We recently featured the trail-blazing ‘Not Another Salon’ as our handpicked salon design of the month, and take it from us, it is pretty awesome in real life too. Check out our Instagram here if you don’t believe us!
The bright and bold East London salon, which has become something of a hair colouring mecca, is the brain child of the incredibly talented Sophia Hilton, winner of the prestigious L’Oreal Colour Trophy and sought after balayage specialist.
We caught up with Sophia to find out how she paved her way in the business of hair colour as well as her thoughts on starting up a salon business.
What is your first memory of appreciating / noticing really great hair?
What an awesome question! I guess it was way back when I used to watch and compete in the National Hairdressing Federation competitions. I used to look at the ‘hair by night’ models with their big fans and cans of hair spray and just melt. To me, at the time, it was proof that anything is possible with hair.
When did you decide that becoming a colourist was going to be a full time profession?
After I won the L’Oreal Colour Trophy actually, I was the lowest level colourist at the time and I don’t think anyone really took me seriously for my colour talents before then; or maybe thats because I didn’t have any, ha!
I have always had a consumer mind and I’ve always been interested in what sells. When hairdressers get creative they tend to get quite carried away and stop thinking about the customer. Our colour techniques were a way of simplifying that creativity in a way that the client can comprehend.
What is one thing you wish that you had been told before embarking on a professional career in colouring and running your own salon?
I think everyone was quick to tell me how hard it was but forgot to tell me how wonderful it was. Leading people and helping people develop their careers has been the single most worthwhile part of the whole process.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to stylists just starting out in the business of hair?
Sadly (and I wish this wasn’t true because I believe in looking after your physical and mental health) no one ever got their dream career working a 5 day week. Whatever your goal, a 5 day week isn’t going to cut it. Everything I’ve ever done to benefit my career has been in my spare time, evenings, mornings and weekends.
Secondly, if you chase money you’ll never make it. Look for a company that will grow you that cares for your education and development; not a company that will pay you 5% higher.
What is your career highlight to date?
The salon. Being able to walk into work every morning and love it. It’s funny really, because I never really wanted a salon but now I can’t imagine my life without it. I never imagined I could be this happy.
Where do you find inspiration to keep your skill / business fresh and innovative?
I’m learning a lot from my team actually. I teach them the salon techniques and then I watch them interpret it into their own way, I learn a lot.
Business wise I’m really lucky, I’ve got a lot of people I can call for advice when I’m feeling stuck; from Errol Douglas, to Andrew Barton, to Ken Picton and Alan Austin Smith; all of them make time for me and it’s so kind. I also have an official business adviser Simon Harris who runs ‘my salon manager’ who is awesome to bounce off.
What advice can you give to salon owners or those wanting to start up a salon business?
Be prepared to lose about two years of your life at least. You’re not going to see your friends or family anywhere near as much as you’d like and having any thing else on the go is going to be impossible. I think looking after your health is important and I wish I’d spent time using a delivery service to eat better; I got really ill and looked a mess. I should’ve remembered how important fuel is.
Who influences you to be a fantastic colourist / business woman and why?
I get most of my inspiration from outside of the industry actually. Looking at artists and business people that have nothing to do with what I do. Business wise, I love Simon Sinek (leadership management), Stephen R. Covey (life management) , Steve Peters (emotional management) and Terry Leahy (business growth).
How do you remain rooted to your profession your brand and status rises?
Its hard I guess, but I’m happy to have my direction take twists and turns. I don’t need to be doing hair every day to be contributing to this industry – there’re so many ways to give back.
What can we expect to see from Sophia Hilton / Not Another Salon throughout the remainder of 2017 and beyond?
I’m moving into more marketing and business talks which I love. I love education and I love explaining things. I love finding simple ways to understand complex matters. My mum could explain the whole world to me with a fag packet and a beer mat. She just made everything easy. I like that simplicity and hope that I can pass that on in my education.