Backstage at Aveda Congress 2013 in Minneapolis, turned out to be a great place for SALON TODAY to catch up with some top-notch salon owners as they led their teams on and off the stage to perform. Editor Stacey Soble talked to JUUT’s David Wagner shortly after his team finished a show that showcased five different kinds of transformations--length, men’s, bold haircuts, color, and cancer patient survivors going from bald to beautiful—clients, friends, and co-workers.

JUUT organizes the team by choosing team leads from team members who worked New York Fashion Week, then allowing them to pick staff members whom they felt could fulfill their vision. “I feel like I produced the show but they really were the artists who created each segment, so I’m really proud of them,” said Wagner.

Before letting Wagner go, Soble asked him what business iniatives JUUT will be focusing on in the coming year and he noted three things: “Living our passion with our clients, making a genuine connection with them, and inspiring an encore so they come back,” he said.

Next, Soble caught up with Van Council of Van Michael Salons as he was preparing for his runway show, which would feature three models and nine hair stylists who took the models through various stages. “We’ve been planning this for almost a year,” says Council. “We’ve been working on the videos, we have little jam sessions, and picking models, tearsheets and figuring out clothes,” he says.

Council is the only artist to have participated in all 16 Aveda Congresses over the course of 33 years, so the challenge each time is how to make it fresh and new. “It’s really a collaboration of the team—we’ve taken ideas from movies, books, magazines, videos—it’s about paying attention,” he says.

Then, weaving a bit of business in, Soble asked Council what his focus was for 2013. “My big focus is to try and take us to the next level and take us to prestige. We’re in the process of building two new salons, we’re still growing and every chair is full. We have a lot of focus always on training, education—and not just for the stylists but also for the front desk people—to try and give people something they don’t get in every other salon.”