Gill Hodgson of Taboo Hair Care
Slow down and look right when turning on West 3rd Street from La Cienega Blvd; right there between Toca Madera and SkinSense you’ll spot Taboo Hair Care. Inside this light, inviting salon you can tell that your hair (and by extension your whole look) will be in good hands. Originally from London, owner Gill Hodgson’s intrinsic sense of cool is the bedrock on which her salon is built. It’s the reason Taboo Hair Care is home to the best and brightest stylists in LA, and why it’s also one of the few shops boasting nearly 30 years in business.
Recently we caught up with Gill, got a peek inside the newly renovated space, and got great advice on how renew your passion for your trade everyday from David Bowie’s #1 fan.
Q:: When did you get started? How did your passion become your profession?
Being from London, I was fortunate enough to live in a city that set the bar for fashion and hair. In the late 70s I was inspired by Vidal Sasoon, Mary Quant, Vivian Westwood, and the punk scene.As a teenager, I was drawn to this world. At age 16, I started an apprenticeship in a top London salon along with attending the top beauty school. I was surrounded by talented, creative, and well trained people who were passionate about hair. I realized that I wanted to be as successful and passionate as them – I had incredible mentors. This is how my passion became my profession.
Q:: I am in awe of people like you who are able to balance creativity and productivity every day. How do you stay inspired?
I hire people that are as passionate about the business as I am. Young people bring new ideas, continuing education is a must for staying connected to the industry. I seek inspiration from popular culture magazines and social media. I peruse Instagram to keep up to date with music, art, and fashion. My clients are also a constant source of inspiration, they are from all walks of life and creative professions and turn me on to current trends.
Q:: As I understand it, you’re also a musician and writer. Is that a new direction for you, or is it something you’ve always done?
I’m not really a musician but I have always had a passion for singing. I thought of pursuing it as a career but hairdressing was all consuming! I didn’t start writing and performing until a few years ago – I had an idea for a one woman show and I was determined to see it through. Being a hairdresser and having a large and supportive clientele insured a captive audience.
Q:: When/where do you get your best ideas?
Ideas mainly come from talking with friends and colleagues. Social media is also a great source for inspiration, but a sleepless night results in the best ideas.
Q:: What was a piece of advice that someone gave you that has really helped you get to where you are today?
One of my former bosses once told me to always surround myself with people more talented that me.
Q:: Who would you say are your biggest creative influences?
My husband, Michael Hodgson, is a very well respected graphic designer. He opened my eyes to the world of art and design. He has an amazing eye for aesthetics, we are always collaborating on ideas and projects – I wouldn’t make a design decision without him. Our seasonal window posters are one of my favorite projects that we work together on! Another inspiration of mine is Paul Smith. He has been a personal friend for many years. Loving his sense of humor along with his sense of style, it is amazing to see how everything he does is an extension of himself. I aspire to be more like that.
Q:: Tell us about your own personal style:
I’m a big fan of color. Being from the fashion capitol of the world, I think it’s very important to be stylish and well put together – especially when it comes to my hair! Short hair suits me so I change my color a lot. I consider style an essential part of my work.
Q:: Current design & fashion obsession?
We have recently remodeled the salon so all my attention has been on interior design, especially bold wallpaper patterns, textiles, and bright colors! My favorite items of clothing that I have recently acquired are a pair of floral pants from Zara and a beautiful pair of orange suede loafers from Paul Smith.
Q:: Care to share some of your favorite bands?
I’ve always considered myself to be the No. 1 Bowie Fan. Having been a teenager in the 70s, I still get a lot of enjoyment listening to retro music. Being a singer myself, I love great vocals. Laura Marling is a great singer/songwriter and I never tire of Amy Winehouse. I also love modern music with a lot of soul. Alabama Shakes are amazing – my family and I just saw them at Bonnaroo. I have 3 daughters, and music is an amazing way for all of us to connect – we love sharing our latest musical discoveries! My husband had a show on KCRW for many years, so we have about 5000 records in our living room to listen to! Music is a very important part of the vibe at Taboo.
Q:: Tell us a bit about the styling team at Taboo:
We are a teaching salon, therefore most of the team are trained at Taboo or have training conducive to our way of working. Everyone has mutual respect for each other and we all inspire each other. We have a mix of experienced hairdressers that have worked at Taboo for years along with newly trained young hairdressers on the cutting edge of the business.
Q:: What would you say sets Taboo Hair Care apart from other salons?
Our staff! Everyone delivers excellent modern hair cutting, coloring, and styling.
Q:: What can clients always expect to get at Taboo Hair Care?
I will defer to our mission statement:
‘Our mission is to use our skills and personalities to give our clients the optimum experience and satisfaction in an environment that is comfortable, friendly and professional. We will continue to seek inspiration and education so that we can better serve and inspire our clients and fellow team members.’
That, and a good cup of tea!
Q:: What about your business continues to surprise you?
I am constantly surprised by how we remain at the top of our game after being in business for almost 30 years. The loyalty of our clients never ceases to amaze me!
Q:: Any new/favorite products we should know about?
Part of our remodel is an expanded retail area. I have spent a lot of time researching products. I love Davines Oi for creating a smooth and shiny finish along with Davines Sea Salt Spray and their Strong Hold Hair Spray for achieving effortless looking hair. Milk by Garrett Markenson is a great leave-in for nourishing hair. We just started carrying a skin care lined called M Steves, which uses Rose Hip Seed Oil as their main ingredient. It creates incredibly glowing skin!
Q:: What’s your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is my clients. Cutting their hair is like having time with a different friend every hour – I have close relationships with such a variation of people – all these different lives becoming part of mine every day is so enriching!
Q:: When did you move to West 3rd Street? How did you find this area? What was the appeal?
I moved into this space in 1986. I was looking for the most upcoming area. New Stone Age was already here and I loved that store, still do! I saw a vacancy across the street after shopping there one day. The appeal was that the stores for the most part were individually owned, you could walk into any store and meet the owner. I visualized that concept growing – which it has – no corporations, yet!
Q:: How would you define West 3rd Street? What does West 3rd Street mean to you?
West 3rd Street is the antithesis of a mall. It is defined by its small business owners and their individuality. It is a walking, eating, and shopping community.
Q:: Favorite place to eat/shop on West 3rd?
A big tradition of mine is to do all of my Christmas shopping on 3rd Street! When shopping for myself, my favorite shop is Noodle Stories – I call it the Museum of Clothing. Caryl Kim has an amazing skill to stock the store with unique and special pieces of clothing – I can always find something that I know I will love and wear for years! I love to browse there for inspiration. Douglas Fir is my favorite place to shop for my husband – owner Jon Noble is an old friend and I love his style, taste, and sense of humor. We eat everywhere on 3rd, deciding what to have for lunch is always difficult but exciting!
Q:: What is your favorite part of West 3rd Street?
Having been part of this community for almost 30 years, I love walking up and down to visit with friends and neighbors.
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Looking for a new hairstyle? Gill and her team share amazingly inspiring before-and-after pics online, so definitely follow Taboo Hair Care on Facebook, @taboohaircare on Instagram and @GillAtTabooHair on Twitter.