Redefining & Tapping Into Creativity with Amber Pope

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If you’ve ever wondered, “Am I creative?” or “When is it good enough?” listen to this episode. My friend and rockstar salon owner, Amber Pope (@method_twenty_seven), and I dive deep into what it means to be creative, how perfectionism gets in the way of creative expression, and how to lead with creative awareness.

We also talk about what creativity is, what happens when we absorb too much outside influence, and the breath-restoring difference between perfectionism and excellence.


Amber Pope is a Stylist, owner of Salon27, educator, creative director, and content writer, with over 15 years in the hair industry. She’s also the only person I’ve trusted to cut my hair for the past decade.

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Alyssa Patmos 0:04
This is Make It Mentionable. I’m Alyssa Patmos and this is the show about being human in a world that encourages us to be robots. I invite you to join me as we journey through the mess, the magic and the mania in between. Because what we can talk about, we can manage. This honest conversation extravaganza includes free flowing conversations and high doses of vulnerability to remind you that you aren’t alone. No topic is off limits, and episodes are designed to leave you smarter, aka more self aware than when you came. I am so glad you’re here.

Hello, hello. Welcome back to Make It Mentionable. I am here with Amber Pope, a very dear friend of mine. Amber, I can never remember how long have we have we known each other? Do you know off the top of your head?

Amber Pope 1:07
Yes, but let me backtrack. Hi! So glad to see you, and talk to you – this is amazing. So our friendship began. I want to say let me think here probably 2010 I’m pretty sure.

Alyssa Patmos 1:28
That sounds right. I – so it’s been over a decade now. It’s incredible. That’s awesome. So for everyone listening, um, Amber is the hair extraordinaire, and so many other things. But when I first met her, I was a hair model for her and then she now she can’t get rid of me. So I fly to go get my haircut which is semi ridiculous, but totally 100% worth it.

Amber Pope 1:56
I will never want to willingly get rid of you. I love you dearly. I love having you in my chair. We’ve been together working on hair and life and friendship and all of this for so many years. It’s so it’s so much more about hair although I love your hair you have the best hair I mean seriously.

Alyssa Patmos 2:20
Yeah, so our conversations are normally me in the chair you behind it. So I love that other people get to hear it now because you know that that’s like the more like Hush Hush. But now people get to hear it, which is great.

Amber Pope 2:32
It’s so awesome. It’s so awesome. I know it’s such a kind of like a private like relationship isn’t it like being behind the chair. It’s a bubble. It’s sort of like, I don’t know this little like microcosm of like, personal sharing that’s happening in this moment where you’re like, tangibly like tactile with somebody on their person. Talking about these like deep and sometimes it’s intense in a good way sometimes intense in a bad way. There’s a lot of interesting conversation that happens in that teeny tiny little space that literally is like a two by two square, right? So many things happen. And now you’re right, this is so fun to be able to take that conversation in a more public way and kind of open you know the doors so people can hear some of the crazy things that we talked about. Maybe get some good ideas from it.

Alyssa Patmos 3:27
Yes, so we’re talking largely about vision today and and dreaming big. And one of the I feel like one of the first times I experienced your visionary capabilities was when we did the hair shoot, which was so fun. I think I might have to share one of the pictures from there if –

Amber Pope 3:49
Yes, I have them all still. Yes.

Alyssa Patmos 3:52
Okay. So So talk to us a little bit about just your I want to open with your philosophy on how you approach your industry to begin with because I think that really cements into some of the conversation on vision and leadership and dreaming big.

Amber Pope 4:12
Oh my gosh, how much time do we have?

Um, you know, I’ve been in my industry for over 15 years. And hair did not I did not find it found me. And so I had this like early on thought process about the hair business in general just completely wrong. And I’m always really upfront about saying like, How foolish and short sighted I was in terms of what I truly thought art could and should be. That I never thought about hair as a medium and tell it was shown to me and I really never been the same sense. And so early on in like my, you know, high school years and right out of high school before I found hair, I really did have this sort of like negative thought of like, well, that’s just what you do when you don’t want to do anything else like, which is again, like how stupid that is, it’s so dumb because the hair business has so much power of creation of art of technique of foundational, like chemistry, and geometry, and all these really in depth, like skill sets that it takes to be really profoundly good at what you do behind the chair, and how people who care and want to join you, you know, for that journey, and so willingly give up give themselves. So on the day to day, I just thought, well, you just cut hair and you go home, right? Like that’s what you do. No, it’s not that there’s so much more than that. And so for me to find that it kind of slapped me across the face with my first mentor, watching him cut the first bob I had ever seen done with a straight razor, mind you. And I was just like, this is the most incredible thing. And my eyes were never allowed to see anything different than that. And it was one of those things that like, that lesson will always play in my mind with you need to have an open mindset to put yourself into maybe a different set of thinking than what you were was originally given to you. And so it was never anything that was like important in the household that I grew up. But that hair was just like what you just like walk in somewhere you sit down, they cut your hair, you leave. And so now at this point in my career, thinking about how it gives so much more like I said, you know, to the person, but to have it as a voice of telling a story of art. And in capturing that with a photo, whether that be for just your own, we take photos, and we put them up in our own salon walls, we put them up on social media, it is our voice. And we use that medium to tell a story whether that’s something that happened to me long ago when I want to like share it and translate it into a look out of hair, or is it something that’s like currently happening? You know, and it’s like a social statement that needs to happen right now. And so we definitely do the day to day behind the chair and we make it count and we make it important to every guest that does as collectively my say we the salon that I own, that we do that for our team. The team does that for our guests. But it’s those moments when we get to step back and say, Hmm, you know what, I bet I could I bet I could do that with hair, I bet I could tell that story. With four photographs. I bet I could do it. And so taking it to a bigger idea, bigger place, pushing the envelope and making hair do something that it shouldn’t do, and do it and get it successfully like on film is incredible. So.

