Concerned for the welfare of your colleague or client? Celebrity hairstylist Sam Kerswell shares his first-hand experience, so you know how best to help.

Sam Kerswell

Sam Kerswell, photographed by Lynett Genockey of Harplette Photography with make-up by Tracy Graham

It’s no secret that the hair salon is seen as a safe space by clients – it’s a chance for them to vent, divulge details from their personal lives and chat to hairdressers like old friends. Often, hairdressers consider themselves to be agony aunts, but what happens when it goes beyond discussing a new relationship or family drama?

A hair salon can be a lifeline for someone experiencing abuse and may provide a safe place to seek help, be it as a client or as an employee at the space. For hairdresser Sam Kerswell, a survivor of domestic abuse, his clients knew something was up because of him repeatedly cancelling or rescheduling appointments. When they eventually got to see Sam in person, they noticed how his physical appearance had changed because of the abuse he was suffering at home.

Like so many victims of domestic abuse, Sam was afraid to speak out against his abuser, with those in his life none the wiser as to what was causing the bruises, weight loss, and much more besides. Fast forward a year, and he’s now sharing his story to raise awareness and help anyone else who is suffering in silence.

If you’re concerned about a colleague or client, here Sam shares the signs you should be looking out for, and what to do if you’re wanting to offer support but unsure how to help. 

10 things to look out for

1. Physical injuries: Notice unexplained bruises, cuts, or marks, especially if they occur frequently or seem to be escalating in severity.
2. Changes in behaviour: Look for sudden changes in mood, anxiety, or withdrawal from social interactions.
3. Isolation: If a co-worker or client becomes increasingly isolated, avoids social gatherings, or makes excuses to not participate in group activities, it could be a sign of controlling behaviour from an abusive partner.
4. Excessive absences or tardiness: Consistent tardiness or unexplained absences could indicate the need to hide injuries or emotional distress caused by domestic abuse.
5. Unusual financial strain: Notice if a co-worker or client suddenly experiences financial difficulties, such as requesting pay advances, selling personal items, or borrowing money frequently. This could be a result of financial control or manipulation by an abuser.
6. Fearfulness or nervousness: Pay attention to signs of fearfulness, nervousness, or being easily startled, especially if they seem to be in the presence of their partner.
7. Overly controlling partner: If a co-worker or client’s partner exhibits overly controlling behaviour, such as constantly calling or texting, monitoring their whereabouts, or restricting their communication with others, it could be a red flag.
8. Unexplained excuses or cover-ups: Be wary of inconsistent or implausible explanations for injuries, missed work, or changes in behaviour. Unexplained weight loss and excuses as to why is also an indicator as some abusers limit food intake.
9. Uncharacteristic clothing choices: Notice if a co-worker or client wears clothing that seems inappropriate for the weather or situation, which could be an attempt to hide physical injuries.
10. Expressions of fear or concern: If they confide in you about feeling afraid or concerned about their safety at home, take their words seriously and offer support and resources for help.

Sam Kerswell with friend Annie Franklin

Sam with friend Annie Franklin

Sam Kerswell behind the scenes

Sam behind the scenes of a photo shoot

How to help

1. Choose a private and safe space: Initiate the conversation in a private setting where the individual feels comfortable and safe. This could be a quiet office or a secluded area away from others.
2. Express concern and support: Begin the conversation by expressing genuine concern for their well-being. Let them know that you’ve noticed certain signs or behaviours that have raised concerns and that you are there to support them.
3. Listen actively: Allow the individual to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences without interruption. Practice active listening by maintaining eye contact, nodding, and providing affirmations to show that you are engaged and empathetic.
4. Avoid judgment and blame: Refrain from making assumptions or placing blame on the individual for their situation. Instead, focus on validating their experiences and feelings while offering reassurance that they are not alone, and that help is available.
5. Offer resources and assistance: Provide information about available resources, such as domestic violence hotlines, counselling services, legal assistance, and support groups. Offer to assist them in accessing these resources if needed, while respecting their autonomy to make their own decisions.
6. Respect confidentiality: Assure the individual that any information they share with you will be kept confidential to the extent possible, while also explaining any legal or professional obligations you may have to report certain disclosures of abuse.
7. Create a safety plan: Work together to develop a safety plan tailored to their specific situation, which may include steps to ensure their immediate safety, such as identifying safe places to go or establishing a code word to signal for help.
8. Follow up and check in: Continue to offer support and check in with the individual regularly to see how they are doing. Let them know that you are there for them whenever they need someone to talk to or if they need assistance in any way.

By approaching these conversations with empathy, understanding, and a commitment to supporting the individual’s autonomy and well-being, you can help clients and colleagues feel empowered to seek help and make positive changes in their lives.





Six social media stars from across the industry have been selected to join the prestigious team.

#SKPCollective 2024 team

2024 #SKPCollective team

Following a fast-paced final audition day at Schwarzkopf Professional headquarters, the 2024 #SKPCollective team has been chosen. Out of the 12 talented finalists who showcased their skills and creativity, six social media-savvy stars have risen to the top, impressing the judges, including Creative HEAD’s digital director Kelsey Dring, with their passion for hairdressing and
their innovative approach to social media content creation.

