NFW meets – Debs Dominic: Label.M Concept Salon Product Expert of the Year 2016/17
The Norwich Fashion Week team is made up of a panel of volunteers. Each brings with them industry experience relevant to the NFW role they fulfil. Having introduced a Hair Show to NFW in 2016 the team decided that to help produce this, we needed a passionate hairdresser and so Debs Dominic of Hairsmiths was brought on to the team. Recently recognised as a product expert by Label. M (their products featured at NFW16 too) we thought we’d catch up with Debs and ask her about her career, what it’s like to be a session stylist and how to grow as a creative.
NFW: Congratulations on your award Debs. So you are now Label.M’s Concept Salon Product Expert of the Year 2016/17, that’s quite a title! We loved having Label.M as part of The Dipple & Conway Hair Show at NFW16 and you’re obviously passionate about the products (we also spotted Deb in full on Label.M action at Fashion Scout in Sept) can you tell us how you got involved with the brand?
Debs: I have worked with Label.M since it launched in 2005. The brand was developed by the Toni & Guy art team as they realised that stylists needed a range of products that met the demands of both the hairdresser & the client. Before opening my own salon I worked for Toni & Guy for 13 years in Brighton, London & Norwich, both in salon & at their London Academy, so I had the great pleasure of working with the range on a day to day level in salon, of teaching product knowledge through art team training and also backstage at London Fashion Week, whom Label.M is the official haircare sponsor for. When I opened my own salon in 2011, it seemed only natural for me to continue my work with them & become a “concept salon”. Label.M for me is part of my working life, so it’s was great to bring them on board for nfw too!
NFW: You’ve brought your hair skills to both Norwich and London fashion weeks, what’s it like working at a busy fashion week event?
Debs: I’m often asked how I cope with the “pressure” of working backstage, but I can honestly say I find it truly exhilarating! The key is to always be well prepared. Make sure your kitbag is well stocked & organised, and is packed to deal with every eventuality. That you listen well to art direction & that you do your homework! If there is something you dread doing, practise that more than anything else as then you won’t fear it on the day. If you’re organised & mentally prepared then the “pressure” is a positive thing, it’s basically 2 hours of intense focus to achieve the show with no time to think about any of the other plates you usually have spinning! Teamwork is key and good communication skills are a must. No time for egos when you’re flat out creating with each other!
NFW: And what about your career? How did it start and what made you decide to open your own salon?
Debs: I fell into hairdressing by accident after leaving NUA in the late 90’s. I basically wanted to be creative, get paid & have an amazing social life, which was what I had in mind when I waltzed into Toni & Guy Brighton & got hired on the spot for my enthusiasm! My entire career I’ve always pushed to gain as much experience in all fields that my industry has to offer & thrown myself into it 110%. As an assistant I looked up to my trainers, learnt & became a trainer. As a salon trainer I admired the Academy art directors, so I learnt that too, the next logical step was doing it for myself so that’s what I did. I now have an amazing team of my own that I work with on photoshoots & session work plus I share the love with coordinating local salons for Norwich Fashion Week. I train twice a year with Label.M in London, and next year will be shooting their new campaign as a result of being awarded LPE of the year.
NFW: What’s are the high points and challenges about being a hairdresser?
Debs: For me every day brings plenty of both! You never get a chance to get bored as every head you touch is different & you never do the same thing twice. Attitude has a lot to do with it, I like to approach every client with the same level of high enthusiasm whether it be a fringe trim or a restyle! It’s our job to inspire our clients so a positive mental attitude is key! My favourite saying is “oh, you won’t be able to do anything with my old hair” Want to bet! My biggest challenge is knowing when to say no as I truly enjoy every element of my job- there’s just not enough hours in the day!
NFW: Any advice for aspiring hair creatives?
Debs: Get as much experience as you can in ALL fields of the industry. Learn your trade. Work your socks off & learn, learn, learn! Don’t be scared to put yourself forward & don’t be afraid to ask for help. Anyone who is truly passionate about hairdressing will always go out of they’re way to help you, so seek out those inspirers in life & collaborate! It’s the greatest job in the world!
For NFW17 we’ve added a make-up element to the hair show and so it becomes The Dipple & Conway Hair & Make-up Show. Coordinating this show with Sam Cummings of The Norwich School of Beauty, Debs, Sam and the team are taking this show down a theatrical route allowing salons and artists involved the opportunity to bring their session styling creativity to the runway.