Alyssa Patmos 8:25
There are so many things that just came out of that, that planning and I’m so excited. So first, my first question based off of that, like let’s explain, we will post links and things too but what has been one of your favorite shoots that you’ve done where you’ve done something where you have really taken hair and turned it into art whether that’s combined with photography or just you know on a walkway like what what’s the favorite shoot that you’ve done or or give us an example?

Amber Pope 9:01
Yeah, so um I will say and I wholly – This is not because I wholeheartedly – This is not because I’m on your show, but that first one that you and I did was big for me because it was the first time where I wanted to try stepping into that. That arena like I hadn’t done it but I’d done it for other companies and for other people. I done some magazine work but again you’re you’re being hired as like a stylist to do somebody else’s vision. So that first one that you and I did. It was literally like I’m pretty sure I think I can do this. But I’m literally gonna throw this at the wall and see what sticks and I was nervous because I had you and a few other friends that I didn’t really know like people who I know really well but then a couple people that I didn’t know that well and then you’re asking people to show up at a certain time give you free creative rein to dedicate a huge part of their day to be on this fun adventure with you. And so because that was the first one and I always say like doing big shoots like that in a creative space and having others with you, it’s like herding cats. You know, it’s, it’s a lot of like moving parts and you’re responsible for everyone’s, you know, how they feel about the experience of it, too. So there’s a lot of pressure there. And that was the first one that I was like, Oh my gosh, we set it like we put the day on the calendar, we showed up, we did the hair, we made it work. And then a post production, I got to see all this art come to life, and like looking at it and getting the goosebumps of like, ah, we actually did this, like we did this That was so fun. And you got to be on that journey with me, I don’t know, I’m giving you full like, full disclosure, I was pooping my pants the entire time. Like for real?

Alyssa Patmos 11:01
Well, I think so much of what you just said with hair as being art is really is really important for a few dimensions in conjunction with that shoot too, because, because, you know, the person sitting in the chair who goes hair is such a form of self expression. So and that’s what we’re talking about most of the time with hair is is okay, I it’s about the person in the chair being able to express themselves. And we don’t focus as much as the person on the person behind the chair who is able to use that as their voice to. And so this concept of being able to find art and creativity in anything that you’re passionate about. I think that message is beautiful. So for you you saying, you know, I I didn’t think of her as art. But then I mean, you found the scissors, and then the world is different. And I feel like so many people limit their creativity because they think creativity has to be a acrylics on canvas or needs to be watercolors. I remember having a conversation with my dad one time and he was saying, I don’t really feel that creative. And I asked him what he was grilling for dinner that night. And he was grilling like pork tenderloin, and then pineapple and then making this delicious, like grilled pineapple ice cream dessert. And I was like that’s creativity. Wow. And so what do you find? Because Because, you know, the hair industry. I don’t know the stats on on the demographics of who makes up the hair industry. But I know a lot of younger women come into it and one of the things we know is that it can be hard to find and have your voice so how how has that process been for you knowing that it gave you such a creative voice? How have you baked that into allow it to be that for for other people who are a part of the salon as well?

Amber Pope 13:07
Yeah, I mean, I had to have those successes and those successful moments to be like I put myself out there. I tried I had an idea I tried I felt success on the other side of it, like I needed to kind of experience what how good that felt for me to then be able to be like now at this space and time for me and I’ve done a lot of stuff behind like behind the chair and behind the lens and all of that to create looks but but now as fully functioning as a creative director, like my job is to like find the theme, find the vision, help to cultivate all of that creativity within the team that’s going to then do the look and how I can support their successes within just let individual look now mind you, that can be applied to as well just genuinely everyday behind the chair as well work. I’m constantly trying to give that voice that confidence. And that guidance, you know, to to every part of my team, but you’re right. I mean, there’s a lot of fear that comes from a young stylist going I don’t know if I can do it. I don’t know if I can do it. And my job right now, my job is to prove to them that they can and how to successfully get there. And in the wildest ideas, I mean like let’s find the craziest thing that we think we can do and like have the success of making it happen. And so, empowerment of that leadership is you know, the I am the leader, but I want to empower and inspire And guide and that has been the best thing of where I’ve been in my career at this point is to have that role. And you know, I think, you know, you’d asked me to what was the most like, I don’t know, either, like favorite like I do think that shoot that you and I did like a really kicked off and prove to me that I could do it. But I think my favorite moment of having that success of like, this is so fantastical. I don’t like, does anybody else think about it? Yeah, I think everybody does it, people think about these creative ideas, but I’m going to do it, I’m going to set out and I’m going to do it. And at one day I was sitting on the couch I’m planning on you know, you know this story, but I’m going to share it anyway. But I was sitting on the couch and it was right when you know the new three part, you know, installment of Star Wars was coming out. So Star Wars Episode Seven was coming out, I was super excited about it. And I’m such a Star Wars nerd. And I was like, This is gonna be incredible to just view it. And I’m just like, sunk back in the cache. Like, I wonder, I wonder if I could make Darth Vader’s helmet out of hair, I’m pretty sure I could. Pretty sure it could. And that kicked off the Star Wars collection that we ended up you know, kind of evoking the idea of Star Wars characters out of hair in it, and it worked. And when we had the success of that shoot collectively as a team, that was the one that set it off for salon 27 to be able to say, like, we can come up with these really amazing creative ideas, bring in others too, just to get it to give it legs to let it breathe its own thing, get it captured on film. And then collectively, as a team as a unit of predominantly guess women, we get to have all seniority behind the chair, you know, all different strengths behind the chair, but to come together collectively and support each other creatively. That collection did it for us. And we have still been like staying the course with it all these all these years later. So some years ago, stronger than others.

Alyssa Patmos 17:30
Those shots were so so so so amazing. I think one of my favorites that he did was also the twist on the Disney Princesses because that was epic. And, and so with these visions, like I want to get to the visioning process for you at some point. But I also want to rewind a tad because creativity is so creativity is is magical. And so many times people especially in corporations, you know, a lot of times they view creativity as a liability rather than an asset. Like creativity can be scary sometimes because that’s when you’re pushing the envelope and you’re changing and you’re changing the norm. So I’m curious, like what does creativity mean to you?

