The Beauty of it All
When it comes to hairdressing, Charles Ifergan is one of the most distinguished and revered names in the area. Across the country, he is known for his unique talent, his superior Chicagoland salons, and his dedication to his craft. Take a closer look at the man with a successful career, however, and you will also find a passionate, multifaceted man who simply loves his job and his life.
When did you first realize that hairdressing was your passion?
My older brother Joss was a hair stylist in a well-known Parisian salon. As an enterprising 13-year-old, I asked if his boss would give me a job on Saturday without pay. I would feed the meters, pick up lunch for clients, walk their dogs while they were having their hair done…and hopefully get tips. As soon as I spent my first Saturday in the salon, I fell in love with the whole experience. I knew this was to become my career.
How did you get into this industry?
In Paris in the ’60s, you could become an apprentice at 16. During the summer of my 16th birthday, I became an apprentice in the same salon where I was helping on Saturdays.
Who are your professional heroes?
Who are your professional heroes?
My brother Joss, who inspired me to become a stylist. Marc Benaim, who taught me how to work very hard and have a lot of fun with your clients. Vidal Sassoon, who made hairdressing an honorable profession.
How did you end up in Chicago?
One of my brother Joss’ best friends and coworkers, Marc Benaim, moved to Chicago in the mid ’60s. He was one of the best and busiest stylists I had ever seen. He was about to open his own salon, and Joss told him to call me. Three months later, I was a 19-year-old stylist in Chicago.
When did you open your salons?
I opened my first salon in Oak Street at the age of 23. Five years later, we opened the Deerfield location with my cousin Pascal Ibgui. And then came Oakbrook and Naperville.
What is one hair trend North Shore women should try this fall?
The “Bab” (not “Bob”). The Bab is a feminine, very short, mini-graduated Bob. It has volume at the crown and the front pieces swing as you move. For hair color, “Ombre” and Fadeaways will still be the rage for fall; the color is applied underneath the hair with hardly any color on the top. The more you move your hair, the more you see it.
Who is the typical Charles Ifergan client?
I would insult our clients if I categorized them. We do not advertise ourselves as fancy expensive salons but as fashion-forward at various price points. We only hire students from beauty school that we train, which gives our salons a blend of young and mature technicians. They, in turn, bring a clientele that is around their age group. So, at 37 years in business, we still rock!
What is one hair product/tool every woman should have?
The flat iron is a woman’s best friend; it straightens, curls, waves, and flips. It gives the option for one haircut to be styled in many different looks.
What are some hair styling “dont’s”?
Don’t over-condition your hair. Don’t blow-dry your hair without any products. Products enhance the fullness of your hair or remove the unwanted curls. Don’t think that styling products are unnecessary; they perfectly finish the look. Don’t get stuck with the same cut or color. Have fun! Life is short.
You’ve been in this profession for nearly your whole life. How do you keep a fresh and inspired outlook?
I am a visual sponge and an avid reader of hair, fashion, architecture, products design, and photography magazines—anything that has a visual element. Hair styling is all “shape and form.”
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I try to enhance a woman’s vision of herself through a great haircut and empower her to feel and look good. It’s an instant gratification. We kiss, and my client and I are happy.
What’s the secret to your success?
My human relationship with my clients. I learned so much by listening for so many years, and I love to give back.
How about your longevity in business?
We train all the techs that come to work for us. We constantly rejuvenate our business. I call it the “Madonna concept.” Every so many years, you have to reinvent yourself.
If you could style any celebrity’s hair, whom would you choose?
Charlize Theron. I could make her look so different for many occasions.
Besides hairdressing, what are you passionate about?
Reading, nature, smart conversation. Sport is important; I run, bicycle, play tennis, ski. I love to cook for my wife and friends. The peacefulness of Buddhism. Living!
If you were not a hair stylist what would you be?
An architect, a history professor, a “shrink,” or a restaurant owner. There are so many professions I would love. I need six more lives!
Who are the most important people in your life?
My wife and four children. I drive my wife crazy, and I love being a father. Family life fills my heart and soul.
What do you love most in people?
Generosity, straightforwardness, compassion, and a good sense of humor.
What do you like least?
Pettiness, close-mindedness, gossip, conceit, and a lack of humor.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I am a student of the Buddhist philosophy. I try very hard to live for today. Most of the time, I live for today and tomorrow morning. So, 10 years from now does not exist.
Charles Ifergan Salon is located at 380 Lake Cook Road in Deerfield and 106 East Oak Street in Chicago, with additional locations in Oakbrook Terrace and Naperville.
For more information, call 847-940-0900 (Deerfield), 312-642-4484 (Oak Street), or visit charlesifergan.com.