“If it was about winning, I would’ve given up a long time ago…”
We had the pleasure of conversing with Trish Dool, the Creative Director for Eric Fisher Salons, about her path to success. Trish has been recognized as a 2021 Hair Colorist of the Year MHA, a 2022 Master Stylist of the Year MHA, and a 2022 Avant Garde Stylist of the YR MHA. She pushes the boundaries of creativity through her edgy and avant-garde work.
The screen lights up as the camera and computer microphone connect to zoom. A large basement room fills the frame. Trish Dool sits in front of the computer between two Avante-grade wigs. She smiles, anxious to begin.
Q: Trish, I love your background; tell us a little about those wigs behind you.
A: Yeah, I thought it would be fun to have something interesting behind me instead of an empty room. These pieces are… Well, the white one I made a few years ago and the other one I just recently began working on. The white piece was in the collection where I won Avant Garde Hairstylist of the Year for the Midwest this past fall. Then the other piece is still in the works- I’m creating it for a runway show. So, that’s what these two people are doing behind me.
Q: (laughing)I love it! Do they take on personas of their own?
A: (Trish joins in in laughter) Yeah, my studio has quite a few mannequin heads and a full mannequin, but that might be too much… (laughing) would probably be a sensory overload.
Q: What has your journey been like? How did you start out pursuing your career in the beauty industry?
A: That takes me back… I would say that my initial inspiration to become a hairdresser came from my own hairdresser when I was in high school. Here I was in Wichita, KS, and my hairdresser, gosh, she was so cool. I just thought she had the coolest job- there was always great music playing, everybody looked great, and it was a creative space. When I left Wichita to attend the University of Kansas in Lawrence, I was so sad because I would miss her. But, my hairdresser ended up moving to Lawrence to open a salon with her sister- so I got lucky.
As a young person, I wasn’t sure of who I was or what I wanted to do. I was still finding myself at that point. But I did know that I felt in tune with being an artist of some kind, so I enrolled in the school of Fine Arts at KU. It was going well, but I wasn’t sure if that was where I fit. I was good, but I wasn’t, you know, as invested as I should have been.
But in the meanwhile, in the background, there was my hairdresser, and I thought that’s a very creative occupation to have. I realized then that I could make a living doing this. I felt really lucky to have her there, physically and emotionally for me. In hindsight, she led me down this path. She inspired me to go to hair school.
At the time, Eric Fisher Academy didn’t exist, so I went to a different beauty school in Wichita. However, my hairdresser had worked for Eric when Eric Fisher Salons comprised maybe ten people. Now, of course, he has four salons and an academy, and I had the pleasure of seeing all that growth happen.
Q: So that transition to beauty school, using your creativity in a different way, one that you can easily monetize. Was that an easy transition for you?
A: I would say, in a way, yes. I was thrilled about the idea of actually making a living while being an artist. I think there is no shame in wanting to benefit from being an artist of any kind. I’ve had this discussion with friends of mine who are painters and illustrators about this. Some say that you shouldn’t be thinking about the money you could make by selling your work, but on the other hand, it has value and a price tag. Plus, artists need to make a living too!
When I went to beauty school, I knew I wanted to work for Eric. He had a special thing going- which he still does. Everyone knew that was the place to be. I thought that if I didn’t work there, I would move away and work for myself somewhere. But, I knew in my heart that I wanted to stay in Wichit and work for Eric, which is what I did.
Q: What do you find most rewarding about being in this industry?
A: Oh gosh, there’s so much. (pauses to think) A lot of what is rewarding to me is the interaction you get to have with other people- creatives, your coworkers, that sort of thing. When you build your clientele, you get to know your clients, and some become friends. You can develop lifelong friendships with people who sit in your chair.
There is just so much to be said about the physical touch of just touching someone’s hair or washing someone’s hair. As cheesy or weird as that sounds. Some people don’t ever experience that in any aspect of their life. When you become that kind of person to someone, you can develop friendships and deep trust.
Yeah, I would say the relationships are the most rewarding. It’s definitely an industry comprised of people, so if you don’t like people, then perhaps it’s not the place for you. It’s great to be able to make connections and develop friendships.
Q: So you’re managing clients, cultivating those friendships, but you’re also invested in the creative editorial fashion runway side of the industry. I want to discuss the first collection you created. How did you get into creating collections?