The final auditions, held on Monday 8 April, commenced with a warm welcome from the Schwarzkopf Professional team, followed by the reveal of an exciting challenge. Each finalist was tasked with creating, editing, and posting an engaging reel within just one hour, using a box of Schwarzkopf Professional products. With an open brief emphasising the importance of showcasing their unique personality, the finalists rose to the occasion and delivered an impressive variety of content, ranging from hair transformations to ‘POV’ skits

behind the scenes SKP Collective
#SKPCollective audition process

Following a brief lunch break, the finalists engaged in one-on-one interviews with the judging panel, where they demonstrated their social media expertise, shared their vision for the #SKPCollective team, and reflected on their experience throughout the day.

The standard of talent showcased during the auditions was seriously impressive, making the final decision incredibly difficult for the judging panel. However, after much deliberation, the six members of the new #SKPCollective team for 2024 were selected…

Meet the new #SKPCollective team:
Alex Melville from The Hair Club in Stirling – @_styledbyalex
Chantelle Jones from Seckingtons in Northampton – @chantellehaircraft
Grainne McClelland from Coventry – @grainnemcclelland_hair
Harry Watson from DooDahs Hair in Hertfordshire – @hairbyharryx
Tommy Hardy from House of Marshall in Falkirk – @tommyhardyhair
Vishali Visavadia from London Road Hair in Leicester – @vsvstylist





Session stylist Laura Chadwick shares her top tips for success when styling onset of a music video.

Laura Chadwick

Laura Chadwick

With a background in fashion, I never imagined myself working on music videos.  

However, fate had other plans, leading me on a journey filled with unexpected opportunities and thrilling experiences. 

 It all began during the Covid pandemic when I was brought in by a make-up artist to provide haircuts and styling for a music video shoot for Inhaler in Dublin. Despite the challenging circumstances, my skills as a qualified barber impressed the production team, opening doors to a world I had never considered. 

Working on that first music video was a turning point for me. It made me realise that there was so much more to my craft than just fashion. Music videos offered a whole new realm of creativity and expression. 

With my foot in the door, my journey in the music video industry continued to unfold. A contact in Sony recognised my talent and offered me opportunities to work with various music artists, ranging from emerging talents to established names. These experiences working with smaller artists gave me a solid foundation and understanding of the industry. I learned to adapt to different styles and visions, honing my skills along the way.  

Becky Hill’s music video for Outside of Love

It was a connection through a stylist named Kyle Devolle that would change the trajectory of my career. Through Kyle, I was introduced to Becky Hill, a chart-topping artist known for her powerhouse vocals and dynamic performances. Working with Becky was like stepping into a whole new world. The scale of the productions was immense, with elaborate sets and breath-taking locations. It was an exhilarating experience, and I felt privileged to be a part of it.  

Despite my initial focus on fashion, I have found a new passion in music videos. Each project brings its own challenges and rewards, but there’s something special about seeing your work come to life alongside the music. As I continue to make my mark in the music video industry, I remain grateful for the opportunities that have come my way. I never could have imagined this journey when I started out, but I’m grateful for every twist and turn that has led me here. My story serves as a testament to the power of following unexpected paths and embracing new opportunities. With passion and determination, there’s no telling where my journey will lead next. 

10 things you need to know when working on a video shoot 

  1. Creative collaboration: Working behind the scenes on a music video as a hairstylist involves collaborating closely with the creative director, stylist, make-up artist and artists to bring their vision to life through hair design. I usually receive a brief or a ‘feeling’ of what’s wanted, then I create a separate hair mood board to complement the theme. Ensuring we all know what the outcome is going to be reduces any changes or wasted time.
  2. Versatility is key: Be prepared to create diverse hairstyles that match the concept and theme of the music video, ranging from edgy and avant-garde to classic and elegant. This is where all my years assisting on fashion shows really helped as I’ve learnt so many techniques that’s you’d never use in the salon that I can put to good use.
  3. Time management: Music video shoots often have tight schedules, so being efficient with your time and able to work quickly under pressure is essential.
  4. Attention to detail: Every strand of hair matters, as even the smallest details can make a big difference in the final look on camera. I am always right there behind the scenes, ready to jump in at any moment to keep the hair looking perfect. Of course, on video you’re going to get a certain amount of movement so it’s important to take that into consideration when choosing your style, especially when shooting on location and being open to the elements.
Becky Hill


  1. Adaptability: Conditions on set can change rapidly, so you must be adaptable and able to adjust your hairstyling techniques accordingly. On my last video with Becky Hill there was a last-minute decision to shoot in the water next to some waterfalls, so I adapted the hairstyle by creating a wet look with some oil-based products, so it retained the texture and suited the environment.
  2. Communication skills: Clear communication with the director, artists, and other crew members is crucial to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding the desired hairstyles.
  3. Product knowledge: Familiarise yourself with a wide range of hair products and tools to achieve different textures, volumes, and styles as needed for the shoot. Over the years I’ve collected a large collection of products to suit every hair type and environment.
  4. Continuity: Pay attention to continuity throughout the shoot to ensure that hairstyles remain consistent across different scenes and takes. I always take pictures of the screen to look back on so the styles can be matched down to the smallest detail.
  5. Problem solving: Be prepared to troubleshoot any hair-related issues that may arise during the shoot, such as frizz, flyways, or unexpected changes in weather conditions.
  6. Professionalism: Always maintain a professional demeanour, as working on a music video set requires teamwork, reliability, and a positive attitude to deliver the best results. They are usually very long days and keeping positive and upbeat always keeps the team and artist on a positive vibe.





