BTC EXCLUSIVE: Our Tour of the Goldwell KMS California Academy New York
A day after their #HairPlayTour took over New York City, you’d think Team Goldwell and Team KMS California would take a well-deserved day off—maybe let their hair down and veg out on some Netflix. But no, that’s not how they roll! They were back at it, getting ready for a day of education at their Goldwell KMS California Academy New York in the Meat Packing District of New York City. The Academy, not even a full year old yet, used to be an abandoned parking garage in an up-and-coming neighborhood. Today, it is unrecognizable to that old lot it once was. Situated in an unassuming brick building, sharing the space with fashion megastar Alexander McQueen, is the two-story Academy. And BTC’s Natalie Lopez was lucky enough to get an exclusive tour!
The first thing you notice when the elevator doors open is a color brush running along the wall that alerts you that “You’ve Arrived.” Immediately you can feel that this space is very hairdresser-oriented. “Our goal was to create a space that wasn’t about ‘us’ but focused on stylists and the ways they want to learn,” explains Sandra Humphries, Vice President of Education, Kao Salon Division – US. Just look around at the walls—inspiration is literally everywhere. However the inspiration that went into the Academy runs far deeper than just the décor. “It isn’t about what we want to teach hairdressers, but what they ask to learn. It’s a collaborative environment with a curriculum that is built from stylists’ recommendations to us,” says Sandra.
A typical day at the Academy entails two simultaneously scheduled classes in an open learning environment. We saw this firsthand. A few tables are grouped together in front of the stage. At this class, Goldwell Artistic Director, Rebecca Hiele and Goldwell Artistic Team Member, Nick Pagano were holding a look and learn for exploring the trends that inspired Color Zoom Traditional Rebels, and the techniques used to achieve each look. Around 12 students were in attendance. “The participant-to-facilitator ratio is about 6:1,” says Sandra. “That is important! As hairdressers, we want to get our hands in hair and if we have questions, we want someone side by side with us to help demonstrate a new technique. That’s vital!”
Just up one flight of stairs is the “penthouse,” another classroom where KMS California Artistic Team Member, Simon Miller was hosting a hands-on cutting and styling class. For a complete list of class offerings at the Academies in New York and Santa Monica, click here! Amongst the mannequin heads scattered throughout the floor were all possible tools a stylist would need—every color or styling product you could imagine. Behind the classroom are the shampoo bowls with a spectacular view overlooking the High Line Park and the Hudson River.
Speaking of the views—we truly walked away with office envy after seeing this. Right outside the classroom on the second floor is a balcony overlooking Lower Manhattan. It’s both a hangout space for stylists but also a place to seek inspiration away from the classroom and also away from the endless hustle and bustle that defines Manhattan. “We love the energy of the area, the fashion aspect and the openness. The Meat Packing District doesn’t feel as congested and it feels more like a community that stylists would want to hang out in after class.” And while students get to enjoy this view as they learn all day, the evening brings many events to the Academy—with guests always stopping to admire that view.
At the end of the day, a building is just a building. But for Sandra, it was about making sure this building left a long-lasting impression that stays with all who visit. “This is a place for colorists no matter the color they use in their bowl or bottle. My desire is that this becomes a place where we all feel welcome in the pursuit of the mastery of hair color,” says Sandra. “If color is your passion, this is the place for you.”