Amber Pope 18:24
Oh my gosh, creativity like it burns inside of me like it is it bubbles up and it is just this nagging festering little like whisper in my ear that unless I can actually physically get it out it will never go away. So I constantly have all these like, sort of ideas that are like running in the back of my head like like the operating system is never shut off. And it’s just like, open windows. Like you should see my like actually you should see my Safari on my phone like it is like page after page after page open of just like ideas. And that there’s something really cathartic about getting it out when you can like either like metaphorically or actually I can like close like I can exit out and like well that was done. That was good. We got it out finally. But creativity for me. It has it just as a half to it. I don’t I wish I could say like, why it is and maybe because I was raised in a creative household early on maybe. But it’s such a joy. And so creativity for me is like what is the most ridiculous thing that I could figure out a way to do and finding a way to do it and it’s Yeah, it’s it’s just something to celebrate and to be excited about. But again, in full disclosure, I, as many people are, and I know that this is this data is nothing special by any means. But like, I will forever be my worst critic, my hardest hardest, hardest thing to do is to not make it and smash it, like I make it. And sometimes like I have that moment where I let myself like, Oh, I have the goosebumps and everything. But then on the back end, I’m immediate into like, I want to light it on fire, and I want it to go away. And it’s taken a lot of time to like, let creativity just be a moment in time. Rather than having to like change, fix, edit, alter, and giving it the space that it needs to have. So that I can just get that’s a that’s a one step to the next creative journey.

Alyssa Patmos 20:51
Okay, ooh, that’s so good. So create so so creativity to me is is almost survival, like we only survive because of our creativity. And so I think it is a life force for every single one of us. It’s just a matter of finding the vehicle where you can channel your creativity. And I think that so much of the work of uncovering your authentic self is is the piece of that where it’s like, where does Where do I really want to let my voice out? How do I really want to use it. And I so resonate with you talking about being a moment in time, I think that’s really profound creativity being this moment in time, rather than just the end product, I think that’s what stops a lot of people from, from engaging their creativity in the first place is because they think it has to be this beautiful masterpiece at the end, instead of it being the creative process. And the creative process is where all the fun is. Yes, so much fun. And one other thing you said like about the output and getting it out, like oh, my goodness, so many of us. I talked about the – we’re like saturated sponges.

Amber Pope 22:10
You’re right, I do think it is like saturated sponges. And And to your point just to kind of finish what you were just just saying is that you kind of have to wring out that sponge a little bit. I tell my like, I tell my new my new team members all the time. I’m like, get ready, because my first mentor told me you wring out that sponge. And you let it all come in. And I think that we have to do that. You’re right.

Alyssa Patmos 22:37
Yes, yes. It’s the wringing out of the sponge. Like we’ve taken so much information and so much input every single day, like whether it’s social media, whether it’s our Google searches, whether it’s the book, we’re reading the conversations we’re having, and if we don’t bring that out, if we don’t then transmute that into something else, then where does that energy go? It just like swirls in us. And then we get anxious, especially as creative people like I think there’s really this thing called trapped creativity. Where if a creative person, someone who feels that burning desire isn’t expressing it, then it can manifest in all of these other weird things in our lives, and can make us anxious, sometimes it can make us depressed, it can make us like, have an existential crisis. Because it needs to come out that creativity needs like it needs to be birthed out of us. So for your creative process, if we’re thinking of creativity, as you know, this moment or this moment by moment sequence, how does your creative process kickoff?

Amber Pope 23:51
Usually, I equate it to a lightning strike. So like literally like physically I feel like happens in my brain is again, I’m super interested in so many different things. So I’ll always have these like again, these like background ideas kind of running. And then sometimes it’ll happen in two ways. It’ll either be that I had this thought process. That was like, one day I kind of want to do something that’s based off of yada yada yada, whatever that is. And then I’ll stumble upon a look. That reminds me. That’s how you do it. That’s how you do it. So either I had the idea and then eventually in time I figure out how to put the ingredients to it. Or much like Darth Vader’s helmet To be fair, it was like a lightning strike. It hit me like nothing like I wasn’t even thinking like oh, I shouldn’t make you know Star Wars hair. I mean like, that’s crazy, you know, but um and not all of my stuff is Disney themed mind you But, but sometimes it’s just this moment where you’re like, holy cow, I can see it clearly. And that’s when I feel like it’s the lightning strike, that it just hits me where I see the shot, I know how to get there, I know exactly what has to happen. And it’s clear as clear can be in those moments. That is where I get a little less flexible, on how the end should be and how to get there, it is a clear path, get on this train, we’re doing it. And then the other way if it’s sort of like this general idea, and we kind of find the ways to make the soup happen. Um, those ones I have a little bit more like, yeah, laxa days go like let’s just organically see if it comes together. So I don’t know if it’s my Gemini personality, I’m not sure. But it’s definitely one of two ways and you just don’t know what Amber you’re gonna get until we know how the idea came to be. It’s kind of like a little bit more flexible with it. Or I’m going to be like a hell bent on getting this idea out the way that it has to get out. And typically, I will say if I have such a vision where I am on that road and like come on, buckle up, you’re on with me. Um, most of those those are kind of like the one off like creative moments that I’ll just kind of do solo versus like having you know, so many team members that I’m like, driving them nuts. And like that’s not right. That’s not right, yet, that’s not right. You know, again, supportive and everyone’s in joyful with it. But you know, I still have to get it out a certain way. So it’s, it’s truly it’s one of the two I would say.

Alyssa Patmos 26:53
And so when you’re, when you’re, you’re well, first, like, you’re one of the people I know who like gets the shit done that you want to do, like you, you actually get it done, which is great. So it’s not just like wringing out the sponge. It’s like, Okay, now we’re transforming this water into something like we’re, we’re using the inputs, and putting it together. So so we have the creative vision side, but then there’s also visioning when it comes to just, you know, what you wanted for your life and for your business. And so you’ve gotten from this place where you didn’t know hair was even in your future at all. And now it’s, it’s a large part of your life. And to say the least, and you you run the business with your husband, you have an entire team of people, your kids have some of the coolest hair for young boys that I’ve ever seen. So how does the visioning process work then from a leadership perspective? And from the business side of it? Does it match your creative process? Or what what happens for you there?

