Q&A: Jim Shaw Shares His Story
We catch up with Jim Shaw, Owner of Essensuals and winner of this year’s Men’s Commercial Collection category at the International Hairdressing Awards, to talk all things career.
When did you start your hairdressing career?
I came from a family of hairdressing with my mum, older sister and young sister all being in the industry. I started my hairdressing career when I was 16 and I couldn’t of been where I am now without my family always encouraging and supporting me. I started my career 30 years ago and I spent four years in Hong Kong as stylist to numerous VIPs and celebrities and I was also MTVs resident art director. When I returned to London in 2003 I joined the Essensuals family and opened my first salon in Billericay, Essex, which became one of the most successful in the group.
How did you bring men’s hairdressing/grooming into your salon?
Over 10 years ago I believed that men’s hairdressing was was going to grow rapidly and before it went crazy I decided to open the first male grooming salon – Essensuals Men in Billericay, Essex. This was a great success and followed with many other hair salons starting to cater towards men and offer men’s grooming services in their salons. I was a little worried at first but it turned out to be the best decision I’ve made, as I cut my costs in half and the revenue doubled as the salon got busier and busier. 10 years later commercial rents went up and I made a big decision to consolidate my business with my salon across the road and bring the men’s salon into the unisex salon. I still have a men’s section in salon, which is a great area that allows men to feel comfortable to discuss their hair and skin etc. in a separate environment from the main salon. It’s also shown my existing female clientele that we offer men’s services, which in return has ended up with them recommending the salon to their partners and bring their partners/friends and with many of them bringing them along to their appointment.
What’s have been the best parts of your career?
I think the highlights of my career have been opening the doors of my salon, winning Men’s Hairdresser of the Year in 2007 at the British Hairdressing Awards and of course this year winning the Men’s Commercial Collection category at the International Hairdressing Awards. To be recognised from people I look up to is the most amazing feeling and winning these awards are memories I will never forget. I have worked, lived and breathed hair all my life and even now after all of these years I still love what I do. It’s also incredibly rewarding to see all of my clients leaving happy and to see my staff after years of training now progressing themselves within the industry and opening their own businesses. I mean that from my heart – I love helping people and helping them achieve their goals and ambitions!
As a whole, I’ve had a really fantastic journey, travelling around the world in America and Hong Kong teaching male grooming and cutting techniques to other hairdressers and helping them to develop their skills and knowledge in regards to men’s hairdressing and grooming and helping my friend set up a male grooming floor in the biggest salon in Hong Kong when I lived there. I’ve also worked at so many fantastic events including Men’s London Fashion Week, V Festival for 9 years, The Urban Music Awards, The Brits and more. I’ve also worked with Top Man heading up their shows and campaigns and have worked on the Essensuals men’s window campaign every year.
What’s next for you?
I am very lucky that I have achieved most of my goals in my career but now I want take my business to the next level. Times have changed and clients have changed so I’m always looking ahead of things. It’s not just about clients coming into the salon for a good hair cut, it’s about the whole experience and I think that’s what makes my salon stand out. I have organically grown my own staff and I ensure that all clients walk out of the salon thinking that they had an incredible experience in the salon. In the future I want to continue to help my staff grow and also do more hair collections each year.
If you’d like to find out more, visit Essensuals here.