Alexis and David Thurston are not only incredible colourists, salon owners and educators, but also the creative powerhouse behind Pulp Riot, the punkiest colour line in the hair world.
Insanely popular all over the USA and on Instagram, the time has come for the Thurstons to finally launch the brand in the UK. We had a chat with them all about the Pulp Riot journey, education, and why creative colour is so important for young stylists.
Concept Hair: Pulp Riot is described as a ‘gram brand’ – what does this mean?
Alexis: We were founded in the digital era, so it’s part of our DNA. Some older companies may have started on digital earlier but they’re still trying to learn it, when it’s really natural to us.
David: You hear the question ‘how do you utilise social media?’. It’s not something that occurs to us, we were born into it.
Concept Hair: The Instagram feed for Pulp Riot is truly beautiful – where do you get your inspiration?
David: The Pulp Riot Instagram page is not ours, it belongs to the beauty community. We are focused on giving them exposure – a platform to show themselves off. It’s a way for us all to share and shape the industry by creating new trends. It’s interesting how we’ll repost a new look, maybe a new colour. And all of a sudden you see everybody using that colour. Trends didn’t happen that quickly across the globe until social media.
Concept Hair: What are your three top tips for using Instagram to grow your profile and your business?
Alexis: Number one: let people know how to get hold of you. Put your city, your phone number, your salon or school.
David: Number two is to be consistent. Try to come up with content to post daily.
Alexis: Number three: connect! If someone leaves a comment on your page, write back. Go to their page and write a comment, and it just continually builds.
Concept Hair: How do you take such good pictures for Instagram?
David: I use the camera on my phone! I think there’s a shift away from magazine hair – it’s unattainable. People want to feel like they could know that person, or be that person. So don’t spend time with a professional photographer when you could literally take your phone, snap the shot, and move on to something new.
Alexis: This is just a small tip but so often people forget to clean the lens before they take a picture and it will look dirty. Clean the lens, have good lighting and practice. You don’t instantly become good at taking pictures on your phone. Don’t be afraid to move the client’s head and have them do a little awkward pose – that’s how you learn, it’s part of the process.
Concept Hair: What is your favourite ever hair trend and why?
David: I love a good bob! To me, that is the ultimate cut and the perfect canvas for colour.
Concept Hair: Who are the best people that you follow on Instagram?
Alexis: @hairbykaseyoh, she’s one of the most open and authentic hairstylists out there.
David: I love @doug_theo, he’s a triple threat: he cuts, he colours and he styles. A lot of hairstylists just can’t pull off a ‘ten’ in all three categories.
Concept Hair: Who is your ultimate hairdressing inspiration?
Alexis: Mark Parsons. He’s an amazing Canadian up-do stylist. I’ve seen him on stage and it was a really surreal moment when we went in to teach a class and he was leaving the classroom. It was really interesting to have that moment of: ‘wow there’s this person who I love, who is absolutely amazing and has given so much to the community. Now I’m going down that exact same road’. It wasn’t something that I consciously thought about but at that moment it was like ‘oh my god, that person that I wanted to be – I’m in that place now’.
David: My favourite is a British hairstylist called Tracey Hughes. She’s part of the Hair Hall of Fame, but she spent a lot of her career in Australia. We like her so much that we hired her as our director of education, so she’s now part of Pulp Riot. She’s one of the most decorated, awarded hairstylists in the history of our industry.
Concept Hair: What do you think will be the biggest hair trends for 2019/20?
Alexis: Hair trends typically follow the seasons; in spring and summer it’s pastels and lighter colours, then in fall it’s deeper shades.
David: I think it will be whatever Alexis has on her head. We can’t go anywhere without her being stopped by people asking her about her hair, and then chances are they go and get it too.
Alexis: Although today somebody came by and said to David, ‘I love your hair’, and said nothing to me! He was shocked! But really it is a compliment to me because I do his hair.
Concept Hair: What is the best piece of advice that you’ve ever been given?
Alexis: Don’t compromise.
David: Take risks.
Concept Hair: Who is the last person you received a DM or text from?
Alexis: It’s so how funny sometimes, on my page it says VERY clearly that I’m a founder of Pulp Riot and own Butterfly Loft, but we still get people who reach out who have no clue. They say ‘hey, I love your work, we want you to be part of our team’. Do you not know that we just created a product line? It’s just silly sometimes. So I just got a message like that!
David: I’ve got a DM from the Queen. That was just a couple of minutes ago. She invited us for dinner, but we were busy.
Concept Hair: You can invite any three people to dinner – dead or alive. Who do you choose?
Alexis: David Bowie, Prince and Kirk Cobain. All three of them were artists that didn’t compromise, they were trend-setters but they weren’t trying to be trend-setters. I’d love to talk to them about how they managed to stay true to themselves rather than compromise and be what other people wanted them to be.
David: David Bowie would be on my list too. I’d also have Woody Allen and Tony Robbins. Tony would pump me up and get me excited about things, David Bowie is the ultimate artist he had a tonne of integrity. And Woody Allen; when he makes movies I literally feel like he’s making them for me.
A version of this interview appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of Concept Hair.