We have a number of professional’s guest writing for us and we are delighted that award winning celebrity hairdresser Andrew Barton will be sharing tips on how we can look after our hair, not just during lockdown, but on a regular basis. Keep checking back for his first blogs.
Below Andrew shares with us a little bit about his life:
What was it like growing up in Barnsley?
I’m very proud of my Northern working-class roots (excuse the pun!). I grew up in a small mining village and had a wonderful childhood growing up on a council estate with great memories of playing in the street with the other kids. My parents instilled values of care and compassion and a strong work ethic, which has inspired my career.
Did you go straight into hairdressing when you left school?
I wasn’t academic at school but enjoyed art and design. I was destined for art school to study surface pattern design with the ambition to become a fabric designer. I did ultimately become a fabric designer - the fabric being hair.
Was this something you always wanted to do/What was your first job?
I apprenticed at a local Barnsley salon in the early 80s and was taught high standards. It was tough and there was no room for mistakes. I also spent time at Barnsley College qualifying and I’m so thrilled that now my hairdressing scholarship scheme, ABLE launched at the very college where I studied. ABLE (Andrew Barton London Education) bridges the gap between further education training and industry and inspires students that study the scholarship to a high skill set and ensures they are ABLE for salon work and to develop their career as a hairdresser. It’s great that this unique training programme launched in Yorkshire.
When did you open your first salon and where was it?
I’ve spent my career working with the UK’s largest salon groups leading training and creative direction, working with the teams to build brand reputations. My career has taken me around the world, from royal palaces to fashion catwalks and celebrities’ homes, but being behind the chair in my salon with clients is still the most rewarding aspect of my work. To make someone happy with their hair truly is a great gift. In business I’ve had to overcome many challenges and build the right teams of people around me. My first salon was in Covent Garden, London, which sadly had to close due to a huge rent increase which I’m sure many readers have been also been challenged in businesses with.
How did you manage to get into television?
Working as part of the make-over team on Lorraine Kelly’s ITV morning show was my first work in TV. It was thrilling to create live make overs and be the resident hair expert offering advice. And then as the resident hair expert on Channel 4 “10 Years Younger”, which was a huge learning curve. It became an international TV success and showcased in the UK for 8 years. It’s funny being recognised as that hairdresser from the TV. I love that people often say they recognise my voice, my Yorkshire accent.
Is the Mayfair Salon your only salon?
I work as Creative & Communications Director for the high street salon group Headmasters. My work portfolio is diverse - from being the hair spokesperson for the brand to creating signature imagery, campaigns and hair trends as well as leading education for the group. I am also the franchisee of the Mayfair branch where I see clients with my team. It’s an unusual and interesting business arrangement as work for the franchisor developing the brands initiatives as well as being a franchisee. I love the diversity of my work and the brands ethos.
How did you get involved with the Little Princess Trust Charity and why?
Being involved with charity is a rewarding aspect of my life. Apart from working with industry related charities I’m involved with various causes that are dear to my heart. I was adopted as a child and without adoption my life may have been very different, I’m a Patron of Coram BAAF, the UK’s oldest children’s charity. Working as a Celebrity Ambassador with The Prince’s Trust is inspiring, supporting enterprise. I was bullied at school for a while, so I work with Kidscape, the UK’s leading anti-bullying charity as an ambassador. I am very proud to be the Hairdresser Ambassador for The Little Princess Trust, a charity that provides wigs for young children who lose their hair through disease and cancer related treatments. We are also the official hairdresser to the charity at Headmasters.
There are terrible times at the moment and hairdressing is suffering most. How is this affecting you and what are you doing during lockdown?
Hairdressers are essential to any community and for many people are more than just somewhere for personal grooming but also offer a place of relaxation, pampering and time out. The COVID-19 crisis has elevated the position of the professional hairdresser and is at last being taken seriously recognised for the profession it is. UK hair and beauty salons alone contribute a turnover of £7,505,586 million to the UK economy and that doesn’t include freelance professionals or the retail figures from high street and independent stores.
And employing over 1% of the total UK workforce and internationally recognised as a leader in the field re training and trends the industry has been hugely impacted. Like many businesses there is a huge “come back” operation to be done and I’m currently using my time to shape strategy ahead and in particular consider all elements of the product that we deliver to ensure good value for our clients on our return.
