Reaching Out to the Next Generation: An Open Letter from Akin Konizi

Published 12th Mar 2024 by Charlotte Grant-West

This exclusive 'open letter' from Akin Konizi, HOB Academy's International Creative Director, is a direct appeal to the hairdressing industry to ignite and inspire the next generation of hairdressers. Read and it and feel energised...

"As individuals we are all attracted to this industry for many different reasons – the creativity of hairdressing, the social aspect of meeting people or because we wanted a career where we could be our authentic selves. I personally wanted to work with people and at the same time be involved with fashion. 

Every day, we have the privilege of transforming not just hair, but also creating characters, affecting people’s lives, boosting self-esteem and confidence. We hold the power to uplift spirits, foster creativity and create long-lasting connections with our clients. So, it’s crucial that we collectively recognise the importance of upholding standards, not just for the sake of our industry’s reputation, but for the trust our clients place in us. Cutting skills lie at the very heart of what we do; a precise, well-executed haircut can make all the difference to how someone feels. It’s not just about shaping hair; it’s about sculpting their confidence and enhancing their individuality. 

Trends evolve, techniques enhance and client preferences shift. We are going through this shift right now as the haircut takes prominence on the red carpet, catwalks and on the street. 

In my opinion, we as hairdressers are holding up this evolution into shorter, more creative hairstyles! The fashion industry is pushing for change, the individual trendsetters are looking to be unique and stand out in the crowd, but as hairdressers we are looking to keep them looking beautiful and like princesses, natural and all the wonderful things that long hair gives except ‘WOW, this is me’. 

That’s because we are in our comfort zone, not taking risks. So let’s take the lead and encourage clients with beautiful long, commercial, safe hair to be brave and to be different, and lead their friends into a new era. The trend for long hair will never dampen, but short hair is having a resurgence right now and as professionals, it’s our responsibility to stay abreast of these changes and continually hone our skills so that we’re confident in our conviction. 

Hairdressing is still not a career choice for many young people, let’s face it how exciting is it to just learn how to trim? In fact, we are nearing crisis recruitment levels – so it is our responsibility to not only elevate our own expertise, but also elevate the perception of our industry, through ongoing training and development and make the whole industry look more creative, more fashionable and more fun! 

By showcasing the dedication, precision, and creativity required to excel in this industry, we can inspire future generations to pursue careers in hairdressing with pride and enthusiasm.

Akin Konizi

Beauty publications, TikTok and YouTube are bursting with videos to create your perfect hair at home – whether it is the latest colour craze, or DIY hair – our skills are being undermined and under the microscope like never before. We are not a do-it-at-home industry we are much more than that! 

We need to create an environment that fosters respect and admiration for the art of hairdressing. That starts with us; we need to value our own craft and communicate its significance to others. By showcasing the dedication, precision, and creativity required to excel in this industry, we can inspire future generations to pursue careers in hairdressing with pride and enthusiasm. We need to show what’s available not only as a career but as a journey. One that is full of excitement, passion and opportunities. 

Punk was not to everybody’s liking, including mine. But it was the explosion of creativity that was the birth of this most incredible industry for the last 50 years – and we need that back! 

Why would a young person be drawn into our industry? For there to be the right balance of creativity, consistency and service, we would either need to attract a youngster who has all three elements, or at least one. We are in a period where it seems consistency and service are the most important factors because there isn’t much creativity going on, but that will cost us dearly in the long run because without the creatives, there will be no inspiration for change and development. I’ve learnt over the years that the salons that are most successful are the ones where the leader – the owner or manager – is continuously monitoring the success of every individual hairdresser in the salon, and not focusing on just figures and profit. These are more difficult times where profit needs to be carefully monitored as the margins have progressively become smaller and smaller, but let’s not lose sight that people come to us for a great hairstyle and an uplifting experience. 

By maintaining high standards, prioritise cutting skills and fostering a culture of continuous learning and respect, we can ensure that hairdressing remains not just a job, but a revered and rewarding career path for generations to come."

Charlotte Grant-West

Charlotte Grant-West

Published 12th Mar 2024

Charlotte oversees the print magazine, website and social media channels at HJ. With over a decade of experience as a journalist, Charlotte was formerly Editor of Modern Barber and HJ Men, Social Editor at Netmums and Features Writer at Boots Health & Beauty magazine. She loves any products that make her hair bigger and more voluminous, and loves a behind-the-scenes peek at anything hair-related – whether it's a factory tour, BTS on a shoot or backstage at fashion week.

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