Tabatha Coffey: “The Simon Cowell Of Hair”
She’s impossible to ignore. And why would you want to? Tabatha Coffey, the Australian platinum dynamo with silver-tongued opinions (she’s always maddeningly right) is a beauty pioneer, prolific speaker, political advocate, television star and author. And with her recent launches of a wigs and hair extensions line, LUXHAIR HOW, and a titillating memoir, It’s Not Really About The Hair (HarperCollins), Coffey is continuing the impressive streak she started in 2007 as the “fan favorite” winner of Bravo’s hair competition show, Shear Genius. With the subsequent success of her hit Bravo spinoffs, Tabatha’s Salon Takeover and Tabatha Takes Over (now entering its fifth season), we simply can’t get enough of Coffey.
That’s only part of the reason I couldn’t wait to interview the telegenic diva. As a lifelong beauty-and-media-hybrid myself, I had to thank her for forcefully implementing awareness, business acumen and strategic order to fledgling salons and other small enterprises. Here’s the thing that surprised me about our conversation: She is genuinely kind and passionate. On television, Tabatha Coffey scorches with truth because it is genuine—and it came across clear as a bell.
One thing is certain about Tabatha Coffey—she’s not for the timid. Leave your ego at the door and prepare to bask in her eloquent, delicious truth. But, can you handle the truth?
How do you define luxury?
Comfort. That could be dinner with friends, a hot bath after a hard day or relaxing on the sofa with my dog and a movie. Of course, it could be an extravagant item as well.
How has living in New Jersey affected your life and career?
I moved here from London, and New Jersey not only became my life, it became my home. I love all that New York City has to offer, but more so I enjoy the space, the landscape and the proximity to the shore in New Jersey.
Were there other career interests between high school and beauty school?
No! I always wanted to be a hairdresser. No question.
If you didn’t or couldn’t do hair, what would you do?
I couldn’t imagine not doing hair or being involved in beauty as I am. It is simply unimaginable.
With Tabatha’s Salon Takeover, you leave behind a lot of collateral damage and bruised egos. Do you get a lot of feedback?
All the time! I still follow up with salon owners and stylists from the first four seasons, and they still contact me via email, social media and hair shows. It feels amazing to know I’ve helped people to make positive changes in their lives and their businesses—even viewers. Are you still booking salon hair appointments? I still style for private clients, but I sold my salon last year to my salon manager. I still love doing hair. Sometimes I mosey down to the basement where I have dozens of mannequin heads when I’ve wanted to try something new or put a twist on an old classic. With the launch of my LUXHAIR HOW wigs and extensions line, I seem to be working just as hard, trying to spread good hair days via my website and social media @tabathacoffey.
Tell me something genuinely surprising about you.
I’m actually a great cook and an avid reader. I can also blow out and finish my hair in less than a minute flat.
Our staff has dubbed you the “Simon Cowell of hair.” What’s your reaction to that?
I don’t have a reaction! [Laughs] I am outspoken. I speak with an accent. I’m not mean, I’m honest. And my intention is to help people see what they can’t.
Which Hollywood celebrity has the best hairstyle?
Marilyn Monroe. Or Emma Stone. Wait! Miley Cyrus. We all know her long hair looks great, but the fact that she felt experimental enough to take the risk—to crack the mold of Hollywood and cut her hair off—is amazing. She’s young, she’s cute—it looks great.
What’s the biggest mistake salon or business owners can avoid?
Complacency is the kiss of death. Not constantly evaluating performance; not asking “how can we make it better?” or assessing and dealing with small issues at their onset before they escalate into larger issues—that’s the problem.
What do you wish salons and other businesses could be more aware of?
I wish they would think about their professional image. I think it’s important to be comfortable and be ourselves, but we’re in the image-transformation business. When we arrive with our hair, makeup and clothing together, our presentation is everything.
Just wondering: Do you, Anderson Cooper and Tim Gunn hang out and discuss who has the best shade of platinum locks?
No! [Laughs] But any time either one of them want to sit down and have that conversation, I’d simply love to.