Bradley Rucka of Red Deer leans back and enjoys the experience as hair stylist Courtney Rancier from the Bower Place Shopping Centre Tommy Guns salon demonstrates straight razor shaving to other stylists from Tommy Guns outlets across Canada Wednesday. Hundreds of Chatters and Tommy Guns hair stylists

Bradley Rucka of Red Deer leans back and enjoys the experience as hair stylist Courtney Rancier from the Bower Place Shopping Centre Tommy Guns salon demonstrates straight razor shaving to other stylists from Tommy Guns outlets across Canada Wednesday. Hundreds of Chatters and Tommy Guns hair stylists

Plenty of style descends for Chatters Challenge

Rarely has there been so much hair-styling talent under one roof.

Rarely has there been so much hair-styling talent under one roof.

Approximately 1,000 stylists, salon managers, salon owners and hair product reps gathered at the Sheraton Red Deer Hotel this week for Chatters Canada Ltd.’s 2013 Stylists Connection and Makeover Challenge.

Red Deer-based Chatters organizes the event annually with Redken 5th Avenue NYC. About 650 stylists from Chatters and Tommy Gun’s Original Barbershop franchises took part this year.

“We seem to grow by about 20 per cent a year,” said Chatters CEO Jason Volk.

With Chatters and Tommy Gun’s employing about 1,500 stylists across Canada, the turnout was impressive.

But attendance at the Red Deer event is considered a “major perk” for Chatters and Tommy Gun’s staff, said Volk.

“A lot of these kids that are hairstylists, they’ve never been on airplanes before.”

At the symposium, they take part in learning sessions and have the chance to rub shoulders with the likes of Redken 5th Avenue’s Sam Villa and Sean Godard.

“These guys are the North American gurus in the beauty business,” said Volk.

Meanwhile, franchisees and managers can participate in business training sessions.

“So there are two things at work here: the management side of the business and the artistic side of the business,” said Volk. “It’s a very interesting dynamic.”

There’s also a high-end fashion show and an awards gala where stylists and franchisees are recognized. Chatters even flew in Montreal-based touring band Alter Ego this year.

“The show is several hundred thousand dollars to put on,” said Volk of the event, which ran from Monday to Wednesday.

Chatters’ Stylists Connection and Makeover Challenge appears likely to grow, with Chatters’ network of salons continuing to expand.

“We’ve opened up, I think, seven new Chatters this year and we’ve opened so far about six Tommy Gun’s — with another five or six actually opening in the next 60 days,” said Volk. “So we’ll be up to 22 Tommy Gun’s nationwide by the end of the year, and then we’ll add 25 Tommy Gun’s next year in 2014.”

There are curently more than 100 Chatters salons across Canada.

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