Emil’s Relevant Algorithm

Emil's Relevant Algorithm

A Relevant Algorithm?

I would have liked to have left a comment on Emil McMahon’s article: Algorithm – what the? But I couldn’t, so I am leaving a reciprocal blog post here by way of reply – that’s the beauty of having a blog.

By-the-way, this is NOT a criticism of Emil’s article, I am not trying to find fault!

A Little Search Engine History

I signed on to the Internet in 1993; I made a Website, and in mid ’94 I started to promote it. Immediately I was hooked on Website Promotion. Consequently, I have been reading articles related to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for about twenty-three years, and I can assure you that there is a lot of shyte out there. Yeah, okay, I’ve added to it!

In the early days there seemed to be quite a lot of search engines, the front runners being: Yahoo, MSN, AOL, AltaVista and of course the youngster, Google! I don’t want to go into too much detail, this is being written off the top of my head, but, Websites needed to be targeted towards a particular search engine and added manually to their list to be indexed – ‘Add URL’ was a thing in those days (still is for Directories like DMOZ). Sometime in the late ’90s (97/98) we called this Search Engine Optimization. And the idea was to get your Website to #1 for a specific set of Keywords, e.g. ‘Cheap Flights Paris’.

From about 1996 to 2005 there was a LOT of jiggery-pokery from the webmasters, who were trying to get their Websites to #1 in the search engine results by using sneaky little tricks! The search engines had to keep one step ahead of the game by tweeking their Algorithms (Algorithm: the way a search engine determines which website is relevant for any given search term). Relevancy (and speed of delivery) made Google and its Algorithm top of the heap.

Relevancy – The missing word

Relevance or relevancy is the key word. There is a subtle, but important difference between a search engine serving up a relevant website on its results page, and a Website being relevant to both the search engine and the Website Visitor.

  • A Search Engine aims to serve up a relevant and honest website that reflects the users’ search term.
  • A Website aims to be found in the search engines for a specific set of Keywords, and be relevant to the website visitor.

Remember (at this point I’m cutting it short!)

SEO is a small, but important part of Website Promotion. Your visitors will also find your website through links and ‘real world’ stuff like business cards.

The Fundamental Necessity

Being found in the search engines by your Business Name is a fundamental necessity. Actually, most new clients will find your website through a recommendation (like: a social media link. a magazine article. verbally from a friend). Only someone who already knows your Business Name will search for it, and they Must find you!

And Finally…

The simple answer is: Know your target audience. Get the structure of the website correct. Build a (social) network of links. Promote your website address (URL) with conventional advertising, i.e: flyers, posters, imprinted merch, magazine reviews, etc. Have a website promotion strategy.

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Read: Algorithm – what the?

What does SS18 and AW18 stand for?

Session Hairstylist: Ian (me). Photographer: Chris Roberts. Hard at work light-testing 01:10:1981.
Me taken by photographer Chris Roberts. Light-testing 01:10:1981 – SS82 season!

What does the SS and AW in SS18 and AW18 stand for within the world of fashion?

Answer: SS18 stands for the Spring Summer fashion season in the year 2018. The AW18 stands for the Autumn Winter season in 2018! The SS18 shows are held in the Autumn of 2017, and the AW18 shows are in the Feb/March of 2018

There are also two popular hashtags to be found on Twitter (and other social networks): #ss18 and #aw18 – they will be busy at the time of the shows, UK busy time is London Fashion Week (AW17) – Thursday 16th – Tuesday 21st February 2017. London Fashion Week (SS18) 15th – 19th September 2017.

And of course you can follow #ss18 on Instagram and Facebook!

The British Fashion Council and the London Fashion Week Site are always a good places to keep up with events and for the links to the latest and live London Fashion Week news – Also see/follow: #LFW.

My fashion and hairstyle predictions are more general and not really seasonal! See my SS18 and AW18 fashion predictions: Fashion Trends & Hair Styles – Predictions – New and Old and my most recent at time of writing. I usually post my latest trends and fashion predictions in December, however, yeah, I’m usually late!

So, there you are SS18 and AW18 equals the fashion seasons: Spring Summer 2018, and Autumn Winter 2018!

How Do You Promote Your Website?

This is not art because we're smiling!

Robin and I – Eton 1980s

Justine Perry @justine_perry asked me a question during #ggchat, “Aside from SEO and on social media, how do you promote your website?” However, instead of emailing Justine an answer, as promised, I thought I would answer her here on SlashHair. Mainly because some #HairHour participants may also be interested?

The thing is, I don’t really promote my website(s), I kind of just let it all happen! Which is SO terribly wrong. Anyway, forget me, can you see where Justine’s coming from? What does one do to promote one’s website that isn’t SEO and/or social media related?

