The Pursuit of Passion: Make It a Reality

You never know when inspiration is going to strike. When Tom Petrillo, principal at The Salon People, recently presented at a salon’s summit, he didn’t know a casual conversation would lead to the creation of a major event.

“I was having lunch with some stylists and asked them to tell me their story and their dreams,” he says. “Some of them had very defined dreams, and for others, planning big for the future wasn’t a priority due to other life experiences.

“We can all have big dreams. If we articulate them, put a plan into motion, then they can come true,” he says. “And from there, I realized we need to put together a forum to help people see how they might make their dreams become reality.”

Petrillo also felt the market was lacking in conferences specifically for stylists and Salon and Spa teams who want to grow in different directions, but aren’t sure about their path. He says “The conference will be interactive—participants will be able to create a plan that weekend that they can start immediately.”

“Serious Business is the best conference for leaders, owners and managers—that’s the primary audience,” he says. “And big hair shows focus on technical inspiration, new products and tools. But where I saw a void was bringing service providers and Salon and Spa teams together and giving them a clear articulation of HOW to make their dreams come true,” he adds.

“Maybe a stylist wants to become an editorial hairdresser,” he says. “But to do that, they must understand the process of what being an editorial stylist is all about. How do you get there? Sustain yourself? This event illustrates stylists’ storyline and how they made their dreams come true.”


Petrillo’s own dream of helping salon service providers reach their goals comes to fruition September 11-12 when The Salon People hosts Dare to Dream at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Three owners, Van Council, David Wagner and John DiJulius, are set to speak on their unique paths in the industry.

“Van will tell his story about running a successful salon group and facilitating the dreams of others,” Petrillo says.  “Achieving your dream is a lot of hard work and a deep commitment to getting there—he surrounds himself with people who do just that.”

Wagner will speak about his approach of giving people purpose beyond the chair with his Daymaker movement, and DiJulius will dive into his specialty—why quality service is so important and why stylists should want to provide it.

These three keynote speakers will create a core to the event with a focus on being successful behind the chair.

Rounding out the two-day conference will be three panels with three to four people on each, to help attendees dig even deeper into their passions to carve out a path for success.

The first panel focuses on how to find a mentor. Panel members will discuss how they mentor their own teams and what mentors have meant to them.

The second panel is all about building a brand. The panel, which includes Lupe Voss and Ian Michael Black, will tell attendees how they built their own brands while working alongside their owners and/or manufacturer.

Daring to believe is the theme of the third panel. Attendees will learn from stylists and owners who have put their dreams out into the world to see them manifest.

“Service providers who attend the event will walk away and say, ‘I can do that because someone just like me did it,’” Petrillo says. “These panels will illustrate how the journey is done and how attendees can do the same.”


Petrillo says Dare to Dream is for service providers, owners, and “anyone with a dream.” And anyone who attends can expect to leave with a plan.

“We’ve worked extensively with Qnity and we’ll be using the 9Grid for every attendee to write down opportunities at the end of the event,” he says. “We’ll give them the tools so they can identify their mentor, develop their brand and carve out their journey. We’ll ask the questions and they’ll fill out the 9Grid.”

The 9Grids will be photographed and held in a “treasure chest” of dreams.

“This is an event we plan on annualizing,” Petrillo says.

“Dreams are not a one-time thing and they’re not a one-approach-fits-all.

“I feel so fortunate that most of my dreams have come true, and now I’m at a place where it’s no longer about me. It makes my heart sing to help others figure out their dreams. My goal is to pass it forward.”

Dare to Dream tickets are $249 or $299 at the door, and only $50 for students and educators. In addition to the world-class speakers and panels, attendees will also be invited to “Dare to Give” on the first evening of the event at a gala to benefit breast cancer research, held at the Dali Museum—right next door to the Mahaffey Theater.

For more event details and registration, visit

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.

Read more about