In conversation with multiple award-winning hairdresser Danny Pato of D&M
When it comes to the New Zealand hair industry, there’s one name that needs no introduction. Danny Pato has been cutting, colouring, and styles tresses for over 20 years, with many of the biggest names and publications in the country—and globally—on his resume.
The visionary hairdresser and co-owner of D&M has been crowned International Hairdresser of the Year twice and NZ Hairdresser of the Year six times, alongside the AIPP International Trophy in 2020 and 2022.
ProCollective caught up with the legendary hairdresser to chat industry challenges, sustainability, and the secret to D&M’s ongoing success.
ProCollective (PC): What are three words that encapsulate D&M?
Danny: Buzzing, high-end, and fun.
PC: What do you attribute to D&M’s ongoing success in an increasingly competitive industry?
Danny: Constantly learning and evolving.
PC: How would you sum up the salon’s overall vibe and aesthetic?
Danny: Our vibe is like going to a cocktail party with your best friends. Our salon’s aesthetic is eco-industrial.
PC: At present, how many staff members make up your team? Talk us through the salon culture…
Danny: We’ve got 14 team members. Our salon culture underpinned by the highest of technical and service standards, while having an absolute blast on the floor as a team. We always strive to celebrate uniqueness and diversity.
PC: D&M is renowned for their collections, where do you source creative inspiration for these?
Danny: I find inspiration in nature, film, music, architecture, art and cultural movements, pop culture or fashion. I like to blend different ideas together and tell a strong story.
PC: It’s been a very turbulent few years for the hair industry, what were some of your biggest learnings to come out of the pandemic?
Danny: That the teams’ wellbeing is one of the most important things for a salon. Healthy minds, healthy bodies contribute to a healthy business. During the middle of the chaos, we decided to change salon hours from five to a four day week. Our team is so much happier with their work life balance.
PC: What do you think are some of the biggest challenges facing the industry today?
Danny: I think the biggest challenge at the moment is dealing with so much inconsistency across the board. However, I’m really grateful to be in an industry that tends to do comparatively well in challenging times.
PC: From single-use packaging and chemicals in hair dye to energy efficient practices, there’s still a lot of strides to made from a sustainability sense. What work is D&M doing to reduce their environmental footprint?
Danny: Our colour and primary product partner is Davines Sustainable Beauty. They are one of the most sustainable companies in the world, on a mission to be the best for the world. It’s reassuring to know what we’re using is having a positive impact, particularly with regards to being carbon neutral, a high natural composition, and rapidly biodegradable, thanks to the use of recycled and plant-based packaging.
We also work with Sustainable Salons to repurpose 95 percent of our salon waste including hair clippings and excess colour. We also ensure we are involved in community projects and have a sustainability action plan to continually make improvements in the salon.
PC: What advice would you give to young hairdressers starting out in the industry aspiring to work for a salon like D&M down the line?
Danny: Be focused, consistent, and never stop learning.
PC: How did you go about selecting what salon brands to align with (tools/haircare) in the beginning?
Danny: For us, it was all about love. We fell in love with Davines, how they respect people and nature, and how beautiful (looking, smelling, and performing) their products are. ghd is our tool partner – they defined heat styling and consistently evolve.
PC: In 2017, you set-up D&M Directory, a platform for showcasing and connecting creatives in the industry, what inspired this?
Danny: When talking to up-and-coming stars of the industry, they always asked me how to pull together a creative team for photoshoots. They didn’t have the connections I have from many years of editorial, runway, advertising, and competition work. So, I decided to share my little black book of contacts by creating The Directory, an online showcase of photographers, stylists and makeup artists at various stages of their careers. It’s a network of creatives that anyone can reach out to for collaborations.
PC: What’s been your favourite project (editorial or runway) you’ve worked on to date and why?
Danny: Probably working with Billie Eilish for a cover shoot here in New Zealand. She is such an extraordinary person, allowed me to be really creative with her hair, and was a genuine sweetheart.
PC: If you had to pick (you’ve got a fair few career highlights!), what’s been your proudest moment in your D&M journey?
Danny: While I’m incredibly grateful for having won a few international awards, I’m still most proud to have won New Zealand Hairdresser of the Year for the last six years.
PC: Who have been some of your biggest mentors/supporters or influences over your successes?
Danny: My husband, Ryland Wood. He’s my mentor, my supporter and the biggest influence on my successes!
PC: What can we expect to see next from D&M?
Danny: The unexpected!