Growing up in Australia, hairstylist and businessman Rodney Cutler was destined to be involved in sports one way or another. “Sports is more admired than anything in Australia, other than health,” says Cutler, who entered hairstyling at the tender age of 16.
This story first appeared in the February 10, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
But following a semi-pro Australian football career, Cutler, 44, ended any professional sports dreams when he visited New York for the first time at age 25. “I went into Bumble and bumble [salon on 56th street] and I was like, Wow!” he remembers. “At that point, I saw my career was not going to be football. I needed to get all into hair.”
He started working for Bumble, and quickly realized the mind-set required for sports played into climbing the ladder in hairdressing. Today, Cutler owns four salons and his own hair care line, but balancing his twin passions wasn’t always easy. “I got more of a hard time from hairdressers for being a jock than from jocks for being a hairdresser,” he says. “Maybe because sport is easy to quantify. Fashion and beauty is so subjective on what is cool.”
For someone used to training in sunshine- filled Australia, foregoing workouts during New York’s winters was not an option, so Cutler took up running. Within a year, he ran the New York City Marathon and has since run 20 marathons, breaking three-hour runs four times. Next, he began dabbling in triathalons, and quickly became “obsessed.”
Cutler has competed in 100 triathalons — including four Ironman competitions. He is competing in the first NYC Ironman competition in August.
Perhaps his most remarkable feat was in 2010, running the Sea2Stars race on behalf of Shoe4Africa, to raise funds to help build a public children’s hospital there. The race covered 158.5 miles over six days from Mombasa to Tanzania and then climbed 19,600-foot Mt. Kilimanjaro over four days.
He attributes no tricks, superstitions or spectacular eating regimen to his running success. “I drink moderately and I eat whatever I eat. I don’t tend to like crappy food but I eat pizza and burritos and pasta.” Cutler says he often turns to the running mind-set if he’s going through a tough time creatively or businesswise. “Running really teaches you to suffer through the pain,” he says. “It has massive life lessons. It correlates in lot of ways.”