Tom Kroboth in Vietnam - Reisebericht 

August 2015

Gooood Mooooorning Vietnaaaaam!!!! Travel Report by Tom Kroboth

Ever since I could remember, I had been dreaming about travelling to Vietnam one day. I love Asia and had already had the chance to gather many amazing experiences there. So I was all the more excited to find out that I was to represent the company c:ehko in Vietnam. We were planning a big opening show, which sold out completely, and a two-day ‘Look and Learn’ workshop.

It was quite a rough journey getting there: Hamburg – Munich, Munich – Moscow, Moscow– Hanoi; the trip took nearly 30 hours, but it was worth it! Hanoi is definitely worth a visit and we were more than astonished as we explored this enormous city (with over seven million inhabitants) for the first time by car. This in itself was unusual, since nearly everyone in Hanoi gets around on a motorcycle. There are four million of them are on the road every day and they make up virtually all of the traffic in Hanoi. You get the impression that there is only one traffic rule, which is that there are no rules. Even so, the traffic manages to flow through the city, however fast or slow the pace.

Once we arrived at the Green Spa, one of our company's cooperation partners, we received a warm welcome and were astounded by the salon’s facilities. There were only four chairs squeezed into a narrow space for eight hairstylists, which we thought was tiny. But as I later found out, it is normal in Vietnam to run very small salons. Even the major players in the business have very small salons so as not to give the impression of being too expensive. It also became clear why there were so few chairs in a salon where so many hairstylists were working. Up to five hairstylists work on one customer at the same time, which is something we can hardly imagine, and although we have been preaching for ages that there should be at least two hairstylists per customer, it is quite normal there and is seen as highly professional.

Unfortunately there are hardly any English-speaking Vietnamese hairstylists and it was difficult for me to converse with them. But they treated me with so much respect and kindness that it didn’t really matter. On the other hand, it was very difficult to do the model casting for our show and workshops. Many of the girls have long hair and didn’t want any big changes.

Krysztof Cyborowski (who everyone calls Krys) and I have discovered something totally new that we both find very annoying: a kind of root perm. At first we thought it was just a badly done perm. This root perm damages the hair but is just part of the daily routine here. The Vietnamese set a wave somewhere around the hat line that looks like a pleat and lifts the hair’s roots. I was not able to find out exactly why and how this wave is done, but I reckon it’s because the air is extremely humid in Vietnam and everyone rides around on their mopeds wearing a helmet, and the restructuring of this wave prevents the hair from being flattened against the head.

With the help of our interpreter, we managed to find some great girls who were open to making some changes. There are some really beautiful girls there! (...) 

The day of the big show arrived and I was in a bit of a conundrum. How could we pull it all off? It is quite difficult to get anything organised in Vietnam. Yesterday there were too many assistants – today there were hardly any. But it just took one phone call and suddenly completely new hairstylists appeared, guests of the show, who wanted nothing more than to assist us and do an outstanding job! Despite the communication difficulties, we had a lot of fun and the show could go on. The new looks, great hair colours and my avant-garde part at the end were well received and everything went off perfectly like never before. It was quite an emotional show featuring a lot of dancing and thrilling music. The wife of our distributor herself even sang a Vietnamese love song on stage at the finale, while the people in the audience sang along with all their heart! Our Vietnamese colleagues were like that ¬– affectionate, emotional, and just so nice! We also had tears in our eyes at the end. We had such a great time with you!

I should take a moment to mention that I was not alone on the stage; my Vietnamese colleagues presented great haircuts, colours and styling looks. It was clear that Vidal Sassoon has a very big influence in hair cutting. This encouraged me and I was looking forward to our ‘Look and Learn’ workshop the next day. Six years of Vidal Sassoon in Hamburg – it doesn’t get any better than that.

And that’s exactly how it is! Our colleagues looked closely over our shoulders during the ‘Cut and Colour’ workshop. When I said that anyone who was interested could come up onto the stage, they stormed the stage and Krys and I could hardly move anymore. They asked about everything and it was a pleasure to see the enthusiasm in everyone’s eyes as I explained my techniques, which they then analysed, or when Krys presented his colour formula. We were filled with pride at their interest and curiosity and we were extremely pleased about the amazing feedback. While we handed out the certificates at the end of the workshop, each of them wanted to take a picture with us. We felt a bit like stars –  overwhelmed by so much respect and affection.

The second day of our ‘Look and Learn’ workshop focused exclusively on perms. Our Vietnamese ambassador presented the classic technique of the permanent wave in Vietnam – and I must say, the woman really impressed me.

Wonderful waves in coloured hair, which she dried by hand only. The hair looked super shiny and cared for. She explained everything very precisely, and although I don’t speak any Vietnamese, I was able to follow along very well. She said very enthusiastically that the permanent wave from c:ehko works really well for this technique. The sales figures for this product speak for themselves. Krys and I chose a technique that gives the hair a beach look, a lot of structure and movement, as if you had just come back from the beach. Our colleagues found it interesting, although they still preferred the slightly wavy result of our Vietnamese colleague.

I am grateful that we were able to learn so much on our trip. Many thanks to our colleagues in Vietnam, who received us so warmly and showed us so much respect and affection. It was a wonderful experience and we are already looking forward to next time!

I stayed three days longer in Vietnam and visited the legendary Halong Bay, one of the seven natural wonders. And I enjoyed Vietnamese hospitality! The food is amazing, I ate almost only street food. The people are totally friendly to strangers. Hanoi is a fascinating city full of contrasts, and I was completely enchanted by it.

Gooood Mooorning Vietnaaam!!!

© Photo Credit: PR Sugar GmbH