The Ulta Beauty Pro Team: An Industry First
Earlier this week, BTC broke the news about Ulta Beauty’s first-ever Salon Pro Team. With artists from Redken, Matrix, L’ANZA and Wella Professionals all working together as one team, the news was a pretty big deal. OK, a really big deal. Like, an unprecedented kind of big deal.
So on the day of the team’s official coming out party at Ulta Beauty’s GM Conference in Orlando, we sat down for an exclusive Q&A with the team members—Nick Stenson, Ammon Carver, Sonya Dove, Sean Godard, Carmody Homan and Danielle Keasling—and let’s just say things got real (a few of the team members may have actually teared up…but we’ll never tell who).
Here, in their own words, Ulta’s salon pro team talks about why being a part of this revolutionary team means so much to them as artists, as brand ambassadors and to the industry as a whole.
BTC: Nick, tell us how this team came together.
Nick: When I came to Ulta in October, I remember thinking, ‘We’re already doing some really cool things in the organization, but we aren’t getting the credibility in the industry.’ So I thought, how can we let the industry know we’re here to play in a really big, bold way?
I was thinking about how I could bring the right people together who really believe in education, are role models for other hairdressers and can inspire the industry to think about Ulta Beauty in a different way through their artistry.
The Pro Team’s very first photo shoot in New York City.
BTC: And what were you looking for when choosing your team members?
Nick: When I started to pick and choose who I wanted, there were a few things I kept in mind. Obviously I wanted top talent—I wanted people who came with a full-circle approach to beauty. And I wanted it to be very collaborative so the team could jump in together and no matter what the project was, something pretty amazing would happen. Lastly, we talk all the time about authenticity as a brand—caring about our guests, caring about our associates. So I needed to make sure the people I was putting on the team were really good, kind-hearted people who didn’t have an ego and who were going to come together for something much bigger than themselves.
Ammon: I’ve been friends with Nick for a number of years, and I’ve seen him grow in his career and I’ve seen him fine-tune what the industry needs—understanding what hairdressers are craving. His vision of having a group of artists independent of a manufacturer, coming together to stand for something that’s about the hairdresser and the hairdresser’s ability to change the world is something that as soon as he started talking about I was like, ‘I’m in. I would love to be a part of it.’
BTC: This is kind of an industry first, as you don’t often see brands working together in this capacity. What does this mean to you? To our industry?
Sonya: This is so different. It’s giving me a chance to collaborate with people who I would never get the opportunity to work with because they work for another company. And I find it highly inspiring to be able to work with people I’ve known for a long time and whose work I love—all of them.
Nick: We talk about being a brand of brands and celebrating all things beauty. So we thought why not celebrate all brands and talk about that in a bigger way? Leveraging the skillset of all the brands [these artists] currently work for seemed like a no-brainer to me.
BTC: What does it mean to you to be a part of this team?
Sonya: My journey over the past few years has been a mission to embrace new experiences and to grow beyond where I am today. I love my time in the salon, and I adore the work I do for Wella. But joining the Ulta Pro Team is a challenge I’m ready to take on now.
Ammon: It’s been exciting and kind of nerve-wracking because I want to be as good of a leader as each of these artists is. I think already what [being on the team] has done for me is helped me make sure I bring my A game because I know they’re going to show up and do their very best, and that’s the whole point—to work together and push each other to be as good as we can be.
Danielle: It’s amazing to have a team that’s going to be able to help conceptualize ideas at Ulta from start to finish and then help educate the rest of the Ulta family. It’s going to be a stronger support system. We’re here to inspire, lead, build their strength and expand their salon services.
Carmody: It’s such an honor to be working with the best of the best of the brands in one place. When Nick came in with this massive vision and asked me to come on board with this amazing team that he had hand-picked, I felt quite special to be asked. For me, just being a part of this is an honor and a learning experience.
BTC: What individual strengths does each artist bring to the team?
Ammon: I think one of the things I’ve been most impressed by with Carmody is his awareness of the artists around him [assisting him at shows], who are learning and trying to better themselves. I have never seen anybody Carmody works with who doesn’t walk away from the experience feeling like they’re inspired or better than they were before. And it reminds me to be more sharing. Yes, the head of hair in front of us is important, but it’s the people we’re teaching and inspiring who matter more. And he never loses sight of that.
Danielle: One thing Nick has always been really great at is picking the right people to work together. And he’s always saying, ‘There’s no ego here.’ And it’s true. From the first day we collaborated it was like, ‘This feels really great. It feels right. It works.’ I think we were all very excited because it’s something that hasn’t been done before.
Carmody: Watching Ammon do hair…I’ve never seen anybody do hair so perfect in all my life. And I’ve worked with some very good hairdressers. But he’s a hair geek—he’s obsessed with hair, and to me, he’s a true celebrity hairdresser.
Ammon: Nick is a dreamer. If you’re not a dreamer, the rational side of you will talk you out of an idea before you allow yourself to keep going with it. Not Nick. I’ve sat in on many conversations with him where sometimes my first reaction to an idea he comes up with is, ‘You’re crazy.’ And I get scared and intimidated, and he’ll say, ‘We can do it.’ Because he believes, and he’s passionate and he’ll find a way to make it happen rather than the reasons it can’t.
Sean: I’m so impressed by Danielle’s passion and commitment to making sure everything is the best it can be. She’s always making sure her A game is strong with not only color, but with styling and finishing, too. She’s extremely multi-talented. And very detail oriented.
Sonya: This group of people Nick has chosen…each and every one of them have worked hard—they’ve climbed the ladder slowly, over time. And they all have something really special.
Nick: You know, it’s crazy. I’m standing here listening to everybody talk about each other and I realized that since October I really haven’t had time to sit still and think about all this. And I just realized like, this is really a dream come true. In a big way.
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