I am the founder and CEO of Marie Claire Jetstyle, the world’s first multi service salon at global travel hubs and a product range including hairdryers, tools and hair enhancers launched on QVC USA in 2020.
I also own HNB Salon Spa a 4,000 sq ft Super salon in Sandbanks Dorset where I employ over 40 personnel to offer everything from cosmetic dentistry, nutritional therapy and trichology to my niche renowned cut, colour and blow dry. The salon is also part of the Green Salon Collective which pioneer’s salon sustainability throughout the UK and Ireland and is something I’m really passionate about.
I was also appointed to the Board of the NHBF (National Hair & Beauty Federation) in November 2018, which, with over 5000 members, is the largest trade body for the hair, beauty and barbering industries.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Absolutely not! Opportunities have come via my hair work be it in the salon, or magazine, and celebrity hair work. I think in this industry, you can only plan to a certain extent, the rest is made up of hard work and seizing opportunities at the right time and of course through reputation and your clients!
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
So many challenges, but with every challenge you push harder, I think they make you better in the end, being emotionally and mentally fit is absolutely vital. Obviously, like many others, Covid has been the biggest challenge we’ve had to face, and we are starting to come to grips with the “new normal” and roadmap of what the industry will look like moving forward. Everything else now pales into insignificance!
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
The partnership with Marie Claire was pretty special but the QVC USA deal, two of the largest operators world wide, was such a personal achievement as this means we are opening luxury salons in airports globally. The first salon is opening at St Pancras International with plans to roll out over 200 more salons at major transport hubs around the world.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
My knowledge of our sector. I sit on the board of the National Hair and Beauty Federation, I also worked as Head of Europe for Living Proof for 3 years, a hair brand half owned by Jenifer Aniston at the time with 300 salons under me. Having access to global salons really helped me understand our sector worldwide and the needs of each region.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
Yes, it’s such an important part of the hairdressing industry! I have mentored and I have been mentored, although in my lifetime it’s a fairly new concept. I believe anyone in business should have a mentor, who’s preferably where you’d like to be and have the ability to teach you and support you but not ever do anything for you!
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?
Flexible working and education, I truly believe that just because a woman has a child it should not mean that she can’t take her child to work and/or educate herself at any age, or be allowed flexible working patterns to accommodate her children. I’m hoping the changes made during Covid will have let employers see that flexibility is not detrimental to the performance of the individual or the business. Sadly, particularly in hairdressing where 83% of stylists are female, there’s still a real lack of understanding and flexibility around child care when, realistically, it should be super flexible. Two stylists can easily cover each other to accommodate pick ups and drop offs. Equally, evening working around those clients that work is a no brainer. It should be the most flexible career out there in order to be flexible for our demanding cliental but we have a long way to go yet in achieving this. We have a number of employees that we offer flexible working too and it’s meant that our talent pool is staying strong by keeping experienced women able to work.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
Be patient Steph, Rome wasn’t built in a day, trust your own instinct and surround yourself with positivity! I think our younger selves are always impatient and eager to get to the end goal too quickly, slow and steady wins the race – and remember, not everything you see on social media is the full picture!
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
We operate in travel retail which has been hit so hard by Covid, so I want to achieve the opening of the 185 locations in global airports that are currently planned, which I believe will generate a welcome boost in sales for both industries at a much-needed time.
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