What It's Really Like to Go Viral as a Hairdresser

Published 12th Feb 2024 by Charlotte Grant-West

For a lot of people, going viral for their creative work is a dream come true. When HOB Academy International Creative Director Akin Konizi posted a video on Instagram in December, never did he believe that it would be viewed more than 23 million times – and receive over hundreds of comments, both positive and negative. Here's how Akin felt at the time, his response to any negativity and how he feels about it now. 

"In December 2023 I had a Spanish group in our London Academy attending our Advanced Cutting Course looking to be motivated and inspired for the week. I was very lucky to have an incredible model who was a young, fashion designer at Central Saint Martins who asked me to do whatever I thought would suit her and her brand. While I knew not everyone would like the cut, I didn’t expect the reaction that it brought online!

She had an inch of black roots, with blonde ends and I didn’t have time to colour it. This was the perfect opportunity to create something that would completely enthral the client and bring out the creativity of the students. I completely unleashed with no thought of aesthetic and knew that whatever I did the model could carry it off, I just needed to make sure that she loved it. 

It so happened at the end, that she did love it and so did the students, but it was mad! It was even madder because I pushed the boundaries, and the colour made it look very strong. I wasn’t thinking about social media or camera angles, in fact once it was edited, I asked my social media manager to take out the piece that I thought would be offensive to non-appreciatives – the back area - but through miscommunication, it stayed in."

The Reaction 

"Two days later the video had had 12 million views! On checking the comments, the first 15-20 were lovely, and after that they were progressively getting worse and more insulting. By the time I got to about 150 comments I was ready to jump into the canal! But the views were coming in and my phone was on fire. Some 80% of the comments were insulting and cruel, not just to me but to the model. I didn’t sleep for two nights, and my team advised me to remove the video from Instagram. But I believed in my haircut, the skills and the craft of that hairstyle that was appreciated by the 10% of hairdressers who were inspired by it. That 10% were more important to me than the viewers who were enjoying a good laugh at the expense of me and the model. I wrote a response that explained why that haircut was relevant and I left it at that. 

Over the next three weeks another 12 million views came in, again 80% of which were cruel, but funny. I get the irony, I get the fun, I get the comments, but I realised that the people who appreciated it were more important than the 22 million who had a good laugh. 

I’ve loved every minute of the viral experience, and I think we need to be getting attention like this more often.

Akin Konizi

I’ve since posted a new video of the same girl; we coloured her hair and I reminded her to smile. I think it’s just as strong as the first haircut but not as shocking to the person who has no understanding of hairdressing so it got far less views… unfortunately! 

But I’m not in it for the views, I’m in it for the inspiration to our industry. I’ve loved every minute of the viral experience, and I think we need to be getting attention like this more often. If that was a long hair trim with balayage I would have got the usual 800 views, so let’s develop our craft alongside fashion, and let social media do what it does. 

Let’s not worry about it. It’s going to be what it’s going to be, let’s just make sure we believe in our own work. See the video for yourselves and make your own mind up. I don’t mind how you feel about it."

Charlotte Grant-West

Charlotte Grant-West

Published 12th Feb 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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