By Emy LaCroix
StyleWeek is all about showcasing the talent of designers across New England in one whirlwind week of fashion and glamour. However, months of designing and sewing might go to waste if not highlighted by the perfect hairstyle. Enter Betha Wood: owner of Salon Bianco, hairstyle guru and director of hair for StylerWeek 2015. It’s time to get to know the woman behind the hair that ties all of the looks together to create a full fashion experience.
follow link TS: Tell us a bit about growing up. Where were you raised, what kind of kid were you, have you always been interested in hair and styling? Feel free to include stories!
BW: I was raised in Attleboro MA and lived there until I bought my house in Seekonk in 2006. I realize now that I was always a hairdresser, as I was the first one to do crazy makeup or color my friends hair or perm in someones kitchen – I was fearless. When I went to sign up for beauty school in 1998, I was only interested in doing nails and makeup. The dean of Arthur Angelo’s talked me into doing the cosmetology program instead and I knew from the first day that I had a knack for doing hair, much to my surprise.
go to site TS: Explain your journey through hair styling. When did you first get involved, where did you learn, and how did you rise to the level you are now?
BW: I began my career after school at Chestnuts Salon and Day Spa, where I studied color under Tammy Tortellotte (the owner of Moss Salon now), and studied cutting under Steven Decoteaux (the former owner of Chestnuts). I worked there for eight and a half years, until 2007 when I decided to make the insane jump from service provider to business owner (with no training in between) and the learning curve was unforgiving and grueling… but very worthwhile.
follow TS: What is your favorite kind of hairstyle?
BW: One that doesn’t take long to do, but looks complicated and feels fabulous!
Having become a successful entrepreneur with no prior training, Wood was given the opportunity to showcase her talent on a larger scale; for all of New England to see on the catwalks of StyleWeek. She explained to us what it’s like to work with designers, conceive the best hairstyles for the designs, and manage a team of hard-working stylists.
BW: It totally depends on the designer, some have a very clear picture of what they want for their look, others have lots of conflicting ideas, while others ask me for guidance. It’s always an adventure!
TS: How do you compensate a designer’s requests and your own ideas for a look?
BW: It usually depends on the model’s hair more than anything. When you have ten models and three have long straight blonde hair, two have brown wavy hair, two have short hair, one has afro texture, one has heavy Asian hair that refuses to curl, and one girl has a head full of sewn in tracks – and they all have to look the same, that’s when it really gets interesting!
TS: How is styling a client different from styling a shoot or show?
BW: My client experience is very personal, it involves quite a bit of psychology as well as technical skill. Listening is the most important factor. Backstage, the experience for my models is less personal because it doesn’t matter what they think or want, it’s all about the designer’s vision. Although, most of these girls are friends of mine now, and I always try and connect as much as time allows.
Even after Betha has worked with a designer to find the perfect look, she stays on the ball to the very end, working hard to compensate for quick changes, hair challenges and surprise situations. This fashion maven can handle even the most complicated requests.
BW: Jonathan Joseph Peters always challenges me. He usually incorporates some sort of fake hair or sculpture apparatus into his hair look. His avant-garde vision is always so inspiring and sometimes slightly terrifying, but through the years, I’ve found that when I am pushed beyond the limits of my comfort zone, the most beautiful things happen.
TS: Do you have any funny “in-a-pinch” stories about finishing looks for shoots or shows? (like stuffing paper into a bun for volume etc?)
BW: Last season someone placed one of Jonathan Joseph Peter’s synthetic hairpieces on top of a hot curling iron and it melted pretty badly. We were able to re-style what was left in minutes and save the piece. I still can’t believe we pulled that off. All I can say is thank GAWD for Bed Head’s masterpiece hairspray!
TS: How do you manage being creative and styling while also being in charge of so many other people?
BW: My team is amazing! I make sure in the tryout/interview process, that everyone knows that ‘mean girl attitudes’ will not be tolerated and ego has no place backstage. We all genuinely enjoy each other’s company. I’m not the kind of leader that dictates everything; I’m more of a collaborative leader. When we are presented with a collective challenge, sometimes the best answer comes from the veteran stylist of 20+ years, and sometimes it comes from the kid who’s still in school.
TS: How do you manage the chaos on the day of shoots/shows, etc?
BW: It comes naturally to me. Probably because inside my head it’s chaotic. I usually have three to seven thoughts in my head at any given moment. I find peace in the madness. I am comfortable there.
Perhaps Wood is so good at melding different styles in fashion shows because she has such a diverse style of her own. Wood brings her professional talent to her everyday life, and even offers suggestions for how you can do the same.
TS: What is your own personal style like?
BW: Depends on my mood that day. I have pretty rampant ADHD, so it changes like New England weather. My closet is full of all different influences, from Star Wars to Calvin Klein. Everything is organized by color in rainbow order, however, I’m organized and scatter brained all at the same time.
TS: What do you think is most important for a stylist to achieve their best work?
BW: You have to believe in yourself. If you believe you can… it’s true. If you believe you can’t… it’s true.
TS: What is your favorite part of the styling process?
BW: Watching a team member go from being scared to try something to the dawn of realization that they can do it!
TS: What are some products that every woman should have in their cabinet?
BW: Leave in conditioner, and a good working hairspray!
TS: What are some styling tips that can translate from a big photo shoot to your own daily routine?
BW: Don’t be afraid to try… it’s not about what you’re wearing on your head, it’s how you stand in it. Remember… confidence is sexy!
Don’t forget to check out our StyleWeek coverage to see all of Betha Wood’s hair handiwork and tons of amazing fashion, and check out http://salon-bianco.com to make your own appointment with Betha.