Sharon Dorram was raised in Northern N.J.. She graduated high school early to go onto college at Bennington College where she studied fine arts and liberal arts. She then went on to study fabric design at F.I.T. in NYC for two years. During her studies there she schooled at the extremely creative Winchester School of Art in Winchester England. It was there that she pursued her passion for weaving textiles. As life would have it, once Sharon returned to life in the busy city of NYC she came to the understanding that life as an artist was unrealistic. She was in her early 20’s and met a boy who was assisting at Vidal Sassoon. He convinced her that as a weaver she could become a great colorist. Against her parents’ better judgement, she walked herself into hair school and proceeded to obtain a hair license. During that time she supported herself by working 3 jobs: drafting in her father’s architectural firm, waitressing and cutting men’s hair (which she learned from her boyfriend).
Sharon’s first job was at La Coupe under the training of Louis Licari. She studied under Louis’s guidance for two years and went out on her own. During that time Sharon made strategic moves to several salons. Her 1st foray was at a boutique salon on Madison Avenue called Daniel Cohen Salon. She moved and each time she made a move she moved upwards in her career as her clientele snowballed. She worked with some of thee most sought after hairdressers in the industry: Oribe, John Sahag, Gad Cohen, Frederick Fekkai (during the hay day at Bergdorf Goodman),Peter Coppola, John Frieda and finally in 2009 she joined forces with celebrity hairdresser Sally Hershberger to open Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger.
The first celebrity Sharon worked with was Barbara Streisand in the early 90’s. The bar for perfection was elevated after years of working with Barbara. About a year after Sharon was living in her West Village apt. Came home after a busy day of work to listen to a vm on her service which went like this: “ hello, this is Sally Hershberger. You need to do Julia Roberts hair color call this #”….click. At first she thought it was a prank phone call. She phoned the number and it was in fact the production company for a movie Julia was making with Nick Nolte. After that, Sharon and Sally began working together and joined forces to be the exclusive hair stylists/colorists for Meg Ryan, Nicole Kidman, Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise which lasted for several years.
Sharon’s career was on such a trajectory one direction, up! She was written about in every fashion and beauty periodical every month and continued to be included in Allure’s “Best of the Best”issue, the bible of beauty, year after year. While at John Frieda Sharon met the hairdresser David Babaii through her client, the young Kate Hudson. Kate remained a steady client for over a decade. David introduced Sharon to Uma Thurman, and Kate Winslet. Then Renee Zellweger, Kevin Kline, Linda Evangelista, Christie Brinkley, Candice Bergen, Stephanie Seymour, Hillary Swank, Pryanka Chopra, Gretchen Mol all became regular clients to grace Sharon’s chair. Sharon’s signature of natural yet dynamic hair color has always been her calling card. Other notable celebrities and socialites in the fashion world such as Glenda Bailey, Marie Chantal of Greece, Pia Getty, Aerin Lauder,Tory Burch, Gabriela Hearst and the social set of Madison Avenue we’re regulars. Nora Ephron, Jane Rosenthal and other industry giants would be seen on a regular basis.
During her years Sharon has been a spokesperson for Matrix, Nexxus, and John Frieda. Most recently (2018) she has had the opportunity to become spokesperson and Ambassador for the new hair care line which revolutionized hair called Virtue Labs.
She currently sees clients both in her NYC exclusive salon on East 71st St. and in Westport Ct twice a month.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
The idea for SDSH came during a time when NYC was just thrown into an economic downturn 2008, right after Madoff and the collapse of Lehman Bro’s. I had delivered my 2nd child and was straight after pregnancy a friend who knew both Sally and myself, suggested we join forces. I had the clients uptown and Sally had the clients downtown. We were both females at the top of our field. We were complete opposites with big names for ourselves. It was super exciting as we found an exclusive space on the gold strip of East 71st St.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
A typical work day begins at 5:30am. I start each morning with a green drink which I make using Aloe Vera juice, coconut water, Pure Synergy, liquids D3, B12, and an immune booster. I commute about one hour from Ct. to the UES. My work day starts usually at either 7:30 or 8:00am. I work with 3 assistants. We all need to be super charged with energy each day as we will see anywhere from 20-30 or upto 35 clients on super busy days. Once I leave work, I wear a different hat. I enter my home to my two children, husband, daschund and Abyssinian kitty. Some days we go for a family walk or I hit the pool and swim some laps. I love what I do so it never feels like work. I love the clients, they are so loyal and I feel equally loyal in return.
How do you bring ideas to life?
If you can see it and dream it you can actualize it. I know in life when we have a goal we set out to create it takes a focus, a single minded focus, a laser focus so strong that over time it will come true.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I am not driven by trends as much as moods of a season. I don’t believe there is one color for everyone. I create color for each individual, each personality.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am driven to perfection and at times it can be a hindrance. I always have to do my very best work, there are no shortcuts. It is always my signature on each client that leaves my chair and so I must do my best work….always.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Try not to be so critical of oneself and be more secure. There is only one me. There is only one of anyone of us and that uniqueness is what is so attractive. Enjoy the ride more.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
This is a hard one. I suppose I am old school in many ways. I still believe in showing up at work looking my best. So many people put little effort into their appearance and perhaps it’s just generational.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Use great products. Find the very best products and share them with your clients.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I always connect on some level with each client. Try to get to know who each person is, relate to them, who are they beyond just a haircut, a set of highlights. We are here as style makers to share on all levels of life be it health, fitness, beauty, skincare, and most importantly hair care.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge in business is working with envious people. When you’re successful in business and at the top of your career there will always be people envious and trying to take you down. Ride the wave.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
During the quarantine and shut down of my salon I needed to pivot my business. Many salons could not handle the loss of their business during this time. I managed to reach over 200 of my clients and stay connected with them at a time that they needed it the most. It was a very uncertain and precarious time. I organized with the remote help of my manager to ship my formulas to my clients with custom individualized notes. The response was overwhelmingly positive! People continue to order even after we have opened our salon. (It is what saved our salon from closing, as we now learn of others salons nearby closing or going Chapter 11).
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best under $100.00 purchase I recently made has to be my bright pink swimmer’s bathing suit from Sweaty Betty. I get inspired to swim my 100 laps every time I put it on!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
If Instagram is considered a web service it would be my most useful tool. I use it as a research source. It’s easy to go down a rabbit hole but it’s also an amazing source of inspiration.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Untethered Soul. Most of us live in a world consumed with life outside of ourselves. We are consumed with the exterior of our lives when the true journey of life is within ourselves. It will open one’s eyes and mind and change the way we look at ourselves.
What is your favorite quote?
“Hard work pays off” I have lived and worked throughout my career by this quote, and it is true!
- I have followed my little voice throughout my career and life. It has guided me to where I am today.
- Love what you do in life and “work” is not a 4 letter word and if it is to me it would be “play”.
- I always believe there is no mystery to great hair color. I try always to take some personal time, swim, meditate or walk and commune with nature to get quiet and listen.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.