Richard Ward is an award-winning celebrity hairstylist and salon owner whose impressive client roster includes non-other than the Duchess Of Cambridge.
In this month’s edition of ‘Ask The Expert,’ we catch up with Richard to learn more about his hairdressing career and his thoughts on our ever-expanding industry.
What is your first memory of appreciating/noticing really great hair?
My mum was a hairdresser and had two salons when I was little, so hairdressing was in my family! I grew up around the talk of hair and learned to appreciate how a hairstyle can have a huge effect on a person’s confidence and self-esteem.
When did you decide that working within the business of hair was going to be a full-time profession?
I grew up listening to so many exciting stories about the salon and constantly hearing about hair; the thought of doing something so creative in London really appealed to me! I moved to the city at 17 to start an apprenticeship, sweeping floors and washing hair.
What is one thing you wish that you had been told before embarking on a professional career in hairdressing?
Make sure you have a strong belief in what you’re doing and why you’re doing it! Like all salon owners, we have had ups and many downs, but getting up and carrying on is so important – you will get there eventually!
What is the best piece of advice you can give to stylists just starting out in the hair business?
A good apprenticeship is an absolute must – there’s no substitute for working your way up from the bottom, and the experience you gain from doing it this way is invaluable. Make a list of potential salons you could see yourself working for and look into their training programmes, then apply to do a trial. Remember that just because there might be a big name or brand behind a salon, that doesn’t necessarily mean the training is better than somewhere else – do your research and find the salon that’s perfect for you.
How do you think social media has shaped the industry you are a part of?
Social media has had a huge, very positive impact on the hairdressing industry. It’s easier than ever to get inspiration literally at the touch of a button and it’s such a useful tool for both clients and stylists; clients can research looks and find a hairdresser who creates the kind of hair they want, while stylists/salons have an incredible window to showcase their work and attract more customers. The opportunities are endless!
Where do you find inspiration to keep your hairdressing fresh and innovative?
Having happy clients and happy staff really inspires me! I love my job – it’s hectic, but no two days are ever the same. I’ve been lucky enough to meet and work with some amazing people, travel the world and build a wonderfully loyal client base.
Who influences you to be a fantastic hairdresser and why?
The hairdressing legend John Frieda really inspired me with his work – his influence was and continues to be incredible, and he did so much for the hairdressing industry.
What would you say is the work that has made you the proudest?
There have been so many wonderful opportunities in my career – styling the Duchess of Cambridge’s hair for the Royal wedding in 2011 is definitely one of the standout highlights. It was an incredible day, a huge privilege and one I’ll never forget!
What do you think has contributed to the success of your salon?
Clients come to the salon for lots of reasons, but why they stay is largely because of the amazing people we have working here – what really sets Richard Ward apart from the rest is our unique team. The vast majority of our stylists, colourists and therapists have worked their way up through the ranks under our in-salon education programme, so in a way, they have ‘grown up’ with the Richard Ward ethos.
What are some of your favourite tools to use?
Product-wise, it has to be a serum/argan oil – it’s so versatile and if used properly, can de-frizz and add amazing shine. Tool-wise, I love the Babyliss Pro medium hair wand – I use it to create lots of different looks, from classic curls to undone waves. It’s a professional, versatile tool and very easy to use.
Where do you see the future of hairdressing heading?
The hairdressing industry is going from strength to strength. Thanks to the rise of social media and constant new hair trends, clients are taking inspiration from everywhere and are making much more informed – and sometimes more daring! – choices with their hair, and more young people are being inspired to take up apprenticeships. I think it will only continue to grow!
Follow Richard on Instagram: @richardwardhair