Interviewer: How did you get your start in hair?
Mark: As a young boy, I was always fascinated with all things hair; from cutting all the hair off of my stuffed animals to playing with my mom‘s rollers. Not to mention, the intoxicating smell of perm solution at my aunt’s beauty shop! You could find me busy cutting my own hair, as well as our toy poodles. With dog grooming as my side business, the attraction continued. As a young teenager obsessed with hair, I passed the hours at the local “unisex” hair salon (so1970’s!). Sounds so funny to say that now! Where I grew up, in Burlington, NC, it was either go to a barbershop (men) or a beauty shop (women). That all changed when a young local barber started the first unisex hair salon in my hometown, called California Concepts. Fascinated with this place, I hung around that salon rather often. It was such a cool scene, and I wondered if this could be my future. Scott, the owner, proposed that I go to beauty school and come work for him. So I took that pretty seriously. In 1976, after high school and two months of college, I dropped out and the very next day enrolled at Leon’s Beauty School, Greensboro, NC. After finishing beauty school, my ambitions became much greater than being a hometown hairdresser. I up and moved to San Francisco in 1978, and began my hair career with Yosh Toya of Yosh for Hair; a highly celebrated salon in downtown San Francisco. I became a super successful salon stylist there, and after five years, moved to New York City to work with models, magazines, and fashion shows. I considered being an “editorial stylist” the more glamorous side of hairdressing. I thought, “How cool it would be to work with the most beautiful girls and guys in the world and have my name in prestigious magazines.” I set my sights on that. After a year in New York, I moved to Paris, France in 1984, and stayed for five years, living out my editorial hairdresser dream. Working on a team with Jean Louis David, I learned from some of the top editorial hairdressers in the world. By the time I left, I had styled for a multitude of covers and
editorial spreads in top magazines, runway shows, and frequently working with the top supermodels of that time. One could say, I had achieved the goals I had set as a young man. Though my biggest achievement in France was learning to speak French, which I continue to practice do to this day. Reading and writing in French is a culture from another land that I cherish and learn each day.
Interviewer: How did Mark Garrison Salon start?
Mark: After five years in San Francisco, going back-and-forth to New York, and being obsessed with the world of editorial hairstyling; a sector where John Sahag, Garren, and Maury Hopson reigned, I was thoroughly inspired and wanted to be like them. So, I made that move to New York! I worked tirelessly day and night on my portfolio. Soon after moving to New York, I realized I needed to go to Paris, France, where most of the top hairdressers from around the world were coming from. As mentioned earlier, I moved to Paris, and stayed there five years, building a book full of European magazine covers such as Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle and many others. Eventually, I grew tired of the travel and not knowing where I would be next week. I would say it started to wear on me. By that time, I was 30 years old and knew that I wanted to go back into the salon, behind the chair. First off, I missed cutting hair, and I saw more opportunity in having clients come to me, rather than me going on-location (which is required as an editorial/studio hairdresser). Deciding to return to the hair salon, I joined up with Frederic Fekkai, at Bergdorf Goodman, NYC. I had a wonderful experience during my five years there. In fact, I was planning to open the Beverly Hills salon for Frederic.
Ultimately, I decided not to go in that direction. And in short order, I was presented with an opportunity to start my own salon. I gave that some hard consideration because, in reality, I had spent 20 years saying I will never do a hair salon. Well, never say never! November 11, 1996, I started my first salon, located on Madison Avenue and 68th St. After eight years there, with my lease ending, I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my greatest mentors, Yosh Toya, Yosh for Hair, and Mrs. Leon, Leon’s Beauty School, who both owned the underlying real estate where their salons were located. Rather than rent, I bought my building where my salon is presently located, 108 E. 60th St., New York City. Buying that building, was my best career move, to say the least. In these trying times,
with businesses collapsing left and right, and our revenue severely compromised, having an asset gives us a fighting chance to survive the collateral damage of COVID and its extremely negative effect on commerce and businesses. I pray for those less fortunate. And thank God for the second round of PPP loans!
Interviewer: So, what inspired you to create the renowned RE:MARK hair care line?
Mark: As I said, never say never! I spent the next 20 years saying I will never do a product line. This changed once I realized that every top-shelf product line we carried started selling on Amazon. The ramifications of that cannibalized our retail business. Needless to say, we couldn’t compete. Amazon has stifled many small businesses, and it put a huge dent in our retail sales. Fully disillusioned with our loyalty to top retail lines no loyalty in return, over two years ago, RE:MARK was conceptualized. I made a commitment to my company, along with my team, to create a TRULY ReMARKable haircare line. I thought, with the culmination of my 45 years of experience as a hairdresser, what is a better use of it than to create RE:MARK haircare. My line was designed to be an extremely high-performing and very reasonably priced line, at $22 for any product… Oh, did I mention, it’s only available at Mark Garrison Salon. We developed RE:MARK from behind the chair with our team, working with clients, addressing a variety of hair care needs like frizzy hair, lack of volume, dryness, and curl activating. Our blow-dry lotion (Finish Line) protects the hair from heat and creates a beautiful finished look. Our volume spray (Lift Off) creates beautiful and wearable volume. Our top-selling anti-frizz cream (Smooth Out) works well as a leave-in cream or a wonderful product to control frizz while still allowing you to run your hands through your locks. Our three shampoo lines, High Volume for volume, Color Code for color-treated hair, and Smooth Out for frizzy hair, are all sulfate-free. With RE:MARK, our clients can re-create their remarkable style at home. We made the product as pure and clean as we possibly could, still maintaining a high-performance hair care line with a well-received fragrance. Must say, clients, love the fragrances! For example, all our shampoos (volume, color, protect, and anti-frizz) are all without sulfates and harsh chemicals with many organic ingredients, and no nasties; keeping up with the integrity and good standing of Mark Garrison Salon!
Interviewer: So, Mark what is your favorite product from RE:MARK to use and why?
Mark: My favorite right now is a combination of Finish Line, which is our blow-dry lotion, mixed with Lift Off, which is a volume spray. This combination gives amazing volume and texture. This collection, along with all the products in the line, leave the hair very touchable, smelling magnificent, and looking simply remarkable!
Interviewer: What do the next 10 years look like for Mark Garrison?
Mark: That’s a good question… I am 63 years old now, and I don’t see any need or want for retirement. Now, more than ever in my career, I still extremely enjoy doing what I do. With the creation of our RE:MARK haircare line, my dedicated team and I have a new focus. We plan to build that… and enjoy the journey! God only knows where we’re going to land, though I know it will be a most amazing place!
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Hi, I now live in Portland, OR but I was a regular at John Sahag in NYC before i moved here. I’m able to travel to SF to time a great haircut every 5-6 weeks if yoy can fit me in 😀.
Hi Angela, nice to hear from you! Our salon is based in NYC, not SF. Are you still able to make to the East Coast, we’d love to have you at the salon. Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org to set it up. Thanks!