How to Be the Best Hairdresser: Interview with Charlie Gray

How to be the best hairdresser: image of Charlie Gray doing a hair cut

Wondering how to be a good hairdresser? We sat down with Charlie Gray, founder of Hair In Motion, to get some insightful tips on how to be the best in the industry. Here’s what we learned.

Are there any skills and qualities for hairdressing that are important to have?

  • Patience

One of the most integral qualities in hairdressing is patience. It is very easy to get frustrated with the level you’re currently working at, but it is important to remember that learning any creative craft takes time. Indulge in your learning and you’ll see major improvements in your skill, but don’t expect to see huge progress overnight.

  • Confidence

Another vital skill to build is having a sense of composure and self-confidence. Whilst working in hairdressing, especially in a salon or barbershop setting, you might begin comparing yourself to others. It is easy to let yourself gravitate towards this kind of mindset, which will only negatively affect your work.

“You need to develop strong confidence in your own ability. Focus on your own vision and goals, and really discipline yourself so that you’re not constantly comparing yourself to others.”

  • Courage

It’s easier said than done. But be courageous every once in a while. Hairdressing is an avenue of exploration; you should define your own goals, stick to your strengths and find out what you truly enjoy. Once you’ve found your passion don’t hesitate to take the necessary (bold) steps to make it happen. 

What kind of customer service skills in hairdressing should you strive to develop?

Hairdressers are very much people-orientated. You’ll often hear the joke that we are also therapists, which isn’t far from the truth. We’re very relaxed and open-minded people, which are qualities that naturally improve your customer service skills.

Generally, you’ll want to be approachable and easy-going. Clients can really open up to you during an appointment, and you should be able to reflect this openness back to them. Of course, we’re talking more about personal qualities here, but learning people skills will come naturally with practice. 

What advice would you give to those just starting out their career?

The main skill you’ll really want to drill down into in the beginning is developing a strong willingness to learn. 

“Become a sponge: make it your mission to use everything as a learning opportunity. Observe and take in everything around you and don’t be afraid to get really stuck into what you do.”

Your job needs patience but also dedication. You need to invest a lot of your time to learn such a meticulous craft. You’ll likely need to make sacrifices if you want to exceed people’s expectations. 

A key thing to bear in mind before throwing yourself into hairdressing is that you likely won’t make a lot of money in the beginning. It’s a common misconception that hairdressing is easy and that you’ll rake it in from the get-go. This is simply not the case, and, just like with any job, you’ll need to work your way up.

“But most importantly, take advantage of the freedom you have to express yourself creatively.”

Being a successful hairdresser: How can you improve hairdressing skills?

First and foremost, you’ll want to crack down on your fundamental knowledge from the very start. Learn techniques, get experience and take opportunities to be creative and explore, as this is the most effective way to learn. 

The best way to do this is to work with a good academy. Many of the bigger salons in the industry provide fantastic training opportunities. Once you know your techniques you can move into exploring your skills more creatively at niche independent salons. 

If you really want to improve your skills, then start prioritising knowledge over money. You’ll start finding that when you do this, you’ll have more opportunities to learn and do what’s best for you. Money can always be earned, but knowledge and skill are priceless in this industry.

“For me personally, I spent around 5 years of my career building my knowledge. Once I had this, I was able to pursue bigger things, like learning to teach others and how to run a business. Your journey in this industry simply shouldn’t stop at cutting hair.”

What do you love about the profession?

One of the biggest advantages of being a hairdresser is the opportunities it brings. 

“For me, I’ve been able to meet incredible people and travel to amazing places which I probably wouldn’t have gone to without pursuing this career. Everything I do now, I owe to hair.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Trust your gut instincts! If something doesn’t feel right for whatever reason, learn to take risks to change for the better. If you’re never willing to take risks, then you won’t know what kind of decisions will backfire, and equally, you’ll miss out on great learning opportunities.

So, trust your gut and learn to take risks. 

What is an insight that you wish everyone in the industry knew about?

“It’s not how long you’ve been in the craft, it’s the dedication you’ve put into it.”

The majority of people lack the mindset to become the best at what they’re doing. This just goes to show that having a winners mindset is so much more important than skill set. In fact, a hairdresser who has 1 year of experience can easily be a better hairdresser than someone with 30 years of experience.

This just comes down to that mindset of being willing to learn and improve. If you stop developing your skills and striving for success, you’re always going to be stuck in the same place. 

Start growing and developing in your hairdressing career

Did you find Charlie’s insights useful? His platform, Hair In Motion, has released a 10-week Mentorship Programme for individuals who want to push the boundaries in their teaching career. Find out more here.

Or, keen to build on your fundamental skills? The LEAF Academy offers innovative haircutting tutorials from top names in the industry, including Charlie Gray! Check out all the courses here.

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