12 Hairdressing Careers That Don’t Involve Working in a Salon
Working in a salon and having a thriving column is a much coveted career trajectory, but there are many paths to a successful hairdressing career.
From working backstage at The X Factor to perfecting hair at a funeral home, we uncover the diverse and rewarding routes a career in hairdressing could take you. Plus, those in the know share the skills and training you will need to ace your chosen path.
The hairdresser for the less-abled – Ian Marshall, managing director, Spargoland
“My hairdressing career began when I saw an advert in a salon window for an apprenticeship and thought it sounded brilliant – I’d get to chat to people and be creative. From the moment I set foot inside the salon, I loved it. And it’s only got more rewarding since I set up Spargoland, a salon for people with additional support needs, learning or physical disabilities.
Spargoland came about after my nephew Oscar was born with cerebral palsy. He made me realise that few places cater for people like him. For example, Oscar wouldn’t be comfortable having his hair cut in a typical high street salon in a chair. At Spargoland clients can sit on the floor or I can cut their hair while walking, basically whatever works for them. One of the challenges I face, however, is recruiting because it requires a lot of training and the right personality. I can’t help every client that needs me, so my ultimate goal is to educate the wider industry and encourage more salons to offer a service similar to Spargoland.”
The hairdressing influencer – Jaymz Marsters, salon owner and colourist
“I trained as a hairdresser as the social media boom was taking off, and I believe social media is a big part of the industry. I wouldn’t say I am a hairdressing influencer as such, but I do see myself as someone who uses Instagram to build a client base and encourage other stylists to build their social media presence. You can influence others, whether you have 50 or 500,000 followers. As social media has developed, it’s become more important to be consistent with your uploads.
With the new algorithms on social platforms you need to be regimented or you will fall off people’s feeds and your engagement will drop. Uploading content daily is something I must do, and because of this, I photograph every client and keep a catalogue of images to schedule uploads on a day when I am not in the salon. I also have content creation days, where I source models in my local area to have their hair coloured to my choosing.
This allows me to create content for my social channels which I know will get high traction. Finding my unique selling point was a challenge, but if you are targeting local users see what others are doing in your area and try and tap into a ‘gap in the market’. No one around me was creating vivid hair so I latched onto it and moved my image and career in that direction.”
The TV stylist – Adam Reed, L’Oréal Professionnel editorial ambassador
“I’m currently heading up the hair team at The X Factor. Working backstage for live TV requires listening to what the client wants and what the show execs want. It is not the place to showcase your creativity as you have a lot of people to make happy. You should never do it for your own ego because it’s more about demonstrating your skill-set while being an outstanding communicator and creating hair with staying power. You need to be adaptable and really quick.
A lot of the time the people you’re styling are going on live TV so you need to make them look their best as calmly and quickly as possible, so they can focus on their job.”
The hairdresser’s photographer – Richard Miles, photographer
“As a photography university graduate, I wanted to specialise in fashion and beauty. My first test happened to be a hair shoot and I found hair imagery was a perfect balance of these two areas. My big break was shooting for Royston Blythe and Nick Malenko when I was 22. The shoot was featured in industry magazines and my client list grew from there. One of the best parts of my job is working with a team. Over the years I’ve built a good rapport with make-up artists, fashion stylists, hairdressers and models on shoots. I only have 10 to 15 minutes to get ‘the shot’ from each model, so I have to develop a relationship quickly. When shooting I try to bring the hair to life and to make it tell a story in a beautiful way.
I need the hair to be the hero. Re-touching is another important skill. You need to be sensitive enough to not spoil the intimacy of the image, but still remove any distractions that get in the way of the story. My advice? Let your own style be your unique selling point. Don’t try to copy others because they will always execute their style better than you can copy it.”
“I find hairdressing is upbeat, whereas trichology is intense and emotional, so it can be tricky to do both in the same day. I work as director of Trichology Scotland in a clinic on Monday to Wednesday and on the salon floor at Rainbow Room International on Thursday to Saturday. It takes around 18 months to two years to get a trichology qualification. If you are working at the same time it requires a lot of effort – you need to study about 20 hours a week and research on top of that.
The drop off rate for studying trichology is very high, but the job is so rewarding it’s worth the commitment. It’s the best feeling being able to tell people what’s going on with their scalp and how you can work together to improve it.”
The hairdressing business guru – Janet Maitland, managing director, Janet Maitland Hair Excellence
“As the owner of Janet Maitland Hair Excellence, I am responsible for the livelihoods of my employees – their salaries, mortgages and bills all rely on me running a sound business. I take my business role incredibly seriously, as should any manager, MD or director. I have to focus on the business side of things in order to excel, not just for myself but for my team too.”
