My friend Steven Dillon grew up in an Italian/Irish Catholic home in Yonkers NY, and started cutting hair in 1993 (coincidentally the same year we met.) His career took off almost immediately. We became fast friends and have stayed in close touch for 20 years.
His first salon job was at Peter Coppola in New York City, and his first editorial was with Walter Chin for German Vogue, working as an assistant to Ron Van Dorssen. His first celebrity client was Yoko Ono, who became one of his regulars.
After taking a brief hiatus from the business to explore spirituality he is back at work cutting and styling in his private studio space in Midtown Manhattan. I caught up with him this week to talk about his career, and the charity he founded ‘Cuts for a Cause’ which benefits the children of Malawi and others children’s aid organizations.
How and where did you start your career?
Well, my career started accidentally. I was working at a nightclub on the lower East side of New York City doing the door-girl’s hair. Everyone loved my work so so I decided to make a go of it professionally. I started assisting a well known Hair and Make up artist on photo shoots as well as working during the day at Peter Coppola Salon on Madison Avenue. I became very busy very quickly, then one day soon thereafter, I received a phone call from Vogue saying that they had seen some of my work, and they wanted to do a story on me.
A few years ago you took a hiatus from the business. Was it easy getting back to work?
I really feel so grateful that I was able to take time to learn more about myself as a person. I traveled and ultimately went deeper on a spiritual level. At one point I was doing 20 haircuts a day with no break in sight. There was simply no balance, and I was exhausted. Now that I’m back it feels effortless. I’ve been able to achieve a balance between my craft and my personal well being.
We have been good friends for 20 yrs or so now. In recent years you have become quite spiritual. Can you tell about it?
There’s always been a higher power element to my life. In 2003 I decided to attend a lecture at the Kabbalah Center because I wanted to learn more about myself and the teachings. For me the tools I’ve learned have been invaluable to my spiritual, emotional and physical well being. Through a collaboration with the center my ‘Cuts for a Cause’ was born, and I discovered helping a child in need with my craft is the biggest gift of all.
Can you tell me about ‘Cuts for a Cause’?
I founded “Cuts for a Cause” in 2003 because I have always been involved with helping kids which started in the late 90’s with Save the Children. I thought it would be really cool if I could use my craft of hairstyling, actually more hair cutting, to raise money for children in need, or families in need of financial help. So I approached a few clients that are philanthropists and asked them to help. That’s how it started.
The first fundraiser I did was for the Success for Kids program at the Kabbalah center, and then continued through the years with WIN (Women in need), the Ashraya initiative which helps orphaned street children in India, and Raising Malawi. It’s very rewarding and brings me much joy, happiness and peace.
And so how do you actually raise money?
We organize a group of people to have their haircut either at a salon or a private space, and 100% of the money goes to the charity that we are working with. We have a Facebook page which makes it alot easier to advertise and raise money. We also use Razoo as a way for people to donate who aren’t actually have their haircut.
“Steven is a wonderful friend, and a professional – which in my business is very important. Confidentiality and loyalty are necessities but are very rare, and Steven has these qualities and more. Top it off with a genius ability to cut and style hair and you have a rare gem, indeed.”
Tell me about some of the famous people you have worked with?
Well let’s just say I’ve been very fortunate to work with some of the most talented, beautiful, kind and powerful people in the world. There have been so so many, but a few names that stick in my mind are Diane Von Furstenberg, Ben Stiller, Matt Dillon, Natalia Vodianova, Liam Nesson, Stella McCartney, Elle Mc Pherson, and Carol Alt, to name a few.
My favorite editorials have been working with Vogue, from American to Brazilian to Russian. I’d also have to include editorials I have done with Allure magazine, and campaigns for Diane Von Fustenberg.
Whats next for Steven Dillon, will I one day be shampooing and conditioning with STEVEN DILLON products..LOL?
Ha Ha! Well I try to take it one day at a time, but what I’m willing to say is that I’ve been collaborating with a few multi-media artists. We’ve been having a lot of creative fun! I will leave it at that for now.
(You can also ‘like’ Cuts for a Cause on Facebook)
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Written by Anthony Costa