The industry is passionate about hair and education should encompass ALL HAIR TYPES...

We’re all in this together – and there’s no time like the present to prove it. The hairdressing industry is an inclusive squad, it brings together people from all different walks of life to share that one passion: hair. However, it’s clear that there are still strides to make to ensure equal representation and we have to look at the starting blocks provided by hair education in the UK as the driver of change.

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has emphasised that systemic racism is still entrenched in our society with many industries called out for inequality including hairdressing. One key area raised is the lack of compulsory education on Afro hair within the National Vocational Qualification (NVQ);  a popular route for aspiring hairdressers and barbers starting their careers. This is something Jemima Bradley, a recently qualified junior stylist from Blue Tit London salon, is campaigning to address with a petition to make Afro hair experience (styling, cutting, care and colouring) mandatory at all levels of the NVQ syllabus and in the Apprenticeships Standards. To date, the petition has almost 18,000 signatures, which will help end the existing segregation in the hair sector and promote a more inclusive, educated industry.

In an exclusive live panel discussion in collaboration with hairdressing industry publication Creative HEAD, Jemima highlighted that

“We live in a multicultural society and the fact that someone can’t walk through any salon door and get their hair done is shocking”.

Her reason behind demanding change in education was because she had noticed a clear divide in the services salons provide, stemming from education. However, most importantly Jemima recognises that this change in the NVQ syllabus “is not asking you to specialise in textured and Afro hair” but rather allowing hairdressers to do their job properly as fundamentally: “It’s our job to be able to do anyone’s hair”.

Errol Douglas, who was awarded an MBE for education and services to the hairdressing industry and is widely considered to be one of the most influential hairdressers in the UK, voiced his opinion on the BLM movement and its effect on the industry. He believes that

We need to learn the blueprint of Afro hair […] because you can’t say you don’t do texture, texture is really really important, you give confidence if you know what you’re doing”.

Errol emphasised the importance of training his team to be adept to work on any client that walks through the doors:

I want people to understand and share what I do, we have educated hundreds of people, […] we have always encompassed everybody: Afro hair, European hair, Arabic hair, Indian hair and that’s how everybody should be taught on the high-street. I’m an international, global hairdresser and hairdressing should be like that, it shouldn’t be segregated.”

Catherine Handcock, director of the British Beauty Council and publisher of Creative HEAD magazine, shared with us that:

“Equality of opportunity is vital in hairdressing – both for hairdressers looking to navigate and ultimately thrive in the profession and for consumers looking for a great place to get their hair done. With a new fire lit under the Black Lives Matters movement, it’s good to see how Black hairstylists have moved their private talks around the subject to the forefront of social media and calling on non-Black colleagues, clients and brands to show support in their actions.”

Anyone who is already a part or wanting to become a part of this wonderful industry shoulders the responsibility to guarantee that equality is spoken about, acted upon and implemented.

To find out more about the petition click HERE – and get signing!

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