On Mentorship: Gina, Dante, and Gerard

We recently asked some of the people Michael has mentored throughout the years what this experience has been like. Below Gina, Dante, and Gerard share their stories and some of Michael’s best advice.

Interviewed and Edited by Cat Meyer and Ella Chodos-Irvine


Gina Schiappacasse

Social Media Consultant & Illustrator

How long have you known Michael?
I met Michael in early 2012 at an event he was speaking at for Cutler salon. I was modeling for a hairstylist friend and he struck up a conversation with me while we waited backstage. I was very impressed with his knowledge on the subject of fashion illustration (as I am a fashion illustrator) and thoroughly enjoyed speaking with him. We exchanged contact info and kept in touch for a bit before he offered me a job managing his social media at Hairstory.

What areas of your life has Michael offered advice or guidance?
Primarily professionally, as an employee of his and as an artist, but he has supported me through a lot of things over the years.

What is some of the best advice he has given you?
There have been so many gems over the years that I’ve been lucky enough to work with Michael, but one of the most recently memorable was when I was struggling to decide whether to take a job solely for the money and he told me, “There is a lot of power in learning to say no.” I declined the opportunity, and I couldn’t have felt better about the whole experience. There truly is a lot of power in knowing your worth.

What benefits have you found from Michael’s coaching/mentorship/advice? Anything else you’d like to add?
Having a sounding board in Michael has been so valuable because I truly respect him in many ways and so his guidance carries a lot of weight for me. He is also deeply compassionate and really takes the time to understand what you want and how you operate. Having someone really listen to you and take your ambition as well as your needs into account is invaluable.


Dante Pronio

Hairdresser & Educator

How long have you known Michael?
I have been coming to Michael for career advice and support at every turn of my career lately. Since I have followed Michael's advice my path has become much more straight and narrow. I have focused on the important aspects of my career and remained persistent to achieve goals because of the guidance Michael has given.

After I experienced some low points I connected with Michael to seek some professional advice; not only was I given solid advice to reinvigorate my career, but I also shared laughs and friendship on a more personal level, which goes a long way. I have known Michael for close to 20 years now. He has seen me through many relationships, jobs, and eras of my life. In respect to all, he has been very transparent with his advice on any and all of those topics. Michael is honest and doesn't pull punches; he’s not afraid to tell the truth even when it hurts, and that takes courage.

What areas of your life has Michael offered advice or guidance?
Michael has been especially helpful in guiding me to create my personal brand. Whether it's leading by example or direct guidance Michael has helped me focus on brand strategy and direction for my education business and salon business.

What benefits have you found from Michael’s coaching/mentorship/advice? Anything else you’d like to add?
Because of my opportunity to work with Michael I have learned what it means to be good at the craft of hair. Michael has shown me the importance of a sharp eye, which makes a great hairstylist, and why it's important to elevate the craft. Without this knowledge, I may have had a lesser view on the overall craft of hair. His exposure and sharing of the best and most elite corners of the industry have been of incredible value to me. Michael has truly shown me what it means to be a great hairdresser and the paths needed to be taken to get there. For that, I am forever grateful.


Gerard Scarpaci

Hairdresser & Hairbrained Co-Founder

How long have you known Michael?
By reputation, professionally since 1991 when I began as a New York City based hairdresser. I first met him personally in 2003 as a Bumble Network salon owner, and truly got to know him on a personal level in 2015.

What areas of your life has Michael offered advice or guidance?
Perhaps some of the most important guidance I have ever received in my life came when I asked Michael what his key to success in business had been and he replied… meditation. I was so lifted by this unexpected response that I set out on a regular practice, which has greatly improved not only my business success but my entire life and the lives of those who are closest to me.

What is some of the best advice he has given you?
Michael encouraged me to infuse more of myself into Hairbrained. He suggested that the more personal I made our content and the more our community felt connected to me personally the more we would grow. It has proven to be true.

What benefits have you found from Michael’s coaching/mentorship/advice?
In all honesty, I am truly a happier, better person, due to Michael’s suggestion to take up meditation. It is as if someone gave me the keys to limitless clarity and a whole new perspective on life and success.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I have so much respect and admiration for Michael, I don’t know if our industry will ever see another hairdresser who will reach the same heights in business again. The landscape has changed so much, but I hope we all can benefit from his wisdom and experience and make a go at it!