mrH and Barrie Stephen
mrH: Hi Barrie, firstly, many thanks for the giving up of your time to do this interview, especially seeing as how you are in the midst of prepping for the launch of your latest salon B Styled.
mrH: Lets begin with the obvious question: When did you start hairdressing?
BS: “I was 15, it was something I had always wanted to do, be a hairdresser, and so I went to a salon, a very 80’s style salon called Grecko’s, it was on the first floor of a building up a narrow stairway… typical of the time. It was a huge place and I just walked in and asked if I could have a Saturday job and the answer was yes!!! I then moved on to being employed there on a YTS (Youth Training Scheme) for the incredible amount of £27 a week”.
mrH: So did you always want to be a hairdresser?
BS: “For as long as I can remember it was always going to be hairdressing, I can recall pestering my Mum and Nana to let me do their hair, of course they obliged and that was that, my love of all things hair well and truly began”.
mrH: It seems as if you have always been focused on your career then, but, if you hadn’t taken up hairdressing, what would your career path have been?
BS: “ I love interior design so that would have been an option, but also I would have seriously considered becoming a nurse”’.
mrH: Who do you admire in our industry and why?
BS: “Anthony Mascolo is my hair hero, his vision and creativity have always inspired me. He definitely opened my eyes to [creativity] and helped me focus on how to enter competitions and how to win! He is a truly inspirational man and I have a great relationship with him, plus I am also a huge admirer of the late great Vidal Sassoon.
From a business perspective I admire Simon Ostler who I have know since his Tigi and Schwarzkopf days, he is full of energy and always looking at ways to help businesses develop and grow.
mrH: Who do you admire outside of hairdressing and why?
BS: “Jamie Oliver is, for me, a truly inspirational character, his initiatives, his abundant creativity and his entrepreneurial drive are truly inspiring, plus he never loses sight of the end goal, creating experiences for clients.
mrH: Readers of mrandmrshaircare would love to know about your salon business, could you share with us how it all started?
BS: “ I opened my first salon on Nov 4th 1996 in a small sleepy town village called Anstey, it had a population of 7000 at the time and… as I was informed, there were 6 salons already there. But my premises, a dilapidated butchers was transformed into a London style destination salon. People said I was mad but I raised the money with the help of some friends and the bank and that was it, I opened my first salon. I likened it to an oasis in a desert and I’m thrilled that it is still there 20 years later, still with a great team and still going strong! After ‘grasshoppering’ about salons in the Leicester region I finally had my own business and it felt great. We linked with Paul Mitchell products as it was key to be seen working with quality brands and that led to me being involved in education on their behalf. We used to sell over £1000 of retail a week, it was incredible and it was all down to being involved with 365, we (myself and the team) learnt as much as we could and applied it all to the success of the business. And now here we are opening salon No.5 …B Styled.
mrH: Lots of this blogs followers are hairdressers and will be fascinated to know about your product choices for the salons, so lets start with colour. What colour do you use in your salons and why?
BS: “We use, and I have so say, love using Schwarzkopf professional colours, we have a great relationship with the company and the team trust the performance of the colours; we know what to expect and they never disappoint. I have worked as an ambassador for Schwarzkopf over the years and I enjoy their approach to professional hair colour”.
mrH: In salon treatments are seen as a key part of a salons business, what treatments do you use and how do your teams promote them?
BS: “Kerastase is our No.1 brand, for us it offers luxury and a trusted name in hair and scalp treatments. We use and recommend all the various ranges within the portfolio and always get the results we expect. Our salons understand the importance of using treatments in salon to maximize the effectiveness of the service they deliver; cut, colour etc, and, of course, the maintenance of the client’s hair at home. We also use a range called Eufora, this is another treatment based brand and it’s built upon the benefits of Aloe, this range is also very popular in the salons”.
What retail products do you carry and why?
BS: “Alongside Kerastase and Eufora we have just introduced a new range into the salons called British Hair. We were looking for something that bridged the gap between high-end treatment products and the mass market, supermarket shelf products. After looking at lots of different brands we went with British Hair because it fits the bill perfectly, it’s a competitively priced, high performing brand with a selection of shampoo, conditioner, style and finish products to satisfy everyone’s needs. Personally I love the name, the association of being ‘British’ links perfectly with our new salon B Styled and our Barrie Stephens salons. All of the teams are now using and recommending the range because we believe that it works, it does what it says on the packaging, which also happens to be cool and edgy”.
mrH: looking through the pages of your website it’s incredible to see just how many awards you have gathered over the years. How does it feel when you enter and then win?
BS: “ PROUD, it’s a great motivator for the teams when WE win anything because it’s not just about me, it’s about everyone involved in Barrie Stephens hairdressing. There is immense kudos in winning and it keeps us all energized and focused. The teams are passionate, we have a great working relationship and winning awards only adds to the positive vibe we all have. It’s all about the attention to detail when we enter any competition of any sort, and that’s something the guys are absolutely driven by. At the end of the day it might be my name on the award but ‘I am only as good as my team’ …. fortunately I have a great team”.
mrH: What is your ‘motto’?
BS: “We don’t have a motto as such, however our mission statement is:
‘DEDICATED TO THE EXPRESSION OF EXCELLENCE’… which for me sums up our business totally”.
mrH: As with every interview here on mrandmrshaircare, there has to be some mandatory questions:
- Favourite colour: BLUE
- Favourite piece of music: I want to say something from a West End Musical but at the moment it has to be Adele.
- Favourite film: I have 3, is that allowed??? Ghost, Pretty Woman and Dirty Dancing.
- Favourite book: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, it’s a kid’s book really but it absolutely changed the way I look at things.
- Favourite actor / actress: I’m going to say Leonardo DiCaprio or Tom Hardy. Really though it is Bette Midler!
What is your all time favourite hair image that you have created and why?
The reason this image is my favourite is that it came from a collection I did with Anthony Mascolo, a collection that led me to win many awards.
mrH: I see from your social media that you are a busy man, what do you do to relax, do you have any hobbies?
BS: “I am obsessed with going to the gym, I’m not sure if that can be classed as a hobby? I love dining out and visits to the cinema. Walking my dogs and helping the RSPCA, a cause very close to my heart! Oh, and shopping, of course!
I suppose a visit to Carlucci’s for some great pasta and a good bottle of Malbec followed by a visit to the cinema is as near as I get to a real hobby”
mrH: Another mandatory question, can you tell us something no one knows about you!
BS: “That’s easy, I can’t dance!!!”
mrH: Barrie, it has been a real pleasure chatting to you, I hope the interview reads as positively as it came across whilst we were talking, and on that note I have to ask you this… You are always smiling…. Are you a naturally happy guy? What is your secret?
BS: “ I am genuinely a happy, positive, up-beat, hi-energy guy. I love smiling, I love life and I hope it shows in my approach to everything. Yes, I smile all the time, to me it’s much better than being miserable or negative, and it’s much easier. Every morning I ‘Eat That Frog’ and then the day can only be full of positive and happy moments. So, in a nutshell I live a positive and happy life, that’s why I am always smiling!”
NOTE: MrH suggests you Google Mark Twain / Brian Tracy / Shel Silverstein for more details about some of the elements in this interview.
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