We take a look at the many facets a career in hairdressing affords, from creative to corporate to education and entrepreneur. Motivator and mentor, Tracey Hughes gives us her insights into the ever changing opportunities in hairdressing, discovers Cameron Pine.

Leading the industry with an entrepreneurial spirit and constantly pulling at the heartstrings of mentorship, Tracey Hughes is testament to the many pathways a stylist can take in the hairdressing industry. You may have specific aspirations, or have no concise direction yet, or you are happy behind the chair. Whatever your goals you may have, Tracey shares some of her valuable insights into the countless opportunities within the industry. 

From notable highs and lows along the way, Tracey has maintained a positive mindset and continued to inspire thousands worldwide.

A hairdresser, educator, salon owner, fashion week hair director, international artistic director, multi-award winner, an awards judge, business coach, a media advisor, a brand consultant, keynote speaker, global education director, executive board director, global vice president, and a leader in education and digital transformation are just some of the many hats our leading lady has worn.

We chatted to Tracey about her journey and the many insights she can offer from her inimitable experiences.

What words of advice would you give stylists who have big dreams and career aspirations?

I believe anyone can learn any skill and have any career they choose. A great hairdresser needs strong technical skills as its imperative to learn solid fundamentals first. Combine this with a robust work ethic, passion and business knowledge and anyone can be a successful stylist. You then just need to channel your focus in the area that you love the most and take every opportunity that is presented to you and always dream big.

What advice can you offer to stylists who want to get into education and what does it take to be able to train others?

A great educator needs to be selfless in nature and have a genuine desire to want to give to others. You not only need to become an expert in knowledge, but also know how to engage students or audience with brilliant presentation and communication skills. It’s important to always make the student the hero and bring out the best in them and they will flourish from your guidance.

How did you get into working with brands as an ambassador?

Initially I became a guest artist for a haircare brand and began educating other stylists early on in my career. I focused on building my profile through awards, media exposure and was travelling extensively teaching. This helped gain vast exposure to create further demand for me to educate and I was then approached to become an Artistic Director for a brand, before eventually launching my own personal brand of education.

Your salons were a recognised brand and a profitable business, so what advice can you offer to salon owners whose aspirations are to expand their business further?

In order to expand you need to know how to scale bigger and how not to sacrifice consistency. You can’t scale without great systems, so the operational side of the business is important. If you want to open more salons then implement solid systems for everything, invest into your team training to drive consistency, and have a stronghold on your finances. Never overlook education or marketing, as they are the key factors to business growth. Surround yourself with experts in the areas you are weaker in as you can’t do everything yourself. Take care of your team and focus on rewarding loyalty and driving new recruitment. You need to also be accepting of mistakes, learn from them and don’t look back.

After being a business and salon owner, you moved in corporate leadership roles. What were your learnings of being in corporate compared to being self-employed?

I have particularly loved coaching a big team of educators and artists. However, I missed the entrepreneurial aspect of making immediate decisions and executing on these straight away like you can when it’s your own business. Corporate can provide security if you are with a good company. Self-employment always carries more risk, however nothing beats being in control of your own destiny.

What advice can you offer to stylists wanting to venture into corporate or working with a brand?

I had the privilege of hiring many educators and I always spoke with them openly about the difference between salon life to the corporate world. You can venture into corporate in education, sales, marketing, distribution, finance etc. so firstly determine your ‘why’ behind the decision to join a brand and which field. Corporate is very process oriented so you need to have brilliant admin skills and attention to detail. Also understand the reality of driving sales no matter what your role is. When you commence, take the time to learn the systems and expectations and lean on your team to help guide you. It can be overwhelming to some stylists and there are many who only contribute a few years to gain the experience. However, if you exceed targets and expectations then there are great opportunities to work your way up the ladder.

When choosing to make a change and move jobs and change direction, what are the factors to take into account?

The most predominant aspect that can hold back a decision to change is usually fear. So follow your instincts and if it feels right then don’t hesitate – just do it!

Take into account will the new job provide you a long-term future. Ask yourself will you have greater opportunities to develop your skills and experience. What are the reasons for you wanting to leave your current situation and will the new environment challenge you in a positive way. Do you have a connection to the brand, team culture or the employer. Life changes and new directions are what make life so exciting.  Loyalty and longevity are priceless, yet progress is impossible without change. It’s your journey so don’t worry about how others may perceive your decision. We are only given one shot at this life so make the most of it as there’s nothing to lose.

What do you attribute to your success that can offer inspiration to others?

Success to me is simply happiness and where you feel you are making a difference to your life, and in the lives of others – then that’s success to me. My evolving journey has simply come about through hard work, high energy, attention to detail, and the will to constantly keep striving to be the best version of myself I can be no matter what challenges life throws at me.

Any final words of advice?

Find a mentor. Learn from them. Then become a mentor and give back with no desire to receive in return.