To say that Allen Ruiz is a veteran in the industry is an understatement. Allen has worked with Aveda for the past 18 years–as in almost two decades–and currently serves as Aveda’s Global Artistic Director, Hair Styling. In between keying huge shows at New York Fashion Week, and editorial styling for major fashion magazines and campaigns, Allen still finds the time to co-own and work at the wildly successful Ruiz salon in Austin, Texas. While he prides himself on his signature “gorgeous, big beautiful hair”–Allen is the type of stylist who can master any look, thanks to years of experience in his arsenal. We caught up with Allen in the midst of New York Fashion Week craziness–backstage at Public School, while he was keying the show…NBD. Keep reading our Q&A to learn more about Allen’s career journey, inspirations, and how he deals with self-doubt.
How did you get started in the industry?
When I was younger, I always messed around with my sisters barbies. I did hair on friends, my mom… everybody around me and I loved it. I remember watching a hair show, a talk show with Jose Eber, and he did a makeover it was this one moment and I was like, ‘wow that’s what I want to do.’ I saw someone go from not-so-great to like ‘ahhhh,’ so that really stuck with me.
What was one of your biggest career challenges and how did you overcome it?
One of my biggest career challenges was gaining the confidence to submit a collection for NAHA. I was in awe of a lot of the artists participating and just not sure I had it in me to submit a collection worthy of my peers. I ended up getting past it by just jumping in. I committed to submitting a collection and went through the process (self-doubt the whole way) and ended up winning. The biggest learning from that was to just dive in and go for it. You never know and it’s always a learning experience. There really is now downside.
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
Who are some of your role models?
Antionette Beenders, of course all of the editorial guys like Jean, Guido, Odile–some of them I’ve gotten to work with, Orlando Pita, Sam McKnight. The legends, but they’re also the editorial guys. The ones who are doing the stuff, the magazines, the shows, the big campaigns – love them.
What would you say your signature look is?
Gorgeous big, beautiful hair. Or, super controlled and tight. So, it’s either out there or super controlled. I’m known as a control freak. I know what I like, I like a nice structured look.
What was your last major makeover that you’ve done?
It was for a salon client that came in and was going through a divorce. She always had the same length and color of hair (very long layered cut and auburn) and was really looking for a drastic change. I took her short and platinum blonde and she looked amazing.
Which hair products or tools are always in your kit?
The tools/products that I always have with me are: My Mason Pearson brush, Aveda Air Control™, Aveda Pure Abundance™ Hair Potion and Aveda Pure Abundance™ Style-Prep. I can do pretty much anything with that arsenal of products.
How do you continue to get inspired? Where do you go for your inspiration?
NYC, London, Japan are all cutting-edge cities that give me inspiration for projects. Pop culture and fashion are my other two biggest sources for ideation.
Did or do you ever have self-doubt? How do you get over it?
I still do. Think that is true for any artist regardless of their level or industry. We all have good days and bad days and being able to work through a bad day is what sets apart a good artist from a great artist.
If you could only do one style for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Jane Fonda’s haircut in the 1971 film Klute.
______ Never goes out of style.
The worst hair cut I personally ever had was…
It was given to me by mother! The crazy part was, I used to beg her to cut my hair!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t be too overly eager. Take it in. Everything you do is meant for you. Don’t be like, ‘I gotta have that job, I need this, I need that,’ its going to come to you. The universe has an interesting way of working itself out and it’ll going to happen for you.
What advice would you give to new stylists?
Do a lot of work. Do a ton of work. Do it for free, have fun, talk to everybody, introduce yourself to everyone that you can. And just network with a bunch of different people and find people that you jive with. Everybody that you know is always looking for you–the next big photographer is looking for [the next big] hairdresser to work with, they start somewhere just like you did.
Make sure to follow @AllenRuizStyle for 24/7 #manespiration! And let us know who else you’d like us to do a #ManeMasters on in the comments below.
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