Regency Backstage Pass:
Sebastian's Omar Antonio
International Core Team Member/ Platform Artist/ Educator for Sebastian Professional
Meet Omar Antonio, hairstylist extraordinaire and International Core Team Member for Sebastian Professional. Omar graciously agreed to share a part of his world with us so that we could bring that information straight to you! He's just as inspired as he is inspiring, and his love for the industry is contagious. You'll see.
We met him for the first time in 2010 backstage at America's Beauty Show, where he spent some time with some of Regency's students as he prepared for the weekend of hair shows. So it was no surprise when we saw him backstage again this year at America's Beauty Show 2011, primping and prepping his models for a series of runway shows and the Stylist Choice Awards. Even amidst the craziness behind the scenes, he made the time to chat with us and share what he was working on.
Regency: Can you give us a little background about yourself?
Omar: I grew up in a small suburb right outside beautiful San Francisco. I lived the life of a regular everyday kid. Well, kind of. I come from a very artistic family. School was very hard for me. I was bullied a lot. I liked to sew, and draw, and dance. When I was 14, my grandmother enrolled me in a dance class and I began what would be a 15 year career as a dancer, choreographer an
d teacher of Hip Hop. Over the next 10 years I had four children! You can imagine that having your own tribe at such a young age, you don't really get a chance to ask yourself, "What do I want to be when I grow up?"
Omar backstage at ABS 2011 with his model: during and after
It wasn't until the age of 26 that I started beauty school. I enrolled at "Miss Marty's Cosmetology College" in downtown San Francisco. I had an amazing time in beauty school and truly embedded myself into my education and the art of hair. I can confidently say that the time I dedicated in beauty school to the artistry of hair and surrounding myself with other artists is what got me to where I am in the industry today.
Regency: Why did you want to become a cosmetologist?
Omar: I became a cosmetologist because of the many different directions in which I could steer my career. The versatility of my career as a cosmetologist allows me to always feel fresh, new, inspired.
Regency: Tell us a little bit about your career path, and how you ended up where you are now.
I started working RIGHT after beauty school in a 10-chair salon called The Gallery. Since I was the new guy (literally) I was VERY self conscious! I was one of three commission workers so I had a lot of extra time and I spent a lot of time filling in as an assistant. I learned so much from the amazing staff there. This is where I really learned how to read my client. During that time I also took as many classes in hair cutting, coloring, and up-dos as I could afford. I spent every spare nickel and dime on further education. I was a perfectionist; it took me about 3 years before I felt comfortable behind the chair!
I had been working at The Gallery for five years when I attended my very first audition. Sebastian Professional was auditioning for a hair cutting instructor. So I drummed up a model and worked on a presentation. With my stomach in knots, I headed into the city to the interview that would change my life. I started my career with Sebastian Professional five years ago, and in that time I have opened my own salon and been on stages around the world educating, inspiring and sharing my love of hair with other stylists. I've done numerous photo shoots, runway shows, presentations, etc, etc, etc. I am having the time of my life!
Regency: Can you describe a typical work week?
Omar: There is no such thing as a typical work week for me! I spend approximately three days a week behind the chair at the salon and experiencing the challenges and rewards of the everyday stylist. I travel all over the world educating and performing. Sebastian puts together an ever-growing schedule that is constantly changing. I may fly to New York or Los Angeles for a photo shoot, then off to Paris for a runway show.
|Omar on stage at America's Beauty Show 2011
I also have a studio in San Francisco where I spend a lot of time working. Its basically an art class for the totally insane. Drawing, sketching, building, designing, creating. I can be a bit of a workaholic. If I am working on a piece that's got me on a roll, I've been known to work all throughout the night into the morning with no sleep.
Regency: Do you have a "specialty" or a favorite type of service you like to perform?
Omar: If I ever had to say that I specialized in anything it would be Avant-garde hairstyling, editorial fantasy hair, wigs, and hair pieces.
Regency: What are the biggest challenges of your job?
As with any job, there are challenges. Time away from my family; time away from my amazing clientele; appointments conflicting with my crazy schedule; endless hours on plane after plane after plane.
Regency: Is there any piece of advice you received that still sticks with you today?
Omar: For sure! Hair master Michael Polsinelli once told me, "Look here kid - you want to stick around, you gotta bring something new to the table." Every show, every stage, every runway, every classroom... I have to bring something new and fresh. A million people want my job! I constantly challenge myself to create and recreate and design and un-design. It's the most amazing experience.
Omar admires his model onstage at the 2011 Stylist Choice Awards
Regency: What do you love most about your job and this industry?
Omar: I love the artistic approach to hair. The possibilities are endless with imagination. From the simplistic to the futuristic, hair is art and I love that I am a part of it!
Regency: Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently - either in beauty school or since?
Omar: Knowing what I know now, the only thing I'd do differently is start sooner!!!
Regency: Finally, what advice would you give to Regency's students?
Omar: My advice to you, ALL REGENCY STUDENTS, is hone your craft. This isn't a job!!! This is your career!!! Surround yourself with artists. Surround yourself with inspiration. Study your bibles (Vogue, Modern Salon, Behindthechair.com, etc.). There are a million different directions you can steer your career as a cosmetologist; now is the time to focus on those directions and find which one is for you. You are a part of a dream now. What will you bring to the table?