Careers

How To Go From Apprentice to Salon Owner in Three Short Years

by charlottegw / last updated October 21, 2019

hairdressing apprentice chris derrick

Chris Merrick has had a whirlwind couple of years, going from apprentice to the salon owner of Blue Tit Crouch Hill in just three years! HJ caught up with the tour-de-force to find out how he’s climbed the ladder so speedily.

How have you gone from apprentice to salon owner in record time? What’s the secret of your success?!
A lot of hard work and determination! I think knowing exactly what I wanted was the secret to my success too. I started my hairdressing career at a later age so I was older than the other apprentices. I always knew I wanted to run/ own a salon and knew that in the process I needed to become a manager first to gain all the experience needed. I was lucky enough to work for a company and work alongside three directors that not only wanted to work in partnership but also pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me achieve things I didn’t even realise you wanted to do! During my time in management I have got involved in education for Blue Tit, stage work at Salon International, photo shoots, session work and lots more.

I was lucky enough to work for a company and work alongside three directors that not only wanted to work in partnership but also pushed me out of my comfort zone

What was your route into hairdressing?
At age 24 I decided I wanted to try a career in hairdressing. I managed to find a salon in east London that would take me on. As an apprentice, the money side of things was a struggle so I worked two jobs for one and a half years. During this time I also attended college where I was given my NVQ. After leaving this salon I landed a job as an assistant at Blue Tit London which is where it all began!

What are the pros and cons of your role?
I think the pros of my role is that feeling of knowing it’s your salon – it’s your baby! It’s super motivating. Also getting to build your team, create a family and create the atmosphere is great. The cons is probably the pressure that comes with the job. Working every day to build that reputation, trying to create the best working space, creating that perfect balance in your team and then the money side. But all of this can definitely be turned into a positive and used as motivation!

blue tit crouch hiil

What are your tips for building a name in the industry?
I think the best way you can build a name in the industry is just to put yourself out there! Do things that scare you and challenge you creatively. Produce your own shoots, work with make up artists and other hairdressers. Assist on shoots. Try and land yourself a spot on stage with the team that you work for. Getting involved in things like Hair Club Live where it’s an open stage night and you can go on stage for no longer than 10 minutes and show off whatever you like! All of things are scary but will build you as a person and slowly get yourself known.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career so far?
I think creating a solid team and working environment has been the biggest challenge. For me, success and money will come when you have a happy motivated team. It can take a while as some may join and then leave, some may not be the right fit for the team. Once you have that perfect harmony then that team becomes a family.

For me, success and money will come when you have a happy motivated team. It can take a while as some may join and then leave, some may not be the right fit for the team.

What’s your proudest moment in your career?
The proudest moment would definitely be the opening party for Blue Tit Crouch Hill. During the day we had a lot of press come in for treatments and services as well as bloggers and influencers. In the evening we threw a big bash for all of Blue Tit, there were DJs, a bar and friends and family! It was an amazing moment to step back and take it all in and see all the hard work pay off.

What are your tips for someone aspiring to have a career like yours?
My main tip is something my parents always grounded in me. Create yourself a life plan. Start off small with a 6 month plan, then a year plan, two years, five years and an end goal. Doing this and having set times in which you want to achieve everything will give you a clear mind and outlook on everything! Also approach the people you work for, let your aspirations be known and clear to them, show them interest whether it be you want to join the art team, become a manager, or own a shop! They will appreciate your motivation and desire and help you towards your goals.

Approach the people you work for, let your aspirations be known and clear to them, show them interest whether it be you want to join the art team, become a manager, or own a shop!

What Instagram accounts do you follow for in?
@hairbrained_official is a great account for inspiration and to see what is going on around the world in the hairdressing community. The main account I follow for education and inspiration is @hairtribe.tv They are an online education platform created by the talented Perry Patraszewski (director of Blue Tit London) and Steve McManus. They feature amazing artists and stylists from around the world and each video is set in a different and beautiful location. To top it all off, they are the first platform to go completely FREE! Their global mission is to spread knowledge and education.

What’s next for your career?
Having just started a family, I will be continuing to grow Crouch Hill, its team, clients and make it even more successful. In a couple of years time I will be looking at opening a second brand with Blue Tit…

What are your go-to products?
Without a doubt, my go to products are Oway/ Organic Way (@owayofficial). They produce professional hair and body treatments following the principles of sustainable Agricosmetics. Everything is organically produced in Italy and they practise bio-dynamic farming which is the purest way of producing the ingredients that go into their beautiful products. They smell great, feel great and clients absolute love what they stand for. They are ahead of the game.

At the moment it’s very difficult financially for anyone over the age of 19 who lives alone to be able to afford to work in salons/ attend a college. There is so much undiscovered talent out there that may not be able to get into the hair world!

If you could change one thing about the hair world what would it be?
Based on my history with how I personally got into hair, I think it would be to change the entry route in which students get into hair and try and make it more accessible for people who are older but really want to get into the hair world. At the moment it’s very difficult financially for anyone over the age of 19 who lives alone to be able to afford to work in salons/ attend a college. There is so much undiscovered talent out there that may not be able to get into the hair world!

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