Below is the extended interview provided by Fox Cities Magazine and written by Amelia Compton Wolff. Check the link at the bottom to see more interviews of the area’s top creatives!
How did you get into the hair business?
I started doing hair in 1996. I went to Gill Tech Hair Academy to get my hair colored because my niece wanted my hair blonde for her birthday. She was the first kid of our siblings, so whatever she wanted we did. The girl that did my hair that day I ended up dating and she told me to go to hair school and I said “Okay.” I went upstairs and signed up. We didn’t even date while I was in school. It didn’t last that long. I was actually going to bail at one point, but I stuck it out. I had no plan. I was working construction at the time so to be a constructor worker/hair dresser would be really weird.
Are you from Appleton?
I’m from here originally, but I moved to North Carolina for a little while. When I came back I started doing hair at a really small town salon. I was here and then got moved to Brillion. I went to a hair show and ran into Wayne Grund and started working for him too. He made me a platform artist so I could go and teach all over. I’ve gotten to hit some really cool cities and didn’t have to join the military to do it. I’ve been to the West Coast, Florida, Canada. I get to do Vegas a lot. All my training was mainly in Canada. They’re amazing hairdressers up there.
Who has influenced your career?
I had a great teacher at Gill Tech, Cheryl Timmer. Now she brings me in for classes to teach as a guest educator for students. I had some great bosses as I went from salon to salon in the area. I worked for a friend’s parent, Lorraine Ebert, at Heads of Time in Appleton and I worked for Marianne Kasten at Asante in Neenah. They taught me how to really love my staff. The better you take care of them the better they take care of you. I worked for Josif Wittnik for a long time. He taught me a lot. He made me a little mini right hand man. It helped me tweak Shear Chaos to how I want it.
How did Shear Chaos come to be?
We’ve been downtown here for two years. We were on the north side of Appleton with partners before we spun off on our own. We’re more downtown people. I love talking to strangers so if I have an hour open I just hang outside and meet people. I have no problems going up to anyone. People are crazy. We still have great clients that followed us from the north side, but we do have more downtown people which tend to be artsy.
Is the Midwest hopelessly out of touch when it comes to hair trends?
They always say the Midwest is a couple years behind in trends, but with the internet and YouTube I think the Midwest has pretty much caught up. We’re doing good. We have a lot of great hair dressers in this area that travel. I’m very tapped into what’s going on in Hollywood. I get to the West Coast a couple times a year and bring trends back. I think we get it. A lot of our clientele gets it.
What’s the secret to a great haircut?
We are all about customizing everybody. There’s only five haircuts in the world. It’s all about how you tweak it to keep up with the trend. We customize to highlight your great features. It makes you more outgoing. People will end up coming to you because it seems like you have the answer.
What’s the best part of your job?
The hug. We’re some of the last ones in a profession to touch people without a rubber glove. We touch their hair, shake their hand, hug when they leave. There’s no bubble. We can show appreciation through that hug, even if it’s a side hug. When they send us a friend then we know we made their day.
And just because it was too cute not to mention, Tobin’s wife and business partner, Jillian, tells the story of how they first met…
J: I was finishing up beauty school and he was in as a guest educator. I wasn’t in the class he was teaching, but I noticed him and thought he was cute and funny. I job shadowed at Salon CTI and realized he worked there. I introduced myself and said that I overheard him say he would come in and get a service if it would help finish our quota for graduation. He asked what I needed to do and I said I needed to do a manicure even though I was pretty much done with my quota already. I just said that because I would get to hold his hand. I booked him as my last appointment of the day because if I could get him to ask me out we could straight from school. And it worked. We started hanging out and I got a position at CTI. We’ve been together ever since. That was nine years ago.