The Evolution of Saskatchewan Ambition – with Chris Pritchard

Photo by: Laurie Johnson

Chris Pritchard

Co-Founder & Executive Director – Saskatchewan Fashion Week (SFW) / Co-Owner – Daniel Christopher Aveda Lifestyle Salon

It’s a typical -30 evening outside in Regina as I trudge in heels out to The Saskatchewan Hotel Lounge. My face near froze off, hair blown around like a wind tunnel and heels stuck like ice pick’s – the kind of temperature that hazes me to question my residence in SK, what better time to sit down with one of the most inspiring, and biggest supporters of staying in Saskatchewan.

You are a huge supporter of staying in Saskatchewan, What has provoked you to not only “Stay in Saskatchewan” but encourage others to do so as well?

“It’s always been important for me to create things, or change, develop and grow them I was determined to base my career around these principles. Here in Saskatchewan, it’s a blank canvas, so it’s a great place to do that. You can dream up something and if you’re passionate enough about it, stay fearless and make it happen. Our community is very supportive, passionate and collaborative. Right here, right now- I think it’s a very cool place to live, with endless opportunity surrounding us.”

How would you describe the aesthetic of Daniel Christopher?

“We spend a lot of time training on the technical craft of cutting colouring and styling, we have a yearlong education calendar where stylists are taking classes every month, or more. But we are just as passionate about the business side, and it’s important to be transparent.”

Owners and management at DC salon will sit down with the entire staff and tell them their personal intentions in life, family, and business, to show an honest picture of who they really are.

They have a thorough level system including tracking and evaluations that map out expectations, goals, and benefits, with coaching along the way to help them constantly be growing personally and professionally.

Click HERE to visit Daniel Christopher’s Website.

Styling someone’s hair is a very intimate experience – people put a lot of trust into the person with the scissors – you have an effect on how someone’s image is portrayed in their public and private life (That’s a lot of pressure!) – What is the most important thing to understand about your client in order to give them a great cut?

“What it comes down to is the experience. Clients are going to remember how they felt during their time at the salon. You can receive the greatest technical haircut in the world, but if the stylist wasn’t nice to you, you won’t come back.”

“We remind our staff that our clients likely have been giving all of their energy to others day and night for weeks on end, and may have been literally counting down the days for this hair appointment, and this is the time for us to give back to them. Along with caring for and updating their hairstyle while recommending the correct home care products, it might be just silence they need, or someone to talk to. You can find all of this out with a great consultation. The consultation is the most important part of the job hands down”

From the interviews I have done, one common trend that comes up has been being laughed at or found absurd to want to follow goals through the Fashion, Beauty and Photography Industry in Saskatchewan (opposed to leaving for Toronto, Vancouver etc.). Have you received similar responses and how do you combat negative reactions on pursuing business in Saskatchewan?

“I genuinely just don’t believe that- and I feel like it’s quite the opposite. When it comes to art industries the quickest way to lose your cool factor is becoming a huge corporate centre.”

“I believe that truly unique trends for fashion and art come from hidden places that aren’t yet cluttered with window displays on every corner. Places like Saskatchewan are forced to create their own style, which is then what is sought after in the end by the larger centres.”

What’s your response when someone questions being in SK?

“I’ve said in the past even NYC was full of train tracks and tumble weeds until people rushed in and built it to however they wanted it to be. How cool is it for us to be able to do that right now.”

How did you first become involved with styling for events and commercial clients?

“After a few years being a stylist at a salon I needed to get that bigger, crazier, inner creativity out somehow. About 8 years ago, I called up a photographer and makeup artist, that makeup artist had just moved back home to Regina from London and her name is Sara Lindsay. She wanted to get her name out in the province as well.”

“We just all had that same feeling and drive in our gut, we met up, put our thoughts together, photographed them and then after the fact on a whim entered them into the Mirror Awards. We ended up winning and have continued to either win or make it to the finals each year since to this day.”

“It didn’t come from, “hey we should start being competitive now”, we just needed to get this burning creativity out of our souls and it just had a really good response.”

That served as a catalyst for Chris, from being featured on social media, and in the news, people started getting in contact for more commercial work and events.

What would be your advice for someone interested in pursuing hairstyling in the Saskatchewan Industry specifically? (Something you wished someone told you when you were starting out!)

“We are putting together a digital booklet on our website, revealing our business model, including our level systems, training, budgeting and finance, not just for students to reference when applying, but also for the general public, – I think there is a lot of mystery on how salons are run.”

“I am happy to start seeing students graduate with a better education on the business side, because as much as it is about the creative, you’re going to have a career after so you have to be informed. It’s not so much what someone told me when I started, it’s more so how we are preparing them now. I’d like to see graduates challenging salons to show them their business plan and what is in store for their career if they choose to work there. I would also like to see hair salons collaborating, helping each other and influencing each other to grow in these areas.”

What does SFW look like 10 years from now for you?

“With Saskatchewan Fashion Week, the business side is insanely important to us, we are dedicated to growth, and sustainability of the community, the contributors, and the company. Having said that we are just as relentlessly passionate about breaking boundaries, taking risks creatively, breaking the safe mould, and encouraging others to do that same – building a place where we can do that on a larger stage than what we could typically do by ourselves.”

“There are so many areas involved in SFW, over 30 committees running at a time to put it together. Each area has an influence on the direction of the company. All in all, it is about connecting networks and growing the arts industries in Saskatchewan. Whether it becomes a major stop on the global fashion week circuit, or stays a hidden underground gem, we aren’t going to force it into a certain direction. It is a living organism, powered by an entire province of contributors, which is growing every year.”

Watch the 2015 SFW Campaign Video Below.

Watch a recap of SFW 2014.

Buy your tickets for SFW HERE Hurry!

“I’m afraid I can’t explain myself, sir. Because I am not myself, you see?”

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

– Alice

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