When two of LA’s most successful salon owners get together, you pay attention. And we did exactly that when 901‘s Riawna Capri and Ramirez Tran‘s Anh Co Tran had a chance to meet for the first time and chat about makings of a great career as business people and artists in LA. Both Anh and Riawna are cutters, known for their signature layered, lived in cuts with lots of texture. They create the images you see all over Pinterest and chances are if you’ve ever taken a screen grab to beg your stylist to recreate at your next hair appointment it was created by them. On top of that, you may have seen Anh’s work most recently on Anne Hathaway and Riawna’s on Julianne Hough. So what do two people with so much in common have to talk about? A LOT, and we’re here to fill you in…
RIAWNA: Hi Anh! It’s so nice to finally meet you but now…how do I meet you in real life?!
ANH: I know me too, it’s so nice to meet you as well! We HAVE to meet when I get back to LA. How did you start doing hair?
RIAWNA: I asked my dad for scissors and clippers for Christmas when I was fifteen and I started cutting hair in the garage for five dollars! I didn’t actually start going to beauty school until I was twenty-one because my parents made me go to college and get a business degree. They said I needed to be a mathematician because that’s what my fucking math teacher said, so my dad held onto that my entire life!
ANH: Of course. That’s funny.
RIAWNA: How about you? How’d you get started?
ANH: I was doing fashion before I was doing hair, so I went to school for art and made patterns and designs for a bit, but I always wanted to do hair in the back of my head, so after school I just decided to go and do it… and got stuck with it in a way. But in a good way!
RIAWNA: How old were you when that happened?
ANH: Probably around twenty-two, because I went to fashion school right after high school.
ANH: Sometimes I miss fashion still.
RIAWNA: But you still get to incorporate it
ANH: Yeah, exactly.
RIAWNA: Like what looks good with what trends and what looks good now. I think that’s what makes you a good hairstylist. But it’s interesting because I feel like being a part of fashion and now doing hair, I think you might agree, math and geometry and geometrical shapes and connecting the dots also makes us really good at being able to cut hair.
RIAWNA: Versus coloring, which to me, is more like science, and cutting is more like geometry.
ANH: And sculpting!
RIAWNA: Yes! And I feel like fashion and geometry and all that stuff really coincide together. I would like to say for the record, I do believe both of us have very similar styles in cutting.
ANH: Yes I agree!
RIAWNA: I feel like literally if there was anyone I’d want to cut my hair, it would be you.
ANH: I feel the same way…if I had long hair!
RIAWNA: I would love to watch you because I wonder if we’d do the exact same thing!
RIAWNA: Either we do it one way and our outcomes are the same, or we do it two different ways and our outcomes are the same…I’m curious about that.
ANH: Either way, I like the outcome! I love how you have the affection for that bedhead sex hair and I love that, and I love that you like that and you do that! That’s really cool, it’s hard to find people that do that.
RIAWNA: It really is hard to find! I love the way you do it too. It’s interesting because when I’m doing new clients they’ll say, ‘Oh I brought your haircut in for my hairstylist and this is what I got,’ and how people don’t see that shattered-ness enough.
ANH: And it’s the fine line between that and too much. And you understand that, you know?
RIAWNA: Exactly. Like over-razoring Toni & Guy back-in-the-day type of stuff.
ANH: Exactly. Yep, I am from Toni & Guy back in the day, like twelve years ago?
RIAWNA: Oh cool! Well you perfected it perfectly!
ANH: I’ve been doing hair for about fifteen years so…
RIAWNA: Well if I count the garage, I’ve been doing it for a long time too!
ANH: So when was your big break?
RIAWNA: Obviously I think you can say the same, when you open your own fucking salon, like woah! There is probably no bigger accomplishment other than having a business! We can probably have dinner over business conversations alone. I want to do hair man! I don’t want to deal with taxes and employees and payroll taxes and all that shit, so running a business really takes away a lot of time from that creativity and actually doing the art of hair, which is what I love. SO luckily for me and for you, we both have a partner and don’t have all the weight on our shoulders, which I think is very helpful.
ANH: I agree, but I think over the years, we learn how to perfect our work better and quicker because we don’t have time for it now. Like someone will interrupt us and say, ‘oh the AC doesn’t work,’ and I’m like, go do something about it! But having limitations and challenges everyday really helps us to become better hairdressers because I’m sure you get bombarded with so many things all the time too and it’s just like, really? I love my work and you know where you left off and you know what to do so it’s good in a way.
RIAWNA: Yeah it’s true, I think it’s created more balance too, being able to multitask in a way that I’m sure is beyond what we ever thought of. I never dreamt of opening up my own salon, it just kind of happened.
ANH: Yeah same here.
RIAWNA: So question for you, BALANCE! How do you balance your crazy work schedule with your real-life life?
ANH: I’ll be honest, right now I don’t have any! I don’t have a balance.
RIAWNA: Oh no! Not good…
ANH: I know! I want to do it now because I’m single and I really don’t have any obligations so I might as well take advantage of the situation, so that’s why I’m going for it. But if I have a significant other or a boyfriend or something like that, it would change in a way, but right now that’s why I’m just like, let’s do it!
RIAWNA: Yeah, you’re totally right. I just recently got in a relationship a year ago and that’s when things started to change toward learning to say no, which is hard. But at the same, not saying no is what got us to where we are today, you know what I mean?
ANH: Right. But at the same time, I would love to fall in love! As much success as we want to have, if we don’t get to share it with anyone, then what the hell!
RIAWNA: Yeah, what the hell! Exactly. You’re totally right. Absolutely.
ANH: I do want that balance though, I’m glad you got it and I congratulate you. That’s really beautiful.
