Life of a Stylist – Education Planning with Dafydd Rhys Thomas
The Hairdressing industry is so varied that it can be hard to know what path to follow. For the Life of a Stylist Series we have exclusively tracked down hair professionals from a variety of industry positions from tour stylists to A-list Afro barbers so that you can gain insight into the breadth of the industry.
For this week’s instalment of Life of a Stylist we spoke to Dafydd Rhys Thomas the global education manager for ghd about working for a huge global brand and the opportunities that are available in education.
What was your route into hair?
I’ve always wanted to be a hairstylist. My mum is a hairstylist and my grandmother was also. I’d always had a fascination with the industry both practically and emotionally – from the distinct smell of my mother’s salon to the emotional impact she had on her clients and also her clients on her. There was always a real sense of family in the salon.
Growing up, naturally I went through other ambitions. Airline pilot, a building surveyor, actor (I played a character on a welsh soap opera for two years), carpentry (I have a NVQ in carpentry). But there was always a draw or a pull back to the salon and in the end I feel like I just admitted to my passions and followed my dream. I perused an NVQ in full time Collage for Level 1 and then followed as an apprentice for NVQ 2 and 3.
How did your 2013 BHA win help propel your career?
Hugely, there are obviously the opportunity and door opening elements that follow winning such a prestigious award, but for me it was the confidence it gave me as a stylist. I have always been one to second guess my work and always somewhat doubted my capability’s and thought that it might not be good enough. After all we work in one of the most talent rich industry’s in the world. Winning a British Hairdressing Award was almost an industry seal of approval from my peers saying ‘yeah, your hairstyling’s pretty good!’ From there it gave me the confidence to run with my ideas a bit more and inevitably opens another layer of creativity. It’s truly was one of the proudest moments of my career!
But, as always my mother was on hand to ground me! On returning from the stage after been greeted by the presenters and shaking many of my icons hands on the way back to the table, I txt my mother to tell her the good news only to receive a message back telling me that we were both winners as shed just one a chutney at the local church fate! She was immensely proud however!
What is it like working with such a huge global brand?
Its amazing! I remember going to Salon International at the start of my career on a college trip and making a B-line to the ghd Stage! ghd has always been such an incredibly powerful force within the industry from it ground-breaking technology, its playful and feisty tonality and its eye-catching shows. I remember being on the bus home and all the students discussing who bought a pair of ghd’s! I always talk about myself being on of the lucky ones, and in that I have only known our industry to have ghd’s from my training I’ve always been lucky to have a pair in my kit! I’m a huge believer in surrounding yourself with people and assets that you believe in and feel reflect you. From the salon you work in to the team or friends you surround yourself with. ghd is all about shaping the hair to look and feel its best. Health of hair is incredibly important and ultimately giving the client or model the hair of their dreams makes them stand a little taller, walk a little stronger and feel like they can achieve anything that day! That’s what we do, we give women the ability to control their hair so they can live their lives fabulously!
What challenges have you faced in your career so far and how did you overcome them?
So much changes over the years, but that’s what keeps me hooked! The biggest change I’ve had is of course making a successful transition from a salon stylist to working for a global brand. To be honest though, it’s been pretty easy! It might sound fabulous and possibly look overwhelming at times – however I am a hairdresser and I teach hair to hairdressers. I have always had a passion for sharing through my career and what I do now is nothing more than explaining to a college how to do that Kirsten wave in the staffroom between clients. ghd yes, is a global brand but our main focus is to be continually connected with hairstylists. The ones that are in salons, styling their clients hair every Saturday for that night out. We need to make sure that our brand is constantly talking, adapting and offering the best education and support to our Brand warriors in salon. And to do that we just need to maintain that hairdressing heart we’ve always had and make sure we educate as if were back it that staffroom talking with the team!
What are your top tips for future talent that want to get into the more educational side of the industry?
There are so many great opportunities in Education. I managed to travel around the world through education whilst maintaining my column in the salon for years. I think the important thing is to think about who you are. I quickly taught myself this early on and found my ‘niche’.
Once you have it, then you need to market it. The best thing for this is social media. Your Instagram is an incredibly useful tool. Once you’ve found your unique style, stick to it! I constantly look at people’s style and looks. There are some incredibly talented people out there that can turn their hands to anything, however the major players are all the ones who know their style and stick to it! Think of it from a brand’s point of view – If I want gorgeous waves, I go to X, If I want the latest editorial looks, I go to Y and if I need the most elegant bridal look I go to Z! If you do everything you have a stronger chance of getting lost in the noise!
What’s your styling philosophy?
That hair needs to move and feel like hair! I’m not a fan of hair that has been styled to within an inch of its life and results in your client leaves the salon walking like a robot with the fear that a hair should fall out of pace! I love it when girls have the confidence in their hair and that style! To have the ability to flip it from side to side and have the playful edge to the way they interact with it! When I educate I always refer to my ghd as a moulding tool. You mould your hair to how you want it to sit. You should never ‘just curl’ your hair then brush and hairspray it into shape! From the preparation of your blow-dry to the direction/angle and tension of your tool everything should have a reason so that when it comes to dressing your hair, it’s the easiest motion. This way when your model walks or your client leaves the salon every curl, crest or sweep stays in place as that’s where it was designed to sit! That way she will truly have confidence in her hair!
Do you have a signature look you like to create?
A gorgeously brushed out wave with a deep side parting with plenty of volume and an A-lister flip in the front! I think the key to this look for me would be to get a really airy brush out into it, not flattened and pinned. The key to this is again getting a good prep into the hair, making sure you angle the roots in the right directions and making sure that the curl you place in your hair is the correct one! All this comes with confidence – confidence in what your creating, in how you’re creating it and in what you’re creating it with!
What are your most reached for products in your kitbag?
Probably my most reached product is our new Gold styler! The ghd Styler is such a versatile tool and I can create just about anything with it. With the advances in heat technology we’ve implemented in our the new Gold styler I know that I could take this and only this to any show, shoot or Seminar and get the look I want.
Where do you see your career going next?
Who knows… We are blessed to work in an industry that is ever evolving and changing, from the looks that we create to the tools that we create it with. This constant evolution of the industry is what keeps me hooked! I am blessed to be working with the best and a brand that is ever evolving and adapting to the needs of the industry. Always bringing out new and exciting innovations and always looking to make the life of the hairstylist better. As long as the journey continues to be exciting and enjoyable I’m here to keep playing my part in driving our industry forward..
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