Hello, for those of you that don’t know me my name’s Craig Parkinson. I would like to share my views on keeping motivated as a freelance ‘rent-a-chair’ stylist. I’ve been freelance for 4 years now and I love everything about it. I’m currently based at Mane Hairdressing in Barnsley. The opportunity came 4 years ago when my then employer gave the stylists at our salon the opportunity to rebrand and go self-employed.
Education is key
In this time, I’ve planned and attended a lot of education courses. Always seeing them as an investment rather than an additional cost. For me education is key, especially if you would like to stay ahead with trends and new techniques. The other part I love about education days is the opportunity to network with like-minded people. The courses attended have been mainly with Wella and vary from creative days with Wella artists, session styling, bridal and creative colour work. With every course I’ve found a buzz to learn more and always leave full of ideas! I believe that through networking and attending these it has opened up doors and opportunities like assisting backstage at London Fashion Week and has really helped to develop my own personal skills and competition work.
Building my confidence
The first major networking event goal I set my sights on was the Hair Club Live – Open Chair Night. This was the ultimate goal for me at the time to prove to myself I could do stage work. It has always been a bit of a personal struggle as I have a stammer. This was also the first time meeting Dom and fellow audience members that night including the inspirational Georgia Bell. The experience really helped to build my confidence with presenting on stage and was also the start of many collaborative opportunities with Georgia.
Entering industry competitions
Competition work has always helped to keep me motivated and inspired. I’ve entered Wella Trendvision for the past six consecutive years and reached the regional final stage for the last three years. In this time, I’ve realised the importance of creating a competition entry looks that you are proud of and believe in. I’ve always tried to set a list of goals to achieve and work towards. One of my goals I set was to win the NHF Britains Best – Bridal Hairdresser of the Year award held at Salon International. I first entered it back in 2016, the first two years not finalising. This if anything made me more determined to win it! In 2018 I reached the final, this was a good feeling.. despite not winning. I was encouraged to try again next year by one of the judges. In 2019 I entered again, reached the final and won. It was definitely the highlight of my career so far.
Collaboration not Competition
Collaborations are also a great way to stay motivated and network. These opportunities can come in all shapes and sizes. I first started collaborating with local creative styled photoshoots, these are a great opportunity to be creative, network with local businesses and get some amazing professional photos for your portfolio. Other collaborations started when I met Akito Scissors at their stand at Pro Hair Live Manchester in 2017, this lead to a few opportunities doing live work cutting and styling on their stands at UK hairdressing exhibitions. I’ve also been involved in a few ‘skill swap’ days with like-minded stylists wanting to brush up and swap knowledge and techniques with one another. More recently I’ve been given opportunities to collaborate with the likes of Georgia Bell and Phillippa Lee on Georgia’s original concept of ‘Collaboration not Competition’ giving stylists the opportunity to present and produce work they are proud of and showcase at major UK hair exhibitions. In my experience the more of these opportunitys you say yes to, the more will come to you in return.
Perfecting new styling skills
During the pandemic I’ve tried to use the time productively. Although I can’t physically do peoples hair at the minute I’ve been dedicating two hours a day to researching, practicing and perfecting new styling skills. I’ve also taken this as an opportunity to share some knowledge on Instagram and started recording my own tutorials. This has massively helped to keep me motivated and has even encouraged me to enter a few of the style images into the Behind the Chair ‘One Shot competition’.
Special thanks to today’s guest blogger Craig Parkinson
Follow Craig Parkinson on Instagram @hair.by.craig.parkinson