Amber Pope 28:07
Yeah, you know, I think that getting cues is the biggest thing with ownership for the business itself. I think it’s just constantly checking the temperature of everything, checking the temperature of our clients, of their needs of our team and their needs. Between Chet and I, too, I mean, sometimes, you know, one of us is like, you know, I feel like there’s some thing that we need to get a little creative spin on, maybe it comes from one of us or the other in that direction. But I do think as far as the creativity of making a business be a lasting thing, and it takes energy, right, it takes an insane amount of energy. I never thought that it would take as much energy as it does. But I’m also like, so overjoyed, because it does fulfill that like, yes, creative side of me, but also very operational side of me. Um, but it takes the energy to do it. And the ideas come from constantly being an observer to every aspect that my business, you know, has, again, whether that be the individual, whether it be like, hey, like our front desk isn’t as organized as it possibly could. And that’s like a functional thing. So let’s get a new desk, you know, like that sort of thing. So I think, you know, being mindful, and the ideas and the direction come from observant mindfulness, um,

Alyssa Patmos 29:53
That’s so powerful, you know, for life in general because when we when something happens, and When we get triggered, it’s usually from something from our past. And we might not see how that is in the moment. And so if we can be the observer and look down at it, it’s like, Okay, wait, no, this isn’t, I don’t need to melt into a puddle right now, I just need to remember that this is reminding me of my father. How can I spin this around, so I love baking that into your leadership philosophy, as well, and how how you run, run the business. What happens on the days, when you don’t feel creative? Because that’s another huge thing for people who, who, you know, identify as, as creative forces in the world, like, what happens on the days when, like, it’s just harder to get in touch with it?

Amber Pope 30:52
It is painful on those days, right? Like, when you wake up, and you’re like, it’s not today, like, no, it’s gonna be like, it’s gonna be a phone-it-in sort of day. And we all know what that feels like. And it’s by, you know, various, you know, environmental causes, or internal causes can be that. Um, but on those days, the energy has to be found still, right? Like, it’s kind of, like, the promise that I have as a leader, is the same promise that I have at to my children and to my husband, and even to myself is that no matter what, if the creativity to get the task done, or the energy to do it, as well just isn’t there, I have to care more about those around me. And that then gives me that strength to be able to do it for them and be like, Okay, you know what, today might not be the day that I’m feeling less creative, but I’m going to put this like crazy hat on and it’s going to make me feel a little bit better. And I’m going to go to work, I’m going to feel the energy of the team that I’m there to lead. And I’m going to geek out on them being creative, and being again that like, mindful observer of my surroundings and be like, you know what, though, like, I might not feel like I’ve got it today. And I do not have it together today. But they’re doing it. Because we created I’ve created a home that is that I’ve created a business that is that I’ve created a space for my friends that are that. And on those days that it’s really hard for me. That’s the only way that I can get through it and find that energy is that I look at those around me and I’m like, but but I can because I care so much for them.

Alyssa Patmos 32:55
Yeah, I love that. And it’s, it’s I talk a lot about sacred boundaries and sexy systems. So we have to set the boundaries to protect our own energy and protect our creative energy over the over the long haul. But on the days when those have been violated or on the days when it’s just not there. That’s what the sexy systems are for. Because the system, you design when you’re in a good spot so that in the days when you’re not in such a great spot, it runs the ship for you.

Amber Pope 33:29
I think the most brilliant thing I’ve ever heard like you just sexy systems. My answer to that because that was amazing. I couldn’t agree more. It’s perfect.

Alyssa Patmos 33:44
And it’s and we’re so averse to systems sometimes. But but especially for creative driven people it is it is so so so important because we are so emotionally tied to our creativity. And so that brings me to something else that I that I know you have a lot of input on and y’all Amber has some of the craziest stories just from the music scene, and and she you’re you’re like the definition of an explorer. And and you had I love it. So So here’s my question, I’m going to get back to the point. So, a lot of times, you know, there’s the there’s the phrase of the struggling artist, and and there’s this perception that you have to struggle if you’re an artist, or you know, there’s the “write drunk, edit sober”. And there’s this correlation between art and escapism that’s very dramatic in our culture. And so what are your thoughts on that? Like how were you influenced by that throughout your hair journey and yeah, what what do you see in relation to your art and, and, and, and those sorts of things?

Amber Pope 35:10
Sometimes you know, again art is that vessel to like get it out and sometimes the pressure is too much like it’s just too much and it’s sometimes just the only tangible thing that I can do is create and kind of like just decompress a little bit it makes me it’s the same thing that I do like my brain works the same way in that space as it does when I’m like I just need to have my hands on something because everything feels so crazy so I’m gonna vacuum the floor. Like everybody who knows me you know this too like I am or neurotic vacuumer like if something happens and like I’m spazzing out about like if I’m at home the vacuum is in my hand and I can’t I don’t feel like I’m set and less like the lines or carpet um but in the same space as different is it seems to be like so rigid with like you know, cleaning truthfully creating and creating art and having like this outlet to do it get some of those demons out of my head a little bit and I have personally felt like um the boundaries that hair gives me within the craft itself right so like the idea is like how to cut hair again very geometric it’s math I’m doing math. I said this earlier today it was like you know you’re like doing math as you’re like sectioning the hair and like this angle creates this shape and it’s really like you’re running equations in your head right? So there’s that on top of then being able to have this like freedom to create you know, whatever it is that you need to create in that space you’re giving at least for me, I’m giving myself that outlet to both think magically and think rationally and having both of those happen at the same time does give me space to be able to not get too far in my head about other things so like creating allows me to sort of put the all of that good that energy that could be used for for bad because I’ve definitely been in that space before that I’ve definitely been in that bad headspace as like you want to say that like tortured artist or like that person who doesn’t seem like they have it all together but like well they’re just an artist and so they’re allowed to be a drunk you know, like that sort of thing. I early on in my life I definitely have those very intense characteristics and my personality that my brother who I’m very very in awe of, he’s an incredible talented artist. His art is very different than mine and he found it very early and so I think for him his ability to get some of those negative energies out those demons out he can do it and he’s been able to do it all of these years and for me it took me longer to find that as an outlet and it came right at the right time. And so I do think that you know there is to your point like there’s a lot of stylists that like live crazy party lives and they’re like nuts and they’re wild and I’m like I hope that you’re okay you know, like they can say that anything in terms of art but I think I do think for me, it keeps my active over active personality at bay or orange check rather not at bay it just keeps it in check and it keeps me from going into a darker space from allowing myself to not know what to do with my hands to not do not know what to do with my mind and then therefore putting myself into situations that I think are negative and so it took a lot of years to be able to get myself in a good spot to where that I could be like yeah, I’m I’m solid and now I can invite other people onto this creative journey like where their lives you know, their livelihood is partly attached to like, I don’t know, I give them a paycheck. So like, you know, you have to be really responsible for it too. So I know that was kind of like a derail on that Question. But I do think there’s some, there’s a lot of, you know, like you said, I’m kind of commonality with like defining an artist as a certain type of person. But I’d like to walk the line between, you know, a business owner and a creative type. And I think it takes both to do it successfully.

