Danny Pato: NZ Hairdresser of the Year (Again)

July 23, 2018
danny pato

There’s a feeling of je ne sais quois when you walk into D&M Hair Design in Auckland’s trend-setter suburb of Ponsonby—but it’s not one of beauty industry superiority, despite the salon’s many successes.

Stay a while and you’ll soon realise that hard-to-put-into-words “thing”, is actually a feeling of warmth amid passion… kind of like a big hug that leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy after you leave, with the bonus of having your hair cut, curled and coiffed to a level rarely experienced.

At the helm is Danny Pato (and his business partner, fellow hair-God Michael Sisaengrath), a stylist who lives and breathes his art; coupling it with a genuine love and care for his clients.

So, it’s little wonder Danny Pato is celebrated—by clients and the hairdressing industry—for his talent. Earlier this year, he was named New Zealand Hairdresser of the Year for the third consecutive year, a feat never achieved by any Kiwi stylist—until now.

While Danny and his talented team celebrated their win well beyond the announcement, it’s now back to the salon, giving people do’s they cant get enough of, all the while planning for the 2019 awards.

I spoke to Danny to find out more about what drives him to keep delivering, year after year…

Congrats on winning New Zealand hairdresser of the year again! Beyond the accolade and the praise, what does it mean to you personally?

Thank you! Even though it’s my third time in a row, winning this time felt bigger for some reason. The international judges are industry leaders and icons – I feel honoured and humbled to be recognised by the people I look up to.

This is the first time a Kiwi hairdresser has won that many times in a row. What is the Danny Pato magic ingredient?

The magic ingredient would be the love for what I do.

Can you tell me a little bit about your hairdressing journey, up until now?

I grew up in the Mediterranean and Middle East surrounded by lots of women, heaps of sisters and aunties with immaculate style and hair, which planted the seed in me.

I was inspired by design, style, beauty, art, music, pop culture, film and fashion. I couldn’t get all of those at once so for some reason I thought hairdressing could touch all of these things. And it has. When I look back on my career, I have reached these things being a session stylist working in magazine editorials, catwalk shows, music videos, celebrities, fashion films and advertising jobs.

You once told me how your dad was a big influence on how you do business. How so?

I’m quite extroverted as a person, whereas my dad was a man of few words. He taught me to listen and to follow my gut.

How important has passion been along the way?

Haha, that makes me laugh only because on my wedding day, the speeches describing my husband were like “kind, calm, smart, witty, driven, intelligent” while the only thing anyone said about me was “passionate”!

For me it’s what gives me the drive to keep going, to give everything I have to my clients and my team, and to creating new things.

danny pato
danny pato
danny pato
danny pato

Just like many women, I’ve been to a lot of salons over the years. Yet, D&M Hair Design, despite all of your success… there’s such a genuinely warm feeling there, that goes beyond just getting your hair done. Was this deliberate?

That’s so lovely to hear, and yes, it’s 100% deliberate. While we have set very high standards for the work we do, the entire team pours their energy into creating a welcoming and vibrant salon atmosphere, to welcome everyone without any judgement and treat people the way you want to be treated.

How would you describe D&M from a conscious business perspective?

We are inspired to do good things.

Salons have a massive impact on the environment, and we don’t want to be part of the problem; we want to be part of the revolution. Using Davines as our main supplier, we can guarantee what we use on our clients has been produced with minimal impact; working with Sustainable Salons means 95% of our salon waste is recycled.

In terms of charity, we partner with KidsCan, a really important organisation. They work with thousands of the most disadvantaged Kiwi kids, ensuring they have food, clothes and school resources. This year our clients really got behind our fundraising project, where we sold framed one-off prints from our collection archive and raised over $28,000 for KidsCan.

What natural products are you using in the salon? Why is this important to you?

We love working with Davines for so many reasons, including that they’re the market leader at balancing nature with performance. For example, the colour system we use (Mask with Vibrachrom) with fairtrade organic quinoa is 86% naturally derived, carbon neutral and biodegrades very quickly in the waterways. However, it’s super high-performance, creating long-lasting colour results that leaves the hair shiny and soft.

What words of advice would you give to those who have a big dream, just as you did?

Be focussed, be consistent. Forever keep learning, evolving and challenging yourself to grow further.

How do you follow up from three wins? Are you already thinking about next year?

I am! I really love what I do so am always thinking about what next.

danny pato
danny pato
danny pato

What is true, authentic beauty to you?

Beauty is strength, beauty is being confident in your own skin.

Beauty is feeling beautiful and acting beautifully.

How would your staff describe you?


Can you tell me about The Directory?

As a session stylist and art director, I’ve worked with some talented people over the years and know how challenging it can be to pull a creative team together for an editorial shoot, video project or fashion job. That’s why I’ve created The Directory, an ever-growing database of New Zealand photographers, stylists, make-up artists, and fashion designers (with more industries to come). It’s my way of sharing my little black book and giving back to our industry.

It’s a completely free one-stop-shop to support and inspire creatives and foster collaboration.

Image Credits: 

Photographer: Mara Sommer

Art and Hair Director: Danny Pato using Davines

Styling: Rachel Morton and Danny Pato

Makeup: Kiekie Stanners using MAC

Models: Dani and Brooklyn @ Unique, Grace and Lilly @ 62, Lydia @ Red11.

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