- Edition 6, Chapter 5 -
We met hairdresser Lukasz many years ago through a mutual admiration of his fellow Pole and hairdressing icon Antoine, a legendary eccentric who achieved fame in 1920s Paris and New York who is credited with the invention of hairspray, was an early advocate for the bob, collaborated with artists such as Jean Cocteau, and was an early adopter of film and photography in his work.
When we released Purely Perfect Cleansing Creme, the precursor to Hairstory New Wash, Lukasz was the first in Europe to incorporate it into his salon practice. We could have chosen to say the first to “carry” or “sell” it, but his story transcends the merely transactional. On the day his first shipment arrived, things began to shift. “We opened it, and I was really happy. But I felt that if my co-workers were going to be as excited as I was, we needed to be on the same track,” he explained during a pilgrimage to Hairstory Studio in New York. “So I went to reception, and said, ‘Okay, cancel all clients from 4:00 on.’ I gave everyone a set of products and said, ‘We are going to wash each other’s hair.’ Within an hour, everyone loved it.”
New Wash, of course makes traditional products obsolete, namely shampoo, any form of conditioner, and even some styling products. It caused Lukasz to look around and question the generous expanse of shelving designed for retail. As he explained to one skeptical client, “You can see our shelves; there used to be so much. Why do we now have so little? Does that tell you something?” Space that was filled by premium hair care lines, including Bumble and bumble, (“I knew Bumble probably better than Michael did,” Lukasz asserts) is now dedicated to Hairstory, plus his collection of Kidrobot toys freed from storage.
For his clients, Lukasz was “looking for something, but I didn’t know what it was.” He observed them leaving the salon happy with their hair, but coming back for their next appointments “with faces that said, ‘I couldn’t do my hair the same way as my hairdresser did.’ I was always scared that products wouldn’t be okay for clients. I felt that pressure, ‘Are they going to use them the right way?’ My goal in hairdressing was to fill the gap.”
But filling the gap didn’t entail blow-dry clinics or styling seminars to help people torture their hair more effectively on a daily basis. Instead, “New Wash gives freedom,” Lukasz states without hesitation. “We used to have to think about which haircut was good for which kind of hair. Our hairdressing is much more easy-going now. We still do perfect haircuts, but we stopped blow drying people’s hair; we stopped killing people’s hair; we stopped using irons, we stopped using tons of products; this is obviously the most fun part; we stopped forcing hair.” Clients have become more confident to do their own hair simply because they have to do less.
An ethnic reality is that Polish people tend to have hair on the finer side and are perpetually in search of ways to add body. New Wash filled that gap as well, claims Lukasz. “It makes fine hair thicker without anything. Anything. Clients come back and say hair feels ‘just right,’ whether colored or natural. The effect is building, building, building, building... and within three months they have body and softness.” The opposite effect amazes him as well: “Hair that is thick and brittle becomes much more manageable, softer. You can do whatever you want to do with it. So it’s a perfect thing for everyone.”
Soon, New Wash began to have unexpected influence in Lukasz’ personal life, and even his love life. “I just don’t want to use detergent on anything,” he says. “We don’t use any in our house. I use New Wash to wash my hair, to wash my face, and use it as a moisturizer… I used to have amazing things in my bathroom, very expensive things.” His friends would come over and cite them as wily ways of seducing women. Now, they come and ask, ‘Where are all those things?” and I say, ‘I have only one.’ ‘One? One?’ they say. ‘A girl won’t even kiss you for one!’”
But Lukasz suggests New Wash can be better than sex. “This another amazing story,” he whispers and leans closer. “Once, after a really long day, a girl I was dating called me at 5:00 in the morning and said, ‘Can I come down to your flat?’ I said, ‘Yeah, of course.’ But in my bedroom I told her, ‘I am so tired; why don’t I just wash your hair instead. It will be better...’ She had hair down to here, and mad about it, mad, and I knew that. So we washed it, and she said, ‘You are actually right. It is better.’”
The experience made her a New Wash fan, but when she runs out she switches to something else to save money. But she always comes back. Lukasz tells her, ‘If you use it all the time, eventually you will not have to use as much.’ This is what we’ve found; sometimes clients with lots of hair use a bottle in two weeks’ time, but when they stick with it, a bottle can last 3 months.”
Another anecdote: “I had minor surgery, and they told me to just wash the area with water and soap, Lukasz began. “I don’t have any soap, so I used New Wash, and I went back 3 days later and they were surprised at how well I was recovering; a week later the doctor said, ‘This is unbelievable; it’s impossible for a 36-year-old to heal so fast.’ True story.”
Important changes were occurring internally for Lukasz as well. “I relaxed so much. I would love to bring my friends and co-workers here to tell their stories of how I changed, how easy I became. There was no fun. The salon used to be really strict. Really.” While he has softened his demeanor with colleagues, he is able to show stronger resolve with customers. “In one year we had only one client complain about New Wash, and she said, ‘This is not for fine hair.’ And I said, ‘I really appreciate your comments, but New Wash is for every type of hair. Maybe you don’t like your hair to feel this way, but it is for your hair.’”
In addition to using also New Wash for barbering (yes, it’s an ideal shaving lotion), Lukasz furnishes client bathrooms with it as hand wash. He decided “not to give anyone the opportunity to use something in the salon that foams – even just for a few minutes. They should be treated as we treat ourselves.” The result has been a ripple effect. “If you use New Wash, you start thinking about the world. Clients explain to their friends they can do better; they explain about not so many bottles in the bathroom. They inspire.”