RIAWNA: Yeah, it’s not easy. I’m not gonna lie, because we’re so programmed and so used to saying, ‘yes, yes, yes,’ ‘do, do, do,’ ‘go, go, go,’ and luckily we still have that energy as we’re getting older, but listen, I don’t want to be forty-five doing this go, go, go. No way Jose!
ANH: Exactly. I agree.
RIAWNA: Try to take as many vacations as you can!
ANH: ….Sure, yes! But you know, nothing that’s worth it isn’t a challenge. If it’s not work, then it’s not worth it.
RIAWNA: Exactly, no you’re totally right.
ANH: What advice would you give someone who wanted to follow in your footsteps?
RIAWNA: Good question. Never give up (obviously), practice makes perfect, and don’t listen to any negativity (like my parents!).
ANH: But good critiques are good.
RIAWNA: Yeah, take constructive criticism well, better yet, ASK for it!
ANH: Ooh, that’s a great one. I think from now on, your answers are pretty much my answers. Just to make it easier! Is there anything you wished you could do differently?
RIAWNA: Maybe instead of going to college for two years, just start doing hair when I was eighteen, I wonder what would’ve happened. But I can’t really wish that would happen because maybe my knowledge would be different.
RIAWNA: Yeah no regrets, everything happens for a reason and what’s meant to be will be, whether it’s good or bad it’s all a learning process.
ANH: You’re damn right, you know what, it’s all about timing! Do you agree?
RIAWNA: Yeah exactly! It’s all about timing. If we were younger opening the salon or something like that, it wouldn’t be as successful because we wouldn’t have been as experienced whether in life or in hair. It’s all about timing, you said it perfectly.
ANH: And that’s what I tell all my assistants. Don’t rush to be so famous, don’t rush to be so big, whatever on social media, do what you do well and once you get recognized, it’s fine! Don’t get so caught up in that.
RIAWNA: Yes I know! And I think honestly you can’t focus on that at all. If you’re focusing on that, you’re focusing on the wrong things you know? Focus on your art. Focus on what you’re creating and everything else will follow, and it’s so hard to teach the assistants that. They’re like, ‘oh I don’t want to do this job for free,’ and I’m like are you kidding me? You have to!
ANH: You have to!
RIAWNA: You absolutely have to! Make the networks and the connections happen and meet people. I feel like I met people seven years ago that are just now being able to flourish with whatever opportunities may have happened. You have to put in your time and I think to focus on the famous aspect is all for the wrong.
ANH: And I’ll be honest with you, some people do get lucky though…and that’s fine! And you can’t judge yourself upon that either. Sometimes my assistants will bring that up and I tell them, that’s them! That’s they’re timing. What are you gonna do? Are you gonna be jealous? Do your shit.
RIAWNA: Yes, I totally agree.
ANH: Okay so what style are you really in love with right now?
RIAWNA: You know what I do really like, I mean let’s keep it real. Ever since I cut Julianne Hough’s hair, that’s great and fabulous and all but I have gotten every single request from sixty years old and older wanting to get Julianne’s haircut! I love it, I could do it with my eyes closed. But you know what I do like, is taking that technique of that and making it longer.
ANH: I AGREE!
RIAWNA: You know? That long hair but taking that shattered piecey-ness, not really many layers at all, but pieces instead of layers on longer hair. Literally like that same short haircut, but on long hair.
ANH: I agree. That’s what I’ve been working with lately too! I love short hair right now too, don’t get me wrong, but we need to progress.
RIAWNA: Yeah we need to change it up.
ANH: And I don’t want to be that type of hairdresser that’s a one trick pony.
RIAWNA: Yeah, we won’t name names!
ANH: We’re gonna keep it cool. So how do you find good employees?
RIAWNA: Oh! Goodness gracious! Okay, this is how we hire people, and you can take this advice and maybe you already do the same. You can’t teach someone how to be a good person, but you can teach them how to cut and color hair. So that’s like our basis on everything. So if there’s not that foundation, they don’t belong at Nine Zero One, for us. I know it’s cheesy, but we’re all teamwork makes the dream work, Nine Zero One family and stuff, but literally we all get along. There’s no drama, there’s no competition, you walk over and you hear, ‘oh my god, what lowlight is that?’ ‘Oh my god, how’d you cut that?’ ‘let me show you!’ We all teach each other and it’s pretty rad. There’s no egos whatsoever and I think that all comes down to mom and dad. How did mom and dad raise you, you know?
ANH: Exactly. How you guys set the tone. Same thing with me. When I was building the salon, I read up on different books and stuff like that, and Richard Bronson said it so well and I still do it the way he does it. He hires good attitudes. Same thing with what you’re saying, and it’s true. Because you’re gonna end up training them anyways, so you gotta hire people that have good hearts. So my last question for you, any secrets to your success?
RIAWNA: I want to say don’t focus on the success.
ANH: That’s a great one.
RIAWNA: Yeah, just focusing on that end goal, that end result, and that money or that fame, I think that gets in the way of everything. Just focus on yourself and focus on the now. All you have is right now. This haircut in front of you, this client sitting in your chair, that’s gonna be the best that you are as soon as she walks out until someone else walks in. Is that weird or does that make sense?
ANH: Yes, being in the present!
ANH: I agree with you.
RIAWNA: Same answer?
ANH: Ha! Yes and I think for a lot of my assistants, I always tell them to be open-minded. Meaning, if something comes about, make it your own. Give your own twist, but be who you are.
RIAWNA: Cool! Well so nice to meet you!
ANH: Great talking with you too!
RIAWNA: I wish you didn’t have your own salon so you could come work with me!
ANH: I would love to. I can’t wait to meet in person!
RIAWNA: Me too! Take care!
ANH: Talk to you later, Bye!