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January 2010 Issue | Cover story - Ella Peru | Jewellery - Lemon Park | Designer Update - Jason Matlo | Student - Mickelli Orbe |
| New Face - Mark | Fashion History - Virginia Leeming | Fashion Pro - Jon Paul Holt | Retail - Planet Claire | Events | Fashion Schools Overview |

I Haven't Done Anything Yet
by Marilyn R. Wilson

Jon Paul Holt
How do you measure success? By all standards Jon Paul Holt has achieved it. His credits include salon owner, mentor, product developer, hair show producer, three time North American Awards winner, charity fundraiser and father of three "amazing" children. Yet Holt is still passionate about his work. His personal philosophy of life is overwhelmingly "I haven't done anything yet!"

Holt was born in Britain where he attended a residential all-boy's school. On a visit home for the holidays his mother (a model) invited him to hang out at a fashion show. "When I went back stage at 16 and suddenly saw all these gorgeous girls walking around-it was fabulous." A spark was ignited and Holt decided to pursue hairdressing. That summer he worked at a hair salon for two schillings a week (about 50 cents Canadian) and at the end informed his dad he would be not be returning to school. A corporate man, his father only had one thing to say: "If that's what you really want to do just make sure you're good at it. Be the best." By the age of 19 he finished his apprenticeship and opened his first salon; he eventually went on to co-own a chain of salons across England called "Alan Paul." 30 years ago he walked away to start anew in Vancouver and opened Avant Garde in Yaletown. This thriving salon boasts ten of its original employees and Holt can be found there five days a week, seeing ten clients a day and still loving every minute of it.

40 years in the business have provided Holt with many opportunities. He produced hair shows in the United States and Canada where his trademark was to invite the top six local salons onstage for the finale. They competed with each other (and with Holt) to create the most amazing work. Designing avant garde hair styles for charity events and publication-like the ones he created for "Bald is Beautiful," a series that pays tribute to women undergoing chemotherapy-also keeps him challenged. When asked about his top career moments, Holt cites participating in London's Alternative Hair Show at the Albert Hall as a part of the Canadian team, not as an ex-Brit: "You have to present six models in only six minutes and are competing with the biggest teams in the world. Can you imagine the pressure when the person before you is Vidal Sassoon and the person after is Toni & Guy?"

When mentoring students and stylists he has several lessons to share. First, love what you do and think outside the box ("Stand on a chair and you'll see the world differently"). Second, if you are going to produce a show write every single thing down: "The job of a show producer is to be so detailed that nothing can go wrong. Don't take anything for granted." Lastly, he reminds them to focus on good staff because "it's all about your staff."

The next year promises to be busy as Holt will be launching a new concept in the spring called "WOW." It includes the development of his own cosmetics and skincare lines, a full line of hair products and a studio that combines high end makeup application with blow-dry and hairstyling. Energy and passion mark all aspects of his life and this new venture promises to be no exception.

For more information on Jon Paul Holt or Avant Garde go to

Images displaying the works of Jon Paul Holt
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