Henry Amador is constantly reinventing and revolutionizing his role as a professional hairdresser.
Luckily I have been fortunate to document his ongoing high spirited evolution as a hair artist, savvy businessman and creative soul since 1999 when I first interviewed Henry for HairBoutique.com.
Henry and I had a reconnection in 2001 with ongoing communications handled via emails through 2005 when it was agreed we would do another "full blown" interview.
Recently I spent one hour on the phone "catching up" with Henry who graciously shared more of his hair life journeys with me.
I found Henry to be just as vibrant, enthusiastic, energetic and upbeat as I remembered him from before. Although he still talks with a rapid staccato beat, he politely inquired if he was "talking too fast". I laughed and remind him he always talked fast but I was keeping up - thank you very much.
He responded to my comments by saying "gee, I thought I had become calmer and more mellow over the past few years". Maybe so, but I pointed out that he still had a very high vibrational rate which was absolutely charming.
Success, Growth & Changes
When Henry and I first chatted in 1999 he had "just a mere handful of employees" and now there are "close to thirty". Since we last spoke in 2001, his salon - The Elite Group - moved to much larger quarters and is now occupying close to 5,000 square feet to accommodate the bustling business which is one of the most popular in the area.
The salon, which Henry explained is located not far from his house in the downtown section of Fort Lauderdale and "close to the beach" is at 4134 North Federal Highway.
While Henry appreciates the salon's prosperity, he finds "with more business" there are "many more demands on his time and life". As always, life is a series of checks and balances and Henry embraces "his many new responsibilities seeing them as the opportunity to grow and experience different areas in the field of hair".
Besides offering his highly touted hair and beauty services Henry, through The Elite Group, provides very special training programs for their hair apprentices and assistants. In addition to his work behind the chair, the naturalized Floridian (born in New York to parents from Spain) has been dong "a lot of behind the camera work for TV and films". The South Florida media has embraced Henry's makeover expertise for on-air segments. He is also offering hair and beauty tips as well as trend updates.
He found his recent hair work on an Indie film to be "fascinating and rewarding but lots of hard work". He expressed surprise at "just how much work TV and films encompass".
Guiding Clients To Their Inner Beauty
When I asked Henry what new sage advice he would impart to hair consumers around the world who visit HairBoutique.com he thought for a moment before telling me he would advise "people everywhere to search for their own beauty inside and not look for it from outsides sources such as their hairdresser, make-artist or other professionals".
Henry explained "the pressure from his clients is at times unfair because they look to him to make them beautiful, when true beauty radiates from happiness, peace and inner serenity".
In essence Henry wants to advise people around the world "to search for their own definition of what makes them feel gorgeous and follow their own path to beauty rather than expect their hairdressers to define it for them".
This advice didn't surprise me at all coming from the man that often signs his emails to me with thought provoking quotes from world famous philosophers. One of my favorites that he included in email to me in 2003 was from the great Euripides. The quote was "I have found power in the mysteries of thought" which mirrors so well Henry's personality and life philosophies.
Hair Extensions & Other Hot Hair Trends
While we were discussing hot hair trends of the moment I asked Henry what his philosophy was regarding the current consumer craze for hair extensions and add-on hair.
Hair extensions, he mused, "offer so many advantages ranging from satisfying the hair consumer's tendency to "want long hair now" to offering a quick and dramatic change to anyone's overall look and style. Henry said "let's face it, hair extensions are fun, offer the option to try all types of different hair textures, colors and lengths and transforms hair into the ultimate accessory".
Afterall, he commented, "people get bored and they like change and the option to experiment with their looks". When the change can be temporary and cause virtually no long term damage to their own hair it is definitely going to be a big winner with consumers.
I inquired if Henry personally did hair extension work. He laughed and reminded me of his "commitment issues and how he attracts clients that are similar to him and his personality". Since Henry is a "no muss, no fuss person who loves spontaneity and freedom", he's not someone who would personally enjoy "the ongoing consistent commitment to perform ongoing maintenance of "permanent style extensions".
