When I was 7 yrs old I went to a hair salon for the first time to watch my Mum getting her hair done. Within minutes I discovered my passion right there : a hairdresser. I was ready to leave school the next day to pursue my career. I was born in London but my parents were Polish refugees from the second World war and to them education was considered the key to everything. To have a profession like a doctor, lawyer or banker was what they wanted for me and my chosen career of hairdressing was not in their sights for my future! When I signed up for Beauty School I was so scared, and thought maybe I made the wrong decision, scared of what my parents would say if I didn’t succeed and what does success look like! After 2 years at Beauty School I got a job immediately, however the owner had me walking her dog more than servicing clients, so I quit. I ended up securing another job straight away and didn’t like that salon either, then another and another. By the end of my first year after Beauty School, I had worked in 10 different salons! Looking back I wish I had a Mentor, often we don’t know what we don’t know and, without good guidance how do we know what and when is the right thing to do. At that point I had no idea what this ‘change’ would look like. I spent many hours relentlessly playing around and painting hair with countless bottles and tubes of hair colour which led to many attempts that didn’t work, then finally I felt I discovered something new, something I hadn’t seen before. I made it look like animal fur! Everyone laughed, and said I was crazy and that no one would ever want their hair coloured with intensional ‘roots' and many colours!I struggled on making mistake after mistake however, by the age of 22 somehow I became the manager of one of the most successful salons in London! By 1996 I was totally bored with colouring hair in the conventional way. I was compelled to change the world of hair colouring!
My belief in myself and determination took over and what we now know as Ombré, was born. To date and above all the accolades I’ve received, this has been my greatest achievement, and knowing thousands of hairdressers around the world makes a lot of money servicing their clients with this technique and that it opened the minds of the public to wearing different colors in their hair.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
I had no one to talk to about my fears and had no idea of what was out there in the world of hairdressing. A lot of doubts were going through my head, what if I failed, what if I wasn’t good enough at hair styling and what if I couldn’t get a job! I was so rebellious and stubborn I wouldn’t give in to my fears, despite my inability to study I did somehow excel.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
My mum thought I was unemployable and we argued a lot, so I left home… that decision led me to some ‘interesting’ and pretty dubious situations.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
In my heart I just knew I had to find the 'right‘ salon, I had to prove that hairdressing was the right job for me and that I would succeed!
What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Through the EmpowHERment Project and my Kris Sorbie Mentoring program my mission is:
‘To create ‘space’ that stimulates curiosity and inspires self discovery for all levels of learner, by promoting maximum creativity in a supportive, stimulating and nurturing environment enabling Stylists to grow, break boundaries and prosper’.
Your mission should be… Believe in yourself!