Alyssa Patmos 40:25
11“`, and there’s no reason why the story of the struggling artist has to permeate, especially like when we brought in what art is and how we use it. And I think what you ended up talking about around the constraints is really important, because so often with creativity, it’s the, it’s like we both talked about, it’s the need, like, we don’t have a choice, if there is something that needs to come out of us. And, and with that, it can be and you can speak to this too. But for me, when I have no constraints, that’s when the fear kicks in. And that’s when I go to darker places, because I’m like, which direction do I go, it’s when I start taking in way too much input and comparing my art to others, it’s when I forget to bring out the sponge, and then I’m just useless, I can’t scrub a dish, I you know, I can’t get anything clean, like I am not performing my function whatsoever. And it’s, it’s in the creative constraints, that I can then find the freedom to do the expression again. And so for people who are listening, if you have that creative desire, if you have that creative impulse, one thing I always challenge people to do is to give yourself a constraint around it, and and challenge yourself in that area. So you know, not all artists do watercolors and oils, and you know, Canvas, and maybe they paint on metal, they usually choose one, or at least for that art piece. They’re choosing one. And that constraint helps me dramatically to because it gives it a vessel, it gives me somewhere to channel something. And I feel like that’s kind of what you’re explaining as well.

Amber Pope 42:23
Absolutely. I think you know, just going for it, right? Like just choosing one thing and taking that first step is so vitally important, especially like you said, if you’re like, I’m so sick, I don’t know what to do. Like, I’m almost paralyzed by this idea of like, I want to be creative, I think I need to, I think it’d be good for me, I don’t know how to even start it. And that first step of just choosing one thing, and like getting the ball in motion, it leads to like every open door creativity, like one thing into another into another. And before you know it, you’ve found your voice. And it’s really hard to your point without having some constraint in some way. It’s like yelling into the abyss and you can’t ever hear any echo back. See, there’s no way to check Am I doing it right you know, so starting small is good if there’s you know, those people who are parent I mean, I get paralyzed by so I’m not saying those people like we all have that moment of being completely your back is up against a wall, you have no idea where to go from here. But it’s just taking that first toe of a step forward and leaning into I think I want it let’s let’s try one thing and see how it pans out. And that back to what you were saying in the beginning around that first shoot being so important, like it’s that first success, it becomes something you can fall back on so many times because it failure is inevitable. like of course something’s gonna flop like that’s the that’s part of the fun of creativity is that, yeah, some are significantly below average. And some ideas are above average and are great. But that taking that one action and being willing to do the first thing so that you can even give yourself the chance to get to that first success makes such a huge difference with this notion of Okay, we know that we know that the first step matters, but I’m gonna let the cat out of the bag. Like you and I are both recovering perfectionist. And so perfectionism can really muck up the creative process. And you and I are on very different ends of the perfectionist spectrum because there’s one type of perfectionist where it’s like the over prepare and like has every detail planned out and has all the i’s dotted all the T’s crossed? And is there and I think you tend on that side. Is that right? I have notes for today. I didn’t get very far on my notes, because I wrote perfectionism because it’s something I struggle with regularly. And then I stopped because I was like, you’re doing it again.

Alyssa Patmos 45:32
I mean, to be fair, normally I send people questions beforehand, but because I knew that you would, maybe do that I said, your questions. And I love this conversation. It’s so great. So so I’m on the other end of the perfectionism spectrum where a lot of times to perfectionism to me I see it and and then the OCD kicks in to read so what if, what if, what if, what if, and then well, if I don’t you guys, something terrible’s gonna happen, and so and so it’s compounded, and then I end up freezing. And so that crucial stuff we were just talking about of taking that first step. So many times perfectionism gets me and I end up in perfection paralysis, which is its own sort of sort of deep. So how do you because I will emphasis recovering perfectionist? I don’t think either of us, let it define us at this point, but how do you how do you deal with your perfectionist in the context of your creative process? Like does she have a name?

Amber Pope 46:41
Like the monkey on my back? I haven’t named it maybe I shut maybe it was like, I don’t know if it’s like better to name it. And then like, give it power, or to just be like, it’s just that thing that I’m just like, constantly trying to swat it away. Um,

Alyssa Patmos 46:56
I think we have to make friends with our parts. Like, I think we have to be friends with the parts of ourselves. Because ultimately, they’re trying to protect us like this monkey. I think she needs a name. She’s trying to protect you. Yeah, she just has poor strategies.

