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Working As A Hairdresser

Working As A Hairdresser

Trevor Sorbie (Director) gives expert video advice on: How do you get your own salon?; Is being a hairdresser hard work?; What is a day in the life of a hairdresser like? and more...

Where does a hairdresser work?

The most obvious answer, and it almost seems, well, too obvious, the first answer would be a salon. But there are actually quite a few other answers to that question. You can work as a freelance hairdresser, like a mobile hairdresser, going around to people's homes. You can be a freelance hairdresser, and just work for magazines, in photographic studios. You can work in hospitals as a hairdresser, you can work on the ships, the liners, as a hairdresser. And if you are really a bit of a hippie, you can cut hair on the beach in the middle of Bali somewhere and still earn a living. So as long as you've got a pair of scissors, and a comb, and someone who's willing to cut your hair, you can be a hairdresser almost anywhere.

How do you get clients?

For me, it's all about the last haircut that you did. If you cut somebody's hair and they love it, it's not just the haircut they are enjoying, it's the whole experience. I think this is one of the skills of the hairdresser where you have to be good with people and not just "how were the holidays", none of that stuff. You actually have to be somewhat intelligent. You never know who's walking into your chair. It could be a lawyer, it could be a secretary, it could be a child, you know it could be anyone. I think part of the skill of being a hairdresser is to be able to adapt yourself into a conversation whereby not only are they enjoying the haircut, they're enjoying the whole situation. And that client, if she's happy, she'll tell somebody else. Or, someone might say, "oh, your hair looks nice" and she'll say, "yeah, I had it cut by Trevor", "oh, I think I'll try him", and gradually, you build up. There are other ways you can advertise but that's much more expensive and it's hard to quantify how much an advertisement really does bring in a client. I think the best way to gain clients as a hairdresser is to win everyone, or try to at least. Then, slowly, but very surely, you'll build up a very large clientelle.

How much can a hairdresser earn?

The earning capacity of a hairdresser varies depending on how high up the ladder you climb. But you start off at basically minimum wage, which is around about ten or eleven thousand per year, which doesn't sound very much - and is not very much - but it's par for the course. But, in this modern day world of hairdressing, where you can actually diverse so much and go into other areas such as products, etc. Sky's the limit. You can literally earn millions and millions of pounds, which some top successful hairdressers have done. Having said that, that's kind of a bit in the future for anyone, but being realistically some of my top stylists earn sixty to eighty thousand a year, and my creative director is on 120,000 pounds a year, which is a very, very handsome wage. And that's more than some lawyers and even doctors earn. So ... a lot of people think, ' Oh, you're a hairdresser, you know, you're not going to make much", but if you want to make it up that ladder and you're prepared to work your heart out, you can earn very successful money.

Is being a hairdresser hard work?

Yes, in one word. It's more about the stamina of having this smile on your face all day and that can be tough when you're not feeling so great. Standing on your feet for 8 to 10 hours per day, that can be hard on your feet, your back. You're physically working your arms and when you're blow drying someone's hair who's got thick, long hair and you're been doing this for an hour, you know you've done a blow dry at the end of it. It's very hard work and in my life as a hairdresser, I've had to do shows and stuff around the world and many times if a show started at 1, you're the first show on, I'd have to be up at 3 in the morning to prepare all the models for the 1 o'clock start. So things like that, but that's obviously the top of the tree, so to speak. But, on a day to day basis out of 10 people that joined me, for example, ten young assistants, I'd say four sort of stick at it and the reason the other six don't is it's physically too demanding for them.

What hours would a hairdresser in a salon work?

The normal hours for a hairdresser in a salon are from, basically, nine to six; six being the last appointment, which means you probably finish at about 6:37. We stay open later towards the back end of the week because, and this is general, most salons are not that busy Monday or Tuesday, and then it starts warming up on Wednesday, Thursday's busy, Friday's busy, and Saturday's packed. On Thursdays in my salon, the salon closes at eight o'clock at night. So, we start at ten. It's a long day, but if you're fully booked right the way through, you don't stop, and very often you don't get lunch.

What is a day in the life of a hairdresser like?

An average day in the life of a hairdresser let's take an assistant first. They would come in 45 minutes before the first client would enter the salon and their tasks would be basically to clean the salon to get it presentable. Which would mean any dishes or cups that had been used from the previous day would be cleaned up, the floor would be wiped over, mirrors would be cleaned, making sure that all the tools were in the right place making the place look spic and span. Which then the clients then would enter the salon and they would mainly for the most part be washing hair for the stylists. Making teas and coffees for the clients and providing them and also sweeping the floor because there's nothing worse even though hair obviously falls on the floor there's nothing worse than seeing a floor that hasn't been swept for a long time. So constant sweeping the floor and then there's helping clients on with their coats and you know being courteous to clients, shampooing as I mentioned. It sounds very menial but A. someone's got to do it and B. that's how you learn and I to this day still sweep the floor, I help clients on with their coats, I do the occasional shampoo myself and make coffees. And my philosophy is if I can do that menial stuff so can you but I'm teaching you the right way and for me that's my philosophy. Now a typical stylist day you've become a stylist and all of sudden that one day you've been an assistant and then you've passed your test or exam or what ever it is. And bang you're a stylist your world changes you become seemingly more important and juniors will look up to you and they want to be like you and you don't have to sweep the floor or it's not compulsory, You don't have to shampoo your own clients it's not compulsory. So you live a little bit of a grander life and obviously your job is to cut and style people's hair throughout the day. So it's not as demanding sort of physically in the sense that you know doing menial tasks but you have a bigger responsibility and that is the client in front of you. Where the assistant doesn't have that same sort of responsibility of messing somebody's hair up whereas the stylist does. So it's different pressure but that's what pretty much what stylists do everyday obviously cut and style hair.