Eden Sassoon, Founder, Eden by Eden Sassoon
Interview by Laura Piety
A Rverie conversation with Eden Sassoon, daughter of the legendary beauty icon Vidal Sassoon.
It’s Tuesday morning on a typically sunny Los Angeles day. The Sunset Strip is bustling. Covering the length of Sunset Boulevard’s journey through West Hollywood before crossing into Beverly Hills; the Strip is all fast cars and fast money, dodgems and dollar bills. Entertainment billboards line the street and rise above the Hollywood horizon touting the next big thing, while the iconic Chateau Marmont hotel cuts an impressive, if surprising, silhouette in the background.
Fighting traffic, which is the inevitable LA status quo, I wind round the corner hitting Sunset Plaza. A stretch of boutiques, spas and upscale sidewalk eateries come into view. I’m here to interview Eden Sassoon, daughter of the hairdressing heavyweight Vidal, and empress of her own burgeoning legacy. Her portfolio currently includes a Pilates studio in Beverly Hills, luxury salon in West Hollywood and increasing charitable work. After meeting at Eden by Eden Sassoon, an airy and neatly architected space dedicated to helping women look beautiful inside and out, we head to a local cafe to discuss the platform the Sassoon name has afforded her.
Petite, candid and wonderfully affable, Eden is one of four children who grew up under her father’s watchful eye, in a family well documented as experiencing both intense success and difficulty. Eden grew up in Beverly Hills, her family relocating to the West Coast from New York when she was just six months old. They moved a lot, around the neighborhood. “I kind of wanted to do a collage of the houses we lived in before Dad passed. We’d go from block to block and I’d be like, ‘Why do we keep moving around all the time? Can someone stay put!?’ Growing up it was normal to get dropped off in a limo by a driver. Dad went to work. My Mom had certain issues. My Nanny raised me, but it never changed the core of who I was.”
Vidal, was, and remains, a hairdressing legend. He grew up in London and after opening his first salon there in 1954, later expanded to the US with a New York branch in 1965. He was known for being an extremely hard worker, with similarly exacting expectations of his children.
“There was pressure. I grew up in a family that had, if you don't look good, we don't look good as its company’s motto. As I got older I understood what that meant more, but I watched my sister, who was 5 years older, become really affected by it.”*
Eden continues, “I kind of was like, ‘Wait. Why am I being judged for being a few pounds overweight? Why do I have to exercise? Why do I have to do things with such discipline? Why can't I just be a kid and play and do things how I want to?’ It didn't make sense. But there was a certain structure in the Sassoon household that came from a certain dis-structure.”
As a result, she had to learn later on in life how to stay grounded. In an honest admission, she notes, “I would move from apartment to apartment… to boyfriend to boyfriend... because I wasn't really comfortable.
It was lonely at times, but looking back and being a Mom now, and having gone through certain struggles, I understand a little about what it must have been like for my parents. Sometimes I think about how Dad tried to be a Father, tried to take care of himself, to be healthy. Tried to keep creating, keep the company together, keep his marriage together. Just like anybody. I mean how do you manage it all? You have to find your best tools.”
Before he passed away in 2012, Vidal questioned his daughter about what she wanted to do with her life and the impact she hoped to make. It is this conversation that seems to mark Eden’s growth into her own, propelling her to start the business and use her industry influence to give back.
“Dad asked me a few questions after I had my 2 children. He sat me down and said, ‘What are you going to do with yourself?’ I looked at him and asked, ‘What are you talking about? I'm a Mom.’
But I took that to heart. I said, ‘Okay, what am I going to do? I'm my Dad's daughter. He makes so much of a difference in people's lives and has for so many years. There has to be something inside of me too.’ But there was no way that I was going to do something that I didn’t love, and it had to impact people. My first passion was Pilates. I watched my body transform doing it. Within 3 months I had opened my own Pilates Studio. It got me through a lot of hard times and also acted as a safe place to help other women go through things in their own lives, while changing their bodies physically.
Between opening the Pilates Studio and her Salon, it’s clear that Eden’s aim is to create a space that encourages women to be whole from the inside out. I ask her why she is so passionate about helping women feel settled, known and beautiful.
“Women are emotional. Sometimes their emotions get misdirected and they don't know what to do, where to go, who to go to, or what to say, and they're lost. Literally lost.
There have been times in my life where I've felt like that too. I've experienced women come up to me in the Studio who just talk and cry. It's not like I said, ‘Hey, come talk to me.’ There's something that brings them to me, they feel safe and want to share. Their stories come out. There's cancer, divorce, cheating, there's everything you can possibly imagine. It's like, ‘Okay, I can handle this. I am grateful that you feel safe enough to bring this to me in the space I have created, that you have been able to share and let go, because you're enough.’
I feel that women don't know how powerful we are. When it's misdirected and misguided, you lose that power. If you take the ego out that intent, focus and drive, is so healing. We're different than men.
I've helped women gather their own inner power and strength. Sometimes it’s been through them just watching me, because I'm real. I'm not afraid or shy... sometimes that can get in my way, but that's okay. It's how I choose to live my life. It's infectious I guess. Women say, ‘Oh, wait, I can do that too.’ I have friends who are like, ‘You’re sober and stopped drinking, can I talk to you? I have some stuff I want to get over.’
Hearing Eden talk about her passion for women is quite unrivaled and during the conversation I get palpable chills. It’s clear that her own journey has toughened her up in the healthiest of ways, she’s smart and streetwise, but also incredibly soft and compassionate, clearly wanting her own experiences to speak to many other women going through their own personal difficulties.
But it’s not just that. Given the extent of her father’s legacy she is also aware of the impact her family name has in the beauty, fitness and wellness industries as a whole. She is a loyal supporter of the Thirst Project, a charitable initiative that seeks to impact the water crisis by mobilizing students and key brands in the US.** Eden is particularly passionate about helping the crisis because so much water goes to waste in salons across the country. Although this is a necessary by-product of hairdressing itself, Eden’s desire is to educate and empower the industry to make a difference by giving clean water back to those in developing contexts.
As we close out the conversation it’s clear that Eden has found her voice. Through her Pilates Studio and Salon, which will undoubtedly expand, she has created a safe space for women to come in and improve both their mental and physical core. Meanwhile, she’s also advocating for other charitable endeavors that are close to her heart. I ask what advice she would give to help others feel rooted and grounded in themselves, mirroring the journey she has gone on. “Ask yourself what you want. Where do you see yourself? What type of human being do you choose to be? How do you want to leave this earth, and what will you leave here? Be consistent and do what it takes to become that person daily, to be better, to make a difference and pay it forward.
I always used to say, ‘Dad I’m not feeling this today. I feel a little depressed.’ His response? ‘Darling, stop. Go do something for someone else.’
Now I understand, he’s absolutely right. Get out of your own way.”
*Catya Sassoon sadly passed away in 2002, the toxicology report suggesting she died of a heart attack brought on by an accidental overdose of the prescription drug hydromorphone.
**You can read our interview with their founder, Seth Maxwell, here.
For more information visit: http://edenbyedensassoon.com
Images courtesy of Eden Sassoon