Valery Joseph, who now operates five beauty salons, got his start in the Israeli army. Fascinated by New York City life, architecture, hair, and structure, he creates magic in his salon every day. He shares his biggest hair care advice and the importance of keeping your hair healthy and hydrated. For him, hair is the ultimate accessory, because a good hair style can help a woman radiate confidence in her work, home, and social life. Looking good and feeling good go hand in hand at Valery Joseph’s salon.
How did you get involved in the beauty business?
I studied architecture at school, but, when I was 15 and 16, I worked for my neighbor who had a hair salon, as a summer job. There, I first started interacting with hair, and what really caught my curiosity and piqued my attention was the reaction of people after they got a make over or a new color or a new cut. I saw the good and the bad: both people who loved their new hair and people who came out with bad hair or bad color, and how upset they were about it. I became fascinated with how hair affects people’s moods.
In Israel, we do our major in 10th grade, because we go to army afterwards. After I graduated, I worked for an architecture firm, before I went to the army for 9 months. When I went to the army, I got injured after six months. When it became clear that I couldn’t go back to my division, they asked me what else I could do, and I told them that I could be an architect or that I could be a hairdresser. I was very lucky to be part of what they wanted to do: at that point, the Israeli army was very interested in upgrading the services that they provided to their soldiers, so they wanted to introduce hair dressing services to the female soldiers. My base had 3000 female soldiers. The problem was that, in Israel, when you go to the army, you become property of the army and you get paid only $50 a month. Obviously $50 is not enough to get even one haircut outside of the army. I was so lucky: they sent me to one of the top schools for hairdressing for five months, where I was trained to interact with women’s hair and to understand that type of business. I was so happy to get that really intense professional training, and I fell in love with the profession. After my training, the army placed me in the hair salon in that base and introduced me as a stylist to both men and women. I spent two years there and it was super successful, because it really became the thing to do at that base. I got to work with a lot of female soldiers, and I loved to see their reactions.
When I first arrived in New York, I didn’t speak any English. I was amazed at the amount of people that live here, and at the fashion. At the time, I didn’t even know any of the designers. All of that was so new to me. As hard as it seemed at the time, without any language, I really developed my creativity and passion, because I had to communicate through hair. I couldn’t stop doing it, because I loved the reactions I got.
How does your background in architecture help you with being a hair stylist?
I am so fortune to have a background in architecture, because it allows me to see the three dimensions. I look at people’s hair, head shapes, and face structures, and that really helps my creative process. There is fine hair, thick hair, wavy hair. All of those great ingredients give me such inspiration for all the different ways to approach hair. Hair is not a cookie cutter. I can start a hair cut from the front, and finish in the back. I can start it on dry hair or on wet hair. I love to just feel the texture of the hair and to create magic.
Tell me more about your salons.
Now we have five salons, where I am proud to make our clients feel confident and happy with their hair results: 1044 Madison Avenue, 25 Central Park West, 660 Madison Avenue at Barneys, and 2454 Main Street in Bridgehampton.
I train my staff and I bring out the best in them. They are all passionate people who love what they do. This is what has allowed me to open so many locations. Nobody ever wants to leave the company, so it is natural for us to grow. The Hamptons salon is my favorite, and it is only open for three months of the summer. When our clients travel, we travel with them. In the Hamptons, our clients don’t need a hair salon, because they could go natural there, but we like to be there for them to help them keep their hair healthy and nourished.
Who is your typical client?
It is a woman who wants to feel great, look great, and be confident. Our clients typically love fashion and live very healthy lifestyles. They love to stay in shape, and they want the perfect hair that goes with it. We have a lot of high profile clients, entrepreneurs, businesswomen, models, actresses, mothers that are raising kids. Our clientele varies, but the most important thing is that they want to look great and feel great. We love it when we have mothers bringing their kids and bringing grandma to the salon. Even though we are a salon that gives trendy looks, we like to create a very friendly environment. It is a huge compliment when I see the whole family at the salon.
What piece of advice do you find yourself giving over and over again?
First of all, I want my clients to be confident. Hair is the ultimate accessory for a woman. Don’t be afraid to try new styles. Find a stylist that you really like and update your look. Also, don’t neglect your hair. Take care of your hair and nourish your hair. Keep it as healthy as you can.
What is your favorite part of the work day?
My biggest reward is when a client comes to a salon and she is not happy with her look and she wants a new look. She feels a little bit tired or she doesn’t feel sexy, elegant, or beautiful and we transform that feeling into a positive feeling, by giving a haircut. That feeling is something that she can take home with her and have effect every part of her life.
What is the best approach to keeping your hair healthy?
You need to use the right products. You need to condition more, if you go to vacation. If you swim in the ocean or pool, keep your hair dry. When you dehydrate your hair, it creates breakage and weakens your hair. We educate our stylists in the salon how to explain this to clients, and we educate our clients on how to keep their hair healthy at home.
Which are your favorite hair products?
I worked with Kerastase for many years. A year ago, I came up with my own product line called Long for Valery Joseph. The entire line is about hydration and about keeping your hair in the best state possible. I am so proud of these products. Our clients love them and our testimonials are fantastic. I think that this is the ultimate hair care line to keep your hair in shape