Grande Maison


In Interview Mischa G. The Yellow Glow of Rebellion

Mischa G. was never destined to be the Golden Girl. From a young age, she rejected the glass-ceiling of Buffalo, NY, in favour of a brighter, more inventive future in the Big Apple. Her father didn’t want her doing styling, so she went to hair-school behind his back. Her teachers criticised her. She fought her corner every time. While her colleagues made easy-bucks on MidWest supercuts, she was perfecting with razor work and Bouffant styling. With a background in clowning, a love of drag culture and the occasionally short temper, Mischa G. had her sights set higher. Destination: the centre of the sun.

It was a journey fit for the bold and the brave; just one look at Mischa G. - with that statement yellow hair and dedication to dress-up - will tell you that she is just that. But it wasn’t just bravery that got Mischa G. to where she is today. After winging it a little to secure a spot at New York City’s famous Bumble and bumble. salon, she found out she’d need her wits about her if she was going to cut it in the big leagues. “Back then, Bumble and bumble. would hire you purely on personality and drive. But I soon realised I’d need technical perfection to make it out of the apprenticeship stages. I was a terrible student, because I would always argue with my teachers. My imposter syndrome didn’t kick in until I was on the floor and shooting. Suddenly I was alone up there, the lights were on me. In many ways, it was like clowning again.” After ten years with Bumble and bumble. today Mischa G. finds herself once more in the spotlight, with the liberation of a freelance career ahead of her, and a nearly 20k Instagram followers wondering what she’ll do next. The tension was killing us, so we decided to just ask her...

GM First up Mischa G. Your profession?
MG I’m a hairdresser and an educator.

GMWhich year were you born?
MG 1983.

GM Where did you grow up?
MG Buffalo, New York.

GM Who gave you your name? Does it have any particular or special meaning?
MG Mischa? A little of me mixed with a little bit of the Polish side of my family. It sounds similar to my “real” name, and it’s a term of endearment.

GM What’s your favourite style of music?
MG It varies on the daily, from Bette Midler and Dolly Parton, to nasty rap. From Grimes, to garage rock, or hardcore punk from my high school days.

GM Do you create parallel realities? Imaginary places which give balance to the real world?
MG Well, I used to joke that I lived in a tsunami of delusions until I realised I could make all those delusions into my reality.

GM What’s your favourite number?
MG I guess the number three. I’m one of three sisters and I have three animals. And I like to arrange my things in threes. I have no idea why!

GM What is your earliest childhood memory?
MG I remember playing with this tiny bean-bag type doll named Ballerina Bean. She wore a pink tutu and had a cute ponytail and bangs. I still have her actually.

GM What would you like to achieve in life?
MG I would like to find my place in the hair world and use my platform to make a difference in my families lives and the lives of others. Then I’d like to semi-retire in a place where I can have all the animals I want.

GM What is your favorite hairstyle?
MG I will always be a sucker for a snatched ponytail extension, and a beautifully textured beehive.

GM Does life imitate art or does art imitate art?
MG Both! It’s a chicken and egg debate

GM Why did you become a hairdresser?
MG I’d always wanted to do hair but I took a roundabout way getting there. It’s just the coolest job. You can look how you want, dress how you want, tattoo dumb stuff all over your arms, travel anywhere and have a skill-set that can transcend languages, all the while you’re making people feel good about themselves.

GM Where did you start your career?
MG Buffalo. I dropped out of college in my last year, and went to hair school (behind my father’s back!). After graduating hair school I started working in a local salon, it was there that I met one of my “mentors”: Maggie Ryan, from Bumble and bumble.

GM When you were starting out, did you have any hair-heroes/- heroines that you particularly looked up to?
MG I’ve always admired everything Bumble and bumble. had done before the buy-out. From Laurent to Rolando, Ward to James Pecis. They were the cool kids.

GM You took a leap of faith when you moved out of Buffalo for a career in New York City. Tell us about how that decision came about. Where do you think you would be today if you hadn’t made the jump?
MG I was looking back at my year book the other day. Even then people were writing “See you in New York.” I was always talking about going there. Honestly, I would probably be a complete mess if I hadn’t. See, I was a bit of a wild child. What a shocker, right? But I was told by one of my “mentors”, Maggie Ryan of Bumble and bumble. - who worked part-time in the same salon as me in Buffalo - that if I didn’t get out of my hometown, I would never make it out of my 20s. The career ceiling was only low and I would’ve had nowhere to put all of my energy once I hit it. Everybody in Buffalo was cutting classic Midwest hair, and I was influenced by drag culture, wanting to do inventive styling, like bouffants!

So I drove over to New York City, went into Bumble and bumble. looking for a job. They hired me on the spot - I actually lied and said I already lived in New York City, otherwise there was no way they’d consider me. I had one week to pack all of my stuff up and move my life, belongings and two cats to New York City. I arrived on Monday, started work on Tuesday.

GM You were taught by Sabrina Michals at Bumble and bumble. Were you a good student? A teacher’s pet or a rebellious soul?
MG I was taught styling by Sabrina the same amount that many others at Bumble and bumble. were. I was taught cutting by many others too. And I was an awful student! I took everything personally and I would challenge all my educators’ feedback. I just did whatever I wanted and I think I threw a few hissy fits. What’s that saying? “Good girls rarely make history.”