The avant garde hairdresser – Shelley Pengilly, owner, Shelley’s
“My first experience of avant garde hairdressing happened when I worked as an assistant in a local salon and had the opportunity to go to a trade show with their team. I watched my first avant garde stage show and from that moment I felt so inspired. Avant garde work is not about pleasing others. It is pure art and an expression of what is in my mind.
My avant garde career flourished when I became a milk_shake ambassador. The brand developed and we began doing lots of shows which led to more creative avant garde pieces. The opportunities have magnified now that I am on the brand’s global artistic team and I’ve become milk_shake’s leading avant garde hair artist.”
The hairdressing marketeer – Nicolle Rimmer, marketing consultant
“As a little girl I wanted to be a hairdresser. But I went to a school that focused on university being the starting point of any career. I ended up doing a marketing degree, but I never gave up on hairdressing. Now 15 years later through hard work and dedication I live, sleep and breath the hairdressing world as a marketing consultant.
I love every moment working with salons, hair artists and brands helping them to build their businesses and raise their profiles. As an industry we need to be committed to educating schools and parents about the opportunities in hairdressing as they are endless. Children should be encouraged to find their true passion and build a career that will embrace this. A successful and happy work-life balance is having a job that you love so much that you will never have to work another day.”
The hairdresser for the homeless – Stewart Roberts, founder Haircuts4Homeless
“After a 40-year career in hairdressing, I launched Haircuts4Homeless. In 2014 I took my scissors to a Salvation Army Centre in Romford where I volunteer and the rest is history. Haircuts4Homeless has 47 projects across the UK and over 300 volunteers take part. We have completed over 35,000 haircuts for the homeless. Anyone who wants a career in hairdressing has to love communicating with people. Those living on the streets often feel they have no voice and are invisible.
But as great listeners, hairdressers are the perfect people to engage and build their confidence. We are planning to launch a Haircuts4Homeless Training Academy, where we can teach homeless people hairdressing skills and help them get back into work.”
People on the streets often feel they have no voice and are invisible. But as great listeners, hairdressers are the perfect people to build their confidence.
The prison barber – Lynndy Rolfe, freelance hairdresser and barber
“I’ve been hairdressing since I was 16, but I’ve always been interested in psychology and criminology. When I saw a position for a barber to educate at a local prison, I thought it would be perfect. I’m a big believer in second chances – being the prison’s go-to barber gives inmates a sense of fulfilment and they get a qualification at the end of it. We make it feel like they are in a real barbershop and barbering gives them a sense of purpose within the prison.”
The colour technician and educator – Tracy Hayes, head of technical information, Fudge Professional
“In my early days as an assistant, you would always find me in the colour department. I was fascinated with the science and colour combinations and seeing how the most dramatic colour changes would completely transform a client. I’d worked in top London salons and taught for many years for Sassoon, when I was approached by PZ Cussons Beauty.
They had recently acquired Fudge Professional and the opportunity to be part of a very small team and make the project our own was a great challenge. As head of technical information at Fudge Professional I am part of the process of formulating colours and building the colour portfolio. Education is key when it comes to technicality. It helps you understand colour placement within a haircut and the suitability of a colour for your client.
My advice for anyone wanting to have a career as an educator is to approach a salon that honestly believes in education, as this will provide the opportunity for personal growth.” The course: Wella Professionals’ Master Color Programme is a personalised programme that can take learners from being a good colourist to being one of the industry’s finest.
“Part of my role is preparing the deceased for viewing which can include styling, trimming and colouring the hair. It is so rewarding to bring the deceased into a dignified state, often this will be the last memory a family will have of their loved one.
When I am doing the hair, I always ask for a recent photo to prepare the hair as it was usually worn. We are often asked to colour the hair, touch up the roots, curl or straighten and occasionally trim the hair. I always shampoo and condition the hair, blow dry it and usually finish with a hot brush or tongs.
If you are interested in a funeral hairdressing career, go and talk to your local funeral home – it’s an industry which is always looking for compassionate and caring people.
We use products such as gels or mousses and I always finish it with hairspray to set the hair. Most people are elderly when they pass on, so the styles are usually simple and traditional. Some people wish to have their personal hairdresser come in to look after their loved one. If you are interested in a funeral hairdressing career, go and talk to your local funeral home – it’s an industry which is always looking for compassionate and caring people.”
This article was written by Charlotte Grant-West for our December 2018 issue. For more information on the courses that will help you on your way to your dream hairdressing career read our December 2018 issue.