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Paul Jones: Against all odds

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Having begun his career in hairdressing at 16 years of age, has re-written the norms of the industry. He has trained under the veritable gods of hairdressing, namely, Patrick Cameron, Simon Smith, among others. With Salon India, he shares his joys and tribulations, which have stood him well and made him the hairdresser who has emerged victorious

Paul Jones: Against all odds

Getting started
In all honesty, it was never my ambition to be a hairdresser, but I wanted to travel. However, it is amusing how 20 years into this career, I am travelling. A lot! I was 16, when I started working on Saturdays in a salon. I remember seeing the ladies enter looking normal, but leaving looking so glamorous and happy. I remember thinking then ‘I want the power and skills to make women look the best versions of themselves’.

Professional education
So, I was always that hairdresser who would say ‘I do not put hair up or ‘I do not braid’. The fact was that I could not even put a grip in someones hair after being in the industry for 10 years. However, when I started getting interested in the session/ fashion world, I realised that this issue was going to hold me back. So I enrolled for a Patrick Cameron ‘hair up’ class, and realised that I had the ability, but not the interest before. The course not only taught me to put in a hair grip, but finally had me looking at hair in a completely different way. I did four more classes with him and practiced every available free minute I would get in the salon. I invested in a head block/ dolls head (something I recommend every one to do), I devised my own ways of doing things. As a Dyslexic, it was the best way to learn. My first ever hairdressing job was in a small salon in Wolverhampton, my home town. I made some of my best friends there, friendships I still have today.

Mentor influence
Initially it was Simon Smith, the Regional Manager for Nicky Clarke Salons. I had the hardest trade test of my life with him! I had to do four haircuts while he sat there watching me. He had a face like thunder the whole time and I was terrified of making a mistake. I had previously been working at Toni&Guy where undercuts and mullets were in vogue. But Clarke is more about classic cuts and styling. So, I did my first cut which was a bob with a undercut. I thought it looked great. When I finished the cut, he told me it was horrendous and if I did one more like that, I could leave. I did three more cuts and I got the job, so, I guess they were fine! He taught me how to do classical hairdressing and simplified everything for me. This was the first time in my career many haircuts made sense, with regard to hair types, and more. I worked for him for five years and will always be grateful to him for putting that fear in me as it only pushed me to work harder. In my fashion career, I have been fortunate to work with Sam Knight, he has been a great source of inspiration.

Challenges faced

I was the only assistant attached to three hairstylists and a colour technician, and I also had to be at the reception. I was naughty and played tricks on the stylists. My old boss had his hands full with me!

Forte as a renowned stylist
Great question! I would never pick only one area and say ‘I am only great at this’. My first love has always been to make women beautiful, and I think, I do that well. But for me to answer, I would have to pick one area of hairdressing and I love so many areas.

Currently working
on I am in the middle of colouring hair extensions for a beauty shoot, and am shooting with two good friends. If we actually get a day off together, we just shoot for the fun of it and create some magic. Even if it is only for Instagrams.

Selecting freelance over brand association
I have craved for freelance work! I worked in 18 salons over 18 years. So, freelancing suits me as I am always on the move.

Importance of hair education
Hairdressing is constantly evolving and it is important for an artist to evolve with it. I have been in hairdressing for long and I still learn something new at a fashion week. When I started there was no YouTube, smart phones and Instagram. The Internet is a wealth of knowledge, available at our fingertips. I follow some amazing accounts on Instagram that have ‘how-to’ videos. My advice tothose starting out is to pick a salon that has a great training programme and stick with it.

Preparing to create new hair looks
A lot of the time I follow my gut instinct with looks that I create and try break it down and simplify it. If it is too technical, it can consume too much time on photoshoots. I am also never afraid to ask advice from someone who maybe better in that area. It is important to surround yourself with good people so you can all grow with each other.

Favourite tools and products
Curling tongs by BaByliss Pro. I ensure I have two hairdryers with me incase one breaks down. Currently, I am using The Dyson. Sam Mcknight Styling Sprays – all four of them I could not pick just one, Moroccanoil, Bumble and bumble Prep Spray and Bed Head Queen For a Day.

A day in Paul Jones’ life
I never have a normal day. Every day is different and that is what I love. One day I will be shooting a music video in an old factory, then to a palace in Paris to work on a show, then in a tiny studio in East london shooting a editorial with friends. I am so fortunate and I love my life!

Advice for aspirants
Do not expect too much too soon. You have to really work hard to learn your craft. I am Dyslexic, so learning for me was always a struggle. I had to practice more than most and devise my own ways of doing things which I still do. It will be long hours and hard work, but never lose sight of your end goal and objective, and do not be afraid to ask questions.

Hairdressing industry in India
I think it is very exciting. I love the glamour of women in India. I am obsessed with the women in Bollywood. I think their hair always looks amazing and behind every amazing head of hair there is always a super talented hairdresser. India must be a very exciting place to be in thehairdressing world.

Future plans
I have only been in the fashion world for four years and feel I have only scratched the surface. I would like to do more magazine covers and collaborations with different brands. I would love an agent, as I manage myself at the minute and juggling work and my diary can be tough at times. Success is fine, but ultimately happiness is what matters and my work makes me happy. Laughter is an essential part of my life!