Akin Konizi Interview
As promised, here is the akin Konizi (Hob) interview in full!
Every now and again, something happens that surprises and delights mrhaircare. So it was that on Saturday October 10th 2015 I discovered that I was ‘interviewing’ Akin Konizi, the creative lead of the highly successful hairdressing group HOB Salons.
I have known Akin for many years and whenever our paths have crossed we have always had a quick ‘catch up’. Many years ago I had the pleasure of working on stage with him at the Wella World Studio London. We were there to present the fledgling concept of Trend Vision, something that has gone on to become one of the highlights of the hairdressing calendar globally. Akin was working his magic on models for the ‘trend’ Being Rebellious’ and I was hosting the event. Even then, 2005, there was a unique quality to Akin’s work, one that I still see to this day!
Here is a cutting from HJI all those many years ago: (click on it to expand)
HOB win! That’s not a sweeping statement, it’s a simple fact! Every time there is a major competition going on that they [HOB] enter, they always win something!
And so it was that I sat down with the man himself and asked the question, “why do HOB always win!?”
Akin answered (and this was the first surprise) by turning the question around and asking me “why do you think we win!?”
Honestly, I was a little taken aback…. As an interviewer, what should my response be? This could go one way or the other, my answer to my question could be a deciding factor on how this was going to pan out!
I explained that I think HOB have created a brand identity (the word ‘brand’… it was a catalyst) and that the images Hob created were always sharp! Sharp in their execution, Sharp in the defined structure of the hair, Sharp in the photographic composition and Sharp in the identification of the work, you can tell its HOB).
Akin politely decided to disagree and explained that the winning is related to the ability, the ability of the team to improve constantly, something he himself strives to do in all aspects of his day to day life. “There are no hidden secrets, no visual trickery in the work” he explained.
Winning happens because Akin and the team at HOB always strive for the very best level of quality, their craftsmanship is the ultimate driver for everyone.. they create work that is never ugly, never shocking! Yes it has a different feel to everyday hairdressing, after all it’s for an artistic and competitive side of the business, but it’s always done with kindness at its heart. Kind for the model, kind for the client, both sides of the hairdressing ‘coin’.
Interestingly enough Akin explained that he says to the team “if you as a member of the HOB team saw [one of the models] and wouldn’t take her out on a date because her hair wasn’t right, then you should never create a head of hair that would put that thought in your head”.
The interview continued and we discussed brand identity and empires. Mrhaircare loves an empirical debate and I suggested that HOB had become a hairdressing empire, after all there are 26 salons and an academy, a list of awards that any ‘leader’ would be proud of, but, Akin (another surprise) declined to accept the accolade of being part of an empire, he would rather see HOB as a company that keeps “breaking through, pushing boundaries, constantly developing”.
I really appreciated the fact that we were able to ‘agree to disagree’ about some key points during the interview because for me, and this is a rarity, I found it helped the interview process flow. Akin said “it’s deep, and I like that”. I liked the fact that we were able to have our own opinions that didn’t clash but didn’t necessarily sit comfortably next to each other.
My thoughts about brands, identity and empires are at odds with [Akin’s] beliefs about the business he and his fellow directors Clive and Paul, and the teams in their salons and academy have created. But they have a synergy in their contrasts, something that I believe made this interview one of the best I have ever had.
One question! That’s all that was asked, and then Akins flipping of it turned it on its head. We talked, we agreed, we disagreed, I likened a brand identity to something like Gucci, it’s the same now as it was 10 years ago, but it has moved on. We agreed. But then agreed to disagree on the direct correlation between [Gucci] and Primark, both make suits, do both have an identity?
I TOLD YOU IT WAS DEEP!
In trying to justify my thoughts I explained that there was one of the models that Akin had with him who I would have been able to work out, by a process of elimination that had had her hair done by HOB. Akin asked me to explain how, and in my non-hairdresser way I mumbled something about the ‘scooped out’ areas at the ears… Akin replied that it wasn’t a particular HOB trademark technique, but a clever and beautiful way of executing it on that particular models hair!
Here is the haircut that I naively stated was a Hob trademark shape!
All too quickly the interview was over, Akin was off to present his models on a stage in the main hall at Salon International. The brand / non brand was showing it’s empirical / non empirical winning ways to another adoring audience who wanted to see just what the guys at HOB had created for their delight.
And that question: “why do HOB always win!?” well if I was to summarise my thoughts on that, I’d have to say “it’s because they
constantly evolve, they create beautiful work and they love what they do”.
Here is an image of ALL the beautiful work created by Akin and Hob at this years Salon International.
Now I’m off to build an empire!