Sandra Smith; Former Salon Owner and Matrix Artistic Director; Dalton, Georgia

Matrix Artistic Director and Mentor Sandra Smith and her husband, Brian, have been a dynamic duo for 26 years. The former owners of two salons (Ritz Hair Design and Ritz International), Sandra and Brian have appeared before audiences all over the world and are 10-time finalists and three-time NAHA winners in the Avant Garde, Haircolor and Masters categories. Over the years, Sandra has learned to balance her globe-trotting educational endeavors with the raising of three children and the spoiling of five grandchildren.

Do you believe a woman in the professional beauty industry can “have it all?” And, what does that mean to you?

“I actually think the statement is very personal and relevant to the individual. For example, an Olympic champion wouldn’t apply to me, even though she’s a very strong woman. Personally, I love my family and my career both. It’s the same characteristics in my career as family that are important—purpose, passion, value, opportunities, achievement, fulfillment, happiness, meaning, support, fun, harmony, balance and challenge. So in my spouse and in the people I work with I get to share, help and have an influence. Arnie Miller used to say, “Love what you do, love who you do it for, love who you do it with.” I think that’s impactful.”

In the pursuit of “having it all,” what sacrifices have you had to make, if any? “Truly, life is about options and choices, and it isn’t always easy. Every day is different. I might give you a different answer on different days. I choose to look at having it all as freedoms, opportunities and challenges. If you feel like you made a sacrifice, it is still rewarding in the end one way or the other. When my daughter was growing up there were occasionally missed events. But for the big events, I tried to plan in advance. However, I remember crying on the plane all the way to my destination once because I was missing her cheerleading tryouts. But when I got there, I called immediately and she made the team!”

If we were looking through a scrapbook of your life, what would be your favorite page?

“My family page. Together, Brian and I have three children and five grandchildren. But if I had to pick one big thing it would be the birth of my daughter. It was something I had always hoped for and wasn’t sure I would be able to have, and I was with her when her kids were born.”

“If we were looking through a scrapbook of your life, what page would you want to rewrite? “I really wouldn’t change a thing. I think my experiences are what makes me who I am.”

“What’s your favorite tool or strategy for maintaining balance in your life? “I think it’s my personal values and beliefs. And on a lighter note—play. Play with friends and family. Be a child sometimes, it’s a great teacher. Remember not to be so serious—children are a great reminder. They say what they think and have a great time. My four-year-old grandson carries on a conversation with all sorts of expressions where he makes up words. I respond the same way—make up words with big expressions with my arms and just have fun.”


What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you, and how did it change your life? “My parents taught me to always be respectful and treat others the way I would like to be treated. I think that applies to all walks of life—friends, family, kids. It makes a difference in how people treat you.”

What wisdom would you share with a young woman entering a career in the professional beauty industry?

“Be a sponge! Connect with people—it’s profound and powerful. Imagine. Be your best, do your best, give your best. Be a role model. Celebrate all wins and be grateful. What keeps you up at night?

“Not much. I’m completely exhausted.”

What makes you feel powerful?

“Truly, the support and unconditional love of Brian, my family and my Matrix friends. When you know that and don’t have to worry, it allows you to do what you need to do on the forefront.”

What’s the best thing anyone’s ever told you about yourself?

“You’ve changed my life. You are truly authentic. My husband said I changed his life as well as clients who I’ve made over. The person who said I was authentic was someone I don’t even know very well on Facebook!”

What do you hope to achieve in the next five years?

“I want to make a difference through giving, sharing, leadership and education. I’d like to leave a legacy. Winston Churchill said, “Make a living by what we get, make a life by what we give.” Legacy is about mentoring and being remembered for helping and sharing. I want to make a difference to individuals, but also to the industry. I’ve also always wanted to write a book on makeovers, but not just about the typical makeover—really look in the human soul and spirit and how powerful the touch of the hairdresser is.”

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