How good at doing It are you?

Maybe good website promotion starts off with a good reputation? Generally speaking, if a hairdresser, musician or writer [artist] wants to be successful, they must be able to perform at a highly competitive level. Crappy artists don’t usually attract fans, and therefore will not attract a continual stream of visitors to their website. So, how good you are as an artist can, and I believe will, effect the numbers of people visiting your website.

And, if you’re an independent artist, it doesn’t mean that you have to do everything yourself. You will need professional help and advice – Find the right professional for the job.

Word of mouth (and I’m not necessarily talking about social media) is a vital and free form of recommendation for all artists. Personally, I’m never going to recommend a person or product that’s bloody useless – because that will make Me look bad.

Doing the Business

Professionalism affects your marketing effort, your approach to business, your business acumen, will also have an effect on the numbers of visitors to your website. This could mean: being open about your fees, creating a trusted and safe eCommerce website, or turning up to the gig in a shiny van with your name and web address printed on the side.

How others regard your business, will effect the way they interact with you.

How do you connect with people?

I’m talking about ‘real world’ relationships. Connectivity is actually a subsection within business: Marketing and PR.

It’s how you connect with people and how you get them to take notice. Be on the same wavelength as the person with whom you are talking, it’s empathy and rapport. And it’s marketing – bringing yourself to the attention and consciousness of your potential clients, customers or fans [client]. A massive subject.

You must know your client – if you want your website promotion to be successful – Create a ‘Target Client Profile’. (Creating a target client profile may change the way you promote your website.)

Have you got any ideas?

The main thing I hate about the fashion and beauty industry is the false atmosphere of excitement and the untruthful claims of success that they trowel out – I’ve lived with it since 1973! However, you do need to attract website visitors with an incentive, a hook, people need a reason to visit your website. And if you offer a load of old bollocks, you will get jack shit.

Of course most artists offer free products, merchandise or music. Actually, free information is the real biggy on the net!

Here’s an extreme example: if your target clients are horse racing enthusiasts and you sent out an email saying, “Visit my website tomorrow after 10.30 AM. I will tell you the winner of the 2.30 at Ascot.” And the horse wins the race. You’d have some new Superfans, who’ll visit your website every time you email them with worthwhile information. That’s a hook; a reason to visit your website.

The hook could simply be a photograph of your client/s published on your website, which is far more realistic. People tend to be interested in themselves and what they can get out of it!

All You Need Is Love

How Do You Promote Your Website? With: Performance, Professionalism, Connectivity and good old Capt’n Hook, oh, and Love ;)

Celebrity Hair Cutting Shears

Century Classic - hair cutting shears

My current hair cutting shears: Century Classic, Tondeo, made in Solingen, Germany 6″ (68mm blade) (1998-ish)

After over forty years of hairdressing my hair cutting shears have become a part of my hand. They’re as much a prosthetic, two razor-sharp fingers, as they are a hand tool. I love that I even get some sensation of touch; when I cut hair I can feel them cutting and the hair’s texture.

As was the tradition when I was a Junior (1973), my first pair of shears were given to me by my stylist, Robert Lobetta; they were engraved with a salon’s name: Andre Bernard. The shears were five and a half inches, blunt and pitted with the corrosion that is so typical of badly maintained scissors. I either gave them back to Robert or chucked them away, however, I have a feeling that he may have actually asked for them back.

Robert gave me another pair that were equally as bad, this time engraved with the name Artisan. So I dumped them and took myself off to Ogee’s on the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and Earlham Street to buy a brand new pair of hair cutting shears.

Such was my ego I didn’t want to look like a n00bie junior buying his first pair of hair cutting shears. I confidently strode up to the counter and pointed at a pair almost exactly the same as the Artisan shears. “Can I have a gander at those,” I said, and she handed them over. I cut the hairs off of the back of my hand like I would a client’s neck fluff, and showing off, I span them on my finger like a cowboy would his .45 Colt pistol, then I slapped them down on the counter saying, “I’ll take ’em.” What a douchebag I was. They turned out to be a pretty average shyte pair.

I don’t know if you’ve ever thrown a knife, but I spent the entire summer holidays when I was thirteen teaching myself how to throw my Scout sheath knife. Basically, what you do is: hold the blade of the knife between fingers and thumb with the spine of the knife towards the palm of your hand, and the handle pointing away from you and towards the target. Keep fingers and palm away from the point and the sharpened edge. Cock your wrist sideways towards your forearm, and throw the knife almost like a dart. The knife will rotate, cartwheel like, and hopefully the knife point will stick in!

The point of the matter being rotation. Spin any hand tool and you’ll soon discover its balance and sometimes its purpose of use. A balanced pair of shears will feel good in the hand.

