The One Change That Switched Up My Social

Jack Mead on the impact public feedback had on the way he created his Instagram content.

The co-founder of Jack & the Wolfe, Jack Mead has cemented his position as a hair transformation specialist on Instagram through his engaging client appointments, filmed from his mirror. Creative HEAD gets the inside story on how flipping the screen made his social skyrocket…

How did your Instagram life start out…?

I’ve always been interested in social media. I started Instagram when I started hairdressing, and it was very basic. When we opened Jack & the Wolfe, I started to get into it more. I had about 5k followers in 2018 and thought I was smashing it… and then my account got hacked. It was pretty devastating. I had to delete it and start again.

In lockdown Lydia [Wolfe, his partner and wife] went very business-focused with her social media. I found it very insular in the house, I was looking for community, and Instagram was a way of finding my peers. And I started to do cutting videos on mannequin heads in the garden… and I was getting so many views and gaining followers. I came out of that first lockdown with about 10k followers. I was passionate about it, getting my apprentice to film every cut I did. I was building a strong following of hairdressers passionate about community education, watching me cut hair, filmed from the back. I got to about 23k followers – that was about three years ago. Precision cutting was my niche.

That doesn’t sound like your feed today…

Something interesting happened. Instagram went very video focused and started to push video out to the public, not just your own followers. And suddenly, I was getting a lot of views… and some real hate from the public. Obviously, it’s upsetting – my mindset was, ‘you don’t understand the technical side of hairdressing’. Then I thought about it. The public was telling me that my work was either old fashioned, or it needed to change… and I was very up for that. It genuinely helped me.

Jack Mead

How did you switch things up?

I needed to add more movement in my cuts, make them less harsh and more modern. I started looking at more session stylists on Instagram, it really opened my mind to a different way of cutting and moulding hair. I had the skills, I just needed to adapt them. Now, I look at hair and the client differently. What’s actually cool? To put in a strong line, that’s great… but who’s it for? Are you going to see people wear that on the high street? Can a client style that at home? How many people have poker straight hair now? People are embracing natural texture and movement. I changed the way I cut hair, which changed my demographic. I feel like people were so bored of seeing the back of someone’s head, and apart from a couple of others, I think
I was one of the first stylists in the UK to start filming from the front. I had this moment in my head: people want to see someone’s face change, whether it’s colour, shortness in length, fringes. That’s where the drama is, someone’s face! I still love the hairdressing industry, but I had this moment where I wanted to target the public. I want to reach the world now!

What drives your content – and what has been the reaction?

I want to be as engaging as possible, and to build my brand. Doing hair from the back, it’s not that engaging, and it’s not getting my face out there! I do get stopped quite a lot, and even my clients in the videos get messages. The reach was insane once I switched that camera around. The first video got 10,000 likes and 500,000 views… and that is a buzz! The next one I didn’t think was that great, but I posted it and my phone went insane –
4.2 million views, 100,000 likes. That one video gained me probably 25k followers. I started to do a lot more videos, I almost wish I’d done more, because I think that ship has sailed. That was the transition moment to full-on video on Instagram.

What has been the impact on the salon?

It’s wild what it’s done for the business. I’m not taking on any new clients because I can’t fit them in. All my clients rebook six months at a time. If I do eight hours of work, I can only fit eight haircuts in or five with colour – that’s not that many people when clients come back every six to eight weeks. I probably have only 50 clients, but I have a waitlist now of about 700. I’ve had people fly from the US and Germany for a haircut, just because of Instagram. They’re not going to be a regular client, they want that experience. What I should really do is put my prices up, but our salon is in a market town, where we have built a very strong community. It’s not really fair if I say ‘my price is £250, lump it or leave it because I have 700 people on my waitlist’.

And we see everyone in your chair – not just pretty blondes…

Don’t get me wrong, for a time I was posting let’s say ‘conventionally beautiful people’. I’d get comments like ‘she’d look beautiful with anything. Try it on someone who wouldn’t’. Again, I was a bit like, ‘give me a break. I’m just trying to have a bit of fun’. But if you step back, you see they’ve got a point. A very small portion of the world looks like that or has hair like that.