Who is the most famous person you have styled hair for?
My clientele is so wonderfully diverse from housewives to lawyers, critical workers to retired professionals and every age group - it’s what makes my work so exciting to engage with so many people, many who have become friends. Working with a celebrity is always fun and comes with its own challenges, often working on sets preparing their hair for their professional work e.g a magazine shoot or TV appearance. I’ve worked with everyone from household names like Davina McCall to Hollywood stars like Eva Longoria and pop legends Robbie Williams and supermodels like Jerry Hall.
Do you have a favourite hairstyle that you like to create?
My signature hair is all about hair beauty - it doesn’t matter what length, colour or shape. For me it’s all about making a woman look and feel her very best. Healthy, shiny hair with a great cut and colour turns heads, and that’s what’s in my mind every time I design hair. It doesn’t matter who the client is. Of course, I’ve earned a reputation as an anti-ageing expert and it’s true that there is much that can be done to knock off the years.
What awards do you have?
It was certainly a highlight of my career the night I was crowned the British Hairdresser of the Year. You can’t enter this award. Instead it’s nominated by the industry along with the British fashion and beauty press. I sadly lost my mum (my best friend) a few years ago but am so happy that she was with me that night at a glittering awards ceremony in London’s Park Lane.
However, as the first hairdresser ever to receive an Honorary Doctorate of Arts, which was given by Southampton Solent University was an incredible honour and recognition to hairdressing as an art.
You have a number of hair care products on the market, was this a natural addition to salons?
Launching my signature haircare 12 years sold exclusively in ASDA has not only been a huge business learning but I’m also proud that it’s won multiple awards, is an international export and it’s not only British-made but made in Yorkshire.
How much input do you have in creating the products?
It’s important to me that I understand all the challenges of the business and I care passionately that it’s never been a “namesake” brand. I work on all aspects from creation to commercials, development and delivery. I’m proud that the brand is a value proposition with high quality ingredients and award-winning formulations.
What would you say to someone entering the industry today?
Getting the best training is essential to most professions and British Hairdressing as a great reputation for this. I work with various industry bodies to ensure exacting standards are delivered across the UK. There are some benchmark hairdressing businesses in Yorkshire. Hairdressing can be an incredibly rewarding profession and lead to many opportunities. I never dreamt that my career would take me into fashion designers studios, royal palaces or movie sets but I do know it’s my beginnings in Yorkshire that paved the way to my career aspirations and I’m often told my “down to earth” Northern attitude has been a gift.
What are your future plans?
After three decades in the hairdressing industry I’m interested in how I can support the future of British Hairdressing. My ABLE scholarship in further education colleges is a huge passion. There is much to be done to grow its foundations as it launched in Yorkshire. If any readers are interested in supporting this initiative, then I’d love to hear from you.
If you were to do it all again, what, if anything, would you do differently?
Like any business there’s been some financial decisions along the way that could have been better invested or better planned, but I’ve learnt how to focus on the learns.
Personal fact file
What is your favourite food and drink?
A James Bond Vodka Martini, shaken not stirred with a twist and I love fresh delicious oysters.
What car do you drive?
A Meredez C Class 200 cabriolet. I love a roof-off day.
Where is your favourite restaurant?
Ermmm tough one. I’m quite a creature of habit and am quite fussy when it comes to eating out.
I love the original Ivy in Covent Garden.
And love a good fish and chip supper at The Mayfair Chippy.
Where is your favourite holiday destination?
We learnt how to sail a few years ago so sailing in the Med is a fav with a group of friends or family.
I’ve being going to the quite rural parts of Ibiza for over 20 years so it’s a bit of a spiritual home to relax and unwind.
We have places in London and Hove and I love to spend as much time as possible by the sea.
What is your favourite gadget?
Much to my partners (a pilot) disgust I’m not very tech or gadget even prefer a knife to cut garlic than all those garlic crushers in the drawer.
What couldn’t you live without?
Health is everything isn’t it. I exercise religiously each morning, swimming, running, weights and some yoga so exercise is my meditation, my me time.