Life of a Stylist – From Cardiff to Tokyo with Jason Collier
Life of a Stylist is back for 2020! The series focuses on the many paths of the hairdressing industry which can be hard to know what path to follow. For the 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. This week we spoke to celebrity hairdresser Jason Collier.
Jason currently splits his time between the UK and Japan, styling the hair of the stars and working as a brand ambassador for US brand Shea Moisture.
What was your route into hair?
My mum was a hairdresser so all I remember her styling my nan’s hair in the kitchen every weekend. That was the starting point for me.
Then at 14, I started at a salon back home in Cardiff called Constantinou. I then moved to Ken Picton for a couple of months, before heading to Toni & Guy where I did my basic training with them. When I then moved to London I started with Cobella when I was 17.
When did you move abroad?
I moved away five years ago. I started living between here are Guernsey and my friend and I had a salon in Guernsey called White Room and I was there for about two years, and then I got a little bit sick of island life. So I came back to London full time and continued freelancing mainly working with celebrities and I travelled with them quite a lot.
What difference between styling in the UK and other places?
London in particular is very strange in that you can automatically tell where someone lives by the way they style their hair. You have the Sloane girl, a wavy blow-dry, hair that is more polished, compared to the bohemian north London, Kate Moss look, which is looser with a little bit more textured style. Then you have the east London craziness! South London is a little more mixed, it shows just how diverse that part of London is.
The UK compared to Japan, it’s a totally different level again, the girls are very preen and put together – elegant. With the boys it’s got a chav meets K-Pop mixture going on.
In America the looks are polar opposites: it’s either really big hair or it’s very long and blonde – LA-style. Then with the Spanish, everything has to be structured, big, flowers and trees. It’s very extreme.
Do you prefer session life compared to being in the salon?
I like to do a both. I think I’m lucky to have a small amount of clients that come in every week and I will do four or five days in the salon, a couple of the press and then I work for a colour brand, I’m one of their ambassadors and we will do some education programs and courses.
It’s really nice to teach and pass the knowledge on and of course we will do some shows. I will also do fashion week sessions. I have missed out over the last two years, as I’ve been too busy doing everything else.
What does your work as an ambassador entail? What are the key things you have to do?
One of the key things I have to do, is getting people to know more about the brand and spreading the knowledge, especially with Shea Moisture, everybody normally puts it in a box and its specifically for Afro hair type only, yes that where they’ve started and that’s where there roots are, but the company has expanded into different areas. It’s about educating people.
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced in your career so far?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced is balancing my work and personal life. Especially when you’re starting to build yourself, you can’t say no to anything as you don’t know what’s behind that door and what opportunities might present themselves to you, once you’ve established your career then you can be more picky.
What are your top three tips for apprentices and junior stylists?
1. Perfect your craft
2. Take every opportunity as you never know where it might lead
3. Make sure you never fall out of love with hair
What is your styling philosophy?
Sexy, beautiful, wearable. I’m not into lots of crazy colour or sharpness, as beautiful as that is, it’s just not me. I like real, simple and chic, a French girl look, done but undone.
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What are your favourite Instagram accounts to follow?
Chris Appleton – Even though he’s a reality star, he’s been able to take it on the head, and lead his career in a very good direction.
I don’t find too much inspiration from Instagram, it bores me a little, as it depends to be a lot of the same things, like balayage or super glossy looks, as that’s what’s getting all the likes. At the moment I wanted to explore K-Pop hairstyles and a collection around that, as I think that’s something. If you look at men’s British hairdressing, it’s all quite similar every year, there’s not much colour variation, that might be something I’ll do this year.
What is your most reach for product in your kit bag?
Most reached for is probably is the Shea Moisture Weightless Texture Spray. The reason I love it is if I haven’t got time to wash my hair, I can spray the product in and not only does it make my scalp feel fresh again, but you can build it up daily and it will never go sticky on the hair, it feels like scrunching water into your hair, but it dry’s really well, without losing any shape.
My second one is, Design.Me Puff Me. It just gives huge amount of volume and its good for session work and on shoots. On a day to day basis, it can be a bit too much, but on a shoot, it’s perfect.
Where do you see your career going next?
We’re looking at some properties! The problem with properties and salon owners, it just takes time, the right location, it’s not something I want to jump into right away. But also I might look into going into an airport or something like that, or a quick blow-dry bar. At the moment, I don’t know where I’m going to be in the next two years, I’m just happy carrying on doing a little bit of education, and being an ambassador and hopefully the salon will come along at the right point.