Joe Mills Reveals How He Juggles Multiple Roles
The men’s session stylist has successful female and men’s salons in London and has recently launched a new brand called MILLS in two UK Primark stores. Find out the secret behind Joe Mills’ multi-faceted success…
What was your route into hair?
I started at 16 and worked as an apprentice in a salon. I went to college to get my City & Guilds qualifications and then my journey started. I moved to London in 1990 and landed in Soho. That’s when it started to get really exciting.
Can you tell us about your current projects?
I’m working on a couple of different projects at the moment. We launched a new brand, MILLS x Primark and have just opened our second store in Manchester. I have the two brands in Soho – The Lounge Soho salon and Joe and Co barbershop, which has just been named a finalist for Barbershop of the Year at the British Hairdressing Business Awards. We are opening a site in Notting Hill for Joe and Co and then a second Soho site at the end of the summer. I’m working on a couple of other projects that are outside of the industry which I’m really passionate about as well.
What are the pros and cons of your current role?
You are your own boss so you have all the freedom but with that comes the responsibility. I have a lot of people who work for me and I don’t take that role lightly. Every day is exciting and scary at the same time. If it’s too easy everyone would do it. However, I wouldn’t change a thing. Every time I walk into one of the stores, I am reminded of the work taken by my team and myself to get where we are and that always puts a smile on my face and grounds me.
What are your tips for building a name in the industry?
Be honest to yourself and your craft as there are no fast tracks in life. Make sure you surround yourself with like-minded people and things will happen. Social media is a great platform, but I still think hair and barber shows are amazing for getting your work out there. Make sure you know where you want to go – if it’s session work then assist the best people you can and learn. If it’s education, then decide who inspires you and see how and why. Do your research.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career so far?
At the time they seem like mountains, but after you have climbed them you look back and think that was OK. I think the day-to-day management of me, my time and making sure that I don’t spread myself too thin is my biggest challenge. It’s easy to over promise and I’m lucky that I have a very understanding team. I oversee all of the brands and develop the new ideas and see them through, which is a task on its own along with clients and a lot of session work. Without the team around me this would not work at any level.
What are your tips for someone aspiring to have a career like yours?
Work hard, be humble and listen.
What’s your styling philosophy?
It has to work for the hair and the face – use the right product and it will do what you want it to do.
What are your favourite Instagram accounts?
It has to be @jodytaylorhair and @charlieculleneducation who both work alongside me. In the USA it’s @personsofinterestbarbershop and @beautybyqwolf.
What’s next for your career?
I don’t really have a five-year plan as such, but I know where I want to be. I want to develop the teams around me and build a solid education platform across all the brands. This year we are starting to enter some of the industry competitions. I would like to do more of that and bring some of the team along on that journey. MILLS as a brand is exciting but I’m also thinking about where Joe and Co and The Lounge fit and can be developed further, so watch this space!
This interview originally appeared in the September 2019 issue of HJ.