This is the first (and seriously we got a good one!) in a new series on the blog. I have been tracking down the baddest, raddest people from a variety of fields that have inspired me at some point in my career (as a stylist, for wonderland for just in general!) and am so stoked that they agreed to be interviewed for this blog!
And who do we land first? Well not only is he HJ'S British Hairdresser of the Year and Brand Ambassador for Matrix Haircare; he has also been transforming those little X Factor darlings for the past 3 years and has worked with the likes of Kylie, Olly Murs and Super Models Elle Macpherson and Eva Herzigova. Opening his first salon at the tender age of just 18, he has worked hard and climbed the ranks of hairdressing to become one of the most sought after celebrity hair stylists. Here Jamie tells us about his career, his business and how he has become the go-to guy in hair. Prepare to be inspired!
Tell us about what you do.
I’m a hair stylist; a salon owner with two salons, in London and Somerset, and a Global Ambassador for Matrix Haircare.
What does an average day at work look like for you?
The honest answer is that there really isn’t one! Generally I start my week educating other hair stylists around the country and even internationally for Matrix. I try and spend a day a week or every other week at my salon in Somerset, both seeing long-standing clients and catching up with my team down there, then spend the rest of the time in my London salon, where I can be doing clients or attending business meetings.
In between, I do a lot of filming for television, style celebrities' hair, get involved in photographic shoots for magazines and fashion shows, all of which can happen at very short notice, so my schedule can often change from one day to the next. The variety is what I love about this job so I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Do you primarily work alone or with other people?
Working with pop royalty Union J
A bit of both really. In the salon, I of course work with my amazing team who are all brilliant at what they do and we’re a very close-knit team. Plus, styling clients' hair means you’re always working with people. When I’m out doing work for Matrix, I can often be travelling alone and I might be presenting on my own on stage. Once I’m at the venue, I’ll be working with a great support team from Matrix or whoever the organiser is. I’m in this job as I love working with people and I get to do lots of that, so I never really feel alone!
Is this what you wanted to do as a child? Did you end up in this job by “accident” or was it a planned career choice?
My Mum was actually a hairdresser, as well as my grandmother and my great-grandfather, so you could say it ran in the blood! I initially started out following in my father’s footsteps as a professional footballer, but I was seriously injured very early on in my career and as my Mum had a hair salon and I’d always helped out, I decided to venture into it and haven’t looked back since! Having spent so much time in the salon when I was young, I loved the atmosphere and it seemed like everyone had a lot of fun!
Jamie working on X Factor Star Tamera
How long ago did you start on this path?
About half my life ago, at around 16 years old!
How long were you doing it before you made it into your career or primary form of income?
Straight away really – at 18 years old I took over my Mum’s salon and so became a salon owner then!
Did anything significant happen to get you to that point, or was it a series of small steps?
It all happened quite naturally. After becoming injured playing football, it seemed like a natural step to make. Although taking over the salon from my Mum was significant, again it felt like the natural choice to make to keep it in the family.
What kind of education do you have?
I have a normal state education with GCSEs and I went to S.C.A.T (Somerset College of Arts & Technology) for my hairdressing qualifications, whilst working in my Mum’s salon at the time.
Do you think official qualifications are important for someone entering your industry?
Absolutely, it is essential. Not only from learning technique but also to build confidence in how to deal with clients and from this perspective, I think that work based apprenticeships are great in delivering that.
Jamie Stevens 2013 collection.
If you went to school, did you enjoy studying? Could you see where it might lead you at the time? What advice would you give to someone else who might be studying to get into your industry?
I wouldn’t say I loved studying but I always tried my best as that’s the kind of person that I am. I would always recommend studying as best as you can as this will help you in later life, no matter what your career choice.
What do you think is the best thing about what you do?
Ultimately, it’s the power of being able to make someone feel totally amazing about themselves after just one visit to the salon. They could be having the worst day or time in their lives and to be able to give someone more confidence and positivity about themselves with a cut or a colour is just magical. On another level, I love the diversity and variety it brings. One day I’m in the salon cutting hair, the next I could be on a photo-shoot or speaking to press and another having business meetings. I can honestly say I really do love my job!
What’s the worst thing?
Doing lots of international work often means long periods away from home, so juggling work/life balance can become tricky, especially when I still have to come back and manage my salon clients and business.
Would you call yourself a workaholic and if so, are you alright with that? Do you think that’s normal for your industry?
Probably yes! But I absolutely love what I do and whilst I’m relatively young and full of energy, I’m committed to doing everything I can to make my business a success. I think it’s normal in this industry or in any industry if you want to be the best.
What would your number one suggestion be for someone who wants to do what you do?
Discover what truly makes you happy, set some clear goals and work every hour possible to reach your goals. Make yourself available to everything and everyone in the early days to gain as much as experience as possible. Surround yourself with talented people – if you want to be the best, you’ve got to work with the best.
...How about number two?
Reach for the moon and even if you don’t get there, you’ll fall somewhere between the stars.
What do you wish you had known when you first started out?
I’m really a firm believer that things happen for a reason, even if they’re not always positive, so I think it’s just about always learning from your mistakes and using them to better yourself and enjoy the ride.
Are there any major misconceptions about your job or industry?
I think the main misconception is the perception that it’s a job for those that don’t do very well at school. Though I do think this perception is shifting as people understand the diversity and rewards that a career in hairdressing can bring, I still think there’s work to be done especially as this misconception couldn’t be more wrong – you need to understand business as well as being creative and there’s a certain amount of psychology in hairdressing, as you’re working with clients every day, both in understanding what it is they want from their visit to the salon and interpreting that, whilst also being a confidante at times.
What is the best thing that’s happened to you as a consequence of the work you do?
It’s hard to pin down as I have had so many fantastic experiences; from working with celebrities and winning awards to working on TV shows including Gok Wan’s Fashion Fix, How to Look Good Naked, This Morning and most recently, The X Factor, where I’ve been the official hair stylist behind the scenes for three years now. However, I have to say being nominated for the British Hairdressing Awards British Hairdresser of the Year Award twice has been a pinnacle in my career so far. I’m so honoured to see my name up there with the greats.
What motivates you to keep doing what you’re doing?
When I started out it was seeing all the huge icons of the industry win awards and establish brands that made me aspire to be like them one day. Now, I am inspired by the drive and energy of my two salon teams. Their passion and dedication keeps me focused on achieving more. However, it quite simply is that I love my job. The day I wake up and stop enjoying it, is the day I stop.
Who do you look up to within your industry & why?
The ultimate person has to be the late, great Vidal Sassoon who has done more for this industry than anyone before or after him. He completely revolutionised hairdressing in the 60s and hairdressers still aim to emulate today what he did then.
More Jamie magic.
Rate how happy you are with what you do out of 100 (100 being the best, 0 being devastatingly awful) on an average day.
Though I would probably say 100% from a pure enjoyment perspective, I’ll say 90% as I think there is always room to better myself and my business.
Is there much career progression available to you? What would you like to do next?
There’s always room for progression, whether that’s opening more salons, taking on more contracts, doing more TV work or launching a product line. I do have some plans in the pipeline, but right now I’m concentrated on growing my existing salon business. At the moment we’re also shooting come collections for the British Hairdressing Awards, so it would be great to win those!
Do you think you’ll continue doing this for the rest of your life?
As I mentioned before, the day I stop enjoying hairdressing is the day I stop. Until then, I’ll continue as there’s nothing better than to wake up in the morning and do what you love doing.
We would like to thank Jamie so much for answering our questions! Also to Katie for bringing it all together. You can follow and find Jamie on the links below - or to book an appointment click here!