Amber Pope 47:11
She is meddlesome is right, you’re right. Okay, so I will talk about how I deal. But I want to come at it a different way for a second. I teaching behind the chair and teaching young stylists who, it’s hard when you’re learning when you’re apprentice, right? Because you’re learning under people who like have so much more knowledge than you do in your mind your perception, right? They’re been doing a lot longer, you’ll never get there, yada, yada, yada, you’re just thinking, this is the end all person behind the chair that I’m watching. And I’m never going to be that or maybe in 30 years, I’m going to be that you’re running this dialogue. it as a person who’s learning right? running this dialogue, that you’re just never going to be that so my perfectionism was in place before I found here, but it was doubled down on twice in the two apprenticeships that I had prior to being where I am today. So as now a educator and a mentor, I talk about perfectionism because it is still so relevant to my everyday world. But I can see the need of how to overcome that hurdle for young stylists that I work with in my organization, who strive to be like the people they’re observing but can’t quite allow themselves to fail yet. Like they haven’t fallen fully on their face yet and you’ve got to do it. You got to like, eat the pavement before you connect. Okay, I did it and it wasn’t that scary. Like it sucked, but it wasn’t that scary. And so my habitual like watching these young people like come here and then come in again and come in again because it doesn’t feel right and so those habits of like compulsion end up happening where then it is that like paralyzing. It is I’ve got to get this haircut. It has to be perfect Amber’s swap to me. I know, I know. She’s gonna be like critiquing it and mind you, like I’m not like a jerk behind like, but they’re putting all this pressure on themselves. I know what that’s like. So I’m very transparent and open with the struggles that I had learning if we’re just talking about the industry alone, but like To be fair, you know, like, this is part of my everyday life as much as I know it is part of your everyday life. So the monkey on the back that we haven’t named yet. I’m not sure I’m still thinking about her name. Is she rears her head up in every aspect. It’s interesting at this point in my life to where I am so empathetic with those team members who are like, struggling so hard to become what they believe is perfect. And the conundrum is is like I’m not even there like yes, I can kind of straight line Yeah, like today, but tomorrow might be a little bit crooked, I’m still human, and giving yourself like a little bit of like room to breathe in that I can do that easier now than I could then. But I’m still fighting the after effects of like all that time of like, again, one apprenticeship, I was trying to be the most perfect that it could be because I cared so deeply about the organization I worked with. And the mentor I had then step two, apprenticeship where you came and you were part of that with me in that educational setting. And when I worked with Sassoon, that is an insane amount of perfectionism that is cultivated in that organization, you can’t really easily unlearn that, again, back to why I vacuum lines in the carpet is just I need to see it to be like it’s got to be perfect. And it Nothing is okay until it is perfect. And you nailed it by saying it’s the paralysis of it because it will stop you dead in your tracks when you don’t know what to do with. And then you’re just like frantically like, Chet can watch me do it. Like when I’m hysterically like, it’s not right. And I like I pick up something, I move it like an inch. And then it’s like, no, it’s my right and I move it like another inch. And then a second later, I move it again. And he’s like you just can’t get over it and tell it like feels right. It’s tough. And I know it’s something you and I have talked about this for so many years of just really having that self forgiveness, to be able to move on and say like you know it today, this is this is what perfect is here. And now it doesn’t have to be anything more than this because this is exactly what it should be. And it’s it’s a tough struggle. It’s a tough struggle, but I want to kick it back over to you. And then we can continue because I think there’s a lot to like unpack here with professional or perfectionism.

Alyssa Patmos 52:23
I agree. And there’s one thing that comes up for me. And I wonder if you have this too. So I’m like you where it can pervade multiple areas of my life. But there’s one area of my life where it doesn’t come in. And that is perhaps what I find super interesting and where I think I can get a lot of the lessons for the other areas of my life. So for me, a cooking I love to cook, and I’m self taught. And I like I don’t use recipes. And I cook almost every night, here like organizing multiple, coordinating multiple side dishes at one time, like deciding what spices to throw in. And so in this area of my life, like something that so many people feel they have to be meticulous that and follow a recipe. I could care less. And I trust that it’s gonna come out good. And I don’t have Polly the Perfectionist that’s what mine is called. So I’m an alliteration fan. So like Polly doesn’t come out that Polly doesn’t have a voice when I’m cooking. And so I know what it feels like to not have her round. And that is always what is interesting to me in the moments where she does come up and that’s why I’ve chosen to more make friends with her than to just try and constantly get rid of her because I know that she knows to be quiet in some cases. And it’s cultivating like, Okay, what it what other things are here that are making it so you’re not quiet right now. So do you have any area like that, too?

