Diverse and exciting role

Suzanne Alphonse a colour education manger for well

Today I’m delighted to have the opportunity to share with you my industry journey to this diverse and exciting role as Commercial Technical  Education Manager for Wella. But if I’m being completely honest I never really set out to working in hairdressing,  I just wanted to learn a trade that would allow me to travel, be interactive with people and have continual progression….

Embarking on a career in hairdressing and makeup

After leaving The Laban Centre where I was training in contemporary dance I decided to take some time out and go travelling for a few months. Being away gave me some time to get some perspective on what I was going to do moving forward. I think living in London really opens your mind up and gives you so many options, that I initially found it hard to focus my passions into one area.

After my time away it was obvious to me that I wanted to get into hair and makeup. My mum was a hairdresser but it had never interested me as I had seen the career path as limiting. However after doing some research and speaking to hairdresser’s who I had met on my travels it suddenly seemed exciting and varied and met all my current needs.

So I embarked on a 2 year NVQ in Hairdressing and Media Makeup course at West Thames college. Being at college wasn’t enough to help develop my skill ready for the industry, so I got myself a job as a junior at Artisan Hair in Watford as well as becoming an agency makeup artist for The Estée Lauder group.

Being in the salon on Saturdays allowed me to Vardar the top stylists and learn how to build a busy column. I was inspired at how they would juggle being busy, but also how they had the power to turn around someone’s mood in a minimum of 30 minutes. I loved the dynamic of the working day and the teamwork that went with it.

Blonde hair coloured by technical education manger suzanne alphonse

Hair by Suzanne Alphonse

Working for Estée Lauder gave me an opportunity to work on counters such as Mac, Bobbi Brown, Estée Lauder and Clinique. Having some training in each brand allowed me to gain insights into colour mixing, colour in general and working on different types of skin tones. I loved it! In the industry today you cannot just focus on your one trade you have to have an understanding of everything that is around you. So working for the makeup brands was an invaluable learning experience for me.

Working at Headmasters

After completing my training I went to work for Headmasters where I spent over 9 years of my career. I was lucky enough to have a great franchise owner at the time who had a Sassoon background. She took me under her wing and really allowed me to not only develop my cutting and colouring foundations but cement them in my mind.

The first team that I worked with was such a collection of talented people. I worked with a very talented hairdresser called Paul May who now has a successful salon in Norwich called StandenMay. He taught me the art of colour and placement as well as Self-PR. It’s so important to believe in what you do to sell yourself to client’s.

I was also lucky enough to work with Aaron Carlo, who is now a successful session stylist and hairdresser to Little Mix. He really allowed me to explore my styling passion and again cement my styling foundations early on in my career. Working with such talented hairdressers really focused my hairdressing foundations and allowed me to progress at a much quicker pace.

I always enjoyed the challenge and was always wanting to push forward. One of the most exciting things about hairdressing was the ability to grow and to develop into new areas of the industry.

My time at Headmasters was amazing I was able to work on the Art team, travel, educate, do stage work and develop my own hairdressing identity. They allowed me to explore all the pockets of the industry whilst working for a passionate brand.

Suzanne Alphonse pictured with former Headmasters team

Suzanne with former Headmasters team

Education Consultant

Before I left I was an Education Consultant, which meant I had a varied day to day job. I was managing the Senior Academy in Putney, running our new stylist induction course and working with our college partnership at Kingston College. My day to day working life could see me teaching colour at the academy, developing the identity of the education they had to offer, and looking at the academy with a business mind. I learnt early on in my career that you need to surround yourself with people that will challenge you and help you grow. Working alongside an array of talent at Headmasters really allowed me to develop as an artist and grow my skills on the Art team. There was one person that really pushed me, Stephen McManus who I worked for, for about 7 years. He is now Co-director at Hairtribe as well as director of his own company Mcm Hairdressing LTD. He allowed me to grow and develop my industry understanding from a business perspective as well as the creative side.

Role as Technical Education Manager for Wella

My current role with Wella has been a culmination of all my varied previous experience. I think having solid colouring foundations, an understanding of the hairdressing market and also structuring education for a big brand has enabled me to get into this role. As I mentioned earlier, it is a diverse and exciting role. It allows me to help create marketing mechanics alongside the marketing teams, working with Trade marketing, Marketing teams and Education on specific category projects or new product strategies. As well as being able to give hairdressing insight to the commercial team, supporting the Education team around Wella Product launches and up and coming projects. It was the next step in my hairdressing career. I am now working alongside a very talented team who I hope will develop my skill set for the next stage in my career.

Wavy hair by Suzanne Alphonse

Hair by Suzanne Alphonse

It has not been without hard work though! Hairdressing has so much to offer you, but you have to be willing to work hard for it. It’s an ever changing market so there is no time to sit back and get complacent. You have to understand what is coming next and how you are going to tackle it.

I love my job because fundamentally I get to make women feel great about themselves through colour. I love that I have not done the same thing for my whole career in the same place. I have travelled, met some amazing people, challenged myself and I now get to support people through education to help make more confident stylists, who in turn will create more bespoke work which equals a load of happy people!!!! I wonder what will be next…………….

For more on Suzanne Alphonse

Suzanne Alphonse a colour education manger for well

Suzanne Alphonse

Instagram: @suzannealphonse160985

Twitter: @suzannealphonse

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