Renya Xydis chats Instagram, rising to the top, the reality of respect and her upcoming education workshop, The Sessions.
Renya Xydis, the pink haired, (usually) red-lipped dynamo that elevated the Sydney salon landscape and set standards for ‘session’ in Australia. She has built a cult following in Valonz Haircutters and propelled profiles in the likes of Travis Balcke – Eugene Souleiman’s right hand man.
Cloud Nine Ambassador, celebrity stylist, savvy business woman and the driver of trend defining Instagram accounts @sydneysbesthaircolourists and @valonzhaircutters, it’s a busy, burgeoning life for Renya Xydis – one punctuated with a stream of timeless beauty; moments that make pictures to last a lifetime.
But it hasn’t been all high times and hero hair moments. While today you’ll find her working the fashion week circuit from New York to Paris, settling the likes of Cate Blanchett into her chair or creating on-set for VOGUE and Marie Claire, what people don’t see are the years of sacrifice and hard work Renya has invested to manifest her life today. We all have to start somewhere, and for Renya, reality is the key.
“My best advice for younger artists realizing their creativity? Don’t pick up a copy of Italian VOGUE and think you can create that. They spent thousands of dollars to get that look and then you’ve got hours of post production,” Renya begins.
“There is so much happening on Instagram, we have access to the work and minds of the world’s best creatives, use it, consume it … and learn your lighting! Google your favourite photographers and various lighting styles, this generation of hairdressers don’t realize how lucky they are, it’s so easy to do your research now,” believes Renya.
For Renya, as much as she loves Instagram – its universal connection, and what the platform can do for a profile and business – a new urge for instant gratification is stimulating a warped belief that, as quickly as we can access imagery, we can master the mind the behind it.
“What young stylists don’t understand is that in the case of so many styles we see in Italian VOGUE, i-D or the latest Prada campaign, the hair director and/or creative team has spent months or even years on making that moment happen. There are so many little secrets behind these looks and quite often, they’re the result of a series of mistakes that the hair director will run with,” Renya divulges.
Renya suggests connecting with local fashion schools such as FBI, attending their annual fashion parades, taking note of emerging designers and, ultimately, collaborating with them. And the same principle applies to makeup and photography. The likes of MAC Cosmetics and Napoleon Perdis have a budding collective of artists just waiting to get creative and gather the experience they need to be great. When it comes to photography, Renya suggests approaching the assistants of the photographer’s assistants, “just be there on-set and help out, that’s how you meet and connect with people … but put your phone away, it’s so disheartening to everyone.”
“Just be humble, and be respectful. Take a look at the situation that you’re in. If you’re allowed backstage or at a shoot, really appreciate it, it’s someone else’s dream and hard work and they’re giving that to you,” says Renya.
“No other seminar or workshop can educate you on mastering the nature, pace and precision of backstage or on set, and it’s free! Think about it, every other course, cutting, up-styling, you have to pay for.”
Sharing and integrity drive all that Renya applies herself to, and her Instagram accounts are no exception. For Renya, a successful Instagram feed is one that speaks of you as an individual and, where hairdressers are concerned, an artist.
“Everything I put on Instagram is reflective of what I would want to learn and how I would like to look,” she begins.
“Don’t sway to other people’s Instagram accounts, don’t copy. So many accounts are all about the same, fly-away texture and standard colour … this looks like a piece of toast to me, it looks bland.”
Renya is a passionate advocate for the many colours, ethnicities and interpretations of beauty that we, as the human race, represent, and believes that with our real and virtual access to all corners of the world, there’s no excuse to lead a boring feed.
“You’ve got to bring a bit of magic, look at your feed, look at your last 12 images, have you got versatility, have you got colour in there saying ‘I’ve got a personality?’ I see fun, vivacious girls with bland Instagram accounts - that’s not showing off their personality,” continues Renya.
“If you love the beach, put that on there, if you love fashion, feature some of that too but just make sure those posts occupy 1 % of your feed, and the remaining 99% hair, what you believe in.”
It is all this and more that Renya will discuss in an intimate, open format at the upcoming Cloud Nine, The Sessions workshop. The morning will see Renya share her secrets to building and maintaining a successful salon, all while growing a creative career and engaging clientele.
“I want participants to walk away with a strong understanding of how to engage and grow the right clientele for them, their team and salon culture,” says Renya.
“And it’s so important for salon owners to nourish their own creativity whilst running and building a successful business. For some this may seem a difficult task, so I want to provide insight on how to make this a reality – a reality that will build culture, team morale and have a direct impact on the salon’s bottom line.”
An expert in salon marketing and brand culture in the digital realm, Renya will educate on building a strong following and will guide participants on creating a piece of content, ready for market, on the day.
“I’m really looking forward to guiding each participant through the process of creating a powerful and directional piece of content ready for social media. We’re going to explore the best apps, techniques and timings to get the most from digital ready content and really drive a salon forward,” she says.
The Sessions Workshop will take place on Tuesday, 15th August. Click here to secure your spot.