Build It And They Will Come

Do you dream in colour? Want to get stuck in with vivids, pastels and everything in-between, but your clients are anything but adventurous? Live your best vibrant life using these tips to entice and cultivate a more creative colour clientele…

Creative hair colour in pastel shades by Heffy Wheeler@heffyx

Client attitudes have certainly shifted after the pandemic. Whether it’s growing grey out gracefully or daring to try a new look, colour artists have had their hands full with big changes. But there’s hair colour and there’s creative hair COLOUR – riotous, unapologetic, vivid colour through to dreamy pastels and metallics. Sure, the streets of Shoreditch might be full of people wanting outrageous colours, but that’s definitely not the case across the country.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t cultivate a creative colour clientele. We asked the experts how they went about building a life around creative hair colour…

Just a touch

Plenty of the population have taken advantage of a change in workplace habits to experiment with their hair colour, but there are others who baulk at the idea of a bold transformation. And that’s okay – a full head of rainbow hues isn’t for everyone. But as Frazer Wallace of The Haus Studio in Dundee noted in his L’Oréal Professionnel Paris Colour Congress education session, “creative colour doesn’t have to mean vivid”, nor does it have to be all over.

Lynette Murray, co-owner of Studio A114 in Belfast, agrees. “Start talking about colour pop ideas that clients can achieve. ‘Why don’t we just incorporate a little pop of colour underneath that section by your ear and see how you feel about it?’ Or ‘Why don’t we add a rose gold toner this time? It washes out back to blonde if you really don’t like it.’” Lynette has found that hidden colour is also going down a treat: “They can have ‘normal’ brown or blonde hair but have a secret panel of bright green or pink.”

Temporary colour, such as the Wella Professionals Colour Touch Masks, are a great way for clients to try a new shade without commitment, advises Wella’s digital ambassador James Earnshaw.

Vivids queen Heffy Wheeler had a similar approach as she worked to boost her creative clientele in a small town in Staffordshire. “Offer pre-existing clients ‘entry level’ introductions to colour. If they’re blonde and want to switch it up, recommend pastels or toners rather than vivids to build up their confidence with colour,” she advises. “Nine times out of 10 the client will love it and slowly start getting more experimental.”

As for educating and preparing clients about what to expect with more vivid colours, Most Wanted Colour Expert Legend Sophia Hilton knows that repetition is key. “Before appointments we have an email sheet that goes out to them, so we can understand what their hair is like and what they want. At the appointment they then sign a declaration that we discuss with them, so that the understand the blues are going to stain, or this is what it will take for the maintenance at home,” she explains. “This is also repeated on our social media, for awareness, and we have a Welcome Pack to give to clients in reception with everything they need to know again.” Keep repeating the risk and reward factors, supply clients with everything they need to know about caring for their colour at home, and you have a winning formula.

Peter Mellon,
Medusa, Edinburgh

“At the start of my career my clientele wasn’t very creative. I’ve nurtured these clients into changing by building strong relationships based on trust. I’ve never been scared to show clients how excited I am about colour, what colour can do and how colour can make you feel. Sometimes it is as simple as suggesting new things to my clients or potential clients. A hook such as ‘We have a new colour trend and I’ve been thinking about you’, is enough to get them interested. I also swear by open-ended sentences and questions where it’s difficult for them to say no.

“I know my existing clients well – what works and where their boundaries are – so I approach creative colour in a way that works for them. With new clients it’s all about gaining their trust and not pushing them too far at the start. They have come to me for a reason and that’s because they have seen my work, they know what I’m capable of. Equally I know not to go too extreme with the first appointment.”

Creative hair colour on doll's head by Peter Mellon


Finders Keepers

The overwhelming answer on how to build up your dream clientele is to put out what you want to receive. “Building a creative colour clientele can be incredibly hard. Being a colourist in Cornwall, I was inundated with beach babe blondes and lived-in brunettes, so it made working with creative vivid colour feel a world away!” explains Vicki Hoskin, owner of The Grove Studio in Wadebridge, who used social media to amplify her reach exponentially. “It’s the perfect way to get yourself out there, and I am a huge believer in what you post you get! The more blondes I post, the more I seem to do and vice-versa,” a sentiment shared by many colourists.

Christabel Legrand, a Pulp Riot educator based in Taunton, knew it was crucial to clarify the kind of artist she wanted to be before reaching out to attract her dream clientele. “Try and be as authentic as possible while building your own brand,” she says. “If you are trying new creative colouring techniques it’s a great opportunity to get models in at a discounted price, so you can get content and start building your portfolio. Remember, models also turn into clients.”

By defining both your own brand and your ideal client, you can target accordingly. Christabel focuses on Instagram, which earns her the most engagement, rather than a scattergun attempt. “The clients you want are out there and they are also probably looking for you,” she adds. “I’ve found clients will travel from far and wide these days for good hair but also because they like you as an artist!”

“Social media is your best friend!” agrees The It List Entrepreneur 2021, Brooke Evans of BE Ironbridge in Shropshire. “In anyone’s local community, even if it’s small there will be a handful of clients that want something different. Use tags relevant to the local area, such as #midlandssalon #shropshiresalon etc, and you’ll be surprised how many people find you! It’s like a domino effect.”

Jason Cocking and Chris Baker, owners of 4 Theatre Square Hair in Swindon, have found WhatsApp to be an unlikely tool to help get clients buzzing for new looks. “It allows clients to share loads of ideas even before consultations, so we can really build up that creative relationship before they’ve even set foot in the salon,” they explain.

Heffy sums up the positive attitude needed to succeed by concluding that: “Overall, a different community demographic is a good thing – you stand out if no-one else offers your services.”

Emma Simmons
Salon 54, Thirsk

“When we wanted to expand into more creative techniques we had to think about where to find our new creative colour clients, and how we could capture their attention. We now have creative colour clients travel more than 90 miles to us, and it’s all down to building our reputation and showcasing our work on social media. We used Instagram as a virtual shop window to let potential clients see what we could do, showcasing a high standard of the type of work we wanted to attract.

“We asked for models on the town’s local Facebook sites. The models got their hair done in exchange for us taking pictures and posting them to Instagram. These sessions also came in handy for trying new techniques or perfecting our signature style, ensuring every team member was top of their game. Once we had a few images banked, we started to see more and more clients asking for creative colouring. If you think about it, these complimentary services were no different to having an advertising budget, except we had a much better return than we’ve ever had on a printed advert.”


Never settle for ‘shall we just do the same again?’
Don’t be scared to suggest something new
Show clients how excited you are about their hair and its colour possibilities
Take inspiration from everything and everyone
Be aware of hashtags for your local area
Tag colour brands to show off your creations

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