Curlee Girlee’s interview blog series continues in 2018 with a great line-up of curly hair change makers.

This Tuesday I am excited to interview Winn Claybaugh, with contributions by  Melissa Jaqua – Melissa’s résumé touches on every corner of the industry: North American Hairstyling Award winner, London Alternative Hair Show, international photo work, Paul Mitchell Master Associate and platform artist, and hit TV shows So You Think You Can Dance, America’s Next Top Model, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, The Voice, and many more.

Table of Contents

I hope this great interview gives you a glimpse into the man behind Paul Mitchell’s school division as well as Melissa Jaqua.

I love Paul Mitchell products. I love everything about them, especially the sleek black and white print that makes up their logo. Ever since Curlee Girlee became a best-selling children’s book, I have received countless hair products as gifts for my little girls hair. I try most of them and even love some of them. But somehow Paul Mitchell products remain on my shower shelves- a true constant.

I feel similarly about the man behind Paul Mitchell’s school division. I have gotten to know many amazing people in the course of my Curlee Girlee journey, which began with just a small dream and a young daughter, nearly two years ago. Winn got behind me well before Curlee Girlee was a best seller and he believed in the magic of the book and what it would mean to girls everywhere before I had anyone or anything behind me. Since that time, I count Winn as both a true friend and an ardent supporter. As co-founder of the Paul Mitchell hair schools, Winn is both fun and funny, sweet and kind, and he has a curly haired young daughter just like my curlee girlee! We bonded instantly. To be here today interviewing him is such a thrill, so here we go!

Winn Claybaugh is the author of Be Nice (Or Else!) and a national speaker for major corporations. CNN’s Larry King called Winn “one of the best motivational speakers in the country,” and American Salon named him one of the five “Industry Leaders Who Helped Revolutionize Education.” A business owner for 30 years with over 16,000 people in his organization, Winn is the co-owner of hair care giant Paul Mitchell’s school division. Winn has a 5-year old daughter with curly hair!

Curlee Girlee: You are with the Paul Mitchell schools. What is your role there and how long have you been with Paul Mitchell?

Winn: I am the co-founder, co-owner and dean of the 115-plus Paul Mitchell Schools, where we enroll over 14,000 students every year. Although I’ve never been a hairdresser, I’ve been in the beauty industry for 35 years. We have an amazing team of people all over the country who help run our day-to-day operations, giving me the opportunity to donate much of my time to our Paul Mitchell Schools’ fundraising and philanthropic efforts, which are huge parts of how we sustain our beautiful culture.

Curlee Girlee: Did you ever do anything else before you worked in the world of hair?

Winn: Fortunately, some friends pulled me into the beauty industry and I quickly fell in love with hairdressers. Luckily, hairdressers fell in love with me, too, so the beauty industry became the inspiration and launch pad not only for the schools but also for my monthly MASTERS Audio Club interview series, my motivational speaking career, and my book. It became my lifelong passion to share the love and connection I found in the beauty industry with other people and industries.

Curlee Girlee: Do you work with kid’s hair as well?

Winn: We love working with kids! Because of our budget pricing for hair services and our “Be Nice” culture, our schools attract lots of kids and families, for which we are so grateful. To show our gratitude and love for kids, we’ve raised and donated millions of dollars to charitable organizations in support of sick children, such as Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. And one of our favorite ways to raise those funds is by hosting prince, princess, and pirate parties where we provide mini-manicures, hairstyling, tiaras, photos, and a day filled with fun for kids and their families.

Curlee Girlee: You have worked and met with some great celebrities. Do you have a favorite celeb story?

Winn: I am the biggest Golden Girls fan on the planet, so meeting and working with Betty White was one of the best days of my life! I was so nervous to be sitting by Ms. White’s side for those few hours, while we shot a video that day. She was 90 years old, and the film crew kept asking if she needed a break. Finally, her personal assistant said, “Hey, she will outwork all of you. She’s fine. Let her work!” And she was right. Ms. White was a trooper that day, not to mention kind to everyone, a true professional, and absolutely adorable.

Curlee Girlee: I am sure over the years you have seen a lot of different types of hair, curly and straight. I have often felt that curly hair people have a personality that matches their hair. Do you find that to be true?

Winn: Yes, I find that to be true, but I find that lots of people “become their hair.” I’ve seen redheads who are bold and vibrant, just like their hair. I’ve seen men who seem to hold onto their thinning hair way too long, as though their hair (or lack of) defines them and dictates their level of self-confidence. I’ve also witnessed the tragedy of women losing their hair due to cancer treatments. As if the battle with cancer isn’t enough to deal with, losing their hair can become just as devastating, as they become unrecognizable to themselves and their loved ones, which is why we work closely with organizations that train hairdressers to work with women as they go through the devastation or hair loss.

Curlee Girlee: How would you describe that personality?

Winn: Free-spirited.

Curlee Girlee: As you know I wrote a children’s book Curlee Girlee and started a curlee girlee movement in an effort to ensure that all children love their hair and all their unique features. How do you think we can change the way the world looks at curly hair?

