With ‘British Hairdresser Of The Year,’ ‘British Hair Icon’ and ‘Best London Salon’ amongst his many industry and consumer acolades, celebrity stylist Andrew Barton is dedicated to creating wearable everyday looks on every woman.

With a successful line of professional hairdressing products to his name, as well as working as Creative Director of the Urban Retreat Hair Salon in Harrods, Andrew’s approach to hairdressing is about truly understanding the real needs of his clients to create a style that works for them every day. We caught up with Andrew to find out how he grew his hairdressing career, as well as his best advice for stylists looking to take their craft to the next level.

What is your first memory of appreciating / noticing really great hair?

It all started with my mum taking me to the local salon while she had her weekly ‘do’. The very smell of the place excited me. I would play with my building bricks in the corner as mum leafed the latest copy of Woman’s Own under the hood dryer at “He and She”, the local village unisex salon.

My mum and grandmother were there every week at the same time, transforming themselves from the working class ladies they were to Hollywood starlets that they read and dreamed about. In my eyes my mother looked like a young Elizabeth Taylor  – all raven glossy locks  – so the hairdresser didn’t have to work too hard to turn her into a divine vision of beauty, and I was fascinated by beauty.

When did you decide that becoming a stylist was going to be a full time profession?

I wasn’t very academic at school but loved art and design and was destined for art school – my art teacher nurtured my artistic side and was full of encouragement for those of us with a creative leaning. When the time came to leave school, I decided fashion college was for me and so off I went… but the lure of the salon was just too much and it wasn’t long before I’d found myself an apprenticeship to learn from the best in the area. She was glamorous, travelled to foreign places and had very high standards.

It was humble beginnings in a village salon but it was the best in the area and I was taught that OK as a standard was never good enough and that has stuck with me all this time.

How did you make the leap from stylist to handpicked stylist to celebrities and other influentials as well as working in TV?

My career has taken me around the world and I’ve been blessed to work with some truly talented creatives and experience some amazing things, from working backstage at London, New York and Paris fashion weeks to attending to royalty in glittering palaces and being on set for movies to being flown on jets to style glamorous celebrity.

One could say that being in the right place at the right time is how people get on or luck plays a part but the attitude my parents taught me about working hard is an ethic I’m very proud of.

What is one thing you wish that you had been told before embarking on a professional career in hairdressing?

I learnt in the early years of my hairdressing career that the industry offered many opportunities as well as working in a salon.

What is the best piece of advice you can give to stylists just starting out in the business of hair?

It goes back to my apprenticeship and the advice I was given that ‘OK’ is not a good enough standard. It’s not acceptable if a client says her hair is ‘OK’ when she leaves the salon – it means she is definately not coming back and is not telling her friends to visit you either.

It’s this ethos that has driven me in all I’ve done and what I encourage my team to think about in their every day work. In my role as Creative Director for Urban Retreat at Harrods, clients list us with very high expectations and our target is always to exceed their expectations.

How did you turn your hairdressing skill into a salon and then a fantastic brand?

I’ve spent much of my career working with amazing people and teams and great brands including Tony & Guy and Saks. Working with these taught me a lot about great brands and the business of being a brand. A salon does not have to be a big organisation to be a great brand but just needs a clear vision and standards. It’s important that teams all understand the direction of the brand and what it stands for. Consitancy is key and it’s this that drives me in my business.

What is your career highlight to date?

Certainly being crowned British Hairdresser of the Year was a highlight, and seeing the pride on my mum’s face as the tears of joy ran down her cheeks. But walking down the supermarket aisle and seeing your own name on shampoo bottles is pretty damn awesome.

With over 30,000 bottles sold each week and distributed in countries around the world, I’m very proud of that. And being appointed as Creative Director for Urban Retreat at Harrods, the world’s biggest hair and beauty destination is the icing on the cake … I love it.

Where do you find inspiration to keep your hairdressing fresh and innovative?

For me it’s always been about the team – to the stylists and assistants that work around me to the PR and marketing people who I work with to my friends and family, it’s there that I find a lot of inspiration. I’m driven by a beauty ethic of “gorgeous” in all the team.

How do you remain rooted to your profession as a hairdresser as your brand and status as a stylist rises?

After the excitement and applause of being named British Hairdresser of the Year, I realised quickly that what came with that title was a huge responsibility to give back to the industry that had given me such a great career.

I was later named British Hair Icon and again that reinforced my commitment to support industry and encourage standards in the industry. From working with the Hairdressers’ Charity to the Hair Council and awarding bodies, I spend some of my time promoting British hairdressing as the best in the world and helping the industry causes. But also beyond all the glamour of my work, my favourite time is spent at the salon with my clients making them happy and feel their best.

Who influences you to be a fantastic hairdresser and why?

It’s all about the teams I work with. I’m lucky to work with some amazing industry brands including Affinage, Racoon and of course Urban Retreat. Working closely with them to create signature imagery, education and represent their brands as a hairdresser is the dream job and keeps me inspired. We’re always working on projects for the future and that’s exciting.

What can we expect to see from Andrew Barton throughout the remainder of 2016 and beyond?

There are so many exciting projects that I’m working on for the coming months and into next year. New product development, new education programmes, new photo shoots and new people joining the team, as well as lots of international travel and flying the British hairdressing flag… I’m a very lucky boy.

Visit Andrew-Barton.com or Follow Andrew on Instagram: @andrew_barton_hair

Other ‘Ask The Experts: Jamie Stevens | Patrick Wilson | Mark Leeson