Stylist Spotlight: Blake VanDonkelaar, VanMade Hair Co.

Stylist Spotlight: Blake VanDonkelaar, VanMade Hair Co.

Our Affiliates play a crucial role in the VirtueⓇ community. As shepherds of the brand, they are our feet on the ground and our voices behind the chair. Each Affiliate Spotlight, we love sharing with you these stewards of style who share our vision that everyone deserves to have truly healthy hair. They remind us that teamwork makes the dreamwork, and we’re so grateful they chose our team.

Fresh out of high school and in a band, stylist Blake VanDonkelaar of VanMade Hair Co. in St. Simons, GA, was going to be a rockstar. He’d seen friends down that road before, however, and eventually they turned to hair styling. It seemed like the perfect solution. “It showed me that you could have a creative outlet and still be at home with family,” he says. And the rest is history. Here he discusses his industry icon, what it’s like to live his “big break,” and where he seeks new inspiration.

Q: What insights do you have for the pro community regarding re-openings/navigating the new normal?
It’s been interesting to say the least. I follow my clients’ lead. Most have been coming in very reluctant in the beginning, but have since started to feel a little bit more comfortable each visit.

Q: What’s your favorite memory from your journey? When did it feel like you caught your “big break?”
I’d say the first break came about five years into my career, shortly after I moved from West Michigan to St. Simons Island. I was too busy to keep taking new clients within the first year of the move. That was that moment that had me thinking, “Wow, I can really do this for a career. I can take care of my family. I can really do this, and do it well!” Now I am growing my own salon and adding more staff. I’d like to think that I’m in the middle of my big break right now.

Q: Is there anyone in the industry or beyond that you really admire, or someone who inspired you in your career?
Chris Jones. I love watching him cut hair. Several months ago, I had some Virtue® samples at the salon, but was still on the fence about adding a second product line to the salon. Then I was watching one of Chris’ videos and he pulled out Texturizing Spray and I was like, OK! I also love Liz Haven. The way she colors hair is amazing. Also, a good friend who got me into the industry encouraged me to take chances, and it turned out to be incredible for my career and family, so I’m also very grateful for him.

Q: How do you define a “success” after a client leaves your salon?
That smile. The way they get excited when they look at their hair. When they say, “I’m obsessed with my hair.” That lets me know I did my job to the fullest.

Q: What’s your favorite way to unwind after work?
I have a 7-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son. If I’m not working, I am either with my kids or working on my golf game! I don’t have much down time in my life.

Q: How do you like to stay up to date on the latest trends, techniques, and styles?
Instagram is certainly a game changer. When I started 14 years ago, we had to keep up with magazines and the big hair shows. Now, twice a year, I travel to bigger cities where the trends are a little more on the forefront and do some sort of education.

Q: What’s a trend that you hope comes back? Never goes out of style?
I’m seeing the shag come back, and I don’t know how I feel about it. What I hope never goes out of style is lived-in, believable color.

Q: What do you value most about being a Virtue® affiliate?
The Virtue® names goes so much further than the product itself––like the way Virtue® immediately came to the rescue after closings and whatnot. Every experience I’ve had has gone beyond the brand to the people who work there.

Q: What was the worst haircut you ever had?
Once when I was in the 5th grade, I had a basketball game coming up, so I asked my mom to give me a little trim around the ears. She gave me an instant mullet.

Q: What was the first hairstyle or technique that you mastered? The hardest?
The first technique I mastered was slicing and point cutting. I’m all about believable. The hardest has been a blunt bob; there’s no room for error. I’m proud of it, but it took a lot of years to gain that confidence.

Q: What’s your personal hair routine? Your favorite part of your hair routine?
Full Shampoo (almost every day), 6-in-1 Styler while it's wet, and then I blow dry to get some volume. Then I flip it and spray a ton of Texturizing Spray to get this perfect just-woke-up look. It’s great.

Q: What other things are you passionate about that aren’t hair related?
I’m a passionate father and I’m passionate about my relationships. I love seeing those around me succeed. I also helped plant a church in downtown Brunswick, GA, last year, and I lead the music there on Sunday mornings.

Q: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Be patient. I rush into a lot of things, so patience, patience, patience.

Stylist SpotlightsStylist Spotlights
2020-08-02 20:39:00 0 viewed