Life of a Stylist: Jake Unger on Being Head of Education at 30
Despite just turning 30, Jake Unger has already become HOB Academy head of education. Here, he explains the importance of becoming an expert and sharing your knowledge with others.
What was Jake’s journey into the hair industry?
I initially started as a barber in a barbershop in Kent. About six months into my training, I decided I wanted to explore both men’s and women’s hair. I noticed an ad for HOB Salons in Baker Street.
I liked their location and ethos so I moved there. It was a big decision for a 16-year old. I was fortunate to be in a creative environment from a young age and I have always been encouraged to enter competitions.
My competitions journey took three years, but I eventually won Gold at the Wella TrendVision final. After that, I won the People’s Choice Award and became a member of the award-winning artistic team and I’m the current winner of the Fellowship Snapshot Image of the year. Entering awards has given me a lot of confidence, but it also meant the HOB family believed in me.
What is Jake Unger’s present role?
My main role is to uphold HOB’s standards and help implement fundamental techniques throughout our salon network. I teach our internal staff regularly, put together courses for our international students, as well as courses for us to teach when we visit other countries.
I was fortunate to be Akin’s assistant when I was starting out, so I was based at the academy rather than in a salon. It wasn’t a journey I was expecting but I am happy it took me in that direction. My main aim was to be an educator, so to be head of education is something that makes me really proud.
What are the pros and cons of Jake’s role?
The great thing about my job is being able to influence the growth of people through different stages of their career, whether it’s assistants or creative directors. I also get to travel the world and not many people can say that. The downside is the unsocial hours, late nights and weeks away from home, but it’s worth it.
What are his tips for building a name in the industry?
Work hard and find a great mentor and salon that will support your career goals. I was fortunate to find that in my first job, but I realise not everyone is that lucky. You have to go through the good times as well as the bad, but stick with it. Loyalty also helps so avoid moving around too much.
What challenges has Jake Unger faced in his career so far?
Growing up in a company can be hard as you have to go through many hurdles and there are so many people already ahead of you. People always think of you as the ‘young’ one, but at the same time it means you are more approachable and there is a mutual respect.
What are Jake’s tips for someone that aspires to have a career like yours?
Work hard and focus on particular aspects of your hairdressing. I have focused on hair cutting for the majority of my career, but once I mastered the foundations, I then focused on dressing hair. Try to be a master of one or two skills rather than a jack of all trades.
What is Jake’s favourite account to follow on Instagram?
I follow @ysl on Instagram because I like the aesthetic and take a lot of influences from the brand.
What is the Jake Unger signature look?
I like edge with a vintage feel. Everything I do has a classic shape with a few small changes to make it mine.
What are Jake’s go-to products in his kitbag?
Sebastian Dark Oil Spray, Sebastian Shaper Fierce Hairspray and Sebastian Craft Clay.
What’s next for Jake Unger and his career?
Who knows what the future holds right now, but I hope to win more awards, travel some more and be recognised as one of the best educators in the industry.
Check out Jake Unger’s London Hairdresser of the Year 2017 Finalist Collection.