- Greg May, is a kind, generous, intelligent and dedicated family and business man, who was born and raised on the outskirts of Gravenhurst, Ontario, smack dab in the middle of beautiful farm country in Muskoka. After graduation from Gravenhurst High School, Greg chose Policing for a career and off to Toronto he went to study. He found a way to pay his tuitions via the modeling circuit. Greg’s tastes quickly changed direction, moving away from becoming a police officer into the colourful and exciting world of fashion/modeling. He
entered Sheridan College’s prestigus Image Consult Program and was hand-picked by an agent which led to several years in the modeling society. In 1993, Greg found his passion in hair, becoming a hair apprentice at Vidal Sassoon where he trained and quickly became Junior than Senior Stylist. In 1994, he became Creative Director then in 1996 he became a partner in a new salon entitled, Glo.
In 2003, Greg branched out into his own salon entitled Greg May Hair Architects. Greg combines his two passions in life, the art of architectural hair design and martial arts into his daily routine at the salon. Having studied martial arts since the age of 8, he is now a black belt in karate/kung fu and strongly believes in the balance of calmness and consciousness in society’s stress-driven lives. He approaches each client with an open mind and actually hears what his client wants.He analyzes his client’s bone structure, lifestyle, and personality and then proceeds to create a fresh new cut and perhaps color, utilizing the most up-to-date technique. Greg’s commitment to the world of hair & his clients is one of a kind.
Q: DEB: Greg, do you still believe martial arts plays a huge roll in your hair styling techniques?
A: GREG: To me, there is a very strong correlation between Martial Arts and hair, they are both arts. Things that look easy at the beginning actually are not. You need to practice so much that it becomes instinctive. When you create the shape in the haircut it is done instinctively. When someone attacks you on the street, you don’t think about it. You react instinctively. The same can be said about a musician or any art.
Q: DEB: How did you come to settle on the name Hair Architect?
A: GREG: My Father built houses. He was an Artist as well. When I started at Vidal Sassoon, they based all haircuts on Architecture, Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, form follows function. That was my mantra. to this day, I still consider Vidal Sassoon the foundation to my training. I look at hair as building a shape. To me, it is architecture. Therefore, Greg May Hair Architects.
Greg, you carry with you daily the Vidal Sassoon sensibilities with a unique Japanese hair creating technique with hair tools not often seen in Toronto.
Q: DEB: What would you say is your ultimate hair tool you simply just can’t live without?
A: GREG: Vidal Sassoon I consider my base, my foundation. To me, they are and always will be the Harvard of Hair Training. As I progressed in the hair industry, I sought out different techniques and approaches to hair. I fell in love with how the Japanese and Koreans cut. Their texturizing techniques. Dry cutting as opposed to wet cutting. I became so obsessed with types of scissors that 5 or so years ago, I started my own manufacturing of scissors. So, the tools I can not live without would most definitely be all my Greg May Scissors.
You are a household name in the Toronto hair circles, having appeared in ELLE magazine and perfected hair for Starlets, VIP’s of the Red Carpet, members of the media both at your salon and at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival located within their Stylist Suite.
Q: DEB: Do you still do hair at TIFF?
A: GREG: I have been doing hair for TIFF Since 2007. There have been years where I have not been in a lounge doing hair, (which I really enjoy being part of). During those times, some celebrities may visit me at the Salon or I may visit them at their hotel to help style or cut their hair.
Q: DEB: Can you tell us about a memorable moment you had while doing hair?
A: GREG: I have had so many memorable experiences, it’s hard to think of just one. In 1994/1995 I was asked to go to New York to work at the Saks Fifth Avenue Salon. While I was there, I made a point to go visit all the legendary Hairstylists in New York at the time. It was a great experience, that taught me a great deal. The highlight was getting invited into the John Sahag Workshop. John Sahag was a famous Hairstylist, who sadly passed away. He was a visionary who believed in only dry cutting. (This was a big influence in my hair cutting) He was ahead of his time and spent time sharing his thoughts with me. It was a great time.
As Hair Stylist to the Stars, Greg has worked with celebrities like Pamela Anderson, Gena Lee Nolin, Jill Hennessy, the cast of Degrassi, the original cast of 90210 and Northern gal by birth and by heart, Manitoulin Island Wikwemikong First Nation’s songbird and JUNO Award-winning singer/songwriter Crystal Shawanda.
Q: DEB: Greg, is there anyone that stands out as your favorite from Hairstylist point of view?
A: GREG: Jill Hennessy is someone who stands out a great deal to me. I was completely in awe of her humility. How down to earth she was. Very laid back. I went to her hotel room to cut and style her hair. There were no bodyguards. No one but her and I. She was very nice and treated me so well. She let me cut her hair how I thought would look nice based on her image and face shape. She decided against blow drying it, and just sprayed my GREG May Ocean Spray (Sea Salt Spray) and let her hair air dry. Her hair reflected herlaid-back style.
