In the next post in our Sector Spotlight on Health and Beauty, we hear from Keri Brandish who is a self-employed Hairdresser at The Peedie Salon, and Lecturer in Hairdressing (Course Lead) at Orkney College UHI.
Keri discovered a love for hairdressing while undertaking a Skills for Work course while still at school. At 16, she secured a job with a salon where she worked while also undertaking training south through block release. Throughout her career, Keri has undertaken different training and qualifications, developed her skills and taken on new challenges, which led her to becoming a Lecturer at Orkney College, which she now does alongside her hairdressing.
Here, Keri tells her a bit about both of her roles.
Can you describe a typical day in your jobs as a Hairdresser and a Lecturer?
A typical day as a Hairdressing Lecturer starts with an hour or so prep work, usually making up quizzes to help prepare the students for upcoming assessments. I also mark any work that is complete and make sure everything is up-to-date. When the students come in, I do the attendance.
I have a lesson plan that I have made for the year and use that as daily guidance. The students will work on anything from shampooing to colours, cuts and everything in between. They start on mannequin head and more on to people once competent. There is also theory work as well.
At the end of the day all the students will tidy the salon, making sure everything is back in order and we will tally up the taking for the day and lock the salon.
A typical day in the salon is very different. From the moment I walk in to the salon I am working. Dealing with a variety of different clients who have booked in, many I have done their hair for 9+ years on and off as I moved away for three years.
In a day I can have a variety of different clients looking for loads of different services some having a three and a half hour service (usually a full head highlights and toned after with a shadow root, ombre or balayage colour or a global bleach) and others getting a cut and blow dry which usually takes 30 minutes to an hour. If I have a colour that is developing sometimes I will do another colour in between to keep myself busy.
At the end of the day we make sure that everything is clean and tidy, the till has been done and the salon is all locked up ready for the next day.
How did you end up in your current roles?
My journey has been a small rollercoaster.
When I was 15, I did Skills for Work Hairdressing in S4, and realised this was something I was good at and wanted to pursue. I was living in Shetland at the time and after school applied for hairdressing jobs. At that time to get a placement in a salon you had to work there for a week and prove your worth, competing against other 16-year-olds looking to go down the same career path.
I got a job in a salon called Sharp Image and did my training there for two years. We went to Elmwood College in Cupar, Fife and did block release, travelling to Cupar three times a year for two weeks at a time in a small group and living in Halls of Residence across the campus. We were paid £50 a week.
After I finished my NVQ 2 in Hairdressing - which took two years when I did it - I decided I was going to move to Glasgow. Long story short, I didn’t like it. I worked in a barber and three months later I moved back home and went back to Sharp Image and Elmwood College and completed my NVQ 3 Hairdressing, which took one year.
Once I qualified, I stayed in the salon working until December 2010 and then moved home to Kirkwall, where I got a job at Salon 7 and became a self-employed Hairdresser, which can be quite scary at 19 as you have to be really careful about money.
At this time, I also worked in Fusion and the Torvhaug in the evenings and some mornings in the Albert Hotel to try and get enough money to live. A self-employed hairdresser doesn’t get paid unless they are working, so being new to a salon I had very little clientele and had to work elsewhere to get a decent wage.
After working three years in the salon I moved to Edinburgh as I felt I needed a change and decided to study Beauty Therapy. On my first day of Beauty Therapy I found out that you can do a HNC in Hairdressing and I knew that I would be doing that next.
During my first year in Edinburgh I was self-employed working in a salon, working in pubs in the evening whist studying full time as Edinburgh was not the cheapest place to live.
Once I completed my Beauty Therapy SVQ2, I went on to study HNC Hairdressing - which was a full time course - as well as being self-employed in the salon and doing an Assessors Award online course.
Finally I had finished all my qualifications and needed to find a full-time hairdressing position.
I went on to work in Charlie Miller’s Stafford Street Salon in Edinburgh which is one of the top 20 salons in the UK. The owners are on the Hairdressing Wall of Fame for work that they have done.
Three years after moving to Edinburgh I decided my time in the city was over and I moved home to Kirkwall.
Once I moved home I got a job in Bladez and then got a relief job at Orkney College UHI in the April. By the August I was on a contract at the college and was Course Lead of Hairdressing.
In October 2018 I left Bladez and moved to The Peddie Salon, where I am now.
I am now making my way through an IV award and due to start a Teaching Qualification Further Education (TQFE) in September.
What is the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is that it is always different, every day is different and I am always learning!
Whether it is in hairdressing, lecturing or something going on in the world, working with the public and meeting new people is always exciting.
What is the worst thing about your job?
Working with the public can be challenging, but rewarding.
What skills do you need to undertake your roles?
Some skills you may need would be working in a team, communication skills, time management, strong work ethic, adaptability and self-motivation.
When I was at Charlie Miller, the salon I worked in had 20 stylists, however they had five salons and 120 staff who you do work with and meet this would be a salon where you would need all these skills and more.
What qualifications do you have?
I am currently working towards:
Would you recommend either of your jobs to young people, if so why?
I would recommend working as a hairdresser as you are creative in a way that makes people happy about themselves. You can work in a variety of different salons and you are always learning.
I would recommend working as a Lecturer as with this job you are giving back to Hairdressing, teaching the hairdressers of tomorrow and it is extremely rewarding seeing the student flourish.
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