of which there are over 100 educating around the world. The Balay Box and Balay Box 2.0 created as part of her Sunlights Balayage brand extend this education even further. The product is now available in eight countries, with Australia becoming the perfect target with our laid-back, beachy lifestyle, spurring Candy’s trip to Hair Expo. Candy shares that it was on the request of her friend and legendary long hair expert Sharon Blain that she came to the event, educating on stage, in the classroom and in all-day workshops, while also presenting the award for Best Colour Technician at the gala event.

“My experience at Hair Expo confirmed my prior belief that Australian hair dressers are among some of the best hairdressers in the world,” Candy said. “Everyone I met had a sincere willingness to learn and a strong desire to improve their craft. With balayage being the next big thing in hair, and the future of highlighting, it’s no doubt that the Australian hairdresser and consumer will want to climb aboard this bandwagon.  They were without a doubt some of the nicest, most focused students I’ve ever encountered.”

In her expansive education schedule at Hair Expo, Candy had some key takeaways that she wanted each of her students to walk away with. These centred on their knowledge of the need to master balayage as an unending trend, and something Candy believes will take the place of foils as a priority in salon for reasons of profit, efficiency, environmental consideration and pure fun. “I try to convey that our fast, efficient and fool-proof method of balayage, combined with our products, can enable a stylist to easily double, sometimes triple, their incomes,” she said.

Candy’s career continues to flourish, and she looks forward now to a circuit education tour through North America and a special show set for South Africa in early 2019. Her long-term goals revolve around plans for the Sunlight Balayage wet-line, which will be a compact series of styling and care products that can be sold in salon and support balayage services.

“I also intend to continue to preach the balay gospel to all the hairdressers that will listen as we work together to collective raise the bar and promote professionalism in our industry,” she said.

That’s a mantra we take seriously from a talent of this calibre and with this level of experience. There’s a reason Candy Shaw’s name is now synonymous with the greatest colour trend of her time and, as she supports balayage with education, skills, experience, business intel and product, both her career and the balayage craze show no signs of slowing down.

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