Q: DEB: Which stars hair would you love to work on and why?
A: GREG: Jennifer Aniston. Because I had a dream about doing her hair. Halle Berry. Because I would love to take her back to a short choppy textured crop. Any of the Victoria Secret Models. Because I love haircuts that are loose and sexy and have movement.
Q: DEB: Give us the scoop, on your signature hair cut you established, entitled, the “Scoop.“
A: GREG: I came up with that haircut when I was working as a Canadian Platform Artist with Paul Mitchell. There is a tool called The Carving Comb, which is basically a razor with a comb on the other end of it. I was thinking of how I could keep the layers shorter throughout the crown, but very long in the rest. I wanted to connect the layers. I found that I could do this with the carving comb (scissors as well) by inverting the layers and cutting a strong concave shape. A scooping motion with the carving comb. Hence, the name, The Scoop. People fell in love with this shape, and I still get many people asking for it.
Check out Greg May in action, perfecting his creation, his signature cut.
You have your own line of styling products.
Q: DEB: Which would you recommend most during the winter, for us older lady brittle, grey or thinning strands?
A: GREG: I have a brand new product coming out at the end of February called Rescue Me Hair And Body Serum. I love this product for so many reasons. It’s very light. You can use it on damp hair to blow dry. It will reduce blow-dry time by 40-50%. It gets rid of frizz and promotes a lot of shine. You can use it on dry hair as well as on your skin.
Q: DEB: What is the toughest part of your career and the best part of your career?
A: GREG: The toughest part of my career, to be honest, has now become something I embrace and has actually helped me throughout my career. Being from a small town. Growing up in the 70’s, and becoming a Hairstylist in the city was hard. I was, am, and always will be a small town guy at heart. I love dirt bikes. Martial Arts, fishing, and all things nature related. Balancing that with being in the city. Yorkville none-the-less, my character was a fish out of the water. Over the years, however, I believe I have made that character trait work for me.
A: GREG: One of the best things about my career? There are so many. I’m not a suit and tie kind of guy, so being able to throw in my motorcycle boots, black jeans, leather jacket, and that is my work attire. I love that. I love designing my own scissors and products. I love sharing them with my Guests. I love making that connection with a Guest, and really getting to know them, and then creating a shape that reflects who they are. Making them feel good. I love that.
Q: DEB: What does it take to be successful your industry? As well, what is your secret to longevity in this biz?
A: GREG: Patience, perseverance, constant learning. You need to genuinely love what you do. Don’t get into this industry for the money. Get into this industry because you have a passion for hair. If you do that, the money will come. If you want to last, make sure you keep the passion fire burning. Keep learning. Never stop creating.
Your son Kaden Jet has an interest in hair and you passed down your 1st pair of scissors from your Vidal Sassoon days to him.
Q: DEB: Would you encourage him to pursue a hair career?
A: GREG: I would love if my Son were to pursue a career in hair. You better believe I would do everything in my power to share every piece of knowledge I could with him. But, I also believe you have to let your children follow their own path. I never push him. I let him be who he wants to be. I will be proud of my children no matter what. The one thing I tell them is to follow their heart. Do something you love. It doesn’t matter what you become as long as you do it the best you can. Out of love and passion.
You are celebrating 25 years in the hair industry with 15 years at Greg May Hair Architects, CONGRATULATIONS!
Q: DEB: What drives Greg to continue to pursue his passion, the world of hair?
A: GREG: I think your answer is in the question. Passion. Passion is what drives me. Do What You Love. Love What You Do. Don’t ever settle on a career. Do something that fuels your fire inside.
Q: DEB: What would you say to aspiring graduates of the world of hair today, whether they are hair models or aspiring stylists?
A: GREG: See answer above. 🙂 For any aspiring Hair Stylist, I would say never give up. If you love it, and you practice and learn, and are ambitious, it is an amazing Career that can take you wherever you want to go with it. Never stop learning. That is important. There is inspiration everywhere.
Q: DEB: What’s next for Greg May? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
A: GREG: That’s a great question. 🙂 In 5 years I see myself in my Salon, still doing hair. I will have added more products to my line, perhaps expand into skincare…..I will have more scissor designs. Possibly see my products in some Salons in my hometown area….. perhaps sharing knowledge with young people who are starting out. As the great John Paul Dejoria (Co-Founder of Paul Mitchell) said: “Success unshared is failure.” Pass it on.
If you truly want to experience a hair color, cut, style of a lifetime, hurry don’t delay book a life-changing appointment today at www.gregmayhair.com
By contributing photojournalist Deb Draper
ALL PHOTOS but 1 listed, were supplied by Greg May Hair Architects.