Me and my team
Craig Chapman: Part 3
Checking in with our final chat with Cornish hairdresser Craig Chapman, we end on a high, as he talks about those who have inspired him and continue to do so; his team.
At the age of 23 I was trimming hair at a salon in Plymouth and dancing my ass off every weekend. I had no aspirations to do much else and I loved it.
Then, one day a couple who’s hair I looked after from my home town Launceston, came in for their usual trim but with different intentions. They asked to meet up over the weekend…Now you can imagine my first thought and I obviously said “no” but with an embarrassing chat that followed I decided to meet up with them.
And so, on my 24th birthday I opened my first salon with my new business partners. I can’t tell you how excited I was. We had bought the salon I was first a stylist in, not to the delight of the existing team, but I knew we could do something special with it.
Within a year I’d lost all of my staff – oops – but we had new ones and things where ticking along ok. I definitely had points where I thought, “What am I doing?” though.
I was negotiating my way round picking the right brands, employment legalities, staff training, salon maintenance and how to be seen in the right way. It’s a minefield that seems full of terror when your’re doing it alone. I even experience that “salon walk out” when six stylists left to open their own salon around the corner – nightmare. Then after five years, the partnership broke down and I did it on my own with a salon that grew to 35 strong including beauty, photography and I even had a doctor sticking needles into people for eternal youth!
Sadly seven years ago due to the recession and personal circumstances I had to close and I can remember being sat with my cat wondering what the hell to do next and why he couldn’t tell me!
I opened another salon and wondered how I was going to make it different – better this time. And the resounding thing that boomed in my head was “The right team.”
And my team are exceptional! Many came with me from my previous salon and many have joined since, but as a team they work incredibly hard and first and foremost they care about what happens to the salon.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are ups and downs, but ultimately we are a family (that’s the name of our whatsapp group chat) and in a family it’s all about caring for each other’s wellbeing and to help each other grow with dignity.
How have we created this? Honesty and freedom. Fundamentally we are all individuals and it’s so important, while leading a team, to make sure that each and every member gets the opportunity to express themselves and follow their own paths. So if one of my team wants two months off to go to OZ, they get it. I mean I would rather do that and have them return than to leave and never see the rest of their growth with us. And I know that any of my team know they can do that – follow their own path. The richness that returns is tenfold.
Currently, we have our Creative Director, Kayleigh DeVries who has had two British nominations and a Most Wanted nomination, work on The Voice, look after STEPS, front cover of bridal magazines and is making a name in the industry in her own right. Stylist Jen Kempthorne completed a year with Project X , became an ambassadorssor and got her certED. Jo Hillas, a young stylist, is on the Club Star Artist Team 2018, and Lisa Blatchford and Sophie Davies both have colour degrees not to mention other team members winning the L’Oreal Colour Trophy, Wedding Awards, Best Salon Team, Rising Star and Trainee of the Year over the last number of years. And who keeps all this ticking on a daily basis? My once receptionist Di Shute, who has grown to become our full time Salon Manager and pretty much my PA from two days a week. I’m one very proud bossman indeed.
I think the key for me is to remember I’m there to make sure that the standards are kept high and manage the whole team, not to use a hierarchy position to flex my muscles.
What’s the moral of this story? Be the best you can be, not just for yourself but for the whole team around you. If you give in all the right places, it all comes back to help with your own wishes and desires. Let’s face facts; if it wasn’t for my team I wouldn’t have had the support to carve out my session career.
Do you have the right people around you?