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Hairdressers are the most talented people in the world

We are proud to introduce our first ever ISA Ambassador. Level 2 Hairdressing apprentice from Slunks in Cardiff, Oli Tracey. Oli will be working closely with us over the next few months to bring some exciting new content to our socials. Sharing his love for hairdressing he will be opening up about his experience as a 27-year-old apprentice.  

Getting a bright white is like a chef’s kiss

I did two weeks work experience in a salon and fell in love with it. But everyone was telling me to go to university – so that’s what I did.  

I studied English and Creative Writing but continued with my passion for hair. I did a lot of self-learning through online courses. I would cut everyone’s hair on campus as well as family and friends.

When I went to university, toner and balayage weren’t a thing. Ombre was just about to take off. Hairdressing is a different beast now than what it was 10 years ago.  

I love working with crazy colours and creating something completely wacky and out there. I love the freedom of it all. Clients ask me all the time what I like most – I do love the vivids but blondes are a classic and they always look beautiful. Getting a bright white is like a chef’s kiss.  

I applied for 176 jobs and only heard back from 6

There is still a lot of stigma surrounding apprenticeships and it being only for school leavers. I think that’s why I didn’t do it sooner. I didn’t know you could be a 27-year-old apprentice. I thought you had to be a 16 year old school leaver.  

I can remember seeing Slunks advertise for a stylist. In between being made redundant and getting the news I was starting, I applied for 176 jobs and only heard back from 6. It was a difficult time – everyone was looking for jobs.

The benefit of doing an apprenticeship a bit older is life experience. If I’d have done it fresh out of school, speaking to adults would seem like the most terrifying thing in the world. Now I can offer my experience and advice to young people. I have so much more appreciation. Coming into it older just feels like the right time for me.

We’ve all been in jobs where you are miserable

The main thing I want to push is letting people know that it’s never too late to do what they want to do. “Love what you do or why bother” – a quote that has always stuck with me.  

We’ve all been in jobs where you go to work, do the bare minimum and are miserable. Name a job I’ve done it. I love this industry so much. I love where I am and love everything that is happening and want to share that with learners.

I asked myself what brings me happiness? What do I need to do? The answer is hairdressing! I’ve always done hair but never done it properly. If there’s ever going to be a time to do it, it’s now. So I did and was the best thing I’ve ever done.    

Hairdressers are the most talented people in the world

Post, post, post – social media is key. Even if you haven’t got any clients because you are starting out. Post a picture of a block head, post something about yourself. People love seeing behind the scenes.

It doesn’t have to be “social media perfect” – it’s a journey. By keeping active on social media, it gets your name out there and brings people to your page.

As a junior stylist or graduate stylist, people immediately think you’re less experienced. If you show confidence, that client is going to have confidence in you. Sometimes I get, “You’re only a graduate, can you do this?” and I say “Yes I can do this”. Believe that you can do it.  

Hairdressers are the most talented people in the world. We’re artists, scientists, mathematicians, photographers, therapists, content creators – the list goes on. There is so much involved in this industry that people don’t realise. I think it is such a gift to bring confidence to people. That is why I love it.  

Thinking of having a career change? Check out our apprenticeships in hairdressing and discover your passion for hair.

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