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Representing Wales at London Fashion Week

19-year-old stylist Leah Stott from River Hair Co. is set for stardom as she earns a place at London Fashion Week, styling hair for Norwegian fashion designer, Kristian Aadnevik.  

From Pontypridd in South Wales, Leah tells us how the iconic high ponytail won her a place on this year’s team. The effort poured into entering the competition truly mirrors her determination, passion and talent as a hairdresser.  

Already qualified in Level 2 Hairdressing, Leah continues to build her career studying a Level 2 apprenticeship in Barbering – inspiring hairdressers to never stop learning and go for what they want to live their dream career.  

Mastering the high ponytail

I first found out about the competition through Authentic Beauty Concept. We are one of two salons in Wales to have these products – they choose you. It’s really exclusive and you can’t buy them online.  

Melisa Timperley who is an Ambassador for ABC won Salon of The Year last year and she was chosen to run this year’s team. There were only 10 places available. You had to recreate a hair style from last year’s event and upload it to Instagram – the high ponytail.  

As soon as I saw what we had to do, I already had a model in mind. I came into the salon one evening, did both the hair and makeup and had a professional photographer come in to take the pictures. It was so much fun and even if I hadn’t of won, I loved every bit of getting stuck in and creating the final look.

The countdown to showtime

There were people from all over the UK on the team – Manchester, Newcastle, Scotland and Nottingham. I was the only one from Wales.

I caught the train down and stayed with my auntie in London. When we first arrived, we didn’t know what was going on. We got there for 2:00pm and the show started at 8:00pm so we had all that time in-between to practice.

Melissa showed us how to do the look on the doll heads first and what products to use before the models came in. That way we completely understood what we had to do and could ask questions. The hair had to have lots of movement and volume so when the model walks the hair moves with them.

I felt nervous but everyone was. Melissa and Jodi were there if you needed any help. It was a real mixed bag of stylists – from someone who’d only just started in their career to ladies who had 20+ years’ experience.

A glimpse into the fashion world

I had to work fast paced. There was a lot of shouting and panic. You were working to a deadline, so you had to be done in time. It was a lot of pressure, but it was amazing. It’s given me a taster of working in the fashion world and something I’d love to do again.

That’s why I am doing this qualification. I want a career – one that I can take with me. Hairdressing is quite flexible, you can do it anywhere. I want to travel so it’s ideal.

I’ve always been nervous to go for things and push myself. I didn’t ever expect that I’d get a place on the team. I thought I’d just give it a go. It’s taught me to be brave.

No matter how much experience you’ve got, there’s always things you could do to improve yourself. The mix of stylists meant everyone was treated the same – we were all there to support each other.

A passion for progress

I feel like an equal working in the salon. You get to deal with clients, experience face to face working and learn alongside your colleagues. I wouldn’t be where I am now if I didn’t do an apprenticeship. My trainer coach Katie has been fab. She always comes in to do my assessments and if I want extra training she’s there if I need her.  

I’ve done Level 2 Hairdressing apprenticeship and I’m currently doing Level 2 Barbering. I am interested in doing Level 3 Hairdressing in January. I’m always looking to learn something new. There might even be the opportunity to do extensions within the salon, something else I’m excited to learn.  

If you’re looking to build your dream career in hairdressing, check out our current vacancies and apply now. Find out more about what we offer here.

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