Heather Nelson, Owner and stylist at Nelson Hairdressing in UK, shares her foray into the hairdressing industry and the challenges she overcame with grit and love.
How did you get interested in hairdressing?
As a young girl, I always knew I wanted to be a hairdresser. My grandpa was an old school barber and I used to get fascinated watching him work the scissor over a comb. I’ve never viewed hairdressing as a career or a job, but as a way of life, my hobby. I
guess it’s in my blood. My first visit to Salon International in London, when I was an assistant, I was in absolute wonder at the talent taking in all the shows.
The cuts and colours and styling were incredible and it really opened my eyes to see how vast and exciting the world of hairdressing is. Since then I’ve pursued every opportunity to learn and improve and try to be as good as the best hairstylists in the world. Forever pushing my boundaries to grow! As soon as I was old enough to work, I walked into the best salon, which was Mosko salon and asked for a job. Here I did my initial training before being retrained at Livingstons, where they really nurtured my talent for colour and became their colour technician for over six years.
Please tell us about your professional education and training that you have acquired.
I’ve had the opportunity to teach for different product companies, such as MATRIX, Scruples and Sexy Hair, which lent me a chance to be trained extensively on colour in London, Minneapolis and Santa Monica, LA. Even today, I regularly attend courses to constantly push my skills further at Hob Academy and Sassoon Academy in London.
Who have been your mentors?
Through the years I’ve networked extensively, knowing the importance of surrounding yourself with the greatest stylists, such as Mia Liguori McHugh, Amie Breckenridge Goltz from Scruples, Rafe Hardy, Skot Michael Foss from Sexy Hair, Terrence Renk from ProRituals, Sean Dawson from EDEN, Stan Newton from Hob, Colette Skelton from Sassoon, Robert Masciave and Steven Smart. Everyone I’ve worked with or trained with has become my mentor in some way.
What are the challenges that you faced?
My biggest challenge was moving across the country and setting up a brand new salon in the middle of a recession with very little funds. Sheer willpower, an absolute love for my craft and lots of patience has now given me a very successful salon which I’m extremely proud of. One of the amazing things about the hairdressing industry is the
support and help I have had from all the talented hairstylists and people I have met over the years of networking. I really couldn’t have done it without them. They all help to keep the passion to continue burning.
What is your forte as a renowned hairstylist?
In my salon, I’m renowned for my colour work. Being a colour technician for many years has given me the expertise to create the colours for my clients, whether they are beautiful natural tones or high fashion colours. My work has been featured in Coloursoft Magazine video and published internationally. I’ve created the colour on models for hair shows in London and around the UK – one of which was photographed and used in the advertising campaign for Salon International, London.
What is your current role and responsibilities?
I’m currently a salon owner and stylist for Nelson Hairdressing, where I also head up our Creative Team working on photoshoots for the salon. I am also Brand Ambassador for EGO Professional Styling Tools, where I am given the opportunity to do stage work, photoshoots and provide video tutorials for the Tools, which are viewed on QVC and YouTube.
What inspires you to create your hair looks?
When it comes to my Collections, I find inspiration everywhere, but I’m drawn to the colours in nature and creatures. My latest Colour Collection, Harlequin, was inspired by the Harlequin Bug, the jewel tones of petrol green, blue, violet and magenta all blending into one another like petroleum and the round shape of the shell gave me the
inspiration for the cuts. Currently, trees and woodland areas mesmerise me. If you look closely, you will see the earthy tones of warm browns, greens, greys and silvers are complemented by dark blues, oranges and pinks. Anything that I find beautiful or evokes a strong feeling, I note it down and use it in my collections or in the salon as colour blend ideas for my clients.
How do you prepare yourself?
There is a lot involved in creating a collection. Every day, I work on the latest project by breaking it down into sizeable pieces, keeping the process quite organic. Creating a collection is all about the journey and more importantly, as one of my good friends has advised me – ‘whatever you do, make sure you have fun and enjoy it!”