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Electric Edinburgh: The Coterie with Linton & Mac, Paul Percival, Jody Taylor and surprise guest Will Young!

From the hugely successful story behind Linton & Mac to the inspiring thoughts shared by revered session stylist Paul Percival and independent stylist Jody Taylor, last night’s regional coterie in Edinburgh (on October 29) saw an inspiration overload hit the city’s Fruitmarket Gallery, with one very special surprise guest… singer-songwriter and actor, Will Young!

Hosted by Creative HEAD publisher Catherine Handcock, guest speakers Jennifer Linton (pictured below left) & Joanna MacDonald (pictured below middle) – co-founders of Linton & Mac, kicked off proceedings with a strong dose of girl power as they shared insight into what made their Aberdeen salon so successful. Not only ranked in the top 5% of the city’s 152 salons, Linton & Mac trebled their projected takings within the first 12 months of business and amassed a client base of more than 6,700 clients, and they’re just getting started!

Taking it back to where it all began over a few glasses of wine, the girls confessed that initially their families were sceptical due to the huge size of the space they were considering: “when we had family, especially our parents, visit the space we’d found, they were like, what are you doing? Why not start with a four-chair space,” said Jennifer. However, despite some hesitations from loved ones, the determined duo made up their minds to stick with it and set about building a brand identity that encompasses both their style, attitude and approach to hair. “It’s us – it’s everything we love,” summed up Joanna. No success story would be without hard work though, and speaking of the decision to work together, Joanna shared that they chose to  join forces because “we both have a work ethic we didn’t see in anyone else.”

On the evening, guests also heard from Linton & Mac’s resident Colour Expert, Sarah Black (pictured above left), who scooped the L’Oréal Colour Trophy in 2017 with her famous green mullet. Having built a social media following on her own personal account (@whatsarahdoes), when it comes to digital both Jennifer, Joanna and Sarah have a strong standpoint on the benefits, as well as the drawbacks of building a following.  While Jennifer said that social media has always been a big part of our business strategy (“when we first opened we were nobodies – I added pretty much everyone in Aberdeen”), Sarah discussed how she’s now taking a more relaxed approach to her own account: “I’m trying to pair it back… you can end up taking time away from what your client needs, to ensure you get the right picture for Instagram!”

Besides creating an excellently curated social feed, the team at Linton & Mac also work hard to push their creative boundaries even further by regularly collaborating on photo shoots and events with local businesses and fellow creatives. Speaking of the experience, Sarah said: “we take time to work with local creatives that we’ve sourced – we sit down, talk through ideas and have a really good time.” Sarah also added that with shooting you can be economical without compromising on creativity: “you can become complacent if you have money – you just throw money at it [a project].”

One thing is clear: Jennifer, Joanna and Sarah are a powerhouse and they never settle for second best: “never get complacent – we often make changes to make sure we don’t,” Jennifer said.

Next up to share his story was Paul Percival (pictured above left), one half of London salon group Percy & Reed and an incredible session stylist in his own right, working with a hugely impressive roster of loyal clients over the years, including Will Young, Rita Ora,  Cheryl and Ellie Goulding. “When I started I was the youngest session hairdresser in London,” said Paul. “I was only 19 or 20 when I joined Streeters.”

From revelling in the Brit Pop scene during the naughty nineties to working with legends like the Spice Girls, Paul was soon taking on a lot of work within the music industry, a time he fondly recalls: “I loved fashion but all of a sudden I was allowed into the Brit Pop world. I loved being on tour, working on albums… my typical Saturday was working at Ministry of Mayhem, then SMTV: CDUK and ending with Top of the Pops.”

In more recent years, Paul has worked backstage with the contestants of The X Factor, with the current 2018 series being the third that Percy & Reed has been part of. While a great opportunity for the brand and its stylists, Paul reflected on the huge impact of social media, which has caused changes within the show: “when we did the first year it was 2010. We had One Direction, Rebecca Ferguson… the show was at its peak. But you didn’t have so much outside interference.”  Paul went onto to say: “I have to say this weekend was the biggest giggle ever. It’s really good fun, but they are all checking social media. Some of them take it to heart.”

