If you love celebrity fashion and staying on top of trends, becoming a hairdresser is one career option that will get you close to the action.
Charlotte Lewis, 30, is a creative stylist at Cobella in Kensington, one of London’s top hair salons.
Aside from cutting, colouring and making hair extensions look natural for the occasional famous face, Charlotte styles photo shoots for the Daily Mail and presenters for London Live.
We spoke with Charlotte about what it really takes to become a hairdresser.
1. When did you know you wanted to be a hairdresser?
I knew I wanted to do it from a young age – I was cutting my sister’s hair from when I was about six (not with permission, I might add). I always knew it wasn’t going to make me a millionaire, so it’s the sort of thing you need to be passionate about. Well, unless you become a superstar hairdresser!
2. How did you get started?
I grew up in Derbyshire and had an interview with Toni & Guy there when I was 16. I got my job on the day and started my apprenticeship right away.
You do two to three years training, being an assistant on the salon floor. Then you do what’s called your “vardering” – you go to the academy and do six weeks intense training. You either choose cutting or colouring, and you have to pass at least 12 cuts to pass the course.
After I finished the course I went straight onto the salon floor as a stylist and worked there for nine years. Two years ago I moved to London, where I’ve been working for Cobella ever since.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
I get up about 6:30, get to work and look at my column, which is the list of my clients for the day. I prepare myself for my day – make sure all my equipment’s ready, make sure I have the right colours in depending on which clients I have for appointments. I usually see between 12 to 14 clients a day on a fully booked column. Then I get home around 7pm.
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4. What are the major perks of being a hairdresser?
Being in the hair industry, you get to know what fashion’s coming round for the next season, what the hairstyles are going to be, what the celebrities are going to be wearing on the catwalks and in magazines. So it’s nice to always know what’s in fashion.
The best thing about working for Cobella is that it’s a massive brand name and my bosses are like the best hairdressers in the world – they fill you with drive everyday at work. My team is really good and we’re all really good friends.
We do have some famous clients as well, but obviously I’m not allowed to mention names. We have actors, singers, reality TV stars.
5. What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Keeping up a conversation with that many people all day can be quite draining. But as long as you stay upbeat and the clients are in a good mood, it’s fine.
6. What advice would you give to any prospective hairdressers?
The first thing I would suggest is do an apprenticeship for a large company like Vidal Sassoon or Toni & Guy. I think it’s better to be on a salon floor every day seeing what stylists are doing rather than sitting in college. It’s more proactive and you’re learning every single day from people with years of experience.
When dealing with difficult clients, it’s easy to say that the client is always right. Personally, I’m honest with them about what’s achievable and what’s not.
When you get someone with jet black hair wanting to be peroxide blonde, that’s probably the most difficult. It’s not impossible but it takes time. I just try not to sugarcoat things too much. You’ve just got to remember that they’re a person, you’re a person and you’re both trying to achieve something together. Don’t give them unrealistic expectations.
And just enjoy it!
7. What’s the hottest hairstyle of the moment?
The midi, which is just below the collarbone. Loose waves, a bit more natural.
Also, young girls are getting more adventurous with pastel colours, purely because of the Kardashians. Everyone wants bouncy hair like Khloe or to look like supermodels like Cara Delevigne – they’re quite a big influence.
8. What are your #lifegoals?
I hope to be really successful in hairdressing, a top stylist at Cobella. And hopefully have a family.