A: Yeah, that is an image from my first photoshoot. I got into doing that (creating a collection) because of Eric. Because I had a fantastic mentor in my life, and I still do. I can’t express enough how important that is. To surround yourself with like-minded individuals that have goals like you. I love nothing more than to feel like I’m teaching somebody, so surround yourself with people who teach and inspire.
But back to the collection, I can hardly tell you where the inspiration came from or anything because this was 23 years ago- I think. Eric, though, is a photographer and a hairdresser, so it was really helpful to have him there throughout that process.
I would say I’ve gotten better over the years as I have developed my eye and skillset. Thanks to time and hard work, I am at a point where I feel confident in that setting.
Q: What does the process look like as you’re creating collections?
A: Well, usually, it just starts with one thing. So, for instance, I was inspired by some leopard print fabric for a collection. That was my initial starting point for the whole collection, so it can start with something as simple as that. I like to also keep a pencil and paper in every room in my house, so when I get a random idea, I can jot it down.
Q: what is the best advice you have received, either professionally or personally?
A: Well, you know as well as I do that Eric has these “isms”, these little motivational sayings that he imparts on you. He is just an incredibly inspirational and motivational person. Eric has impacted my career in so many ways. I would say some of the best advice would be to surround yourself with like-minded people. That you’re around people who inspire and appreciate you.
Q: so it sounds like you draw a lot of inspiration and motivation from the people around you. Do you have a typical group you like to surround yourself with? Creatives? Writers? Visual Artists?
A: I’m the type of person that gets along with a lot of people. I’m a Gemini, and any Gemini knows this, so I just know a lot of people. I think naturally creative people end up being friends with other creatives, but my husband is in insurance. So I would say I like all kinds of people, especially creatives, because we speak a similar language.
Q: So when I look at your imagery, I am in awe of the creativity I see. I also see an artist who is confident and knows exactly what they want, but do you ever struggle with self-doubt throughout the years?
A: Yes. Constantly. Even as we speak! For example, I can pick apart any of my collections because I chase perfection. I’ve learned that I’m my own worst critic in that sense.
Q: What are some things you do to help with that? How do you handle fear and self-doubt?
A: In regards to creating something like a hair collection, I’ll work on it over the weekend for a couple of days and suddenly think I don’t like it or begin to pick it apart. So what I do is I leave it alone for a few days or weeks, then come back to it with fresh eyes. Usually, I’m not as critical as I was in that moment, or I’ll find something I would like to adjust.
I’ll also ask the opinions of my friends and mentors to give feedback and motivation to finish the work. You have to be open to learning from someone who may have more experience than you or knows better- not to say they’re always right. But to grow, you have to accept that you don’t know everything.
Q: I love that advice. It’s so worth hearing from a mentor. So when it comes to building a collection, what advice would you give to artists just starting out? What would you have told your younger self?
A: If you know what you like- these days, we have access to so much; thanks to social media, you can pull inspiration from many places. For one of my collections, I was inspired by another collection I saw featuring a cape and just became focused on that feeling. I’d say, though, to take your initial inspiration and learn how the original creators made what inspired you. Figure out the ins and outs to continue to flesh out your idea.
Q: Something you brought up earlier today that I’d love to dive deeper into is you mentioned that you kept submitting your collections to these contests and award categories despite not winning… Could you talk a little bit more about that? How do you handle those emotions about not getting in?
A: Oh yes, don’t let that define you. I think it’s part of my personality- I’m sometimes stubborn. I’m determined, like a challenge, and am task oriented. I felt so confident and proud about my first collection that I entered it into NAHA. Then it came out that I did not get nominated, and at first, I felt bummed, but it actually motivated me to try harder and do better. I’m not one to leave with my tail between my legs.
You know, those awards I did win recently at the Midwest Hairdresser Awards, I gave an acceptance speech and said, “If this were about winning for me, I would’ve given up a long time ago.” So I’d like to encourage anyone who has a passion for what they’re doing to pursue that passion. Sure, I like the awards, but I wouldn’t still be here if it was about winning those awards.
Q: That’s so powerful. Thank you for being such an inspiration to me. We’ve talked about the journey and the ups and downs, So what is next?
A: Well, I have some new collections I’m working on, as I’ve mentioned… One of these collections has inspired me to create a hair runway show– which I’ve never done before. I’m asking a ton of questions to other industry creatives to learn how even to do this. I’m learning how to send a girl down a runway, what music I should use, and stuff like that. It’s an exciting challenge that I can’t wait to complete.