With social media at the forefront of many young stylist’s minds, Paul also shared his concern for the younger generation, adding: “I’m not trying to bash social media, but for young people it’s another thing to have to deal with.”  Like Paul, another talented figure trying to raise awareness for mental health is his good friend and loyal client Will Young. Our best kept secret, for this regional Coterie we were joined by one VERY special guest – the man himself…

Guests heard from Will (pictured above left) about why he’s working with Paul to challenge misconceptions about mental health. “We are better equipped to recognise the symptoms today, but I don’t think social media helps. People are constantly on Facebook trying to impress the people who are already their friends and our closest allies. Why do we do that? ” he said.

During the evening, Will also spoke of his massive respect for the hair industry, stating that “barbering – hairdressing – is an art, and I don’t know if people see that enough.” Having met Paul via 19 Management, who they were both working with at the time, the close friends went on to work together on Will’s music albums and videos, creating both iconic looks and lots of fond memories along the way. When discussing one particular trip abroad, Will shared one very memorable antidote which filled the room with laughter:

“We’d just shot a video in Cuba, and finished a premier in Los Angeles… After a big night out, we woke up the next morning in a “forest”. Slowly, we remembered we’d gone around the hotel stealing every plant we could. Hungover, we then had to quietly put them all back!”

With so many laughs along the way, it is evident that the duo’s rapport has come from working so well together, something Will talked about at length: “We work with the same team now on everything we do – I don’t know what I’d do without them,” before adding: “you’re only as good as your team. Work out what you’re great at, then find the other people who are great at it, too. ”

“It’s great to be part of the creative process,” added Paul. “When Will texts me an idea, I know there will be a complete backstory and I like that I can get involved in [building] the character [he’s envisaging].”

With two fantastic careers between them, Will and Paul are now turning their attention to championing the next generation. Shining the spotlight on the importance of apprenticeships, Paul concluded by saying: “there is nothing better than seeing an apprentice working on the floor – going on to have a great career and doing anything they want.”

Round off the night, our Edinburgh guests also heard from Jody Taylor (pictured above left), fresh off the back of his Most Wanted Male Grooming Specialist win. From being a regular at London Fashion Week Men’s to collaborations with brands including Louis Vuitton and Topman, Jody has one impressive portfolio of work! Speaking of his favourite cover for Folio magazine, he said: “I’m not sure if this was my first cover, but it was shot soon after I went freelance. It was all about beards and there was an old vibe – the references were amazing and I had an open brief.” However, he also shared that he never anticipated having the opportunity to see his work in print, adding: “I never thought that would happen. The first shoots I did were awful, and then a little less awful and a little less awful. Not many people can look at a shoot and go ‘yeah I nailed it.’ I think I did that once.”

Besides working on a multitude of editorial projects, Jody also spoke of his time as a session stylist at London Fashion Week Men’s: “It was an evolution. It began as a massive celebration of young British menswear designers and it was amazing to be part of it. The scene was buzzing. Now, I heard we’re reverting back to how things used to be – menswear being part of London Fashion Week. That’s not so good for me. Hopefully, it’ll turn around again.”

As well as working in the world of high fashion, Jody also collaborates with an array of celebrity clients, including Jack White, Conor McGregor and Callum Turner, many of which he regards as good friends. “I’ve been doing Callum’s hair since he was 16. Becoming an actor has been his dream. He’s a wonderful person and I love him to bits.”

With talk turning to the future, Jody also shared insight into quitting a full-time salon job and going freelance. “I worked for a big brand for 15 years, I did my bit. Now it’s like I want to do the jobs I want to do. Anyone who has got their own business or is freelance is taking a massive risk, but at the same time it’s very exciting.”

Now, he’s working hard on a personal project – the launch of his own product line, Taylored London. “I always wanted to run my own business – in men’s hairdressing. I had a client with the same passion, and we found a British company who would create the products for us. It’s all been self-funded, so it’s taken time, but I’m really excited about it.”

Ever humble, when speaking of his recent Most Wanted win, he said: “I didn’t expect it. It was so nice to be recognised. My mum was with me – it meant the world to her.”

So, what’s next for Jody Taylor? “I don’t know. We’ll see what happens next week! I’m just happy doing hair.”

After drinks back at the bar, and following photo opps with our trio of guest speakers, inspired guests left armed with a special gift from event sponsor BaByliss PRO.

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