led2At Volt we’re always curious about new talent. Which is why we leapt at the chance to profile four recent alumni of the Mastered programs. Mastered is a four month long online program that gives you the opportunity to be taught by industry heavyweights such as Nick Knight, Sam McKnight, Val Garland and Tim Blanks amongst others. Once enrolled, Mastered is committed to providing you with the right insight and openings, but also to hook you up with their network of creatives so you can collaborate and create your best work ever while learning from people who are at the peak of their profession. Working with this extensive list of industry people means the pressure is on; none of that laid-back college approach where you have months to turn around a project. As places on each program are extremely limited you’re more likely to be seen by their industry experts and get meaningful feedback on the work you create during your enrolment. A quick glance on the list of people involved should make your heart beat a lot faster as it is chock-full of serious heavyweights – no wonder they demand commitment, passion, versatility and above all, talent, from potential students. But it will pay off, the feedback from the first batch of alumni tells happy tales of work published in magazines and the excitement of your work being name checked by Vivienne Westwood!

Last week we profiled Photographer Lusha Alic; this week, it is Ledora Francis, a Hair Stylist.

ledselfWho are you and what is your background?

I’ve been a hair stylist for 14 years, and since September I’ve been in New York working as an editorial hairstylist. I owned Salon Miel in San Francisco for the last 6 years, where I had been written about in Glamour and San Francisco Magazine among others. I love the creativity of styling hair for editorial shoots. I like everything I do to have an element of weirdness to it, to be a little off, a little strange.

What attracted you to Mastered? What were your expectations?

As a hair stylist I am constantly signing up for continued education. I honestly think you can learn something from anyone, and I love seeing new perspectives. I’d seen an ad on Facebook and filled out the initial application. I was surprised when I didn’t immediately hear back. Even more surprised when over a month later I got an email asking me to expand on questions I had answered in my initial application as I’m so used to signing up for classes and workshops and just getting in. I was taken aback in an intrigued way when I then had another email back asking even more questions. When that happened, I researched more about the program, and became really excited about what they were offering.

led1Did you have any concerns about the online aspect? Was it easy to ask questions and get feedback? Did you feel you could access it any time of the day?

My initial concerns were about the program itself. Mastered seemed to be offering a lot without a lot of proof to back up what they were saying. They were brand new! Once we started though, I couldn’t believe the amount of fantastic information and valuable exercises that were offered in the program. The online aspect was especially easy because usually when I had time to work on the program it would be at ‘off’ times, or on weekends.

What was your best moment during the program?

The best moment of the program was doing the brief for Dazed Magazine. By that time I had built up a team here in New York, and we were able to bring together an amazing story. It was fun, creative, and the kind of weird hair I like to do.

And your worst?

The worst moments were when I just could not find the time to complete the assignments. For example, over Thanksgiving, when the entire US seems to shut down!

led3Do you feel the kind of work do you do now has changed after being exposed to a very demanding, high-end fashion world through Mastered?

I do think my work has changed. Getting direct feedback gave me an real boost of confidence. I think where I’m at as a hair stylist is having the ability, but struggling with feeling confident in expressing my creative ideas to the team.

What was it like to have Sam McKnight as your mentor?

Sam McKnight is sort of a hair legend, so, amazing! I really enjoyed watching his creative approach and him answering questions to the press.

Do you find the post-course online alumni helpful?

I think it’s extraordinary to have access to so many creatives. I’ve had the opportunity to meet two photographers, another hairstylist, and a makeup artist – all from the Mastered directory.

And finally, what are you working on next?

Tomorrow I have a shoot for W. Wish me luck!

Mastered has openings for new programmes, all of varying length and cost. Check out the website here. Be brave! Take that jump.

Words by Anna Bang


anna bang, Ledora Francis, Nick Knight, Sam McKnight, Tim Blanks, Val Garland,