Starting out in hairdressing can be tough. But being a junior is the step that all established and world renowned hairdressers took to forge the careers that they have today. Especially with apprenticeships, which come in many different forms nowadays, there's just some things that will always apply across the board. For HJ's Apprentice Week, we asked a few of our favourite hairdressers a simple question - if you could turn back the clock and give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?
Jo Irving, Salon Owner & Life Coach: My advice would be - just do it! Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks. You are about to go into one of the most fun, exciting and creative industries ever. Don't let your fear stop you from enjoying it all and going after every opportunity. Also – look after your back girl, it's your most important asset!
Leah Durrant, Owner of Leah Durrant Hair & Beauty: When you're a junior it can seem like there's a huge ladder to climb and that can be quite daunting. I would tell my younger self to 'Follow your dreams and never give up. It might be tough at times, but it will be worth it'. My advice to junior stylists is to never stop learning and practice as much as you can. Watch stylists in your salon, find tutorials online and be proactive about your education. Learning something new is so much easier when you approach it with a positive attitude, so always try to be the best version of you.
Jason Hall, Jason Hall Hairdressing: Pick a salon that fits your personality, keeping in mind they offer the education you’ll need. In time, you may want to specialise in something, but getting the full 360 degrees of the trade is important. Remember you’re there to learn and grow – and always ask for help. I’ve been lucky enough to assist most of my hair icons and have them mentor me and that’s inspired me. Identify who your mentor would be in your chosen salon.
Anthony Barnes-Smith, Q Hair and Beauty Group, West Sussex: As an apprentice, I was earning 36 shillings a week but the money didn’t matter to me. Learning did. I remember having to recite one thing I’d learnt every single day to our salon owner; now, I’d say that was a great ritual to have. I recall back then that he told me to stay as close to the best in the hairdressing competitions and watch, so I did. I went on to win many championships across the globe. Always listen and learn – it could be the making of you.
Jay Birmingham, Owner of Jay Birmingham: I would definitely tell my younger self to pay less attention to what other people think about you – as long as you work hard and treat people with kindness, you will go far. It is also important to keep your goals in mind and do your best to work towards them – but remember to have some fun whilst doing so! I have been guilty of working so hard and not allowing myself any down time or time to hang out with friends so I definitely think balance is the key to success for both your professional career and your personal life.
Tom Connell, Hair Art Director at Davines: Learn about more than just hair – learn organisational skills, photography, fashion, technology, finance. You’ll need all these skills to get where you're going.
Jason Hogan, Colourist at Josh Wood Atelier: Hindsight is a wonderful thing and some advice I would give to my younger self or any young colourist/stylist is:
- Be patient, good things come to those who wait
- Don’t compare yourself to others, everyone has their own path
- Be timely, show up early and be the last to leave... it doesn’t go unnoticed
- Make mistakes and don’t beat yourself up, learn from them
- Be kind to everyone you meet, people talk in this industry!
- And lastly... Always make time for a glass of wine and down time with a friend…. it calms the mind!
Lyndsey Ford, Owner and Founder of House of Ford: I'd tell myself that the creative process is hard. You start off thinking this will be amazing, then it gets tricky and you think it’s rubbish. That makes you think you’re rubbish, but if you work hard and stay focused, it will be amazing! Hard work, determination and focus will get you where you want to be, believe in yourself. Surround yourself with people who inspire you, support you and celebrate with you when you achieve. Be a team player and be kind, that includes being kind to yourself. If you see it in your mind, you can create it. Wear gloves and use hand cream, otherwise you’ll have hands 10 years older than the rest of you! When I was really young, I dropped accountancy to be a hairdresser, even though everyone told me I was wrong. I thought then (and I still think now) it’s the best industry in the world. If I could go back, I’d tell myself to stop worrying and just do it. That would have saved me some sleepless nights.
Phillip Bell, Creative Director at Ishoka: I was fortunate to follow the path that I believed was right for me and ended up becoming a hairdresser, but I was nineteen when I started out and lots of people thought I would be too old. I think it is important to follow your instinct and do what you feel is right, if I hadn’t done that all those years ago I’m not sure what I would have ended up doing. Also, don’t be afraid to try things as you may end up creating something brilliant but you will never know if you don’t try.
Karine Jackson, Owner of Karine Jackson Hair Salon: I’d tell my junior self not to be scared of trying different things, just give it a go anyway, you will learn! This is your chosen career not just a job, so embrace it and if you believe you will succeed. Everyone starts somewhere but it’s an incredible industry for sharing knowledge and the training on offer is phenomenal, so take every course available, network, and you’ll make some of the best friends of your life as well as building business you absolutely love.
Gary Taylor, Owner of Edward & Co: Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you don’t know what you want to do. I’ve always loved hairdressing, and I come from a long line of hairdressers. However you have to make a name for yourself. Believe in what you do, learn from those around you and do a proper apprenticeship, and then you’re allowed to break the rules. If you’re creative, let this side develop and enjoy the process as much as the finished product. In this life you’ll have more than one career, but they’ll all be in hairdressing.
Darren Ambrose, D&J Ambrose London: Focus, listen, patience and don’t run before you can walk! The classics take time to master and are the essence and foundation of any inspirational hair images you see. Aim to be in the industry with longevity and skill, rather than as a ‘one hit wonder’ – it’s an amazing career choice with endless opportunities but you have to put the work in first.
Alan Simpson, Managing Director, Contemporary Salons group: Right from the start, be clear on who you want to be or what you want to achieve in your career. I started at 13 years old and knew then that I wanted to learn everything I could – I was like a big sponge soaking it all up! I wasn’t bothered how many hours I needed to work each week in order to get the knowledge I needed – I used to do a lot of unpaid work in salons, just for the education and training it provided. Get involved in any competition work you can – it’s a great experience and helps improve your confidence. And don’t be afraid of asking questions or requesting help as it’s all part of the learning process.