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July 15, 2023
Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life. It’s such a cliche but it’s mostly true. The difference in the career and life trajectories of the engaged and willing compared to the resistant quiet-quitters is stark.
Last week I celebrated 45 years’ work in our industry. In that time, I’ve helped develop hundreds of hairdressers along the path of mastery in their craft. Some came from ‘nice’ middle-class families, some runaways, some on prison day-release, some straight off the boat, and some were late career-starters after having children first or made multiple disappointing work choices.
Each has presented their own unique challenge, most were a pleasure and all an honour that they entrusted their training and development with us. To many in the snowflake generation, the word ‘work’ is laden down with a full suite of luggage, having generated so many negative associations which clash with their sense of entitlement. But for those who are optimistic and willing, resilient, and determined to build on a core foundation of professional abilities, work becomes a stepping-stone into a bigger brighter life.
Here at the salon we focus a lot on our training and development and the support behind that. How we develop our team into the people they want to be; to have strong capabilities, high professional status, high earnings, a quality lifestyle, and to enjoy the creative and social buzz that makes up their day. I think human development is the most ethical investment as the social impact ripples out to touch so many others. We’ve always put a lot of time and money resources into it.
Take a look at some of our key team starting with Mitchell. Between lockdowns Mitchell and Summer took over responsibility for training apprentices. This was very much about their own development and learning journey as much as the apprentices.
Their apprentice class of 21/22 saw four apprentices successfully graduate to young stylists. Millie-Rose, Daniella, Sidrah and Poppy are all building their own clientele whilst continuing with more advanced training. The training never stops.
Many trainee stylists I knew had a relaxed view towards their apprenticeships, but at sixteen I felt differently. Perhaps my amateur boxing had instilled a discipline at a young age, because If you didn’t take your learning seriously, you got hurt, physically
I started hairdressing seeking high standards and as Michael’s assistant, I witnessed a sublime quality of work and how to maintain loyal relationships; many of his clients have been seeing him for over 40 years. I continued boxing until eighteen and it helped keep me focussed on my hairdressing training. Hair and boxing took up most of my life.
I started by building a clientele of training models, many are now clients even with the price difference, and then acquiring new clients as my skills progressed. Michael introduced many of his clients to me and having to replicate the work of the boss petrified me at first but in time I became more confident as the clients stayed with me. Our clients are diverse, successful and multinational. I’ve learnt so much from them about life both directly and subliminally.
To keep my work up to standard and continue my development, I attended extra training sessions after work, usually run by Michael or another senior stylist. From these sessions I continued to fine tune and develop my skills and knowledge.
The salon is also involved in many shows and events and I’m fortunate to be part of the Session Team. I use my experience of catwalk shows as inspiration for our in-house quarterly soiree. My involvement in this means I have to research into new ideas and techniques used in our industry both past and present, continuously looking at fashion and hairdressing magazines, across the internet, and picking the brains of the other amazing stylists I work with.
I’m fascinated by the fashion world and take pride in my appearance. Unlike many salons we do have a dress code of dark professional colours., and it allows me to have two wardrobes so to speak, my smart work wear and my home wear. I’m a member of Home House and like to visit other clubs and restaurants to pick up the vibe of the London lifestyle scene which relates back to the clients I have in the salon.
After my initial success within the salon, I had an opportunity to be a stylist for QVC, the shopping channel. I managed to complete more than fourteen shows in a two-week period and juggled a very busy salon diary before and after working hours.
I’ve also taken responsibility along with Summer to head up our in-house Salon Academy. For these sessions I choose a specific technique or style and present with a model and then oversee the young team creating the same style. The teaching helps me more than anything, as it clarifies what I know and makes my knowledge of the industry feel more solid. The Academy runs on Monday and is backed up with one-to-one training with the apprentices and their mentors during the day.
I’ve loved working on fashions shows with Julian Macdonald, Bruce Oldfield and Jenny Packham in amazing locations. It’s a much faster pace than salon work; demanding, exhilarating and a high-glamour interlude in the working month. I’ve also started to learn presenting on video; some varied work for the salon, some dedicated to training. These will start to go out through our social media channels.
I’ve learnt the importance of training our support staff and apprentices to be as pro-active as possible. Keeping them on track and setting their development goals and targets on a daily, weekly and monthly basis has kept me motivated and ensured my education in the industry continues.
Michael Van Clarke offers a partnership within the business once you show you can manage a sustainable clientele. I was offered this position of a Partner at a very young age, one of the youngest.
I like working in central London and I’ve just bought my first apartment. I can see so much to go for in my career, and the support is here to help me. Life is good.
Michael Van Clarke
September 30, 2023
September 29, 2023
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