Questions by Creative HEAD. Answers by me!
What led you into hairdressing?
My mum recognised that I was quite disillusioned with school and thought hairdressing would be a great trade for me to have. It was all very orchestrated; she made an appointment for me to get a haircut with her hairdresser, which turned into an interview. The boss approached and greeted me with ‘I believe you want a Saturday job?’ It wasn’t a difficult decision for a teenage boy to make looking around a salon full of attractive women. The rest is history.
Which hair artists spark your imagination?
I look to all levels of hairdressing. It’s not just about high-profile artists – I can be equally inspired by the next generation we meet and interview for the L’Oréal Colour Trophy. It’s exciting and inspiring to see fresh talent with a real hunger and love for the industry, which can sometimes be missing from artists who have been in the business a long time.
And which hair artist have you always admired?
Sam McKnight and Guido. Sam was one of the first guys I really looked up to. He looked after all the supermodels, and I was lucky to work with him and these iconic supermodels at a fashion show in Dublin when I was 21. Sam was the real deal. He was doing proper editorial hairdressing, all the big Vogue covers, you know? He was responsible for the Linda Evangelista look. I’ve been very lucky to have met him; he’s a lovely man, a gentleman.
Guido is incredibly inspirational for me, especially when doing shows. I always think, ‘How would Guido handle it, what would he do?’
Who has counted the most in your career?
At the start of my career I would say Gary Kavanagh, who at the time was an educator in Peter Mark’s. He took me under his wing, gave me belief, pushed me and really guided me at a time when I didn’t know what I was doing in the hairdressing industry. It’s so important to have a mentor early in your career. He’s a great guy and very well-respected in the Irish hairdressing industry.
But my wife, Charlotte, has counted most in my career – by far. She’s helped me and supported me through everything.
Describe yourself in three words
Driven, honest and loyal. Though I’m sure there are people who would use more than three words to describe me!
At which point do you think you found your style, your niche?
I’m called ‘Bob Dylan’ in the salon for a reason. I have always loved cutting bobs! Saying that, last week I was working on a shoot for Creative HEAD with Dyson and Larry King. A great day, and one of those days where we created freely. Running a business can sometimes take over from the creative side so it’s great to have shoots where you can push yourself and try something different!
What’s changed in your approach to hairdressing from when you started to present day?
Today I am all about the ‘less is more’ approach. I don’t believe in giving a client something that they can’t manage at home. You are really doing your client a disservice if you are too busy following trends and not thinking about how they can manage the cut.
Your best work?
I’d like to think there’s better work in me yet.
Something you’re particularly proud of?
On a business side I opened a pretty high profile business when I was 27, and 20 years later I have a salon, brand and team that I am proud of. We are leaders in the hairdressing industry and constantly looking at ways to evolve our brand.
In life – my wife and kids. I’ve a great family.
Something you regret?
The thing with regrets is they drag you down. Hindsight is great but for me it’s all about learning, improving, moving onwards and upwards.
Is there something you’re still aiming for/hope to achieve?
It’s all about maintaining the high standards we are known for in the business through education and client care. In the past 20 years we have seen many salons come and go, so for me it’s not about a ‘trend’ or ‘fad’ it’s about going back to basics and giving people the best service they deserve. Reputation is key.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
As little as possible! (Laughs) Cycle, play golf, go to the gym, hang out with my family. I go to the beach on the weekends and keep active,
If I could work with one person, it would be…
A therapist! (Laughs) I’ve never been as tested as much in my life as the last 12 months but I guess that’s what comes with owning and running a successful business.
What infuriates you about modern hairdressing?
It has to be expectations and the influence of social media. There is an attitude of wanting everything in an instant, whether that’s achieving a particular hair colour or becoming a success. Instagram is an amazing platform for creative artists but it can also give people unrealistic expectations. People see the finished article but don’t see the journey they took to get there.
Finish this sentence: young ambitious hairdressers today need to…?
Cop on! (Laughs) Hard work does pay off!