Note from the KeraGirls: This is part of our series of KC Pro posts that provide career insights and advice from some of Keratin Complex’s most experienced and accomplished stylists.
Master colorist Deb Gavin has been a key member of the Keratin Complex team since the 2012 launch of our groundbreaking professional hair color line, Color Therapy™.
When she is not running her award-winning salon, Fresh Hair Studio in Philadelphia, Deb is busy creating trendsetting hair color collections for Keratin Complex that are regularly featured in leading trade and consumer publications. She also presents her work on platforms as a representative for Keratin Complex, and imparts her expert knowledge to fellow stylists at the Keratin Complex Academy in Boca Raton.
We recently chatted with Deb to get more insights about her career and the lessons she’s learned along the way.
'I’m always pushing myself to never get stagnant,
and constantly evolving myself and my work.'
Name and title: Deb Gavin, International Artistic Director for Color Therapy
Salon name: Fresh Hair Studio, Philadelphia
Years of experience: 31
Training/Education: Trained all over the world in academies and with industry icons
Hairstyling specialties: Color, cutting, finish work, editorial styling, trend conceptions
Q&A with Deb Gavin: Her career
When did you know that you wanted to become a stylist?
From about my teens. I did friends’ hair and even got grounded one time for cutting my sister’s bangs too short. I have natural red hair, and my mom would give me home perms that made my hair bright orange and curly so I looked like Orphan Annie. I was glad when that ended and I could do my own hair!
I was always artistic but I didn’t know where I was going to channel it. In high school, I thought hairdressers were so cool and I loved the environment of a salon—so it seemed natural, I guess.
Who and/or what inspires you?
Creatively, I get inspired by the environment and what I see around me. Out in public, it is just automatic to make over hair in my mind; I’m not even thinking about it on a conscious level. I’m always pushing myself to never get stagnant, and constantly evolving myself and my work. When I can't sleep, I’m usually thinking about color placement or creating a new class.
Deb Gavin demonstrates her work during a trade show.
Describe your general career path.
I started out shampooing and assisting in a salon—which is where I met my business partner, Laurie Haney. I started in education at an early age, being asked to go in and teach styling classes. I always had short, trendy hair, so I’d often be thrown on stage as a model, where I would absorb what was being done to me and what was going on around me.
I tried to do 100% everywhere; I made myself valuable and kept moving up the ladder.
Laurie and I opened Fresh Hair Studio 14 year ago. We couldn’t find a culture that we enjoyed being in, so we wanted to create our own.
What do you love most about working in the salon and/or beauty industry?
Turning light bulbs on and having people think differently—giving them a different thought process, especially about color—whether it’s in the studio, in class, onstage, or in the salon.
Describe the most thrilling moment of your career.
My first nomination for NAHA. I had been in the audience from early on, and when I finally put my hat in the ring, I was nominated. Also, being invited to join a team developing international trends, and the first time I saw my work on the cover of a magazine.
Deb works on a mannequin during a class at the Keratin Complex Academy.
What are the most rewarding aspects of your job?
Helping people find their signature in their work and watching them become successful by taking concepts I’ve shared and making them their own. I love opening doors of creativity!
When I feel “stuck” or “stagnant.”
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
That’s hard to say, because I always look for opportunities and never know where things might lead; the possibilities are limitless. I love going for the ride and seeing where it takes me!
In 10 years or longer?
For Deb’s career advice, stay tuned for Part II.