Mentoring from the Masters: Peter Coppola

By: Beauty Cast Network

Category: Professionals, Students

Have you ever looked at the top names in the industry and wondered how they got there? You have questions. Beauty Cast Network has answers.


Meet Peter Coppola. A legend and trailblazer in the professional beauty industry, Coppola has opened 34 salons since 1974 and has mastered the art of hair cutting and smoothing.  With experience training some of Hollywood's top stylists, Coppola's work has graced the pages of magazines and top websites.  He continues to research and revolutionize hair care technology, becoming "the man behind the keratin revolution."   


How did you become Peter Coppola? Do you think you were born destined to be Peter Coppola or was there something you did to create this person?


Actually, I wanted to be an architect. I had this incredible desire to create and luckily, I found myself drawn to designing hair. I really found my passion in cutting hair. Because in reality, that's what we are, architects of hair, and that is what launched me into the beauty industry. At a very, very young age, I wanted to be successful, and I applied it to the profession that I chose, so I created who I was.


How have you managed to be so successful and what were your professional goals when you first started?


I was very lucky and fortunate to have a great mentor who taught me the seriousness of the business, and in 1967, Paul Mitchell and I opened our first hair cutting salon in America. You could say I was in the right place at the right time. And it really gave me clarity of where I wanted to be in the industry, with a chain of Peter Coppola salons.


What did you learn from your mentor?


He inspired me not only to take my work seriously, but he made me understand that you could be anything you wanted to be, if you applied yourself. If you do, you will surprise yourself.


What characteristics and qualities does the next generation of masters have?


I believe that the key is to have professionalism and discipline and to take the craft that you've chosen very, very seriously.  These are the key elements to take you to the next level.


For current students, what can they do now and after graduation that would help them be the most successful?


The best advice I can give to students is, of course, to learn your trade and hopefully, when you graduate beauty school, you get into a very good salon, and work as an apprentice for at least one year. There you will get the real professional training you need to succeed.


What goals should students have right now?


Focus on the work that is being done in the school. Be diligent. Ask all the questions you want and absorb as much as you can in school.


How do stylists find the right salon? 


You're born with an inner wisdom. You know when you walk into a salon if it's run professionally by how the staff looks and acts, and from that, you'll know if it is an environment that you want to work in. You'll know right away if this is the right place for you to be successful. And remember, that seventy-five percent of the environment is who you are.


So it is very important to be in the right salon for your future. Try to learn as much as you can about the industry,  think out of the box when it comes to the work, and don’t be afraid of challenges. My advice is to embrace the challenge because it will take you to places you’ve never dreamed of.


If you were hiring a stylist for your salon, what winning characteristics would you look for?


How they carry themselves and how they look - if they come looking professional and dressed properly. It is really important for them to look professional. It goes a long way.


How should a motivated professional act on your salon floor if they wanted to move up quickly?


There are three things I look for in a stylist, the three "D's" of success: dedication, desire, and discipline. If you have these characteristics, you will succeed in the industry, and that's what I look for.


What is one piece of advice you want to give to young professionals in the industry? 


The best advice I can give young people in the industry is to set your goals and work hard.  Early on in my career, I always took this industry as a very serious profession. I think that focus made me what I am today.



Tags: Mentor, Students, Professionals, Stylists, Education, Educator, Image