Winn: The same way we change everything—by embracing people’s differences and going out of our way to celebrate them. How boring would it be if we were all the same? We all need to look at our individual circles of friends. Do they represent a healthy cross section of people or are they all exactly alike? Life is meant to be colorful, diverse, and dramatic. A sunset is filled with drama. A rainbow boasts a wide variety of colors. Leaves on a tree are as different as anything could be. Then why should our circle of friends be so drama-less and color-less?

Curlee Girlee: You have an adorable little girl with curls. As a father of a curlee girlee, how important do you think it is to have Curlee girlees start to love their hair and embrace their curls?

Winn: It’s highly important for my little girl to love and embrace not only her curly hair, but all other physical traits, too. When little girls (and big girls, too) feel inferior for any reason, it is nothing to be taken lightly. As a dad I must immediately take it seriously. Since my little girl receives hundreds of messages a day about her physical attributes, it’s my job to make sure that my daily messages are louder than all others as I affirm her value and beauty.

Curlee Girlee: There are 1.6 billion curly haired women in the world today and they overwhelmingly dislike their curls. What would you tell these curly haired children to help them realize they are beautiful just as they are?

Winn: Surround yourself with people who love and celebrate you exactly the way you are. Make sure your heroes, mentors, celebrities and friends are diverse. When we glamorize or “endorse” one trait over another (such as straight hair), we tend to diminish the beauty of our own physical traits.

Again, because we all receive hundreds of messages every day through the Internet, TV, magazines and billboards, which are designed to make us feel that somehow we are not good enough—messages that tell us that we must change something about ourselves, whether it be our body type or some other physical feature—it is imperative that we have role models who represent diversity.

The following questions were answered by Celebrity hairstylist Melissa Jaqua, whose résumé includes hit TV shows So You Think You Can Dance, America’s Next Top Model, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, The Voice, and many more.

Curlee Girlee: What do you find is the biggest difference working with curly hair and straight hair?

Melissa: Curly hair, when looking at it visually, is like that person who walks in and is immediately the life of the party. Curly hair has a “stronger mind of its own,” and definitely commands more attention. The most important thing to remember is to work with curly hair, and not against it. This often times means cutting it dry in its natural state (if it is to be worn that way), and using your artistic eye to shape it to the desired result. If the person is going to be wearing their hair smooth and polished, I like to blow it out and iron it in the shape, and then cut it dry so I can get the shape precise. I find the shape always translates wonderfully when worn curly as well. When styling, it’s best if the hair is left with a heavy balance of water cocktailed with a nice leave in conditioner/styling cream. Air dry the hair as much as possible, and the golden rule is DO NOT TOUCH it at all while it’s drying or else you’ll end up with frizz. The bottom line is you need to “respect the curl” to bring out the best in it.

Curlee Girlee: Do you find that curly haired women struggle with their hair more than straight haired women?

Melissa: Only if they don’t EMBRACE their natural beauty. So often, curly hair has the advantage because it can be worn big, beautiful and airy like a fluffy cloud (and who doesn’t turn a head when that beautiful texture walks in a room!) Or it can be blow out and hold a bouncy, Victoria Secret style blow-dry, which is usually the envy of many women. The one thing that curly hair does need though is regular trims and moisture. As we all know, humidity is not her friend, so an anti-humidity protectant of some sort is a must in humid climates. Don’t you DARE ask her to go outside on a rainy day!

Curlee Girlee: What is your favorite go-to curly haired product?

Melissa: There are so many wonderful anti-humidity products nowadays because so many more women are embracing their natural beauty, and product companies are listening to that and diversifying and creating specialty lines just for this hair type. I am so excited because there are finally so many options and so many of them are so good. I can’t say that I have one in particular, because much like the life stories of these women, I am always playing and experimenting with everything I can get my hands on—it’s really fun! Check out Paul Mitchell’s Super Skinny products when wanting the hair to be smooth, and Paul Mitchell’s line for curly hair when wanting to accentuate the natural wave.

And now, since I love to end with a few fun personal facts, just a couple of questions for Winn …

Curlee Girlee: Winn, what is your favorite color?

Winn: PURPLE – It’s a spiritual color.

Curlee Girlee: What is your favorite season?

Winn: SUMMER – I could live on the beach, in my board shorts every day of the week.

Curlee Girlee: Time of day?

Winn: EARLY MORNING – I feel more productive, relaxed, energetic and hopeful early in the morning, especially before everyone gets up.

Curlee Girlee: Best birthday gift ever received?

Winn: On my 30th birthday, someone gave me a gift certificate to see a psychic, who told me that if I didn’t “lighten up” and not take myself so seriously, I would grow into a grouchy person. Since that time, I’ve done my best to take that advice, and now the best compliment someone can give to me is, “you’re such a little kid!”

Curlee Girlee: Most memorable moment this year?

Winn: Any event that revolved around volunteering at our daughter’s kindergarten classroom.

Curlee Girlee: How did you ring in the new year?

Winn: ASLEEP! We tried to stay up, but we were fast asleep in Palm Springs by 10 p.m. The PERFECT way to celebrate!

AGREED! Happy 2018 to Curlee Girlees everywhere! Look for Curlee Girlee IN SPANISH, COMING IN MARCH 2018!!

Originally posted on Curlee Girlee website