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When Opportunity Knocked, This Colorist Answered

April 30, 2019

As Creative Ambassador for Keune North America, George Alderete is a charismatic educator and platform artist, but he also has a fascinating backstory. Think of backstory as a kind of prequel, like the 1995 film, Captain Marvel, which was actually a backdoor origin story for Nick Fury and Phil Coulson. 

So what exactly is George Alderete’s origin story? Well, long before he established himself as one of the foremost hair color educators in the country, the NAHA winner was making a name for himself as co-owner of Sculpt Salon in West Covina, California. In 1993, his salon was featured on Live in L.A., an infotainment program on KCAL-TV that featured a recurring segment called Beauty Bargains. 

While beauty pros today use social media to raise their profiles, being featured on a major network television show was the fast track to success in the 1990s, and it wasn’t long before Redken came calling. The company had relocated to New York City in 1994, repositioning itself as a trendsetting fashion brand, and when they opened The Redken Exchange in 1996, they asked Alderete if he’d be interested in a position as an Exchange facilitator. 

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Without a moment’s hesitation, Alderete said yes to a long-distance relationship that would change his life. “I stayed on the West Coast initially, working behind the chair at home and facilitating color classes at the Exchange,” says Alderete, who worked for Redken for the next 18 years.

Then opportunity came knocking once again when Frank Gambuzza, who with wife Belinda owns Salon Visage in Knoxville, Tennessee, asked Alderete if he’d like to work for him. Four weeks later Alderete was packing up his things for the move across country. “It was extremely quick. Boom!” he says.

Alderete had never lived anywhere but California, but when he told his partner, Bill, what he was planning, his response was, “If you’re going, I’m going.” By Labor Day, the two were on the road, driving across country with their dogs.

It was at Salon Visage that Alderete was introduced to SureTint, which he calls a game changer. “Frank was one of the first people to learn about SureTint, which was brand-new technology then,” he says. “It was a huge awakening, not just for me but for the entire color department. I still remember the guy who was responsible for our inventory telling me that we were saving $1,000 a day since we weren’t wasting product anymore.”

And while Alderete was very proficient at formulation, even he found that SureTint upped his game in every way. “When you do things old school, you write the formula down, give it someone at the front desk and hope they record it correctly,” he says, “but there are many variables, say, they couldn’t read your handwriting, that mistakes could easily be made. With SureTint, the formula was going right into our booking system so no one could make a mistake.”

Alderete also liked the fact that SureTint told him precisely how much product to use depending on the length and abundance of hair. “Before, I’d use a tube of color on everyone,” he says, “but this was very purposeful, and that played into my service charges, which can add up. There are so many things that can get lost in the system, but this kept me on track, especially since I worked in a departmentalized salon.”

What’s more, since Salon Visage had multiple locations, clients liked the fact that they could have their hair color done at any of the salons in the Knoxville area and get the same results every time. “If one of my clients went to another location, the colorist there didn’t have to check in with me since the whole formula was right there in the system,” he says. “Trust me, our guests loved the fact that their results were consistent no matter where they had their hair done, and that made for some very loyal clients.”

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While Alderete had found his comfort zone at Salon Visage, when Keune offered him a fulltime position, he talked it over with Frank and Belinda, who encouraged him to seize the day, while remembering that the “door’s always open here,” and in 2012, Alderete packed up once again and moved to Atlanta.So if risk-taking is in Alderete’s DNA, he’s grateful. “It’s been an amazing ride,” he says of working for Keune. “I wasn’t really on top of social media when I worked at the salon, but when I saw the direction we were heading in as an industry, I figured out how important social media is to a long-term career these days.”

So if risk-taking is in Alderete’s DNA, he’s grateful. “It’s been an amazing ride,” he says of working for Keune. “I wasn’t really on top of social media when I worked at the salon, but when I saw the direction we were heading in as an industry, I figured out how important social media is to a long-term career these days.”

Indeed. Let’s just say that it’s been a long and winding road from Live in L.A. to Instagram, and he’s enjoyed every minute of it.

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