The whole team at Byron Hairdressing was buzzing to hear there was a positive TV show coming about the hairdressing industry. You might not have noticed, but all too often we get a bit of a rum deal in the media. So there we were, five minutes before BBC3’s Hair began, all ready to be amused. But, you know what – we were a wee bit disappointed.
It’s a reality show in which eight non-hairdressers compete to show off their styling skills, but watching it you could be forgiven for thinking almost anyone can cut hair and that training is largely unnecessary. Of course, they can’t and it is.
What the programme does show, though, is that dropping a creative person into a creative industry and teaching them strong technical skills can produce a highly skilled hairdresser for whom the possibilities are endless.
At Byron Hairdressing, the value of ongoing education is something we instil in every team member. Training and development is a career-long journey, not a destination. Our assistants start out following a rigorous in-salon training programme that takes them through the SVQ Level 2 and 3 exams that make them a qualified stylist. But it doesn’t stop there – even our most senior stylists carry on honing and refining their skills with regular external courses and in-salon workshops.
Good education is essential for creating the next breed of talented professionals, and this is something reality programmes like Hair skip over. They are more interested in showing viewers the thrills and spills of not getting it quite right, or someone producing something fabulous on the first attempt. This can have the unfortunate effect of portraying a skilled craft as simple, and it was clear from the social networks hairdressers frequent that we weren’t the only ones who felt the hard work and dedication it takes to get consistently great results was being undermined.
But it’s not all bad. What Hair has shown is that creativity is a key part of the hairdressing industry. Though it has to be nurtured and developed, basic core creativity is something that comes from inside and, by and large, cannot be taught. Some of the Hair contestants have it by the shedload and the programme shows that well.
We are hoping Hair will inspire lots of young people to take up hairdressing (we were excited by some of their thought processes and creative thinking) but anyone thinking of a salon career must first understand that a comprehensive and properly structured training programme is a vital part of the job, without which even the biggest talent will falter.