Where did you meet your partner, Michael?
We met at the afterparty for the 2009 MTV Awards in Berlin, which was hosted by U2 in an historic Tempelhof airplane hangar. We spotted each other across the crowd and a few minutes later, Michael came over and introduced himself. We had such an incredible conversation and connection, it was like tunnel vision. We were surrounded by thousands of people, but it felt like it was just him and I.
You and Michael are partners in life and work — what is it like working with your partner?
It’s fun having someone to share your thoughts and ideas and victories and challenges with, and I know he feels the same way. There are stressful moments, for sure, but we problem-solve together and have come out feeling stronger, smarter and closer every time. It helps that we’re both creative and have complementary skills. Michael has a ton of experience in luxury hospitality, retail and marketing. I have so much respect for his talents and work ethic. He’s currently designing accessories, using all vegan and recycled materials to enhance our brand experience. He’s always two steps ahead, which is a gift to me and to our company. And I love the amazing packaging he creates for the formulas I invent.
How has being gay affected you professionally?
I didn’t want to live a closeted life. It took a lot of soul searching and courage to come out to my family and my oldest friends, but I could no longer bear to be my own worst enemy. Living in the closet was a negative drain on my energy, not to mention the fear factor involved. It felt wonderful to be open, free and authentically me.
I knew that a creative path would bring me the most joy and fulfillment, and I felt at the time that the beauty business would be a more inclusive industry for someone like me. It was the path of least resistance with the biggest potential for rewards. And being a gay man was an asset in many ways. Women trusted me and confided in me, and that motivated me to work extra hard to lift them up and to empower them by making them feel beautiful.( I don’t think I would have the career I have now if I’d been like Warren Beauty in Shampoo.) Making people feel great and finding solutions for their hair and scalp issues is a thrill. I get a lot of satisfaction from enhancing my clients' natural beauty and from giving them a vision of themselves that they couldn’t achieve on their own.
I’m truly thankful that my path in life has introduced me to incredibly wonderful, talented people and friends who’ve helped me achieve global success. My goal was to and to create the greatest brand in the haircare world, so that even if you didn’t embrace me as a gay man, you couldn’t help but love what I created!
How do you celebrate pride and what does it mean to you?
I think, in moments of self-reflection, that you have to be thankful for everything you have. I’m thankful that I can love who I want to love, and be with the man I want to be with. I’m thankful that I was able to build my life with him. We have two gorgeous dogs and a lovely home. There’s a lot to appreciate. We took our dogs to the local West Hollywood pride parade, visited friends, and just helped spread the joyful message of happiness and love.
Michael and I are very proud to have the opportunity to authentically present ourselves, inspire others within the community and beyond, and show people that you can have a wonderful, loving relationship and positive lifestyle. What pride means to me is being a positive role model and helping eradicate the misunderstandings and prejudices that occur when people aren't taught awareness.
Do you have any advice for people that want to start their own company, specifically for those in the LGBT community?
1) Follow your dreams and passions. You really need to soul-search, figure out what ignites your soul, and be courageous enough to run with it. That’s the key to success in this world. Passion is contagious, and you should also think about how you can make world a better place. What’s the legacy you want to leave behind?
2) Create something original! Even if other companies copy your idea, you’ll still be known as the person who conceptualized and spearheaded it and got it out there.
3) Build a team meticulously and strategically. Whenever you fill a role, whether it’s marketing or sales, make sure the candidate has relevant experience and passion. Lead by example and encourage everyone to work toward a common goal.
For someone who isn't out yet, what advice would you give them in order for them to be their authentic self?
1) Gay people don’t always have it easy. My father was super hetero and not interested in having a gay son. My mom was far more accepting, She always said, “Don’t look to other people for validation. Recognize your achievements and be your own hero in this life. Be smart and love yourself.” She was a wonderful influence when I was growing up, and helped me break through barriers to become who I am today. It wasn’t easy, and in fact, most things that are worth it take great effort. Find the positivity in that. Remember that trust and happiness start in the home — and your home is in your heart and soul.
2) People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Not everyone is going to be open and accepting, and when you experience that kind of rejection, it’s awful. But those experiences teach you what you will and won’t accept in friendship, love and relationships.
3) It might pay to give your friends and family a chance to know and support your authentic self. They might surprise you, in a good way.
4) Surround yourself with friends who will accept the real you. Love really has no boundaries. It should be unconditional and with many people, it is.
5) If your friends won’t let you be your authentic self, you’re hanging with the wrong crowd. Make new friends. Once you get out of that fear zone and set yourself free, you’ll encounter the good, the bad, the ugly and the wonderful. You might have to break some barriers, but the rewards can be incredible.
Forgot to add:
My fave product is Mega Curl Enhancer!
It works so well!
Thank you for the pictures! You two make a beautiful couple. I absolutely love your hair care.
Hi Philip, beautiful testimonial of your life and feelings !( your distributer in Portigal )