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What I’ve Learned… about creating characters

Fowler35 founder, Darren Fowler, shares with us how to create more than a hair cut or colour to give a client exactly what they want

Learning how to create characters for anyone I work with has made such a difference in my life – as a stylist and creative, and as a business owner. It’s what I now teach all over the world and share with people who have in turn used to help grow their clientele and businesses. I’m launching the Fowler Hair Academy http://fowlerhairacademy.com/, and I’ll be talking about creating characters on there.

But what do I mean about ‘characters’? Well, I realised that every single person needed certain elements to feel the haircut I was creating. I learnt that being a great stylist is not just about being able to execute the perfect line or colour, although of course that’s important. It’s about creating a feeling in someone.

So, I started asking questions to find out what people really want. I had lots of great answers, but the one I heard the most from the women I worked with was they wanted to feel like a woman again – for example, to not feel like a wife or a mother. I had this huge realisation that I could do that with a haircut and they believed I could do that with a haircut, too. I started thinking beyond the cut and colour, and based my work around creating a character for everyone I worked with – taking this realisation to film and TV, and to the salon chair as well.

I knew that as long as I was asking the right questions, and was getting the right answers, I’d have enough information to visualise my client walking down the street, or a model walking down a catwalk, and I could create that character for them. What was an even bigger realisation was that not only could I do it for them, they could do it for themselves. If I encouraged them, and if I showed them how to style their hair, and make it look good all the time as a salon client, they could look good every single day of their lives.

This has made clients really loyal to me, which is of course great for business in the salon and equally good for getting booked on jobs for fashion, TV, theatre and film. Now, wherever I am, I ask questions that will help me understand the feeling someone wants or needs – whether it’s a model, fashion designer, director or client.

For example, on jobs, if someone says they want a pony tail, I always ask what’s the type of character you need this person to be. There are loads of different versions of a ponytail – from loose to severe – and I need this information to create a feeling that will help them carry it off. It’s the same with my clients in salon. Great questions get great answers!

Here are three just to get the ball rolling:

  1. Are you changing or maintaining your look?
  2. What are the three word to describe how you want to feel when you walk into a room and what would make you confident – this is where we want strong adjectives, not vanilla descriptive words like nice or pretty
  3. If there is one thing I could change about your hair what would it be?

For instance, ‘are we changing or maintaining your look?’ takes us straight to the point and saves loads of time in understanding what someone wants.

Creating characters has become such a way of life for myself and my team, and it makes every day exciting knowing that, as stylists, we really can empower people to not only look, but feel their best too.