With a lifelong devotion to being part of the local art scene and a new salon in the heart of the 18b Arts District, Skaught Gibson is a great example of someone who paid his dues and is now enjoying the payoff. It’s encouraging to see someone “arrive,” so to speak, who has a keen appreciation for what it means to be part of what is happening now after living through the lean years.
Skaught was part of the music scene way back when you could still see the Killers play small rooms like Tramps or Café Espresso Roma. (Bassist Mark Stoermer is one of his high-profile clients.) He has memories of Huntridge shows in its heyday. And in the mid-2000′s he played keys and made trippy sound effects for the psychedelic rock band, The Pandas.
Today, Skaught is almost too busy to do anything but run Josephine Skaught Hairdressing and fly off to New York from time to time to stay up to date with the latest tools and techniques of modern hair styling. He was, however, willing to grant us an interview while giving this writer the best ‘do he’s seen in a while. This is unusual for Skaught: not the great hair styling, but the chatting while working. He prefers to focus on his scissors instead of conversing with clients. So if you have plans to put your scalp in his capable hands in the near future, perhaps you should just read about the man here and save the chit chat for your barista.
ArtsVegas: Let’s start with the name; how did you come up with it?
SG: It’s a combination of my grandmother’s name and my own. I wanted something masculine and feminine, modern and vintage. This is what I came up with, and it worked.
I notice the neon in the window reads “Hairdresser on Fire.” Is that a reference to Ab Fab or Morrissey?
I knew that I wanted to be downtown because I wanted to be part of the art and music scenes. I feel like we’re all connected. As hair dressers, we’re artists too. So I just wanted to be somewhere I felt we could pull a lot of inspiration and kind of work together with other local artists and take it to a different level. I’d been looking downtown for the last five years. For a while I was looking and nothing felt right. I thought it was a little premature, like there wasn’t enough going on down here. But now I feel like there’s finally enough going on to benefit my business.
Pardon the pun but would you say you have deep roots in Vegas?
My family is pretty old school. I was born here; my mom was born here. I’ve moved away three times, but I always come back. LA, Sacramento, Seattle.
What brings you back to Vegas, and what made you want to stay?
I really loved living in Seattle; that’s probably my favorite city that I’ve lived in. But everybody there was so established, and I couldn’t really find the place where I fit in. In coming back here, I have friends where everyone is working toward the same thing at the same time, so moving back here just felt like the right thing to do.
Basically, I put a sign in the window before I was open saying we were coming down here, and I had a lot of people respond and call me and email me just because of the location. I returned everybody’s calls, met with everyone and looked over portfolios, and kind of got to see what the personalities were of the people and why they wanted to be here. I really wanted to find like-minded people that care about the art scene and are passionate about what they do and not just doing hair for a job.
What kind of stylists were you looking for?
I was looking for a little bit of everything. I was looking for people that specialize in different things because I want any client to be able to walk in here and find the right stylist for them. Everybody has got a different style, so I was just looking for different people across the board.
Compared to other cities, is Vegas a good place to set up shop as a hairdresser?
I can get noticed and recognized for what I am doing here, but if I were to go to New York or Seattle, I would probably just get lost. Las Vegas is one of the best towns to be a stylist in because people are so high maintenance here. A lot of people have jobs here that rely on their looks, so they need to keep them up. There are a lot of blondes here, and there is good money in blondes because they need to get their hair done all the time. We’re lucky to be stylists in Vegas.
Josephine Skaught also functions as an art gallery with single-artist shows are rotated in before each First Friday.
Josephine Skaught Hairdressing
1025 S.1st St. Suite 165
Las Vegas, NV 89101
ArtsVegas: Covering Las Vegas Art and culture since 2009.
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