You know what, I never wanted to be a hairdresser!

That’s right, my aspirations had always been set on being a professional golfer. But before I share with you my career journey into hairdressing and the pathways I’ve taken, I want to reveal to you that I don’t work in the same salon five days a week!!

Curious, then below is my current working schedule at the time of writing this blog:

Week 1
Monday/Tuesday: North Lane Hair Co, Brighton.
Wednesday/Thursday: Radio, London.
Friday: North Lane Hair Co, Brighton.
Saturday/Sunday: Day’s Off

Week 2
Monday: Day Off
Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday: North Lane Hair Co, Brighton.
Friday/Saturday: Radio, London.
Sunday: Day Off

I know this wouldn’t suit everyone, and some of you will be reading this thinking this sounds crazy, or my employer would never agree to this. Trust me, I used to think that, too!

How I’ve got to where I’m at right now?

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, I always had my heart set on being a professional golfer, but then one-career-changing day I was asked by a friend: “What will you do if you don’t make it as a golfer?” Hmmm… This had given me something to think about as It always seemed like a very obvious one at the time. What might I actually do with my career if golf wasn’t the way forward? Well, move forward some months later and that same friend offered me a job in his hair salon, and with some trepidation I started working there. My journey into hairdressing had begun.

On completing my NVQ in my home town I was totally hooked on hairdressing, and after learning from some amazing hairdressers I had met along the way on all the many exciting opportunities available in the hairdressing industry, I was packing my bags and moving to London to further my career. Working in various salons in London gave me a great appreciation for the many alternative ways there are to work in our industry.

After working in London for 6 years I decided for a change and moved to Brighton to start working at North Laine Hair Co––a small independent salon based in the heart of the City Centre. Helping grow the salon to a successful 17 seater hair and beauty salon and with a large client base myself, I felt really pleased with my contribution. But this was not enough for me.

More variety to my career

In 2014 I heard about an event called #OpenChairNight by HAIR CLUB LIVE, where you have 10 minutes on stage to show the watching crowd what you can do with hair. Perfect! This exactly what I was looking for. So off I went and done my 10 minuets on stage and that was it, it had sparked a fire off inside of me and all I could think of was, what else could I do?

By chance, after that event a colleague of mine asked me if I’d be interested in working for Lee Stafford Education ,becoming one of their STAF educators. Awesome! So I began shadowing some of the current STAF Educators, learning how to deliver the LSE style of education. In 2016 I was delighted to finally become a fully qualified STAF at LSE.

Around the same time shadowing at LSE, I enrolled myself onto a Redken Colour Except course. This turned out to be a great opportunity as I expressed a desire to becoming a Redken Platform Artist. And on doing so, I was invited to audition for this role by delivering a educational demonstration in front of Redken’s Global Platform Artist, Chris Moody. I was terrified standing in front of him, but my previous LSE training gave me the confidence to pull it off. I landed a place as a Redken Platform Artist and I continue my journey within this role, of which I’m still enjoying very much.


Working in many different ways and places

In 2017 things were really taking off as I was given my own courses to run at both Redken and LSE, but you know what? I still had an itch, and I needed to scratch it! I had a desire to work in a hi-end London Salon, so adding another dimension to my work-life. A friend of mine was opening a new boutique salon chain called Radio Hair and Gallery, in London’s Kings Cross, and in mid 2017 I started working there which has been a great addition to my work life.

It’s so varied and interesting working in some many different ways all within the same industry, I liken it to wearing many hats, one day I’ve my North Laine Hair Co hat on, the next my Redken hat… and so on. I love working this way as each job offers a different working experience, so I am never just bogged down by the same repeating routine.

I meet a lot of salon based hairdressers who like me, are looking to add variety to their salon day job, such as session styling and educational work. However I believe the main reason they don’t do it, or at least give it a try it is they think there employer won’t let them take on outside opportunities whilst employed for the salon, too. If you really want to make a change in your career, my best advice is to take the honest approach with your employer and discuss with them not only what you want to do with you career, but how it will work for both of you. I did!

When I work for Redken or LSE and I need to take time out when I am due to be in the salon working, I will either do one of two things. I either personally reschedule my salon clients of that day to another day, or work on one of my days off to accommodate my clients, whilst satisfying the revenue needs of the salon business. Though this may not work for everyone, but if you are to do this then I’d highly recommend – with your employers permission – to book out all your outside salon projects well in advance. This will avoid many disgruntled clients and unhappy employer.

Final words of thought

I truly believe that tomorrows modern salons, collaboration and diversification will become the smart way to future employment and working. So, no matter how you want to work in hairdressing, just be sure that it suits you and your lifestyle and remember, keep looking and thinking outside the box and asking yourself, what else is out there?



James Atkinson

Author: James Atkinson. Education booking enquiries:  @jamesatkinsoneducation