Quite simply Henry tends to attracts clients who are "free spirits and who like things easy and natural." While he noted The Elite Group has some fabulous hair extension experts on staff that work with the formal systems, he personally limits his work to a variety of clip-ons and more temporary add-on hair systems.
Again his answer didn't surprise me because I know that Henry likes to perform his hair artistry in perfect harmony with the wishes and dreams of his clients.
Hair Color Trends, Designs & Directions
As we transitioned to the topic of hair color, his known expertise, I told him about my own personal tear jerking bad hair color experience of last year. Henry listened and clucked sympathetically while reminding me "of the many similar stories he has heard over the years" and how it "all boils down to the fact that hairdressers forget to listen to the wishes of their clients".
Henry also reiterated "the importance of providing advanced training to the current crop of hair novices being pumped out of hair academies in record numbers".
Which is of course another reason why he is now committed to providing extensive training to The Elite Group hair assistants and apprentices.
Even though Henry is a lot busier these days, he still adores "working with his clients behind the chair" and wearing an ever changing array of hats that range from salon owner and manager to educator, mentor and salon spokesman and overall cheerleader.
His passion for hair is strongly centered in his work with hair color, which he and I have discussed at length in previous interviews. Henry is still pushing the envelope with his color work, constantly striving to ascend to even higher levels of creation for his clients.
Again we cycled back to trends and what they currently involve in the hair color arena. Henry reminded me that hair color trends, like all hair trends really do have their roots (pun intended) in the different regions of the country.
I asked Henry if he was still doing his signature haircuts and styles in addition to his famous hair color designs. "Of course" he told me, "he continues to be one of those rare hairdressers providing "full service hair care" for all of his hair clients.
Henry continues to yield his magical clippers and scissors to create spectacular layers, bobs, crops and chops as requested. Henry is also famous for his work with natural curls and long locks like mine.
He admitted the time-saving use of Elite Group hair apprentices for dispatching of simple shampoo, comb out and blow drying duties to facilitate timing issues. Of course this is a common and very wise practice at all top of the line hair salons. Not only do the apprentices learn valuable hair care habits, the master hairdressers like Henry can study their techniques and provide positive feedback.
I mentioned that I had recently interviewed the hairdresser who created Cheryl Burke's exotic ribboned cut (Dancing With The Stars) and how she use a razor to create the entire style. Although he will use a razor when appropriate, such as establishing a clean line at the nape of the neck or when he creates some of his men's styles, for the most part Henry prefers to use a scissors to chisel his award winning cuts. Why? He believes "razor cuts may be challenging as they grow out" especially on certain hair textures like curls, where strands have been known to pop right out and stick straight up".
Razor cuts, he pointed out, may initially love fabulous in the salons but can also be very difficult to re-create the style at home. While he "loves to texturize a lot around the perimeter of the styles he crafts, he prefers to use a razor only for certain tasks such as cleaning up the back of men's short cuts to establish a clean line"
Hair Style & Color Trends
Henry believes that trends ultimately spring from the polar opposite of the current crazes. The reason? After people become totally obsessed with white blonde, they get tired of that look and want a change. Often change means going to the opposite extreme which in Henry's philosophy explains why people will seem to switch from very light to very dark hair colors along popular trend lines. He also believes the same is true about hair texture (straight to curly and vice versa), fashion and makeup. People get tired of the same old thing and want a switch, which results in a hot new trend, that also only lasts so long.
Does Henry believe that people will ever stop coloring their hair? Absolutely not. He quoted statistics he had recently discovered regarding the continued growth of the hair color industry.
Chemical Perms And Wave Treatments Are Long Dead
Although he believes in the ongoing interest and demand for hair straightening services like Yuko, especially for people in certain climates which make natural curls and waves more problematical he believes that the chemical perm is dead forever.
