Neil Grupp creates perfection by imperfection. Not afraid to push the boundaries of what’s expected, big brand clients like Acne, W, and Hermes love to continue working with him. Neil taught me how to train my editorial eye from a commercial background. When I’d want to fix a fly away, or itch for symmetry, he challenged me to accept the imperfections, encouraging me to blast more hair in the face – and voila! The perfect shot. With a childlike love for play, it’s no surprise his motto is “life is a hair party” (both a hashtag and tattoo). So without further adieu, please meet Mane Master Neil Grupp.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I got my start in the industry through Warren Tricomi. My manager sent me out on a shoot with Kozmo and then he asked me to do some shows with him. That was my first taste of session work and I loved it.
What was one of your biggest career challenges and how did you overcome it?
After 10 years of working behind the chair, leaving my comfort zone and going out into the editorial world was my biggest career challenge, but I have no regrets in that decision. Some days I still cut models’ hair at Suite Caroline Salon.
Who are some role models who have inspired you?
Role models … there are too many. The first was a hairdresser named George that used to cut my hair when I was a teenager, then the owners of Hair by Design in Palos Park, IL, Ron and Jeff, Jerry and the team at Salon Buzz in Chicago, Edward and Joel Warren of Warren Tricomi and their team, and lastly, Duffy, Eugene Souleiman, Malcolm Edwards, Sarah Potempa, and a bunch of other great hairdressers that let me into their world. Oh and of course my Ma who was a hairdresser.
What app do you use the most?
I use Instagram the most….I am actually taking a month off because I have issues.
Do you have a signature look or style that you are known for?
Amplifying what’s authentic. Enhancing someone’s natural beauty, working with their natural texture and color, not altering what you were born with.
What was your last major makeover that you’ve done?
The last one was today on my friend and model, Yara. I got rid of all her layers and gave her a nice clean line. She loved it.
Which hair products or tools are always in your kit?
Hair products….Oribe….Wella….Tigi…Evo….. R+CO…..L’Oreal… I think I have too many favorites.
A product that never leaves my kit is my water bottle and I cant live without a comb and my Elchim Blowdryer that I love.
What is your favorite Instagram account to follow?
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
I would of said, “Neil. Save $33 a day and don’t touch it for 10 years. Then buy a place in Manhattan.”
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received? What advice would you give to new stylists?
The best advice – to give effort in all areas of your life and never stop.
I would tell a new stylist, “The secret of greatness is simple. Do better work than any other man in your field and keep on doing it.” -Wilferd A. Peterson
For more #manespiration, follow @neilgrupp.