Amber Pope 54:07
Yeah, it’s funny because it used to be used to cooking like oh, that drives chick crazy. It’s so funny because it’s the same that is the same area that in my car. My car is not like the neatest it’s not used to beat the but it’s better than it was when I was young. Yeah. But it’s funny because that’s the one area in my life that’s kind of always like a little bit dirty. It’s like my car and then cooking. To your point. It’s totally that for me too. And it’s funny because inversely I always call out with Chet, Chet, my husband and co owner this one. He is he is has high expectations but he’s not a perfectionist. Like he’s like okay with like, Yeah, that’s good. That’s That’s good. You got the job done. You did it in your own way. And that’s great. You know, that’s who he is. Like when you put the man in the kitchen, homeboy will literally make mac and cheese for the kids. And he will measure out I think it’s like the box and mac and cheese, like bring six cups of water to a boil. He will measure six cups. And here I am the most like neurotic professional perfectionist. I have like my own you know, compulsions to an end? Yeah, I’m like, why are you doing that? What a waste of time. But no, but I like to go and like, you know, clean the mirrors three times, but then like, can’t move on, unless it’s done with the heel, measure out six cups to boil water for mac and cheese. So it’s interesting how to your point that the some of us that maybe aren’t so perfectionist in other areas tend to like turn it on and things that maybe like, I find ridiculous, but yet at the same time, I like the moments of freedom when I don’t need it, like, yeah, sure, just a pinch of, you know, needs three cloves of garlic, you’re good to go, you know, there’s something that is releasing, and like it’s calming about that, when you can actually let go. And again, I think that the recognition of like, oh, in this space, I can totally just be free about it, and it’s gonna be fine. When we have those self realizing moments, that’s when we’re able to, like, you know, bring it through in other areas of our life, too. And some of that is age too, you know, just to kind of go back to from like, literally 25. And really, I was kind of, maybe let’s get we’ll go from 19 up until, you know, about five years ago, when I just was like, I, I’ve gotta like I’m making everybody around me really intense, because my stuff is now like, physically affecting other people with my like, innate need for like perfection. I still drive everybody crazy, like, I’m not on the way to acknowledge that, like my team, they know, I’ve stressed out my kids, they know. But I also have to just step back, when you celebrate the minutes that, you know, I don’t need to be like, so perfect. And life has kind of had to teach me that too. And I know you’ve had your big aha in that as well. But I was just going to share that, like, my physical well being, it’s interesting what the, what the universe gives you, to help you when you don’t know how to fix it yourself. As you get like a big punch in the face and the universe. For someone like myself, who likes to be very put together, I like to be very, you know, done, I like to be done. I like to have, you know, feeds the image of you know, I have my you know what, together. Over the last couple years, physically, my body has been fighting me and being behind the chair is part of it. There’s other factors as well, but long and short of it is is that like I, I pass out without notice. And a lot of times it looks real bad like for the spectator to see it, it looks horrible. It’s not a pretty sight. And usually it’s you know, there’s other things that happen along with it that just look bad. And it’s interesting that the irony of it is not lost on me for someone who likes to be so put together is now I’m dealing with, oh, you just like throw up in front of your team members. And now you’ve passed out in that. That’s nice, great. So I’m having to try to like mentally overcome that. And it’s really hard, let alone and just what it means to like, write the perfect email or send the perfect text message or like my house always looks put together. All of that until you can figure out that recognition of giving yourself the freedom and the space to be like in this arena. I don’t need that. How can I apply that to all of these other things because I personally am learning that lesson at 41 years old now. And if I don’t figure it out faster than I am, and I’m trying real hard, but it’s going to have a Long term negative effects. And I do think that there’s a lot of seriousness to the idea of perfectionism that I often give a lot of like comedic jokes to, like, Oh, I know I’m just being my neurotic self, don’t mind me, I’m just cleaning up under your feet. It’s, it’s a, it’s a big deal. And I think that if there are people who are listening, being aware of that there’s a need for something different, because it’s not sustainable. And it’s nothing but a new a different way for us to be tearing ourselves down, is that you’re constantly telling yourself the narrative that you’re not good enough. And I’m gonna be frank, that that is total bullshit. So let me just put it out there that it is total bullshit and I say it again. It is a tactic that we do to hurt ourselves even though that we’re trying to do it for good. So we need to use that skill of being perfect in whatever you have strength in not saying that is perfect. I’m really good at X, Y, and Z and and allowing yourself to celebrate that rather than doing it and then giving yourself on the back end of it that tear down again, like I was talking about, like creating the art and wanting to light it on fire. That is a way of just self negating talk that you’re only doing it because there isn’t a love for yourself on the inside, and acceptance.

Alyssa Patmos 1:01:40
So it is it I mean, everything you just said to feel worthy to feel loved to feel good enough like these basic core human needs that in so many ways, we don’t get met as children, even if we have a seeming perfect childhood. And, and it comes out and it’s a way to to sabotage and so I love what you said about this self celebration, because the more that we can do that and reinforce it, we start to validate ourselves rather than looking for validation on the outside. Because ultimately when even when we’re talking about you know, liking to be liking being put together. That’s That’s because we get outside validation from that, we get the validation when things are put together, it’s like we’re rewarded for Oh my God, you’re so organized, oh my god, like you always have, you always are put together. And that’s robotic, that is not being human. And so we shut ourselves off from the most human things about us which inherently are not put together. And, and that that is where if we’re doing that, and masking our creativity, like the amount of self suppression going on, is so damaging. And our souls in our bodies, they don’t, they don’t want us to live in that place. And for me, a lot of it, I’ve had physical stuff to where it’s been endometriosis flare ups during these moments where I’m not honoring my body. And I used to say in those moments, like, Oh, my body hates me. And it’s fighting me, it hates me, like, my body doesn’t like me. And I stopped one day and I realized, oh my god, my body is such an excellent communicator. And I was like, it’s not actually fighting me, it’s fighting for me right now. Because I’m losing me. And so I have a choice to pay attention to this signal before it gets worse. And that can happen to so many of us in so many different ways. But it’s the choice of are we going to listen to this signal? Or are we going to listen to the monkey on the back? And the bridge between there for me too, has also been a lot of re parenting and, and recognizing like, Okay, how do I love myself? How do I show myself the validation that I’ve been seeking elsewhere? And literally talking to Polly as if she is a person because because she has a need and like no one else can meet it except for me. Does that resonate with you?

Amber Pope 1:04:38
Absolutely. Oh my gosh, absolutely. Absolutely. I think just calling it calling it out to like when we started this and like just acknowledging that it’s there is it’s those are hard moments to like, do yourself and really you you as a person and we’ve had a minute Conversations again about sort of like self recognition or thinking like, hmm, internal dialogue. That’s an interesting thought, yeah, I could, I could entertain that thought. But you have a really good ability to turn things on its head and think about it, instead of like, What? You’re hearing now feeling pressure, pressure, pressure, pressure, oh, yeah, you’re right. My body is like it, this hurts, I’m in physical pain, it must hate me. No, it’s communicating to me, you have a great gift to be able to do that. And I think that through self exploration is is really and self awareness is all a learned skill. But so I love talking to you seriously.

