Jose Eber Interview
(Hairstylist to the Stars)
Of all the hairstylists in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, Jose Eber is probably
the most famous.
His personal clientele list includes Elizabeth Taylor, Cher, Farrah Fawcett,
Linda Gray and Clint Black.
He owns four salons, three in California, one in Texas; has his own hair
care line; is the author of two best selling books on hair; was the contributing
beauty editor for ten years on "Hour Magazine;" has made numerous
cameo appearances in major motion pictures as well as frequent guest appearances
on top rated TV shows like "The Tonight Show," "Good Morning
America," and "Entertainment Tonight;" serves as a national
spokesperson against domestic violence on behalf of the Sojourn organization
and devotes a significant amount of time supporting charities including
AmFar and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.
We are honored to present an interview with Mr. Jose Eber — Hairstylist
to the Stars.
Q. Mr. Eber, what qualities does a good hairstylist have to have?
A. It's a combination of personality and talent. Number one, the talent has
to be there, and you also have to know how to deal with customers. Personality
is as important because clients confide much to a hairdresser. Besides doctors,
we are the only ones who get to physically touch clients. So, it becomes real
personal. They must have an incredible rapport between the client and the hairdresser.
Kindness is very important. Not trying to intimidate the client who is sometimes
totally lost sitting in the chair and he or she is very nervous because they're
really depending on what the stylist will do. It's understanding the individual.
Being very open, and understanding the need of the person sitting in your chair.
Q. Do you still work on the hair of your clients or are you more of an administrator
A. I'm doing both. I'm still working hands on, but I have four salons right
now, but I'm opening many more, so I'm keeping very busy.
Q. Do you ever get nervous when you're working on the hair of a famous person?
A. No, no, because clients are clients. Being in Hollywood for 20 years
now obviously I've worked with very famous people over the years, and I still
do. Maybe the first time when you meet them you maybe get over-excited because
yes they're famous. You grew up watching those actors and actresses and all
of a sudden they sit in 3'our chair and you're gonna cut their hair or whatever.
You maybe get intimidated slightly the first time but then when you know what
you're doing, everything is fine. I'm not getting nervous at all anymore. Most
of the time you work with celebrities, what happens is everybody around the
world will see the works. Obviously those celebrities Jose Eber will be seen
and you know you will be criticized for what you do. So you better do the best
job you can, and that's what I always do anyway, whether they are celebrities
or not. I've always tried to give a hundred per cent of my knowledge towards
my clients. I tried to make them look as best as they can and try to make them
feel good. It's bottom line. A good hair cut, a good style, a good whatever
will make somebody feel great. It just doesn't have to be females. A male can
be the same thing.
Q. You cut the hair of both men and women?
A. Of course. All my salons cater to men and women.
Q. Whose hair do you cut?
A. Usually it's Cher, Elizabeth Taylor, Victoria Principal, Farrah Fawcett,
Lisa Hartman, Clint Black. I've done every major actor in this town. What keeps
me going in this town is that I really don't talk too much about my clients.
Being in this town, obviously trust is very important. You were asking
what makes a great hairstylist, besides talent and personality, the trust factor
is very important. Hairdressers and clients talk a lot. A person will tell
you a lot about themselves. This is something my clients feel very good about,
trusting me. So I usually don't ever even like to talk about them.
Q. Will you cut the hair of people who are not famous as well?
A. I will consult. Me personally I have a closed client list. I'm so busy
already that anybody who wants to see me personally I will give them a consultation.
Then, one of my stylists who has been trained by me will actually do the work.
Q. When you hire someone to work for you, how do you know that person will
measure up to your standards?
A. First of all when I hire somebody obviously they will have to bring me
a bunch of models. They're going to have to show me their work on many people.
When somebody walks into my salon and says, "I wanna job," I'm going
to tell them bring me two or three, or four models. Not professional models.
I'm talking about people. I want to see your work. Then I look at the work.
Then when the work doesn't live up to my expectation, but I still see some
talent there I will tell them you can start working for me but you will
have to assist for awhile until we give you proper training, until you really
do the work we expect you to do. Very rarely do I hire somebody who just like
starts right away without proper training.
Q. At the age of 15 you were a hairstyling apprentice at a Paris salon,
where you "quickly realized a success." What exactly does that mean?
A. I was very sure of myself. You have to have an eye for what looks good.
I was discovered at a very early age that I had a good eye. It, was something
that really came natural to me. Since the day I started in this profession,
I felt very secure about what I was doing. I knew I was going to be very successful.
I didn't know to what degree. Obviously nobody knows that, when you're so young.
But I just knew that I would be successful.
Q. When you came to L.A. where did you start working?
A. In Beverly Hills. In a very small salon. I came here 20 years ago and
very easily started to build a clientele. It was all word of mouth. Again it
goes back to when I started, when you're sure of yourself, it comes across.
A client who comes in to see you, they feel very comfortable when you really
know that's what I'm going to do to you, that look is gonna be the best look
for you. You have to have this attitude of being, of not being like Oh my God
what do you want? You never ask a woman what do you want? or an old man. You
suggest what you see. And when you're very sure of yourself, it comes across,
and then the client feels very secure, sitting in your chair knowing that the
person who is gonna work on you feels real good. You want somebody who feels
good about what they do and very secure about it, not somebody who's like a
nervous wreck and you sit. in the chair and they don't even know what they're
going to do to you.
Q. Did you ever just want to be a barber?
A. No. I didn't think it was as creative as being a hairstylist.
Q. How did you make the move up from a small salon to owning a state of the
art salon? Did you have a financial backer?
A. No. I opened one salon in Beverly Hills with a partner. He was a hairdresser
himself. We opened one large salon in Beverly Hills. Then I expanded and opened
one in Palm Desert, one in Dallas, one in Orange County. Then I decided it
was time to expand the salon in Beverly Hills and moved to Rodeo (Drive). I
was not on Rodeo Drive from day one. It was just natural growth. All of a sudden
the years go by, and I never had a financial backer. You just work hard. You
can take the profit and put it in your pocket or you take the profit and expand
your business. That's what I did.
Q. Before you was Jay Sebring the most famous Beverly Hills hairstylist.
A. Yeah. I didn't know him, but I heard about him. You also had Jon Peters.
He became a major movie producer. You have Vidal Sassoon. I mean every couple
of decades there's a big name coming out. It's just not something that you
plan. You don't plan success. Obviously I was ambitious and trying to
reach success, but you never know to what degree you will reach it. In my case
1 didn't know what kind of success I would have. 1 knew 1 was going to be successful.
But, there's all kinds of success. You can be successful and do very well for
yourself or you can reach what I've reached. It's much bigger than I ever expected.
But I guess timing has a lot to do with it, the place where you are has a lot
to do with it. I would have been somewhere in the Midwest in the city
no matter how good I am or no matter how ambitious I am, I could've reached
success just to a certain degree. Being in Hollywood obviously it's much
more publicized when you have success for business and a lot of famous
people come in. It's gonna be publicized to the max, because people want
to know these things.
Q. Do you charge by the hair style a person wants or by the hour? How does
A. I charge by haircut. My haircuts are $200. When I go on house calls then
I charge by the hour. When I go to a star's home or go on location for a particular
project, then I will charge like $250 an hour and go up to ten hours a day.
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