Jess from The Studio Upstairs talks us through her journey to launching her own collaborative hair studio space, how she transformed her 9-5 to put her well-being first and her top tips for healthy hair...
Q - Taking it back to where it all began…What has been your journey up until this point of being a freelance hair stylist as well as the Founder and Creative Director of The Studio Upstairs?
I guess looking back I always had a passion for hair, even though growing up I was a tomboy that was used to getting into mischief and a big lover of the ocean. My Nan was a hairdresser in her earlier years and always used to bring me dolls or toys to do their hair and I loved playing with them for hours on end. Then throughout school I always had a creative edge, so when it came time to leave (as early as I could TBH), I thought I would use my creative passion in hair. I worked at a few salons and then found my love for salons providing luxury service - where I felt I could really spend the time with my guests and give them an overall experience. After a long time of being in larger salons under high pressure and staff turnover, I really started to look at why so many hairdressers were unhappy, overworked and burnt out. I found that creative people in our industry, just like me, didn’t cope well being trapped into normal employer/employee life, with a minimum wage when we are putting our heart and soul into our craft. I started looking for a place or platform where I could take control of my life, my earnings and also put my health and wellbeing first. When I couldn’t find this magical place, I knew there was room for one and here I am.
Q - When did you have that lightbulb moment and realise that there was an opportunity to shake up the traditional salon experience and curate a collective space to nurture talent and support freelance stylists?
It took me to be at my absolute bottom, so drained and unhappy with the direction of my work to really have the conscience decision to make the change I desperately needed. I knew there would be other hairdressers that also felt this way, and I was fortunate enough to find such a beautiful space in Burleigh, that I would have to share my new vision and direction for hairdressing.
Q - What inspires your work approach and entrepreneurial thinking?
I have always had amazing friends, mentors and role models in my life and I feel fortunate that they have influenced my thinking (both good and bad). I’m always inspired by change, evolving and creating new opportunities, as well as helping others.
Q - What would be your one piece of advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?
This is your story, don’t let anyone else write it for you.
Q - Prae founder, Bec, recently featured on your series ‘The Wednesday Whine’ (a series that brings like-minded people together to chat all things business), how important is it for you to diversify your business and explore other platforms?
The Wednesday Whine came about after constantly speaking to incredible business women, whilst doing their hair. I kept thinking to myself, if only other business women or women in a similar situation could hear this. Whenever I have these crazy thoughts of doing something I know it’s always an opportunity to grow. I think experimenting with other platforms, changing or playing with new ideas is a really good way to broaden your life experience or skills (even if that idea doesn’t work out or turns out the way you would like it to).
Q - What are some haircare essentials you swear by for healthy hair?
Trimming your hair and doing it often! It’s a sure way to make sure your ends are thick and healthy. Also I love using oils in my hair, applying generously and leaving it for 15minutes before washing. I also find using a tiny bit of styling serum in the ends before you brush dramatically helps to prevent split ends.
Q - What about your profession do you think people would find surprising?
I can’t speak for all hairdressers, but I always giggle when people think that we get upset if you go somewhere else for a haircut because it was convenient. ( You do you!) Also that we always have great hair - mine is always a last minute job and I love having the freedom to do nothing to my hair and letting it go wild!
Q - For anyone having a bad hair day, what is your go-to quick fix?
Well when I’m having a bad hair day (which actually is quite often), I always go for a slick ponytail, and maybe put a leave in treatment in for the day.. our hair needs days off too.
Q - How are you navigating through this isolation period and how has your team come together?
It’s been a rollercoaster for us, being able to remain open but deciding to shut. I think we are all focused on our health and the community which has made it easier but we are slowly returning back to work and used this time to rest and rejuvenate.
Q - No doubt, a few of us have attempted DIY hair jobs at home - when will we be able to book an emergency appointment and how will this process be managed?
Holy doley, I have already had the panicked phone calls about home bleach jobs and haircuts. Every scenario is different and each appointment will have to be managed in different ways, but firstly don’t be scared or embarrassed to talk to your hairdresser about it, we can always help. Also the best thing to do is get to a hairdresser sooner rather than later (don’t attempt to keep trying to fix the problem yourself).