Friday Feature: Celebrity Hairstylist Josif Wittnik – Founder of the Redken Colleges
Posted: Mar 17 2017
It’s Feature Friday, Dames! We really dived in this week. We picked out a hairstylist from Wisconsin doing some cool things and we wanted to share him with you! Check out our interview below.
THD: When was that first moment you decided you wanted to do hair?
Josif: I never really wanted to do hair at all really, it was my sister that did hair and coached me to believe I had it in me! The artist side of me was very involved in drawing and painting and I had won several contest with my art so she said to me: “You should really try hair as your canvas.” I did. First three years were interesting but then I was recognized by a local salon owner that saw my talent and off to the next level I went [artistic director for salon team].
THD: Who were your first mentors and who did you aspire to be like in your career?
Josif: Xennon of London, I wanted to be him really bad, he was so gifted and so funny and his talent was always in the lead. He was a leader, creator, stylist, long hair genius. I followed him to shows and read everything about him I could. Dream came true when I was sent off to Chicago where he worked and taught for a one week to work and learned under him. It truly was surreal and a dream come true, that week changed me! From that point on I viewed my career way more exciting and had direction on where I was going to take it.
THD: How long have you been doing hair now?
Josef: Thirty-two years.
THD: What is your philosophy or your approach to hair?
Josif: It’s very import that you learn the building blocks to create a look, very similar to an architect. You really have to know how to design a shape on paper so you can see the finished result. Nowadays it’s very organic and unforced as opposed to the 80’s when styles were forced — by that I mean heavy bleaching, perming and curling.
THD: Where do you get your inspiration from?
Josif: I was one of thirty that were chosen through a series of auditions that traveled around the USA back in the 90’s. Similar to American Idol; I would call it Hairmerican Idol. After many auditions, only thirty stylists were picked to be the first design team of its kind in the country for REDKEN. It was two weeks of intense training to go out and show the country a whole new approach on how they could up their game and become true designers of haircutting.
THD: When did you start working with Redken?
Josif: Right from the start of my career I became a expert at their product knowledge. Three years later I became a Redken national platform artist.
THD: Is there an element of beauty that you are very passionate about? How does it relate to your personal approach in your career?
Josif: I’m very passionate about changing peoples lives: seeing someone sick or depressed and knowing that putting your hands on their shoulders, giving them an amazingly honest consultation, reassuring them through it all that they’re really going to love it and feel better, and seeing their face and hearing their words when they see themselves for the first time is kick-ass cool. All done by the gift of having been given hands. We are the one of the last professions in the world that touches without gloves.
THD: What are your future goals?
Josif: Well, so far I founded and have run Salon CTI and Day Spa for the last 17 years, The Salon Professional Academy for 11 years, the Joyriding Project nonprofit for 10 years, and Trimhunger nonprofit for 3 years.
THD: Future goals?
Josif: … To keep on giving.
THD: What is your advice to an up-and-comer?
Josif: Be honest to your guest, treat them as if you were a doctor and they were coming to you in need, and always remember their hair is your patient and, if it’s sick, prescribe antibiotics. They come to you for that. And no chewing gum, never discuss politics, religion, or relationships, keep it real.
THD: What about yourself would you like our readers to know about you?
I have been married 34 years, and would not be here if it wasn’t for her [Josif’s wife]. She shares the industry with me and is a philanthropist as well. Two beautiful daughters who are so talented, and love everyone in my life, they’re all there for a reason.
THD: What is the one piece of hair advice you universally give to every client?
Josif: Don’t use age as an excuse, you can wear whatever flatters you facial features and body shape and lifestyle! Go by that. Best advice? The phrase “Am I too old to wear that?” should not exist in your vocabulary.
THD: Thank you so much, Josif! This was an insightful, awesome interview!
Dames, check out Josif’s salon and non-profits:
Follow his socials:
IG: @hairmister facebook @josifwittnik @trimhunger @joyrising
The Hair Dame