2023 It List ‘The One to Watch’ finalist and creative director at Architect Hair, Miles Twist, shares his top tips for breaking into the world of session styling
“Unfortunately, when it comes to breaking into the session hairstyling world, so much of it is luck. With that said, without solid skills and good foundations of hairdressing, you’re not able to capitalise on any breaks that may come your way.
I was very lucky to have originally worked in the photography world and through that I have met some contacts. One of the photographers who I worked with recommended that I got in touch with Adam Garland, a session stylist becoming established in London. I bugged and kept messaging Adam, eventually getting an opportunity to assist. This meant getting up at three in the morning to drive down to London from Leeds to do shoots with him.
Often, even if Adam was able to pay me a small rate, I would still be doing it at a loss – but the experience and skills that I was developing were proving to be worth much more than the lack of monetary gain. Adam soon became my mentor, advising me on my career and the industry (an important relationship to try hone if you want to break into this world).
Being switched on, respecting set etiquette, turning up on time, bringing your skills and enthusiasm are the keys to being a good assistant, and this will make people will want to work with you. From there, you are naturally recommended to other hairstylists and the cycle starts. It’s both a beautiful and a frustrating thing that so much of our industry works on recommendations, but if you manage to make that break and prove to the person who you’re working for that you’re worth a shot, then the ability to progress will always be there.
I was also very lucky to have a boss in salon who is very flexible – letting me take days off, allowing me to swap shifts with other assistants when I was an apprentice, and then letting me handle moving clients around. Often this would mean working six or seven days a week because I would move clients to my days off. Dedication and communication is completely necessary when starting and has now allowed to have more freedom and to enjoy the fruits after an initial three years of tough times and intense hours.
My biggest tips for success assisting on shoots are always have gum, a lighter and bring a speaker. Always turn up 15 minutes early. Stay calm even when people are stressed – your stoicism is infectious and is just as valuable as good hair skills.
Finally, it’s all about having the courage and grabbing the opportunities when you can. The fashion industry is always last minute; there is very little heads up and you must be ready. Put in the groundwork for yourself and your salon, so then when you’re asked the night before to do a shoot, you’re able to take it and seize the opportunity.”