Alyssa Patmos 1:05:50
So I think, you know, there’s so much to, to this conversation, because we started with the creative process, and creativity being this moment. And this, and I, I remember that like, this starts younger than we think, too, because I, I remember having a diary, when I was little, and it was purple, it had bunnies on the front had a little lock, and I would write in it. And then I would come back the next day, and rip out the pages and shred them. I could not go back and read what I had written for the life of me. And so I hated journaling. And so eventually, as I got older, like, journaling is massively important. And I was very journal adverse. And so I had to come up with other ways to start reflecting. And now I have a journal all the time. But it was that moment, even then I was like, I was probably eight or nine, then. And I couldn’t look at myself from the day before. And so these patterns, these trends start, start young. And I think there’s so much to be said, around around, releasing some of the expectation from ourselves. And so going back to what you said about creativity, being a moment, and it being a process that we can enjoy, because the final output isn’t what actually brought us joy, right? Like, it’s the process of, oh, my goodness, these words turned into something, and I really enjoyed getting to do that. And then and then I don’t really care about the end thing. And in your case, the end thing walks out the door, and you might not see it again.

Amber Pope 1:07:45
Mm hmm. And it changes, like it completely goes away. Like it totally, it fades, it grows, it’s different. Yeah, and so that, so it really isn’t about the outcome. And yet we live in a society that teaches us so often to focus on the outcome alone. So that what you said in the beginning about just recognizing creativity as a moment, and as part of the process, I think is so profound, and beautiful. And it’s something I want people to walk away with, because that can be so so much of a release. The other thing that I wanted to revisit just briefly is the difference between perfectionism and excellence. Because I think there’s something required in your craft, about demanding excellence. But that’s a huge difference between demanding perfectionism, which is arbitrary, excellence can be measured. And so I think that’s something that when we get stuck in these loops to coming up with measurements, because because perfectionism when we fall into that trap, like it can’t be measured, and we’re just spiraling and spiraling and spiraling, but if we can measure up against certain excellence benchmarks, I think that can help as well. And I know you have those set up for your team.

Absolutely. I love that. I love that. I mean, we strive for excellence in my mission statement in my salon, and it is a core activity that we do every single day and you’re right, it is measurable. And but it’s funny because the word perfection and perfectionism it’s somehow gets interchanged in there and clients do it with us like Oh, you guys are perfect or this haircut is perfect or how do you just you have it all together. You’re just perfect. You know, like that’s insane. But yeah, excellence. Absolutely, absolutely. And I think striving for excellence is again, it’s a fine line because that tipping point right? You really I can go off the rails with it. But I do think excellences is obtainable in that sense of, yeah, you know what I can be really good at my craft, I can be a good leader, I can be an excellent leader, I can be an excellent salon owner, I can be an excellent mentor, an excellent communicator, the list is long of your excellence, excellence in your hair, your friendship.

Alyssa Patmos 1:10:29
I think that’s something too if people are listening, and they’re like, Okay, well, how do I dip my toe into creativity is start looking at what are the areas where you feel like you excel naturally, because I guarantee you, you’re employing creativity there. Totally, and separate it and celebrate it.

Honor, honor yourself, and self self celebration and self honor, like so many times when I’m working with women, the first thing I have them do is write down their accomplishments. Because we forget, we forget all the damn time, what we’ve done and that self honor, that self celebration, transforms so many things in in our lives.

Amber Pope 1:11:15
Oh my goodness, it’s so interesting that you just said that I want to just say real quick that it’s interesting because every new team member to our organization, you know, they’re they are in their new, they are new to me new to the business, I think I’m getting to know them. But I don’t know, what I know is on their resume, but like to write a statement about themselves is always the hardest ask, they have such a hard time writing anything to put as their bio. That’s just talking about like all the amazing things that you have done to get you to this point to where like someone’s going to be jazzed to be like in your chair for a haircut, and this the most paralyzing thing. And there’s some team members that I’ve been like, It has been three weeks, like, just how about if you give me some bullet points, and then let me help guide you. But it is interesting, how it is programmed in us to not want to talk about ourselves in a light of celebration. Like that’s so sad because all I want to do is celebrate all the time for every single one of my team members, but it is tough to to get them to say that about themselves too.

Alyssa Patmos 1:12:38
So it’s so tough. And then if we think about you know, if we think about trapped creativity or trapped self expression, if then this one moment comes along, to write this bio, or to write this about page or, you know, to share one line about yourself if that one moment comes along where you feel like you get to be seen, then you feel like you have to have the perfect thing to say so that you can feel seen and soak it all in right then. And I think that’s the beauty of creativity too. Because it allows you to express yourself like in 500 different ways. And then you end up finding and mining Oh, this one feels really good to me or that one doesn’t and it doesn’t rely on it being It doesn’t just have to be this perfect moment because you know you can create so many more moments.

Amber Pope 1:13:36
Absolutely. The power of creation, I love it.

Alyssa Patmos 1:13:40
It’s magic. It’s so much magic. Amber, I love talking to you I could talk to you forever. Thank you so so so much for being here. I absolutely loved this conversation. And I know people are gonna get so much from from some of your tips on on creativity. Can you tell people where to find you if they want to connect with you?

Amber Pope 1:14:02
Yes, I live morning noon and night. Have an office with a cot in there just kidding in Salon 27 so that’s where I’m at in Mesa, Arizona. I’m also available by any like out like if somebody wants to reach out on social media. Instagram is salon 27 az I can be found through its method_twenty_seven. So method 27 and I love to share love of connects. If anyone has any questions or would like to explore some other ideas, please reach out and I’m just constantly teaching and evolving and learning all of the same time and celebrating everybody along the way. Reach out find her on Instagram. We will link the links in the show notes.

Oh, 27 Talks. Listen to 27 Talks!

Alyssa Patmos 1:15:16
Amber has her own amazing show that you can watch and listen to. And we will link that as well. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much for being here.

Amber Pope 1:15:25
Thank you so much for having me and I just always cherish our time together.

Alyssa Patmos 1:15:36
You’ve just finished listening to another episode of Make It Mentionable with me, your host, Alyssa Patmos. If you’re looking for more in between episodes, then sign up for The Peel. It’s my free newsletter that gives tips for how to navigate whatever life dishes and it’s also the place where I share the juiciest of stories. To check it out, head on over to Thank you so much for tuning in, and I’ll see you next time.

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