Akin Konizi, International Creative Director, HOB Salons and current four-time winner of the British Hairdresser of the Year award, shares with Salon India, his journey so far, his development as a hairstylist and plans for the future
What led you into the world of hairdressing?
I was initially drawn to the fashion industry and was even accepted by the London College of Fashion, but then I wasn’t fully convinced. In the meantime, my cousin had opened a salon in London and as soon as I went in, I knew that this was the industry for me.
Tell us about your professional training. Who was your mentor?
I started working as an apprentice at the Alan International Academy in Leicester Square, London when I was 17. I trained under the renowned photographer, John Rawson, who was and who continues to be one of UK’s finest hairdressing educators. He laid the foundation for me from which I have grown. I have also, over the years, worked on my presentation skills with various media training companies, because when I platform, especially internationally, sometimes the audiences can be in the thousands or I could be doing a demonstration to a room of 10, so it is important to learn the different presentation techniques to suit each event.
How has the journey been so far?
I’ve had an amazing career and have achieved a lot of the goals that I had set for myself. However, I still have many more to work on. I have been very fortunate to find a career that I love, which has made all the hard work, dedication and commitment I have put in, even more rewarding.
What were the challenges that you had to encounter in the initial days?
There are always challenges in any field, but I think, ‘lack of time’ is the probably the most consistent challenge I’ve faced throughout my career. With 24 salons, two academies and over 600 people as staff, as well as on-going new projects, my days are usually full to the brim.
How did you overcome the concern?
I am lucky to have two great business partners and a fantastic team around me that we have built and developed over the years. So by working together, we try to keep the challenges to a minimum.
Who do you feel is the guru of the industry?
There are many hairdressers that I have admired and looked up to, but I have to say, I find working with my creative team the most inspiring. We are always coming up with new ideas, concepts and techniques.
Tell us about your favourite tools.
My Yasaka ‘clicker’ scissors, which we get specially made for HOB Salons. I’m also a big fan of the Sebastian Professional product range.
Names of some of your celebrity clients.
I have worked with various high-profile personalities over three decades that I have been into this industry, such as, Ellie Goulding, Pixie Lott and Dido, whilst as a company, we have looked after The Saturdays and various television stars.
What about the awards that you have won, so far?
As a company, we have bagged over 60 national and international awards. They range from business recognition to creative accolades and are all testament to the great team we have. Winning the British Hairdressing Awards Artistic Team of the Year, Colour Technician of the Year and London Hairdresser of the Year, three times each, was amazing! Securing the British Hairdresser of the Year award for the fourth time was an unbelievable accomplishment!
What is your advice for aspirants?
Practice, practice and practice! It is important to work hard, stay focused, never compromise and keep trying. For a lot of years we didn’t win, but each time we learnt something from the experience and made sure the next time we improved.
What is your view on the emerging beauty and hair market in India?
The growth in the Indian hairdressing industry is very exciting. I recently had one of my senior educators, Darren Newton, relocated to India to work as an educator for Wella. So we like to think we have added to the strength of education in India, as Newton is very talented.
Tell us about your academy.
Yes, we have a state-of-the-art academy in the heart of Camden Town in London, which sees attendees travel from across the globe to learn the HOB approach to hairdressing. This 5,000 sq ft training space also sees every member of the HOB team placed on an on-going training programme to ensure their skills and techniques are constantly refreshed and up-to-date.
Lastly, what are your future plans?
I believe you can only have a rough outline of what you want to achieve, so I try not to make fixed plans for the future. You have to grow, so I prefer to adapt to what the conditions are in my life, career or business. The obvious plan is to keep riding the ladder of success, keep growing and keep working hard.