Roman Sys from Brooks & Brooks talks about his Paradigm collection which, due to rising costs, he shot on his iPhone.

Stylist, image maker and visionary, Roman Sys is a stylist at the iconic London salon, Brooks & Brooks. Always keen to push boundaries and create new visually striking collections, Roman was forced to get creative with his latest collection Paradigm. Due to shoots becoming just too expensive, he reached for his iPhone instead… and got busy with his collage skills! 

The process  

Some people have a fixed process; they know the motions they need to go through to produce the results. For others, it’s different altogether. My creative process is not fixed at all! I’m inspired by everything and nothing at the same time. If I’m harvesting references from outside sources such as literature, art, nature, or music, my approach is very neutral. I will overlap images and text and sounds to fit my own mindset. More often than not there is an internal feeling I express subconsciously or consciously in my work. That excites me most – the idea of leaving the work open for interpretation and not being so literal.

Roman Sys

Roman Sys

The moodboards 

My boards work like mind maps. Sometimes it’s hard to explain ideas when you’re in the thick of it and your mind is in creative overdrive. Creating a board that makes sense can take anytime between a week and a month. I find that when I overlap images, there is often more than just one feeling I’m conveying, it’s never singular. I can read between the lines of the imagery that I have collected; this helps me to find my perspective and ground the ideas that are flowing in my head.  

I don’t necessarily create the boards directly for a project or collection. I will just create a board to understand where I am and then it goes in the cupboard! I might decide to work with it for a project, or it will be reworked into something else. A cool thing happened when Sally and Jamie Brooks asked if I would contribute to the salon art for our new Brooks & Brooks home at Great Queen Street. I created an A1 board of collage, ink and paint with gentle textures that was an exploration of ‘familiar feelings and potential’.  

The vision 

My vision extends beyond what I produce creatively but is interwoven into the work I create and how I choose to capture it. I want to promote accessibility and cultivate a starter-friendly industry. Therefore, what I frequently create is artistry without excess. Image making is how I would describe my process; I street cast my models, and I’m inspired by them. This is my starting point and they influence the project. Everything I’ve done is based on collaboration. There is something about creating in the moment and then capturing it on an iPhone that allows me to have full creative control on the project. This bridges the gaps of high standard imagery, affordability, and accessibility.  

Mini-series – Paradigm  

The definition of paradigm is the current example of a system or idea. With this collection I wanted to shift our mindsets away from what we have seen before. I wanted to combine my hair work, my photographic style and collage together for something that feels totally DIY, yet with moments of interest and curiosity. I wanted the process to be the result, it was a last-minute urge to just do something. It was quite amazing to me how the clippings I had collected and the photos of textures and colours I had taken (that I would later go onto rip up and use in the collage) had this relationship with the hair work I had created.  

This collection was shot completely on my iPhone, to inspire and encourage other people to create for the love of it. I decided to collage over the images after I had taken the photos. I hadn’t planned the collage around the photographs in advance. I like to leave some things down to instinct, which allowed for the process to feel authentic. 
No apps or Photoshop were used to produce the collage/artwork. I created the collage around the image then scanned it to create a digital copy. It was important for me to bring the contrast of the instant digital element of iPhone photography with the tactile physical application of collaging over the printed images, and then using ink and paint to produce variation in the texture.  

Hair, creative concept, collage and photography: Roman Sys at Brooks & Brooks. 
Make-up: Ivory Raine  





The challenge is open to trainee hairdressers of any level who are still undergoing training.

model with braids by Ciara Harrington

Current Star Team member Ciara Harrington’s example of ‘Runway Ready’

A unique opportunity to get your trainees involved in crafting a creative competition look, the Irish Hair Federation Star Team has launched the junior stylist challenge with the theme of ‘runway ready’.  Open until 30 April, the purpose of the task is for trainees to demonstrate their creative spark, with the winner getting to spend the day with the Star Team on one of the education days.  

How to enter 

Create a look 
Embrace the ‘Runway Ready’ theme and let your creativity shine. Whether it’s styling mannequins, yourself, or a model’s hair, now is the chance to unleash your imagination and craft a look that steals the spotlight. Before and after images must also be included in each post or Reel.  

Post to Instagram 
Snap a picture of your creation and post it on Instagram with the hashtag #THESTARTEAMCHALLENGE24.  Don’t forget to tag @irishhairfed in your post.  Ensure that your Instagram profile is set to public, so the team can see your entry. 

The winner will be announced on 10 May. Good luck!  

 For the full list of rules, click here.