Hey there, I wanted to tell you a bit about how I arrived at creating The Resilient Hairdresser.
I started hairdressing at 17, I know a bit late, but I had a detour into A levels first for a year. Anyway, I finally found my passion, joined a salon, and started college one day a week. I very quickly decided to be a colour technician. My main reason being that I found the technicians to be the funniest people in the salon! Turns out this was the best decision I made as a 17 year old and has served me well now for nearly three decades.
I worked hard as an apprentice at a high end, old school salon in city centre Manchester for 2 years….then Toni & Guy came to town. I jumped ship and worked my way up through the company to Art Director. I worked for T&G for 10 years. I taught in their training academies and on stage for them. I worked at branches in Manchester, Brighton and Belgium. I even taught NVQ in their training schools too.
It was an exciting decade to work for the company. I will be forever grateful for the the skills, training and opportunities I received with them.
For the next 9 years I worked at a wonderful independent salon in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. This too was an exciting time, breaking away from a big named company and doing things our way.
I worked hard and played hard; I felt at the top of my game. It was during this period I started to burnout. Looking back now I realise I did not have the skills to look after myself. I had suffered with depression on and off since I was a teenager, and now it was back.
I was finding it hard to manage the day to day pressures of busy salon life on top of my depression, so I went and got some therapy. This was the best thing for me and I can honestly say changed my life.
After two years of therapy I started to become interested in it beyond what it was doing for me. Sadly I was disillusioned with the culture of hairdressing at this time too, and couldn’t imagine myself carrying on long term, so I decided to train to become a psychotherapist. This took 4 years part time along side my full time hairdressing job.
During my first 2 years of training I remember I saw everything through the lens of hairdressing. I kept thinking hairdressers should know this stuff! Many of the presentations I did during my time in training were about how the theories I was learning related to hairdressing.
After I qualified, I made the huge decision to quit hairdressing and began working as a psychotherapist full time, although I still did a few client’s and friend’s hair in my kitchen as you do!
In my new psychotherapy role I very quickly started to specialise in teenagers as I love this age group. I always have. I promised myself as a junior I would never forget what it was like to be one, and I don’t think I have. Teaching the assistants in salon was always one of my favourite things and here I was gravitating to that age group again.
I worked as a therapist for 3 years and absolutely loved it. However I always struggled with the solitary nature of the job. I realised eventually that the loneliness of the job was affecting my mental health. Around this time I was offered a job in a salon and after previously turning all offers down I agreed to do one day a week for them. This balanced out the therapy work where I had no colleagues for a while, but eventually I noticed I was happier on the days I spent in the salon.
What a strange turn of events this was for me! I noticed the things that had previously worn me down about hairdressing no longer bothered me. It seemed the skills I had gained through both having therapy and practising it were serving me well.
Eventually I made the leap back into working in the salon full time. I had come full circle.
Thinking about the future as I reached my mid- forties I considered if I wanted to be salon based full time for the rest of my career. There were suggestions of returning to teaching hairdressing but I wasn’t sure. I was musing over this with my oldest client one day, she has been with me since the T&G days. She is a business coach and she told me to think about what was special about me. So I gave it some major thought. I remembered the presentations I wrote about hairdressing life for my therapy training, they used to go down a storm. I remembered my psychotherapy teacher had told me I had a gift for teaching and should consider going into education. I had brushed it off at the time but now I could see it all coming together.
All the workshops and training I offer started with those ideas I developed years ago, and the strategies I teach come directly from those psychotherapy theories I thought hairdressers really needed to know. I have such a passion for therapy work but also for hairdressing. I’m thrilled I have found a way to marry them together and also help my fellow hairdressers. I now do this full time.
My aim now going forward is to arm hairdressers with the tools they need to avoid the stress, anxiety and burnout that I suffered with. We need to change the culture of salons by making resilience training as important as keeping up with new techniques.
Let’s do this!