We had the good fortune of connecting with Teddy Baker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Teddy, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
For me, opening my own business was my only option in a time of crisis. Flashback to 2015: I was working in a boutique salon In Chelsea and had just met the love of my life. I had finally put down some roots in the Big Apple when tragedy struck. I found out that my mother was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. She was given 13 days to live if she did not accept treatment. My world felt like it was crashing down around me. My mom was everything in my life. She was my biggest fan, my loudest cheerleader, and she was even my STYLIST! True story: she dressed me in the finest vintage and taught me everything I know about fashion and style. It was a no-brainer. I had to be by her side throughout her treatment (which for me, meant flying from NYC to South Texas once a month and staying an entire week). Though the commission salon I was working at tried to help, the best they could offer was a 50/50 split on my commission and that just couldn’t cover missing work and the flights. I felt like everything I had worked so hard for was for nothing if I couldn’t be there for my mom. Then… the phone rang. The voice on the line said, “Hello, Teddy? This is Julian from Sola Salon Studios. A single room studio has just come available and you’re next on our waitlist. Are you still interested?” My jaw was on the floor. Out of curiosity I had checked out some private studios MONTHS before any of this shattering news. I jokingly put myself on a waitlist thinking “yeah right! 6 months to a year… if ever!” Private studios were almost impossible to get in Manhattan at that time. Owning my own business would not only give me the flexibility to travel once a month, it would also allow me enough money to help my family through what seemed like the end of the world! To quote my (now) husband, “I love that YOUR version of ‘simplifying your life’ is to open up a business in Manhattan.” The funny thing is, he meant it! Opening my own business allowed me to help my mom fight the good fight. I was able to help my family in a time of complete crisis. I had taken my passion for hair and turned it into a life changing catalyst. My mom lived for another year and a half. She was able to attend my sister’s wedding and eventually my own! Though I no longer have my studio in NYC, I still fly back seasonally to accommodate all of the fabulous clients that have shown support over the years. I love being bicoastal. Through owning my own business, I learned what it was like to be in complete control of my craft. I’m now a full time independent contractor in Beverly Hills at Lionel Renard Salon. Lionel has created studio experience that has become a hub for some of the best independent stylists in Los Angeles. I actually met him on one of my trips to NY! He had heard about me from another friend in the industry. I’m so grateful that my experiences have led me to my new home.
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.
As a stylist/artist, I take inspiration from many different facets of my life. I have many hobbies an interests outside of hairdressing. I take tons of courses on my own. Honestly, I have a big passion for learning, whether I’m teaching myself something, taking classes, or teaching others, I believe anything can be a learning experience. Right now I’m taking ceramics and cooking classes, but I also have a background in fashion, acting, and mixed media art. All of these different hobbies directly influence how I think about hair. For example, something as simple as my ceramics teacher saying “let the clay tell you how it wants to be manipulated,” immediately made me think of how I work with hair! Everyone has different cowlicks and hair currents, my work is known for enhancing what your hair does naturally. Giving a client something that they can effortlessly replicate at home is how I built my career. I believe that low maintenance cuts and color are not only achievable, but the wave of the future. In this way I’ve been able to build my brand from the ground up in three different cities over the last 13 years! I still take clients in New York, NY and in Los Angeles, CA.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well, I’ve only been in Los Angeles going on two years. So, I’m pretty new myself. If my friend were visiting for the week I would totally do all the touristy things that I never do since I live here. We’d go to theme parks, hikes in the hills, and definitely some beach time with my pups. I’d also take them to all of my favorite LA based shops and restaurants. As a small business owner myself, I love finding locally based brands and eateries. I work on W. 3rd, so I frequent shops like OK, Dan Deutsch, and Noodle Stories quite often. I also love Squaresville Vintage in Los Feliz and Nico & Bullet in Silverlake. As far as local restaurants go, there are too many to name and even more on my bucket list, but one of my favorite places to go on the weekend is one of our many farmer’s markets. I love buying lots of locally made items and taking them to one of our beautiful parks for a picnic.
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?
I’d love to give a huge shout out to Kevin Murphy, both the brand and the man! In my journey as a stylist I found Kevin.Murphy products my first year out of beauty school. These skincare based products work so well on every texture and being a curly-hair specialist who has super fine straight hair, that was very important for me. After using the products for a few years, I learned more about the culture of the brand and Kevin himself. These performance-based products were developed with the forefront of fashion in mind, while maintaining a global perspective of reducing waste! I love all of the philanthropic work associated with the brand as well as how beautiful their packaging and marketing campaigns are! So much so, that when they developed a color line, I had to get in on the ground floor! Color.Me by Kevin.Murphy is an ammonia-free, performance-based color line with naturally derived ingredients. I’m going on my 4th year as a color educator for this amazing team.
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Photo by me