Describe yourself in three words
This is such a hard question! Passionate. Dedicated. Inquisitive
Name three places that are guaranteed sources of inspiration for you
Both our salons – I love working with our teams in them every day.
Our industry – we are so lucky to be part of such a creative and diverse industry. There are so many hairdressers who inspire me with their work or business skills.
Instagram and Pinterest always provide inspiration.
My greatest teacher/mentor was…
This has to be my dad, Russell Eaton. He has been a constant source of inspiration to me, from his work ethic to his hairdressing expertise, but most of all his passion and dedication to his business and developing others within it. He is a very humble guy and his support and encouragement and guidance from my earliest days in the industry will always stay with me.
What’s the one piece of advice you would pass on to any hairdresser looking for fresh ideas?
To absorb ideas from everywhere. There has never been a better time to gain inspiration within our industry with so many events, shows and online sources of hairdressing education. With social media, my advice is to follow all the salons and hairdressers that you respect and whose work you admire, and learn from what these icons are doing. Most importantly, practice constantly. Keep perfecting your skills and put your own unique twist on the work that you are creating.
The hairdresser you should Google immediately is…
One stylist I follow on Instagram and whose work I respect is Jean-Baptiste Santens (@jeanbaptiste.santens), who creates incredible hair and amazing wig work. I also follow the account Salon Benjamin (@salonbenjamin) from the USA. I love the work they produce.
What’s the secret to presenting to an audience?
Be yourself, be passionate about what you do and what you are presenting, and engage with the audience. For me it is very much about having confidence in myself. When I first began in the industry I found it very daunting getting on stage. I used to – and still do – get very nervous before any presentation I had to give. However, the more preparation I put into things and the more experience I got, the more confident I have become. I always remember the very first hairdressing competitions I entered – Wella Professionals Young Brit Challenge (which later became Trend Vision) and L’Oréal Professionnel’s Talentspotting. I learnt so much from the experience and became much more confident.
I also think it’s important to listen to advice from others. Mark Hill and Andrew Barton both called me up to give me advice after competitions they’d judged, something they didn’t need to do but I always will remember and appreciate their words. Although that was around 20 years ago, advice from others and the critique I have had in the past have helped shape me to where I am now within my career.
What infuriates you about modern hairdressing?
There’s a lot less loyalty now, both with clients and team members. The world of social media has created a culture of wanting everything now, now, now. From unrealistic client expectations on colour results and Instagram-ready hair, to the rise in ‘wanting to be famous’… Not everything about social media is positive.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made… and what did you learn from it?
The key to any mistakes made is to learn from them and move forward in a positive way. I often say to any of our team members that are training that you often learn more from your mistakes than things that go right all the time.
Running a salon and employing people is a constant learning curve and certainly over the last eight years since opening our Leeds salons there have been highs and lows. However, I feel that all of the experiences I have had throughout my career have shaped me into the hairdresser I am now.
Finish this sentence: young ambitious hairdressers today need to…?
Focus on mastering the classics and watch and learn from everyone you meet in the industry. It’s good advice that has always served me well. Very often young stylists nowadays want everything fast, and I would say that it’s important not to let ego take over what hairdressing is all about – creating amazing hair, looking after clients and building a professional and great experience for clients.
The look you wished you’d created?
I love so many of the classic Sassoon shapes. My dad, Russell, worked for them in the early days, and he has so many images and inspirational pieces of work that he has saved from that time. Our head office in Barnsley as a great Vidal Sassoon archive, which I still find very inspiring now.
If only they would bring back…
I love classic techniques and we are currently focusing on regenerating our highlighting services in the salon after several years of Balayage ruling colour popularity. Our new Baby Lights service is proving a huge success with our clients.
I would also love to work with movement and even perm again. So many stylists don’t even know how to work with these products and techniques. I’ve seen a strong trend towards working with natural movement and texture lately, and modern perming and movement techniques would be a great salon service addition.
I’ll never tire of…
Coming home from work and seeing my daughter Pearl. She is two years old now and makes any hard day worthwhile.
How do you first approach any new project?
I really give everything that I work on personally and what we do as a salon team a lot of thought and effort. Being part of a family business, we constantly chat about business and creative ideas to help grow our brand and creative profile. Myself and dad have conference calls every day (in the car on the way to work) and we discuss all aspects of our salons and the industry in general.
For me it is very much about planning, so if I am approaching a creative project I often draw inspiration from images or ideas I have saved over time. I save tear sheets from magazines, and have a file on my laptop where I save anything that I’ve seen online that I like or am inspired by. I am constantly creating and saving mood boards in preparation for anything I might be working on in the future.
What do you need surrounding you to be able to work?
Like-minded people. Our team at Russel Eaton are amazing (dare I say one of the best we have ever had?) and I love working with them all and I get so many ideas from them.
I think working with the right team of people is so important in hairdressing, whether that’s being salon based or on a creating session project. For me I have both the strong bond and trust you get from working within a family business and a super-creative and passionate team that we have nurtured over the years. This year is our 40th year in business and we feel very lucky to have team members that have been with us for a very long time, many of which we have trained ourselves.
If I hadn’t been a hairdresser, I would have…
Probably something design- or art-related. It was always what I was drawn to. I did work experience with a graphic design studio and our own family business. I just fell in love with hairdressing and have never look back since.
What skill should stylists learn that isn’t hair related?
People skills. It’s one of the most important parts of working in our industry – reading, listening to and understanding what clients actually mean and want is a skill in itself, especially in a world of social media and a very image conscious society.
The most exciting place I’ve worked was…
Sydney. I loved it there and the whole vibe around hairdressing over in Australia is very exciting.
What excites you most about hairdressing right now?
That there really are no limits to how much we can all learn from each other. Hairdressing as an industry is very sharing, it is fantastic to see so much amazing and new creative talent. I love the mix of how hairdressers are influenced by both the session and salon worlds and I feel that more than ever, both women and men see hairdressing as an exciting, credible and respected industry to be part of.