Yes, according to Henry, hairdressers are tying to "rename, remarket, repackage" the chemical perm, but consumers are wise to the tricks and are having none of the attempted perm camouflage. Consumers can see beyond the touting of different curling rods, curlers or "natural" waving formulas for what it is, the simple renaming of the classic chemical perm.
Henry believes that "no one will ever duplicate the perm story of the 1980s because consumers do not want to re-create that look". Even back at the height of the perm movement, Henry pointed out "magazines published photos of women with so-called perm styles that were in reality carefully set to give a certain appearance and in essence could never be duplicated after the set was washed out".
He noted "with the right hair cut, right products and right heat styling tools any consumer can create a wide range of versatile textures, straight, wavy or curly, without any long range chemical dangers". They like freedom and most consumers today do not want to get locked into any one style, which a chemical perm, texturizer or wave treatment may do.
Although the Elite Group does provide Yuko straightening, Henry does not personally provide any chemical services. He is a full service hairdresser offering hair color, cuts and styling but he believes that today's hair consumers want a more natural look and upkeep. Their lives are busy and they don't need any more complications. Adding perms or straightening services to color just adds more complications.
Recent Nod For Best Salon In Fort Lauderdale
After congratulating Henry for winning the Best Salon In Fort Lauderdale award I asked him why he thought The Elite Group is so much better than any other salons in the area. Henry, who is always very modest and humble, said "while I would love to think that we are the very best salon because of the work that is created, the truth is that everyone focuses totally on the needs of their clients".
I teased him about the mention of eating and drinking at the salon. He laughed and explained that right next door to the salon is a wonderful restaurant - 4140 Bar & Grill - whose fabulous dishes are brought into the salon. Henry noted "the salon is like a warm and inviting little community where people lounge at the color bar working on their notebook computers, eating food and sipping various drinks". The original goal of The Elite Group, as Henry explained it back in 1999 was "to create a warm, inviting and comfortable setting for clients to chill, hang out and get their hair and beauty needs met".
Besides Henry's philosophy of "always being there for my clients", great food, atmosphere and services, he believes The Elite Group is the best salon in Fort Lauderdale because they offer their clients the opportunity to "find their signature hair and beauty style". From the first time I talked to Henry he explained the importance of everyone "finding that hairstyle look that they love and truly defines them". Since "hair is the ultimate" signature, he loves when people embrace their own style and wear it proudly for years.
Nothing is more exciting for Henry then when he can help people find that style that ultimately turns other heads when his client walks into a room. "How exciting for someone to be recognized for their own unique hairstyle" he pointed out. And yes, that is a wonderful feeling that everyone should experience with their hair.
Speaking of color, I inquired what brands Henry was currently using. He chuckled when I started with his own disclaimer of "not to judge a hair colorist by his box of colors" and said that he currently uses the Italian color line BES (Regal) along with Goldwell, Wella and Logics.
Update On Gray Hair Coloring
When I explained to Henry that one of the most popular articles on HairBoutique.com is the piece that I did with him regarding how to pre-treat stubborn gray hair he acknowledged that he has received visits from clients with a print out of that article along with several phone calls from clients and stylists over the years that referenced his gray hair advice on HairBoutique.com.
Henry agreed that the information really worked when trying to color stubborn gray hair. "Some people have extremely stubborn gray hair that is hard to color and in truth, pre-softening, which he still does to this very day, is one of the very best ways to color obstinate gray". Did he have any new tricks that he could share for coloring gray? Not really, although he wished that he could "give all sorts of hot new tips for dealing with gray hair, the reality is that what he shared before really does work". He did say "all the major hair color companies are constantly introducing lots of great new colors designed to address gray, white and silver strands and creating some fabulous new products".
He also reiterated his original advice that utilizing gold based colors are significant for achieve the optimal colors for people going gray. Again, the hair color companies are responding to this need for gold based colors with all sorts of new offerings.
