In hairdressing, the sky’s the limit when it comes to your pay packet...  

A career in hairdressing means long hours and little pay – after all, it’s only hair, right? Try telling that to Leo Bancroft (pictured below), who has risen from salon junior to become owner of his own luxury salon in Weybridge (annual turnover £1.6 million), ITV’s resident hair expert, stylist to the Chelsea First Team footballers, and whose signature haircare line in Tesco is one of the most successful named brands in the UK (annual sales of over £14 million in this country alone). No wonder he’s been voted entrepreneur of the year by Who’s Who.

So why does such a valuable component of British business get so easily dismissed as trivial? With £6.3bn spent in Britain’s high street salons every year, it’s clear there’s real money in hairdressing…

At Michael Van Clarke’s luxury London salon, new recruits make the transformation from apprenticeship to partnership though a limited liability partnership scheme

“The career opportunities at Michael Van Clarke are varied, both through the salon and also our product company (Michael’s 3” More Inches range is sold in high-class stores around the world). From building a valuable clientele and the beneficial relationships that brings, to teaching in the salon and onstage, premium catwalk shows, bridal work all over the world, TV, development of social media profiles, public speaking, video editing, brand and product development, marketing and PR, management, administration... The possibilities are endless.

“From scratch we aim for a stylist or technician to create a clientele bringing in £100k per annum by the end of year 3. At this level they are promoted to Partnership in our LLP. Summer was our youngest at 17 but that was exceptional and she started at 15 as a Saturday girl. She’s still only 22, and buying her second home.

“Two very good illustrations are Mitchell and Hollie (pictured above). Mitchell was 16 (looked 12!) and started as a styling apprentice. Hollie was 17 and started as a technical apprentice having had a few months experience somewhere else. Both are about to complete their fifth year with us.

“Mitchell is becoming increasingly competent,  confident and sought after. He’s taken many of my clients. He charges £95 for a ladies haircut and that price is growing. But this is still less than a third of the salon’s top price and he is acquiring many of those clients paying top price. On current trajectory we expect his own earnings to pass £100k per annum within the next two years. Hollie is following a similar path as a colourist. She has a strong following with some very high-profile clients and is regularly sought for expert comment in the press now. And she’s just in her early 20s.”

Zoë Irwin has a lucrative role as creative brand ambassador for ghd and UK colour trend expert for Wella Professionals

“I work in many different roles for ghd. As part of the education team, I design looks around new trends in hair and create fresh ways of using ghd tools, but I also style hair for the global ad campaigns, launch products to the press and work with the ghd Style Squad to educate in styling eras, fashion history and trend concepts.

“At Wella I’m the colour trend expert, identifying future trends by monitoring colour as I travel to different cities and photograph people, stores, galleries and restaurants. I create my own palette of tones by mixing the Wella shades to work with these forecasts, which I give a name to and create vast mood boards to depict the reseach behind them. I then launch these concepts to the press with a photo-shoot that I’ve coloured and styled.

“I feel that with both these roles I bring a freshness to the brand with my trend ideas and concepts and I also help to secure coverage in magazines like Vogue, ELLE and Harper’s Bazaar. I also help to inspire hairdressers by showing them different ways to use the products and to grow creatively. I have just celebrated 10 years as an ambassador for ghd, and I feel part of their family. When you have so many years of experience with a brand, it flows through you and you think of it constantly, living and breathing it.  With Wella, I also bring a total passion and drive that never leaves me.

“Being a brand ambassador is about a true, authentic love for the products and people within that brand, so that representing it comes from the heart.

“As for my salary, well it’s more than £100k. Enough to buy this season’s handbag, is how I like to put it. But hairdressing is also something that provides me with a very colourful, ever-changing world that continually drives me forward. Being a hairdresser is never just a job – it’s a lifestyle.”

Syd Hayes is a session stylist signed on the books of the prestigious Art + Commerce agency

“Art + Commerce are an international agency who represent the finest in photography, styling and hair and make-up, as well as creative directors. To be signed to the agency you have to be recognised worldwide within the industry.

“As a session hairdresser I am generally required to travel the world with a kit bag (or eight) and to produce any hairstyle at any given moment, often without warning. As a person, you need to be almost chameleon like – able to adapt to situations quickly and effectively.

“I work with a whole range of clients, from celebrity models like Bella Hadid and singers like Dua Lipa to the biggest fashion houses, like Louis Vuitton and Miu Miu, and beauty brands like Lancôme and Pat McGrath. I also work closely with the hair brands BaByliss and BaByliss PRO. I like to think of myself as an all-round hairdresser, who works and adapts quickly to different briefs and creative tasks.

“I never went into hairdressing with the idea of making money. I went into it as I had a passion for art and photography, plus my dad is an amazing hairdresser and has an incredible work ethic and drive. I grew up watching him with one motto always in the back of my mind: Work hard and play hard. This has never let me down. I’m a workaholic but hairdressing is not just a passion, it’s my life.”

 Check these out: