We had the good fortune of connecting with Sam Dean and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sam, how do you think about risk?
I think there are two ways you can look at risk and two timelines for risks. First, what is the upfront risk vs the long-term risk? After that you have to look at the risk of doing it and the risk of not doing it. I think most people look at the upfront risk and the risk of doing it. I try to look at the long-term risk and the risk of not doing it. When I was a kid, I grew up competing in high level Scottish tenor drumming competitions and became a professional at 12. I was taught that working hard and following your passion was important, but also that everything you gain costs you something else. You gain skill by spending time, earn money by the time you spend to learn your craft, and you get to do what other people don’t by doing what they won’t. When I look at risk, I like to ask what I’m risking in the long run? I might lose some time or money, but I can always change course even if it is at a loss because I still learn something. Then most importantly I look at the cost of not doing something. Usually that guides me. I don’t ever want to end up years down the road and realize I didn’t do something that would have been meaningful in my life. Thats a risk I find a lot harder to stomach.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a hairstylist, so I am lucky enough to have my art take on a life of its own because people wear it every day. I think a person’s hair can help give them a sense of self-confidence and self-expression, and I get to help take an idea and craft something beautiful for them. After that they get to choose how that hairstyle lives its life completely out of my control until the next time, I see them. Thats pretty cool to me. I think what sets me apart from other people is my constant want to improve. No matter how happy I am with my work I know it isn’t perfect and I am looking forward to a life of constant self-reflection in my craft knowing that each day I know more than the last. That being said the road to get to where I am hasn’t been easy. I went to college on a music scholarship… started out as a psychology major and eventually found sculpture. I was pretty depressed during college, but I found that I loved sculpture and people. I started cutting and coloring hair for friends as stress relief and fun and my passion grew from there. With one year left of school I left college and worked 80 hours a week of manual labor so I could afford to go to cosmetology school. I moved from CT to Columbus OH for cosmetology school and it was the best decision of my life. After a few years of being a stylist in Columbus I moved to LA with no job and basically bothered my now mentor Ginger Boyle until she hired me. Ginger and I have spoken a lot about how much effort, humility, and just showing up for what you want without expecting anything in return can do for you in life. I think those ideals can get you just about anywhere in life. My biggest takeaway and my core value in life is you never gain anything without giving something up to get there.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I honestly have the same handful of places that I show people when they are in town visiting LA. I’m from CT and I did landscaping as a job to pay for college and cosmetology school so The Huntington Library is one of my favorite places in southern California. I take everyone here. It is beautiful. When it comes to food Guelaguetza and Norah are absolutely incredible and if you want late night food BCD Tofu House is the absolute best. Employees only is one of my favorite bars and Chris who is one of the managers is the absolute best. I also love to play pool at Barneys Beanery and sing Karaoke and go to Drag Queen Bingo at Hamburger Mary’s. Last, but certainly not least I also love the Magic Castle. It is one of the most unique and wonderful experiences in LA and I am lucky enough to have a friend Ben who is like a brother in my eyes who helps to make the Castle run daily.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Honestly, I have such a long list of people that I have to thank. I have been very honored and lucky to meet many mentors in my life who have shaped me so I will mention the two most influential. First, my drumming instructor Tom Cook was one of the most influential people in my life to this day. He taught me if you choose to work hard then you can become one of the best in the world at something you care about, and he was the first person who took me at my word when I said I couldn’t do something. When I was 11, I shattered two bones in my left arm. I was told I might never drum again, and his response was to tell me to learn with my right arm and let my brain figure out my left arm when I healed. I also told him at one point I couldn’t do a movement he was teaching me, and he said,” Ok then you don’t need come back for lessons. If you want to give up that’s ok, but I’ll be done teaching you.” Later that day before I left my lesson, he said I should come back next week if I knew that I could learn that movement instead of giving up. I have never forgot that moment and what not believing in yourself might cost you. The second person I have to recognize has shaped a lot of my adult life. Ginger Boyle is a hairdressing icon and my personal mentor. She has shown me what passion in your craft looks like, how to be a constant student in life as well as work, what true grit and determination looks like in business, and she made me want to build a future for other hairstylists which is why I am buying into her business Planet Salon. She is incredible and I have learned from her every day for the past 13 years.
Other: @planetsalon on IG
Planet salon photo – Robert Lynden