GM What was one of the most important lessons you learned while apprenticing?
MG One important thing that I learned was that if you can defend what you’ve done (that’s not to be confused with making excuses for it) then that means there is the possibility for discussion. I think that’s more of a learning experience than someone just saying “No, you did that wrong. Do it again.” I teach that way. I favour debate, point/counterpoint, because there is a technically correct way of doing something, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t also another way.

GM How important is the role of education in the beauty industry?
MG Without education, you becomes stagnant and dull. I feel like everytime I teach, I myself become a better hairdresser. If I’m ever feeling burnt out or bitter towards hair, it reinvigorates me to teach. If you stop learning you stop growing, and if you stop growing what’s next? You just disappear.

GM What has made you the stylist you are today?
MG Constantly working, working, working. Seriously. I no longer have a full-time job, but I’m still working everyday. I think about hair constantly: How can I make what I’ve done better? What could I practice more? What could I invent or learn today?

I also think that the way I treat people defines my style. I try to really listen to everyone and be fair and kind, without letting people walk all over me. It’s the overall experience that people take away from service or class once it’s over.

GM What advice would you give a burgeoning hairdresser who wants to be successful in this industry?
MG Never stop learning. Value your time as an assistant or apprentice, and get as much out of it as you can. Appreciate everybody who teaches you, but also make sure you can pick and choose from what you’ve learned. That way, you can mix together things to invent your own style.

GM Where do hairdressing and sexuality crossover? What is one lesson about sexuality, gender and free-thought that you would like to teach your industry?
MG Before I started dating a woman seriously I felt as if I wasn’t being taken as seriously as I should have as a ‘straight cis-Femme presenting‘ woman. And, to be honest, since I’ve been with Morgan I feel as if my career has taken a positive turn. I’m treated more as an equal. I’m looked at as more capable than I was before.

That’s personal though. In a broader sense, I feel as if “the masculine” is also “the feminine” and vice versa in fashion. There is more of a strive for androgyny or neutrality in the castings of models and the choice of hair. That leads me to the simple lesson: do what feels good.

GM What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on recently, and why?
MG I’m now on my own, freelance after ten years of working with Bumble and bumble. So everything I do, pop ups at salons, travelling more for every fashion week around - here and in Europe - is exciting! I am figuring out whether to get an agent or a manager right now, taking my time to market my career. I don’t know exactly what direction I want to go in, but what’s so exciting is being able to do a little bit of everything. I still want to teach, cut in salons, do fashion weeks - and now I can.

GM Your Instagram platform offers a creative way for your fans to learn from you freely. Is there anything kids can’t learn from the internet these days?
MG Oh kids these days... You know the first time I encountered Instagram was at a shoot. A model was using it, and showed me it. I thought: “Well, that’s stupid.” But having had friends who were successful bloggers, and seeing how they networked and gained both followers and actual work, I realised that Instagram as a platform can be useful when you’re building upon already learned skills, or looking for inspiration.

I feel like people can look at someone, anyone, doing hair and/or makeup, copy it and then deem oneself an expert. I see and foresee the platform as an additional stepping stone and tool to use in conjunction with a proper hair education. I am ready for it because not all education is free and open to the public. Instagram is a great way to inspire and re inspire yourself, providing you view it from a credible source.

GM Mischa G, if you could push a button that would change one thing in your life or in the world, what would it change, and could you press it?
MG I would change the age in which I choose this career. I’ve always wished I made it to the point I am at now but at a younger age. Also I wish I would’ve stepped out on my own sooner, rather than staying with the same company for so long.

GM Yellow has become your calling card, the energetic signature of Mischa G. Will there come a day when you no longer feel yellow captures your character?
MG Never! I will go to the grave with yellow hair. It’s the most natural I’ve ever felt and not having it would pretty much mark the death of me. Could you imagine me with brunette hair? No. I am a blonde, the truest blonde. You know when kids draw somebody with blonde hair, they immediately go for the yellow crayon. I’m that kind of blonde. Actually, when the colourist asked me what colour I wanted I said yellow and picked up a crayon. Ironically, I’m actually pretty bad at colouring myself.

GM You’ve never lost touch with your childhood self. That reminds me, weren’t you a clown in a past-life?
MG Oh Clown School! Yeah, I started playing with wigs and make-up really, really young. My aunt was a hairdresser, which is why my father probably didn’t want me to do it. I think I had my first perm when I was like 8 or 9. My grandpa started going to clown school as a hobbie, then my aunt started going, and since I was so into dressing up, she took me along. We started doing children’s birthday parties together, so until I was about 16 I would drive around dressed as a clown entertaining kids. I never had a shame because of that. Doing hair is kind of like being on stage for your client, it’s about entertaining and making sure they leave feeling like they’ve enjoyed the experience.

GM Imagine you are living and working in Wonderland. How would you dress Alice’s hair?
MG I’ve always been terrified of Alice in Wonderland so I would prefer to never live or work there and god have mercy on my soul if I ever get Alice as a client.

Mischa G
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