Iles Formula Hair Talk With Max Pope

Iles Formula Hair Talk welcomes Max Gillies, the sought after Dallas based hair colorist, Owner of The House on Lovers salon and Founder of Max Pope The Edit a luxury online platform of curated hair care products. 

What would you term as your specialty within your trade?

 I am a colorist by trade. My days behind the chair are spent creating different hues of blonde for my clientele in Dallas. I am not the guy who is going to slam a million foils in your head just because you want to be blonde. I have spent a long time studying skin tones, lifestyles and naturally lightened hair. Believable, flattering color is my passion. 


What’s the most enjoyable part of your job?

No doubt, the relationships I have built. I get a crash course in 10-15 different careers and lifestyles a day. 10am a CEO, 11am a socliate and 12pm a doctor. Getting a glimpse into influential peoples lives is a privilege that I don’t take take lightly. It is a relationship of the up most trust. These women who sit in my chair gift me with the opportunity to contribute to the way the live their lives, through the way they look and feel. I adore it and am forever grateful for all the ways my clients have impacted my life. 



Why did you choose the path of hairdressing and was it easy to fall into this work?

Hair was my first choice. I left Alaska at 17 and moved to California  as fast I could togo to hair school.  As the oldest brother of 5 siblings, I spent most mornings helping my sister get ready for the day. Every day, I would wake up my sisters and craft some bizarre and interesting hairstyle for the day. We would spend night watching American Next Top Model and then re-create the styles we saw the next day! My poor sisters. They still get a scared look in their eye when I approach them with a hair brush.  I have really just traded the middle school French braids for the finicky balayage blonde but still very much still helping women get ready.  It is almost in my DNA at this point. It was and still is a very natural and fluid thing for me. As a salon owner a lot of my time is spent teaching and “raising” apprentices and young stylists and I always say “ I can teach you how to fold this foil, but I can’t give you taste, that’s learned.” This career, at the level I prefer to do it at takes a certain little thing. 


If you had not made the decision to be a hairdresser what would you have been?

Funny enough. On my days when this career gets the best of me, I have been know to day dream about being an attorney. Like full pin stripe, “OBJECTION! Your honor” energy. But I fear I would loose interest, it feels very beige and navy. Launching Max Pope the Edit, my new online curation of luxury hair care products has given me a little last of life out from behind the chair. I am enjoying the switch up. Funny enough I’m still yelling “OBJECTION” all day. Just to my business partner, not in a court of law. 



What is your greatest strength?

Without being boastful, I would like to think my greatest strength is Observing. I really enjoying understanding the person in front of me. Everyone is like a puzzle and they leave you little clues on their desires and intentions. Usually we are just too wrapped up in ourselves to notice. It helps me greatly in my career both behind the chair and with Max Pope The Edit, understanding what people want and how they want it. 


Your favorite hairdressing tools?

Don’t touch my Mason Pearson…… I need it at every single stage of the service. A good brush is forever.  A Velcro roller is a close second. 


Tell us about your relationship with Iles Formula. How you discovered us and which formula is your favorite?

I have a big crush on Iles formula, maybe even love at first sight from the chic packaging just daring you to pick it up. A dear client of mine, who is the right kind of out of touch reality actually introduced me to the brand a few years back. She picked it up abroad and immediately shot me a text saying “you need this.” Of course I listened and now we are in love. My favorite formula would have to be step 3. It is a product that surprised me, and I like to be surprised. It is buildable…shockingly buildable  to the point where you couldn’t overdo it if you tried. For a blonde seeking repair, power without weight is irreplaceable. Round of applause on that one Wendy.


What was the most challenging job you ever made? 

NYFW 2022. I was helping Kacey Welch (the exension extrodinare) create looks for Rebecca Minkoff. One of the models was designated to wear a long 24” silky STICK straight look. She showed up 20 minutes before she was supposed to be ready with a HARD AS ROCK bun on the top of her head. If I had pearls on, I would have clutched them. What you go through, you grow through and Im sure that poor model still has a headache from the intense brushing I did. She looked iconic….


What was your worst hair moment and why, privately or on set/stage or in the salon?  

When I was an assistant in Los Angeles before moving to Dallas, I dropped a whole entire bowl of shades onto a clients lap…including her cream colored Chanel. I also accidentally turned the base of one of my clients bright orange the week of her wedding. Mixing mistake. She never knew, we fixed it in the shampoo basin…the Chanel however…..she was gone. 


If you could style anyone’s hair, who would it be and why?

Oh wow. I am having a big major hair crush on Olympia Gayot right now. She is the current Creative Director for J. Crew and she is just has a captivating thing about her. I would love to work on her already stunning head of hair. Its my favorite kind of touchable, wild, sun-drenched blonde. Call me. 


Where do you pull hair inspiration from?

Behind the chair its all about the skin tone. The skin and the eyes tell me everything long before the client even expresses her desires. In the office with Max Pope the Edit, I am inspired by our industry at large. The hustle and bustle of new products and how invincible we can feel with the right products that make us look our best. Or better than our best even. In life I am inspired by travel, the smells of a new city or the way someone looks at you when they can tell your not a local. I am my most inspired in a space or place that is impeccably designed and thought through, also with a plate of really….really great Italian Food.


Your advice to young hairdressers starting out?

Listen, way more than you speak. You will loose more clients to gossip than anything else. 

I also preach to my team at THOL, to protect your energy. This industry is incredible and we are lucky to have no ceiling. But it can be extremely invasive and challenging to entertain 10-15 clients a day in the salon. Be kind, listen, OBSERVE but protect your energy. 

Also, as predictable as it sounds remain a student forever and always.  So boring to be set in your ways. 


What is Max Pope the Edit?

 Its my passion project. Maybe even more so than my salon The House on Lovers. Max Pope the Edit, is curation of the best of the best hair products grouped and gathered in a luxury shopping experience. We use defining categories like “The Blonde Edit.” “The Style Edit” or even as detailed as “The repair Edit. all to help the high end consumer navigate through the overwhelming world of hair products.  I have been very blessed to travel this world, and explore some of the best salons taking a little piece of knowledge from every person, place and product I’ve come across. Max Pope the Edit is the access to those products used by the best in the industry. I am beyond excited about it. We just launched on Valentines Day. I can’t wait to see where we go. 

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