Hair colorist learned trade from master Hollywood stylist

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At first, Robert Sugden resisted his friend’s advice to pursue a hair-styling career. He was happy working in wardrobe styling. It was an exciting field and appealed to his creative nature.

But later, while he was doing marketing for a jewelry company, his mind kept turning back to his friend’s advice. And in 2014, he enrolled in a beauty school with the goal of becoming a colorist and hair stylist.

But upon graduation, he felt the training was insufficient.

Far superior was the training he would soon receive while assisting celebrated Hollywood colorist Steven Tapp, whom Madonna once called “a humble genius.”

Introduced by the same friend who had suggested the career change, Sugden went on to learn a great deal from Tapp, who taught him all he knew about color formulation.

“He was an amazing artist, and I was so honored to work with him.” Sugden said.

On Tapp’s advice, Sugden went to work at a small salon, building his clientele while continuing to assist in working with Hollywood celebrities.

“There are a lot of really nice people who I’ve worked with,” Sugden said. “Ricky Martin’s the nicest guy alive. He was wonderful. We worked with him a lot. He’s just such a class act. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley was wonderful. I should also mention Joan Rivers. She was the nicest, sweetest person.”

He worked on “The Ellen Show” and with many other celebrities. Most recently, he was in Pittsburgh working on a series for Amazon Prime — “A League of Their Own,” based on the 1992 film about a women’s professional baseball team and scheduled to premiere on Aug. 12.

In addition, Sugden has done the hair styling for weddings, photo shoots, parties, galas and charity events.

Recently, Sugden felt he needed a change of scenery and moved nearly 2,500 miles from Los Angeles to Ponte Vedra Beach.

“I decided to just come and see if I liked it,” he said. “Try something different.”

He is currently working out of Sparrow Salon, 830 A1A N., Suite 3. He specializes in working with blonde hair and does extensions, hand-tied wefts, tape-ins and toppers.

He also does balayaging, a French technique that literally involves “painting” the highlights on hair, an approach that differs from foiling. It tends to highlight the mid-length to the ends of the hair while leaving a more natural root. The result can be very effective.

“I always say, ‘Your hair is your biggest accessory,’” said Sugden, who keeps up on the latest developments in the field.

He said he enjoys talking with his clients, comparing these conversations to therapy — for both the client and himself. He calls it “hair-apy.”

“I think the interesting thing about hair is you attract people who are like you,” he said. “You fall in love with your clients. You enjoy seeing people. I think that’s what I love the most.”

Sugden can be found on Instagram @RobertSugdenHair. He can be reached by email at Sugdenrobert@gmail.com and by phone at 904-610-0198.

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