Owning three successful Aveda lifestyle salons in London, as well as luxury lifestyle home service ‘Gina Conway Prive’, attracting clients such as Sienna Miller, Paloma Faith and Lulu Guinness, Gina Conway is a force to be reckoned with.
Having worked alongside designers at London and Paris Fashion Weeks, as well as over 20 accolades from the business of hairdressing, here at Salons Direct we caught up with Gina to ‘ask the expert’ and find out how she made her way up the hairdressing ladder.
When did you decide that becoming a stylist was going to be a full time profession?
I fell into it as I did all my friends’ hair in high school and never wore my hair the same as I felt it was a fun creative way to express myself. I fell in LOVE with hairdressing in beauty school because although I had no idea what I was doing, I was sculpting hair from a feeling and in a naive way I was using hair as my medium.
What is your first memory of appreciating / noticing really great hair?
I worked with the best hairdresser in San Francisco as his apprentice and was mesmerised by his creations. I also learned about what true American style customer service was all about.
Gina’s Fulham salon
How does it feel to style the hair of influential celebrities such as Lulu Guinness, Sienna Miller and Paloma Faith?
My salons are famous for being a discreet retreat for high flyers, media, and some of the world’s talent, which is a great compliment to us, but I would never cut and tell.
What is one thing you wish that you had been told before embarking on a professional career in hairdressing?
How hard it was going to be for a woman to make her mark on an industry dominated by famous men. I have risen to the challenge, but I never rest. It is constant pressure to get ahead and the key is about innovation, innovation, innovation. The team need to stay motivated and the clients to stay interested.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to stylists just starting out in the hair business?
Find the best salon you can that has a strong training program. Stick with it! Don’t get frustrated when you make a mistake, think of it as an opportunity to learn more. It takes time to be good and a lifetime to get great but you’ve got to fall in love with the journey or you will not see the results.
Gina’s Wimbledon salon
What is your career highlight to date?
Being chosen for Aveda’s Fashionista award was my career highlight. I got to style the hair at New York Fashion Week. I have won many business awards but putting so much work into the styling and art direction and being recognised for that was a true honour.
Where do you find inspiration to keep your hairdressing fresh and innovative?
I have been very fortunate to have had such a great team behind me, and I am very picky about who gets to work with us. This is why I invest substantially in our education programme and am hands on to help them grow. I would say that the team make me want to constantly innovate in order to keep them happy and inspired. I like to lead by example. I see everything through a creative set of eyes.
How do you remain rooted to your profession as a hairdresser as your brand and status as a stylist rises?
I live my brand. As my name is over the door, I take every decision very seriously and personally. I make sure my managers are indoctrinated into the GC culture and live it as well. I still love to do hair and am so grateful for every client I get.
Who influences you to be a fantastic hairdresser and why?
I recognise the incredible talent in the industry, and being based in London, I get to experience some of the best hair in the world. I pop into salons to get my hair done to get inspiration and see the business through fresh eyes. I marvel at Anthony Mascolo and what he has created and see him as one of my top inspirational figures.
What can we expect from you in 2017 and beyond?
The future is very exciting. It is coming up to 15 years in Gina Conway and I am more inspired than ever. We have just had a corporate restructure and am looking to expand the business as I have many talented people who I want to see thrive. I hope to get my team to become partners or start a franchise in the next year. Watch this space!
Other ‘Ask The Experts: Jamie Stevens | Mark Leeson | British Hairdresser Of The Year 2016: Angelo Seminara | Ted Gibson