GETS COLOURFUL AT CHERRY REDInterviewed by Jo Reynolds
How long have you been in the area?
I opened the salon 4 years ago on the 20th of May 2013.
Where are your favorite haunts?
The Princess Victoria; I love their Sunday roasts. And I eat in the Monkey Temple twice a month; they're very friendly. I also love Cocktail; Kate's gorgeous. And Adam's Café. There are lots of great places on Askew Road. I try to support everyone.
Where did you grow up?
Cumbernauld, 20 minutes outside Glasgow. I was there till I was 22 when I came to London.
People often just want someone to listen
What inspired you to become a hairdresser?
I always wanted to be a hairdresser. Mum tells a story about when I was 5; I ran away and she found me with my nose against the glass of a salon. Apparently when I first had my hair done as a little girl, I was so pleased with the result I kissed the mirror. That's the best part of my job: making people feel good, giving them more confidence, more self-esteem.
What's the worst?
The hours are long and you're on your feet all day but you get used to it. What really sucks is when I don't get it perfect. It doesn't happen often and everything's fixable but I care too much. My clients know I always want to get it just right, which is why they stay with me.
Is anyone in your family a hairdresser?
No. My mum wanted to be a hairdresser but was discouraged because everyone said there's no money in it. She did warn me about the risks but ultimately wanted me to follow my passion. Anyway, I don't do it for the money; I do it because I love it.
Where did you train?
In Glasgow with a company called Rita Rusk International. It was a three-year apprenticeship. She had extremely high standards. I wasn't allowed to cut a client's hair for three years. I had to learn on models, my friends and family. She and her husband Irvine were the first hairdressers to win British Hairdresser of the Year.
Why did you choose this area for your salon?
I always wanted my own salon but I assumed London would be too expensive and that I'd have to go back to Glasgow. Before setting up Cherry Red I worked at PR Hair and also Armstrong Cuthbert in Chiswick. When I asked my clients where they lived, a lot said around here and I realised there was a call for something that offered Chiswick quality. When I walked down Askew Road in 2011 I knew this was the place.
Do you want to talk about why you split from your business partner, Danielle?
I wanted different things and it became unworkable for me. I'm responsible for it. I was the one who first admitted my doubts. Sadly relationships can't always last and the only solution was to break up. I'm human so of course I had mixed feelings when she joined forces with the salon next door but hairdressing is a competitive business. I've made peace with it now. There's enough hair to go round. And I absolutely 100% wish her well.
What are your ongoing plans for Cherry Red? An empire like Vidal Sassoon or Toni & Guy? A range of products?
I'd love multiple salons. I'd like my next one to be in Notting Hill. As for how many, I'm not limiting myself.
Where do you get your drive?
I don't know. I don't think from my parents but my brother is quite driven. Both my parents worked. My mother is the most caring person in the world. My father is very intelligent and creative; he wanted to work with his hands so he became a telephone engineer for BT, where he's worked all his life.
Hairdressing is a portable skill. If you weren't here where would you love to work?
America definitely. I've been there a lot, to Miami, New York and Las Vegas. I'd like to live abroad, somewhere warm, and learn a new language, maybe Spanish and Turkish.
Have you dressed any famous hair?
I have but I don't relate to clients as celebrities. You see them every 6 weeks so you relate to them as people. I can't name names because part of my job is to make my clients feel safe.
Whose hair would you love to dress?
I've never had a style icon but I'd love to spend time with Oprah Winfrey, not that I'm skilled with Afro-Caribbean hair.
Some confess all to their hairdresser. Discretion permitting, can you share any memorable confessions?
Once when I was 18 and cutting this older lady's hair, I was trying to make conversation but she didn't want to talk so I just got on with it in silence. After a long while she suddenly said, my husband's having an affair with his secretary. I realised that people often just want someone to listen. If they feel safe they share. I try not to give advice. Sometimes they want to explore their options but I try not to tell them what to do.
You're a listener to so many but who listens to you?
My mum and dad. And I have a good friend in America who I skype all the time.
What's your favourite decade for hairstyles?
The Fifties and all that glamour. I love doing a 'glamour up-do' and French rolls. I did many more in Glasgow where people get dressed up much more than London. People can be quite casual here but in Glasgow they get their hair done just to go to the pub. Back in Glasgow I'd do two or three every Saturday whereas here it's one a month.
What's this season's style?
There's a big trend for rainbow colours but that's more for the adventurous client. Cherry Red is more about the right feel than today's style. Mind you I've had coloured hair: bright pink, purple, blue, green... You have to be very careful when colouring hair as you alter up to 90% of the hair’s structure and if you go too far, the hair becomes stretchy like chewing gum. People have asked me for pure white but it ruins the hair and we won't do it.
Who cuts your hair?
One of my girls. I wouldn't employ them if I didn't trust them.
If you weren't doing this, what would be your dream job?
I'd work with animals. I just love them.
How and with whom do you relax?
My friends. And I love massages and meditation.
Do you have a tattoo and, if so, what is it?
I have 6: a thistle for Scotland; a Hamsa Hand or Hand of Fatima; a belly dancer, my alter ego; a red ruby and a mirror frame for the salon; and a fox for my family, who support me always.
Thank you, Jennifer. It's been a real pleasure to meet you.
Interviewed May 2017