Ashleigh Hodges

Geek out!

Meet Ashleigh Hodges, self-proclaimed ‘hair geek’ and It List IT GIRL 2014 winner


Ashleigh Hodges mum and dad
“I was born to be a hairdresser. When I was young I’d sit on the back of the sofa backcombing, plaiting and putting hair accessories on any willing victim, it was my first passion. I come from a long line of hairdressers – my great-nan, great-aunt and my mum all worked in the industry. My mum is one of my best friends and we work side-by-side every day. I truly value her opinions and she taught me everything I know, from how to deal with people to my love of fashion.”

Ashleigh Hodges and Matt
“I’m lucky that my partner Matt is also a hairdresser, so he completely understands that I normally work six or even seven days a week. We can bat ideas around and he’s always honest with me, which is what I need.”

“Flame Hair Studios is my second home – I was there before the paint was even dry. I started working at the salon on Saturdays when I was 11 and now I’m creative director. Part of my responsibility is to set out the training plans for our junior staff. I like them to try out different aspects of the industry, even if it’s not something they’re specifically thinking of going into, it opens their eyes to possibilities.”

Flame Hairdressing team

“We British are very patriotic, so to be able to travel the world and showcase our talent is a dream come true. Travel broadens the mind. I love international audiences and you always leave having learnt something new.”

“But while Brits are recognised as the best hairdressers in the world, it annoys me that we don’t get the same respect in our own country. I did well at school and I wanted to be a hairdresser. My teachers and peers couldn’t understand it, thinking I was going to ‘waste’ my education and go into a profession they thought was for dropouts, which really got my back up. My goal is to really showcase what great talent this industry has.”

Geri Halliwell Girl Power
“Girl Power ruled when I was growing up. We work in a female-dominated industry, but all the people at the top are men – I really want to change this.”

“I’m never without my camera, taking shots of the texture of a distressed wall or the soft colours of a flower. I love art, nature and architecture. There’s a big, wide world out there to explore and be inspired by – sometimes we just need to remember to look around us.”

Ash and Errol

“Errol Douglas MBE is my mentor and a good friend. I saw a show of his when I was 14 and just knew I had to work with him. I plucked up enough courage to phone his salon and ask about assisting him – I had to ring a few times to be remembered, but I’m very persistent. He took me under his wing and I’m proud to be his right-hand woman.”

“Perseverance pays off. I entered Matrix Destination.Fame for five years, so when I was announced as a finalist I knew I just had to win it! Then, last year I was awarded Artistic Recognition at the Matrix National Conference in Iceland. I wasn’t expecting an award, but it was a lovely feeling standing on stage with other winners.”

ghd ash fyodor
“Session styling isn’t the direction I want to go in, but I do love fashion – so I like to dip my toe into that side of the profession every so often. I enjoy the buzz of fashion week and always leave having learnt something new. It’s fantastic to see the latest trends as they hit the catwalk, through assisting backstage at shows such as PPQ, David Koma and House of Holland.”

“My first front cover! This editorial shoot will always be one of my favourites for that reason alone. I was shooting as a Matrix Destination.Fame winner in Creative HEAD. We were all given two buzzwords to use as our inspiration – ours were ‘famous’ and ‘iconic’. We wanted the ‘Famous’ models to look as though they were stumbling out of a club and hiding from the paparazzi. For the ‘Iconic’ look, I took inspiration from Betty Page and cut in a short, rolled fringe then created finger waves. I’m really proud of the collection and it was such an amazing feeling seeing my work on the front cover of Creative HEAD.”

“The fabulously weird Tim Burton has always been a huge inspiration of mine; I grew up with his films and fell in love with his quirky, dark style. He inspired my ‘Wonderland’ collection. I wanted to push all elements of hair – colour, dressing and precision cuts – to create a look that was weird but elegant. The coverage was fantastic, including pages in Creative HEAD, and Twitter went mad for it – I even got messages about how inspiring it was!”

Ash and Jack Whitehall
“Since winning the It List, I haven’t stopped. I worked at London Fashion Week for Kenna and Adam Reed for ghd, at the Matrix World Tour in Spain, and then a huge social event in Venice before jumping off the plane back in London for the Alternative Hair Show at the Royal Albert Hall. Just a week later I was in New York working on the next Matrix Global Trend Shoot. I have lots of exciting things planned for my Matrix House of Talent team, and will be working on several editorial shoots. And, of course, there’s still lots for me to do in the family salon!”

“I want to inspire others and show that you really don’t have to be from a big city to achieve recognition. I’m proud that I’m from a small salon in the quaint market town of Towcester in Northants. With enough passion anything is possible!”