Back in bonny Scotland for a fourth consecutive year, The Coterie popped up in Glasgow last night ready to host an evening with two fascinating figures from the world of hair and fashion – one a global legend, the other a legend in the making.
But alas, two became one, as it was announced that The Social’s Ky Wilson – due to fly in earlier in the day –would not be making it into the hot seat, thanks to a horribly drawn out delay that saw him stuck in Southampton airport for seven hours straight. It was time to admit defeat.
But of course, ‘the show must go on’, and guests were certainly not grumbling when Creative HEAD publisher, Catherine Handcock, welcomed star man Mr Errol Douglas MBE with the promise of a specially extended interview.
Errol has claimed multiple coveted industry titles, including the L’Oréal Colour Trophy, Fellowship Hairdresser of the Year and even been named Cosmopolitan’s Ultimate Man of the Year. In 2016, he took Creative HEAD’s Most Wanted Creative Talent title for the third time, making him part of an elite group; a Most Wanted Legend. What an icon to have in our midst!
Kicking off proceedings with an adorable picture of mini Errol – whose journey began at an East London salon when he was just 11 years old (“hairdressing chooses you like a bolt of lightening,” he told the audience) and who received an MBE from the queen in 2008 – the conversation charted the spectacular career of one of the most famous faces in the industry.
“If you have a focus, a dream, a goal, you have to go for it. If you take your foot off the accelerator, somebody else will come and do it first,” said Errol, whose successful Knightsbridge salon attracts clients with super-high standards, justifying the salon’s three receptionists, nine assistants and special express service on the first floor.
Triumphs aside, business can still be tough. “Yes, we are profitable, but there are months when we dip under and we need to listen to our advisors.” And having chosen the swanky London postcode for his now famous salon because he “wanted to be with the big guys”, Errol confessed he would never open up again in the same location because of the questionable landlords and sky-high rents.
But you’ll never see Errol down – his positive energy and outlook is to be much admired. “I like upbeat things – I’m not a negative person. People unload their s*** on us and we are experts in absorbing it. But I remain a positive person, all the time.”
Perhaps this is in part due to the time Errol – who admits he never sleeps (“it will catch up with me one day”) – ensures he makes for himself. A spiritual person and a big fan of Bikram yoga, he talked of burnout being one of the worst things about the hairdressing profession. “We are running on empty most of the time… Personally, I can’t stand still, I have to keep moving, but you need to take a bit of time out.”
Renowned for his incredible photo-shoots and shows, guests were treated to imagery from and insight into some of Errol’s favourite work. First up, a shoot with Rankin; “I love his crisp, clean, beautiful photography”. And next, his Most Wanted Award-winning Hair Trend image from 2009, photographed by Andrew O’Toole. “It is effortless, my modern-day Farrah,” he explained.
Inspired by the likes of Eugene Souleiman and Angelo Seminara, Errol’s creativity is also fuelled by the work he sees put out by artistic teams all over the world, and he follows the careers of several young Australian hairdressers. But his main passion is his family. “My life is my kids,” he says. “My children have come into the industry and I want to steer them in the right direction, but ultimately I want them to take a natural course.”
Respected and much loved for his work mentoring young hairdressers – something he is passionate about and incredibly good at – Errol devotes huge amounts of his time to nurturing the talents of tomorrow. “I am really into their ideas,” he gushed, “I let them flow. Some people don’t do this, but I think it’s important to give young people a voice.”
Getting more young people into the business, says Errol, is one of the biggest challenges the industry faces: “We have to come together as an industry. We need to be more organised to ensure the right people are joining us. We have to ”
After taking a Saturday job at Paul Edmonds in London (as did a certain Sam McKnight!), Errol talked of his own mentor, Paul, who went on to become one of his most precious and trusted friends. “He has inspired and taught so many, but he has always been part of my life. I believe a true friend lets you know what not to do.”
As the interview drew to a close, Catherine asked Errol a few quick-fire questions, during which he made several revelations. His biggest strength? Show work. His weakness? Boredom (“It will kill you,” he added). On the subject of his 21st British Hairdresser of the Year nomination, he admitted: “I think I will get it one day”. On his MBE, he joked: “It gets me upgraded, a lot!” What makes his blood boil? “Bad time-keeping”. His biggest mistake? “I made a false promise once”. His mantra: “Be careful what you say, you can’t take things back”.
And then, it was all over…
Handed a glass of his favourite tipple (brandy and coke), Errol took time to snap selfies with enamoured fans and hung out at the bar until closing. Happy guests departed into the still-light Glasgow night with a generous gift courtesy of BaByliss PRO – the awesome Titanium Expression Deep Waver.
Until next time, peeps.