Today we’d like to introduce you to Katja Fenchel.
Katja, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
When I was 11 years old, I went to London for the first time and wanted to live there right away.
I was impressed with Princess Diana’s simple beautiful haircut and Punks on the street. Loving both of those totally controversial looks is still reflecting in my work today. I can do a classic bob or classic men’s cut, a high fashion cut or rockstar do.
Following in my mom’s footsteps who still is a hairdresser now at almost 70 years old, I started my hair journey with 16 in a small-town hair salon in Germany as an apprentice for 3 years. It was not really fun for a teenager to be stuck 8 hours a day in a salon, but when I found out I had a talent making clients happy, I could not stop.
It turned out I loved cutting the best and the only place to specialize in cuts back then was a career at Vidal Sassoon. I sent in an application and after mastering a test day at the Frankfurt Salon I was accepted to start an internal training program that was 6 months long, learning how to cut hair the Vidal Sassoon way. I did specialize in men’s cuts at first and was lucky to work under Gerald Battle Welsh the inventor of the Men Cutting Manual. Training was extremely challenging sometimes working 4 hours on one model, but so rewarding. I was fascinated to learn that if you are able to have amazing technique, you can reproduce the same quality haircut on your client each and every time.
It was fabulous to be a stylist at Vidal Sassoon Germany in the 90s. We were consumed by everything hair, fashion and style. I got promoted to Creative Director in 1997. Clients were on waiting list, you got presents and invites to fancy parties all the time, but my heart did long to leave Germany and face new challenges. I was working in London several times a year already and realized I wanted to go to Los Angeles to the sunshine.
So after 9 years at Sassoon in Germany, I got transferred to the Beverly Hills Vidal Sassoon Salon in 1999 as the Art Director. I was in charge of training the staff and quality control of haircuts and styles. Within 2 years I was booked and busy and living the life of a fab hairdresser in LA. I worked in Beverly Hills for 11 years until my daughter was 10-month-old in April of 2010. I stayed almost 20 years at Sassoon, producing a lot of successful hairdressers that are still working in Europe and the US. I had gained a lot of clients and friends.
Motherhood had changed everything for me. It was the icing on the cake, but it did not agree with working in corporate America with only 3 months of maternity leave and then back to work full time.
I tried, but it had taken a toll on my daughter’s health. I quit and just offered house calls for a period, not knowing if I should go back to Europe. But my clients did not let me! They were passionate and wonderful and even would let me bring my kid to their houses. With this strong support and my daughter thriving, I finally found the right location to work out of independently. The Kristoff Ball Salon, a hidden place in Beverly Hills that is more like an art studio space or craftsmen workshop than a regular hair salon. It allows me to schedule around my kid, book my own appointments Monday to Saturday and have a central laid-back location without the wannabe of prime Beverly Hills and my clients enjoy it!
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I had some challenges over the years, some cultural and language barriers, but mostly unfriendly competition by colleagues and corporate policies, all of which I have overcome. In the end, it is all good and the right people that appreciate my craft, style and personality always have found me.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the KATJA FENCHEL story. Tell us more about the business.
After working 3 decades in hair I still believe in Vidal Sassoon’s Philosophy. He was the first hairdresser to cut hair as if it was a material in motion. “As the body moves, beautiful cut hair will swing with its movement and will become a sensual part of that movement. A great cut will give hair life and bounce as opposed to making it stiff and rigid.”
I do haircuts for people who would like a great style that brings out the best in their face structure. My method of cutting ensures that the client needs only minimum maintenance at home to preserve the intended style.
Most of my clients let their hair dry naturally, use some product or do a quick blow dry, but do not use round brushes as they can overstretch the hair, make it limp and can also hide flaws in the cut.
A crucial element for a great lasting cut that grows out nicely is the individual client consultation that considers these five factors: The natural direction of hair growth, hair texture, head shape, facial features and the unique personality of my client. The result is that special look, be it modern or classic, that fits the client’s lifestyle and features.
Vidal himself told me that one of the cuts I gave him was in his top 5 of best cuts he had in his life, a big honor to me.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I was lucky I started hair in the 80s when people loved great cuts, and I was able to learn cutting hair from amazing people at Vidal Sassoon, Gerald Battle Welsh, Justin Knopwood, Cyrus Wachs and Tim Hartley, a skill that hopefully will not die out with all the hair extensions, fake hair, blowout bars and barber shops that offer haircuts that last 2 weeks.
Most of my clients see me only every 4-10 weeks. I do have a handful of clients who get it cut every 3 weeks. They just love their precision look and want the luxury to look amazing, but probably could go an extra 2 weeks and still look better than most.
I am also very lucky to have the support of my family and clients!
- I charge 140$ for consultation and cut, men and women same price appointment is around 1 hour
- Address: Katja Fenchel
at Kristoff Ball Salon hidden behind Friar’s Tux Shop
8621 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills 90211
- Phone: 323 304 0955
- Email: email@example.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katja.fenchel