Does he believe that most people are willing to go gray gracefully? No. From his many years as a Master Colorist Henry believes "the majority of people will fight the signs of aging as much as possible with hair color being a first line of defense for retaining a youthful appearance".
Catching Up On Hair Heroes
One of the coolest stories that Henry told me in one of our recent interviews was about the time he was hanging out at the house of hair great Leland Hirsh (founder of ARTec) and that he watched Leland design the white ARTec product bottles. That story gave me chills and I was impressed with Henry's "inside scoop" back in 1999 about how Leland magnificently blended his passion for his ARTec product line with his personal life - living and breathing his creations - but still finding a balance.
I asked Henry if he had stayed in touch with Leland - since I was such a huge fan of his business successes. Henry reported that "yes, he was still in touch with Leland and that he was doing fantastically since the sale of ARTec to L'Oreal". Henry promised to give Leland, who we both agreed is a hair hero, my regards the next time that they got together.
Henry The Celebrity Hairdresser
The title of Celebrity Hairdresser that I have attached to Henry is not because he is famous for working with the stars of stage and screen. Yes, Henry has worked with celebrities throughout his illustrious and wildly successful 30 year career in the hair trade.
But no, Henry is adamant about his stance regarding the trend for hairdressers to use their celebrity clients as a way to build their own business and reputations. Instead, Henry believes that all of his clients are celebrities regardless of their background, occupations, financial status or lifestyles.
Indeed, every man, woman and child that settles into Henry's chair at The Elite Group in downtown Fort Lauderdale Florida (4134 North Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308 Tel: 954.630.2115 Toll Free: 1.877.346.2676) is treated incredibly special.
Henry mused "I refuse to be known by the people who sit in my chair" because it is about the relationships and the beauty you impart, not about the game of celebrity endorsements. Henry noted "celebrities have become g-normous (Henry's word) and have taken over the the entire hair, fragrance cosmetics and fashion markets".
He believes "models are coming back" as witnessed by the recent Vogue cover that featured supermodel Linda Evanglista. Even more newsworthy is the fact that it was the first non-celebrity cover in seven years. Henry believes "everyday people are getting tired of the constant barrage of celebrities and want to see models and more non-celebrity types.
Agreeing that "talented hairdressers sometimes create great looks for their celebrity clients" he does not agree that it's ever a good thing to build a reputation or a business solely on the fact that you ay have touched a celebrity's hair once and decided to use that fact indefinitely.
He laughed as he told me a story about a reporter who wrote about him "Henry Amador is not a celebrity hairdresser but he is a celebrity - in his own right". Yes, I would agree with that. Henry is definitely a celebrity for a myriad of reasons.
What's Next For Henry
I asked Henry if doing hair for 30 years, which is an extremely physical business, was having any toll on him. "Absolutely not" Henry replied "I still love hair and have an all consuming passion for it" Indeed, he was emphatic about his hope that he would be still working behind the chair when he's
Always one to dabble in other artistic interests Henry is continuing his long time collaboration with noted photographer Gregory Paul. Henry reported "Gregory and I are consulting with other salons through their company - EgoVisitons - that wish to produce a professional quality of work that showcases their salons and hair designs". Many hairdressers, he commented, don't know how to go about creating portfolios of their work. The basics such as selecting the best hair models, photographers and makeup artists are baffling.
Gregory and Henry have partnered and are offering a service to salons and hairdressers that teach them how to create professional work and get it published in channels such as the media and online like in Hairboutique.com's Hair Gallery section.
Not only does Henry love the artistic and creative side of the photography biz, he enjoys teaching and helping other hairdressers promote their work and their business.
As we moved to the end of our hour together I asked Henry if he had any last words of wisdom to impart to the world of hair consumers. He laughed and said "I think I have imparted enough words today to last for quite some time". Indeed, Henry has added many new thought provoking words about hair for years to come.
To make an appointment with Henry or his talented staff and partners contact The Elite Group at 4134 North Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33308. Call Henry at 954-630-2115 or Toll Free at 1-877-346-2676.
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