By Linden Wilson
The recent passing of famed hairdresser Vidal Sassoon left many not only grieving the loss but also remembering the iconic hairstyles he created. We spoke with root Salon owner Jim Koktavy about the influence Vidal had on his life and on the industry:
Linden Wilson: How did Vidal Sasson impact your career?
Jim Koktavy: He was such an educational inspiration to me. People outside the industry think of him as doing this iconic change from bouffant hair to these structured, geometric haircuts, but to me, he was the person that finally gave us blueprints for how to cut hair: you start at A, you go to B, you go to C. It wasn’t about trends. For him, it was all about education.
LW: Why is that so important to you?
JK: Our salon is a teaching salon–that’s where the name root came from. We hire people out of school and train them. My staff goes to the Vidal Sassoon Academy; the two apprentices I currently have spent a month last year at the academy in Chicago, and they went back for a week just after New Year’s. It’s integrated into every part of our education program.
LW: In what ways did Vidal inspire you?
JK: People talk about how he did these great haircuts, but he also did great things for the whole world. He started this amazing charitable organization [the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism], a research center that studies the prejudice against Jewish people. I am not Jewish, but those of the Jewish faith might know more about that side of him than the haircutting side. He was all about giving back.
root Salon, 4289 Sheridan Ave. S., Minneapolis, (612) 886-1100; 499 Selby Ave., St. Paul, (651) 222-0200, rootsalons.com