How do you write about a woman that needs no introduction? Sally Hershberger is one of the most iconic and revolutionary hairstylists of our time. Inventing moveable texture in the hair, she’s the woman responsible for now classic haircuts like ‘the shag’ and Jane Fonda’s signature ‘do. Whether she’s cutting Patti Smith’s hair or styling the biggest supermodels, there’s not a celeb whose Sally’s hands haven’t touched. Now the owner of 2 namesake salons and a new luxury haircare line, 24K, Sally has paved the way for female entrepreneurs in the beauty industry. We were lucky enough to chat with Sally about her life as an artist and business owner and what that means for the future.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I got started in the industry when my mother told me I had to go get a job. My best friend said to me “Well, why don’t you go work for this famous hair dresser.” And so I said “okay,” not really knowing what I was getting myself into. I started going to beauty school and while I was in school, I stared working for a very famous hair dresser at the time, Arthur Johns. He was doing everyone. But, once I stopped assisting, I went over to another salon called Armando’s, where they were doing all the hot celebrities of the moment. At the time, Armando was doing Olivia Newton John. She was about to go on her “Let’s Get Physical” tour and when Armando couldn’t do the tour with her, I ended up going. That’s when I met (photographer) Herb Ritts and from there Herb and I started doing all the covers together. Things started blowing up. I started meeting celebrities, getting my name out there and building a resume. I met (photographers) Annie Leibovitz, Helmut Newton and Matthew Rolston and was completely thrown into hair. I was in my early 20s and doing big things. It just happened overnight.
What was one of your biggest career challenges and how did you overcome it?
One of my biggest career challenges was doing a hair care line in the mass market world. It was too soon, too much. I should have gone into luxury from the beginning—which is what I’m doing now with Sally Hershberger 24K. It’s more personal and more me.
Who are some role models who have inspired you?
I have to think about that one. Only because when I first really started doing hair, it was only me and Oribe. A lot of hairdressers had a resurgence, but I always did my own thing. I have always been all about texture and I’ve always just done what I like. I wasn’t looking at other hairdressers, I didn’t even know who they were. My career took off so quickly that I didn’t really have time to look around. I just did what I knew and loved and somehow it worked.
I think my biggest source of inspiration has always been people in music. The Rolling Stones, Joan Jett—anything that was street and original and different.
Do you have a signature look or style that you are known for?
Yes, very textured hair. Easy, sexy.
What was your last major makeover that you’ve done?
I don’t know about the last major makeover but there are definitely a lot of makeovers throughout my career that stand out to me. Hillary Clinton for the cover of Vogue. Changing Meg Ryan. Changing Tom Cruise for all his movies. Julia Roberts, Michelle Pfieffer. Jane Fonda.
If I had to pick my top three though, it’d be Jane Fonda, Hillary Clinton and Meg Ryan. Also, Nicole Kidman. When I first met her, she had that geeky, curly hair that I got her out of.
Which hair products or tools are always in your kit?
Definitely all my 24K products… my dry shampoo is my go to, as is the texturizing paste and dry oil. I use all three on almost all my clients. I use a Solano Blow Dryer as well as a Solano flat iron. And then a Hot Tools 1-inch curling iron.
What is your favorite Instagram account to follow?
I follow photographer @cassblackbird who I like a lot, she posts really great photos. I follow a few inspirational accounts—I like @70sdaily which posts really cool retro photos. I’m also really into architecture and design– @_archidesignhome_ and @saatchi_gallery. And anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge animal person, I like @harlowandsage, which is all dogs and puppies. Also, @pippasmalljewellery. She’s major, I buy a lot of her pieces.
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
I wouldn’t tell my younger self much, to be honest. Things worked out the way they were suppose to, and there is little I would change. However, I would have told myself to hold off on going into mass market. I wish I went into luxury a while back. I’m doing that now and I love it! But, I don’t really have anything I would tell myself 10 years ago… I can’t really answer that question all too well.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received? What advice would you give to new stylists?
This question is definitely better suited for my stylists to answer! But, I think that my biggest piece of advice would be to know your craft inside and out. Know every major person in the business—photographers, stylists, editors. The better you know the industry, the better you’ll be. Know the business, educate yourself, stay in the know. That’s how you move forward.