“I learned how to see the big picture and deliver beautiful, on-brand images that inspire and transcend both consumer and trade which is a delicate balance and not something everyone can do.”
Where are you from and where do you reside: Born in the US in Austin, Texas.
Title of what you do and/or what company.
Global Artistic Director of Hair Styling for Aveda and Owner of Ruiz Salons in Austin, TX.
Education background (school, salons, self-taught)?
Vogue Beauty College in Austin, TX
What is your signature style/artistic expression in your work?
It has to be pretty, simple, and modern and it has to make the person look and feel beautiful whether they are a model or a client.
What is the first creative project that you remember?
It was Aveda Congress in 2001or 2002. I was under the direction of Aveda’s Senior VP of Creative, Antoinette Beenders, as a young hairdresser. At the age of thirty-one, with no presentation experience, I was told “You’re going on stage!”. It was my first experience being on stage in front of 5,000 hairdressers. There were five of us cutting hair and switching models. The point was to show how well-trained we all were so that we could easily finish each other’s haircuts. I remember this the most because it was crazy. I was on a turn-table spinning stage and this was my first time in front of a large audience doing my craft.
What is the most fulfilling job you’ve worked on or a person you have worked with?
This would definitely have to be the NAHA shoot I creative directed for my salon team in 2010 when we won Salon Team of the Year. Was such an amazing and fulfilling experience being able to share my knowledge and inspire my team.
Do you have a career turning point, big break, or person that has helped your career?
My career turning point would be when I won my first NAHA title in 2007 for “Hairdresser of the Year.” With awards and recognition come more opportunities and this title really opened up a lot of new doors for me.
Antoinette Beenders and I met in the Spring of 2000 at an Aveda training and she ended up seeing something in me and immediately took me under her wing. We’ve traveled all over the world together doing hair shows, seminars, fashion shows, campaigns, and everything in between. More than anything, Antoinette trained my eye and taught me how to embrace a brand and how important every single element (model, wardrobe, lighting, hair, make-up, etc) of a campaign or shoot is.
I learned from her how to see the big picture and deliver beautiful, on-brand images that inspire and transcend both consumer and trade which is a delicate balance and not something everyone can do.
What was the scariest and proudest moment in your career?
I recall a time I was on stage at an Aveda Show. My model had a condition called HyperHidrosis which is excessive sweating of the hands and scalp beyond your wildest dreams. This poor girl was essentially leaking as I was attempting to blow dry her hair on stage and her hair NEVER dried with all of the sweat coming down. She had her plastic cape on and sweat was just running down the cape and puddling up on the floor. That was definitely a scary and dicey on-stage moment that I’ll never forget.
Becoming the owner of a second salon location was definitely not an easy journey and a proud moment. Being able to contribute to the industry, to give hairdressers an opportunity to work, develop and grow is very important to me. Early in my career, I had great training which was even harder to come by then, than it is now. When I opened my own salons, I wanted to be able to deliver excellent training to help create great hairdressers. I worked hard to find that early in my career and wanted to make it easier for others to access. Also, winning NAHA for the second time in 2013 was a proud moment and an affirmation that the first time wasn’t just a fluke.
What is next for your career goals?
I’d like to continue to expand my salon portfolio by opening more locations. I also aspire to do more work as a Creative Director where I get to create beautiful and inspiring images for cool brands and publications all over the world.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your business?
One of the things I always say to this day is to say “yes” to everything, to every opportunity whether paid or not. You’ll eventually be able to be more discerning and pick and choose your jobs. But initially, take every opportunity that comes your way. The experience and network you will build, not to mention your portfolio and resume will be invaluable. Every person you’ll ever work with is looking for a great person to collaborate with.
Every photographer is looking for a great hairdresser and make-up artist to work with. That photographer may not be a big name now, but everyone starts somewhere. You never know who you’re working with today may become tomorrow!