Behind the scenes at World MasterCard Fashion Week in Toronto, hair pro Jorge Joao shares how he transitioned from industry newbie to artist extraordinaire
For Jorge Joao, hair skills always came naturally. As a high schooler, the Brampton, Ont., native would finesse his friends’ uninspired cuts in his parents’ garage, but he didn’t take the craft seriously. After he completed a degree in nutrition and tried a long list of jobs he wasn’t passionate about, his friends finally convinced him that styling was the right fit. “I started asking questions, dropped what I was doing and went to hair school,” recalls Joao of his career switch.
Now the Contessa-winning artistic director of Koi Hair Studio in Brampton, he also serves as Redken Canada’s lead stylist at Toronto’s World MasterCard Fashion Week, working feverishly with his team to pull off 32 hair looks over the course of five days. We caught up with Joao backstage to reflect on his start in runway beauty, and the advice he would give to aspiring pros.
How did you first get into runway work? It was very intimidating, to be honest. I was a cutter—but hair finishing is a whole other beast. [At first] it didn’t go as well as I thought it would, and if something doesn’t go right, it bothers me. So I went into training right off the bat. I got involved with Redken, and that’s how I got my start with the [backstage hair] team. I went from being a student to being an educator and started doing more. As I built my confidence and picked up on the skills, one thing led to another.
What advice would you give to a hairstylist who wants to work backstage? Volunteer! Nothing comes overnight. Offer your services and be a good helper, even if it’s a small job. If they ask you to pass bobby pins, be the best person passing bobby pins. Don’t be afraid to mess up. Everyone’s scared to put themselves in a vulnerable scenario where they might look bad or make a mistake, but if you don’t, you’ll never grow. So, just get it out of the way—make your mistakes. Go in there full throttle. And when a mistake happens, take it as a learning process.
How do you keep your cool backstage? I’ve got good backing. It’s teamwork—one person can’t do it. I steer the ship, but a lot of people operate it.
What’s one thing you’ve learned backstage that you wish you’d known when you first started? Less is more. In hairdressing, you’re trained to make things look polished and beautiful, but sometimes runway is lived-in and organic.
Jorge’s Hair Looks from Toronto Fashion Week:
What are the three key products you’re using backstage this season? Our key products [included] Redken Fashion Work 12, our light finishing spray with 24-hour humidity control. We also have our Fashion Waves sea salt spray, as well as our brand new holding spray, Triple Take 32. It’s strong but doesn’t have that “glue-y” substance a lot of other strong hairsprays have.
Which one of your signature techniques should every woman know? Alternative ways of wrapping a strand of hair around an iron to achieve a different type of curl. Sometimes it’s not about wrapping it all the way through and getting the spiral curl. Sometimes it’s about wrapping it halfway, leaving the ends out. Or wrapping it, then sliding the iron up and down the actual strand, to get a more natural, lived-in wave.
What would you deem a hair crime? Colouring your hair at home. And believe it or not, I’ve seen people flatiron their hair with an actual clothes’ iron.
If you could change anything about the beauty industry, what would that be? People taking themselves too seriously. Just appreciate things for what they are; everyone has different tastes. I think [there’s always] something that can be admired or taken on a positive note, whether you like it or not. Just be light.