Interview with Amorphous Salon owner, Buster Berkely
Why did you open your salon?
I was in transit between New York and Toronto. I was styling hair in Brooklyn & Manhattan. I wanted to displace some of my creativity, inspire others, and to have a better life. I wanted a better life emotionally, creatively, and to motivate people. I wanted to see if I could achieve some of the things I dreamt of doing. To be honest, I was never interested in owning a salon. The opportunity was given to me. I was always writing, creating and educating myself. But I was never eager to open my own salon. I was always comfortable working under someone else’s umbrella.
What keeps you motivated?
Being creative. I personally think I am one of the best haircutters you could ever come across. Within Toronto or outside of it. I’m going to honk my own horn – I think this is the time to do it. I have knowledge, training and experience. Cutting hair and coming up with new concepts motivates me. Cutting, colouring and other areas that I am strong in keeps me motivated – keeps my juices flowing. That energy never settles. My veins are always producing some type of creativity.
Who inspires you?
I have been inspired by guys like Irvine Rusk and Trevor Sovie – frick. I love Trevor. Trevor is my man. He is so humble. He’ll walk into his salon, pick a broom up, and sweep hair off the floor. Yet he is one of the most popular fashion stylists in London. Irvine Rusk is amazing as well. The man is so creative. He comes up with ideas that are out of sight. His haircutting techniques are incredible. I learnt a lot from Irvine Rusk because I used to attend his classes. Right now I’m liking Ted Gibson because he’s one of the black men in the industry. He is very inspiring. Ted takes a different approach to hairdressing. He is forward, in your face, and creative. Ted is all about social media and PR. He is THE modern hairdresser in the industry. Not only that, he charges over $1000 for a haircut. That’s my man.
Describe your staff
I have six employees. I am very appreciative of them. They are hard working and help me get things done in a timely manner. Salons cannot keep people waiting. You just cannot do it. You have to get people in and out. Over the years I have learned how to service clients in a timely manner.
What would you say is your biggest success so far?
My biggest success was when Amorphous used to be doing performance. We brought high-energy entertainment to the audience. It was a big accomplishment because it was an Amorphous production. We created the choreography, the clothing, the hairstyles – everything was done by Amorphous. I remember on one occasion we had to do a performance in New York City. At that time I was putting the money I was making for doing my work back into the performance. I spent it on my models. I wasn’t going able to pay for them to model but I paid for their transportation and hotels. We were well rehearsed. When we took the stage people didn’t believe we were from Toronto. My work has appeared in various quality magazines, television, and music videos, but traveling with Amorphous productions felt like my biggest accomplishment. I’ve worked with Wyclef Jean, LL Cool J, Boys II Men, Beyonce… there is too many to name. But celebrities mean nothing to me. Celebrities don’t make my day. My day is made by the regular people who come through the salon doors. I’m not a celebrity stylist. I’m the people’s stylist. I’m the people’s hair designer. Celebrities are human beings like the rest of us. The people who pay my bills – who have been coming every three months for the past fifteen years – mean something to me.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Starting school. When I was in hairdressing school our teacher constantly undermined me. One day I took him into the office and was on the verge of changing schools. I sat down with him man to man and asked him to lay off of me and just let my juices flow. From then on, my challenges were gone. I always knew what I wanted and I knew that I would get it. I gave up all of the other things that I love – music, painting, acting – to be a hairdresser. I knew I had to do well.
What do you want your business to look like in 10 years?
If I could make a salon made of gold I would do it. I want people to walk into my salon and be intimidated because it’s so well structured, and the hairdressers are so polite and knowledgeable. If I could put a million dollars into a salon I would do it in a minute.
What advice would you give to new Canadian salons and/or hairdressers?
I would tell new hairdressers to embark on education. The industry is low educationally and different from when I was in school. It’s a different industry. I would tell young hairdressers to make sure they select the salon that they want to work for. Don’t just jump into it. You can’t walk into a salon because you’re going to be paid and they do weaves and jheri curls. Go to a salon that suits your image. Know what type of hairdresser you want to be. Know your goals. Research. There are a lot of great hairdressers out there, like the ones I mentioned earlier.
What does your salon specialize in?
Many people would say that we specialize in hair cutting – but we are a hair care provider first. We know how to care for hair. Amorphous is strong in hair cutting, styling, and colouring. I would say that we are strong in every area in the industry because we work like a team.
Is there anything else you wanted to say?
Amorphous is a curly hair salon. We help clients cut and maintain their curly hair. Also, I want to see black manufacturers come back into business. I must add a bit of politics. I want to see that black dollar go back into the black hair industry. Forget the two cents you’re going to save by putting your money somewhere else. We need our dollar circulating among us. There are billions of dollars being spent in the black hair industry and not a lot is coming back to us. There was a time when black marketers would come to your salon and pay you to do seminars, but now that doesn’t happen at all.
We have one of the most versatile hair of all races
Hairdressers need to get their act together. It isn’t difficult to take care of our hair. People need to be comfortable going to a salon to have their hair treated and know that their hair will remain on their head. If I’m not political my name is not Buster.