Concorde - hair cutting shears

Concorde, FLAJ (inox stainless steel) 5.5″ (60mm blade) (1976)

Never buy a pair of shears because of what they look like. My grandfather used to say, “A bad workman always blames his tools.” Well I surely cussed those little fuckers.

I hold no sentimentality or affection for my shears, I usually give them away when I’ve finished with them. These were given to a friend who uses them to trim her fringe very occasionally – I was glad to see the back of them.

ECA - hair cutting shears

ECA, made in Solingen, Germany (rostfrei stainless steel) 5.5″ (50mm blade) (1980)

One of my favourite pairs of shears even though they were the only pair to really bite me – they cut a nice big V on the base of my index finger. Most hairdressers cut themselves with a new pair of shears at least once. I saw Ricci Burns slice through his knuckle to the bone, he got a trip to hospital and six stitches for his troubles – well, we thought it was funny at the time!

Jaguar - hair cutting shears

Jaguar satin, Easy Rand Rocket, made in Solingen, Germany (ice tempered stainless steel) 5″ (40mm blade) (1990-ish)

These were the only shears that I’ve had professionally sharpened – they fucked them up for me by grinding too much off of the blade. I usually sharpen my shears myself on my great-grandfather’s fine whetstone – it’s getting a little worn after about a hundred years.

A regular rub on the whetstone, a wipe with a thick chamois and a few drops of clear machine oil and my old hair cutting shears are back up like new again.

My most magical and memorable scissor moment wasn’t a celebrity encounter, and they weren’t even my scissors, it was when I cut my son’s cord with the midwife’s umbilical scissors – what sensational and emotional feeling.

HABB – The Hair and Beauty Benevolent

HABB – The Hair and Beauty Benevolent is the official charity for the hairdressing industry that helps hairdressers in need.

Since it launched in 1853, HABB has always been there for hairdressers, many of whom had nowhere else to turn. It still sees more than 200 applications each year – including students.

Please Support and Follow HABB on:


Chemotherapy Hair Advice 101

Model: Anik, Photographer: Chris Roberts 1981, Hair: Ian Robson. London - Willie Christie's Studio

If you search Google for “Chemotherapy Hair Advice” you will find loads of excellent articles (esp. NHS .pdf documents) detailing the procedure and hair issues. However, I would like to share some of my thoughts and give you a bit of hairdressers chemotherapy hair advice!

Like most of us, I’ve known a number of people who have had chemotherapy, quite a lot actually; but as a hairdresser, I’ve taken a very keen interest in their hair and the advice that’s been given to them by their supporting team.

Chemotherapy Hair Advice

  • The normal daily average hair loss for everyone (you & me) is about 100 hairs. I say that because: When using the cold cap it is my understanding that chemotherapy slows hair growth. Therefore: if you are undergoing chemotherapy over a period of, say, twelve weeks, by the end of the treatment, and beyond, your hair WILL get thinner – that would be absolutely normal, even if you didn’t get extra hair falling out due to the chemotherapy. And just like postnatal hair loss, your hair will grow back.
  • Handle with care – To prevent your hair from being Pulled out, don’t pull it! Sounds like stupid advice, but ‘hair dynamics’ could mean that even long dirty hair, or hair wrapped around super soft sponge rollers, is being put under too much force / stress and may be pulled out. Think about what pulls your hair, and don’t do it.
  • Pony-tails must be kept very loose, and always use non-metal hair elastics like 4mm Blax Snag Free Hair Elastics or a ribbon.
  • Obviously, don’t get all your hair cut off! Play style and length by ear, but I would recommend getting your hair cut in a style so you can allow it to dry naturally. And that usually means: medium short. It’ll make life much easier for a whole load of reasons.
  • How to wash your hair during chemotherapy: Wash it twice a week as a maximum. Use lukewarm, tepid water. Apply a very small amount of shampoo to the scalp/hair roots and very gently massage – don’t worry too much about the ends. Only give one wash, rinse very thoroughly. Pat hair dry, don’t rub with towel.
  • Don’t wash your hair under a power shower.
  • Always use a very small amount of conditioner (for normal hair) (whether you need it or not) and comb your hair Very Gently under the running water.
  • Personally, I would recommend that you don’t use leave-in conditioners, or any product that is normally left in your hair like: hairspray, setting lotion, gel, mousse and wax, dry shampoo, volumising and shine shampoo, etc., because they may cause product build-up.
  • One of my clients said, the current advice is to not wash your hair 2 days before or 2 days after chemotherapy.
  • Use a pure, mild, acid balanced shampoo and conditioner (PH about 5.00 – 7.00). I like Timotei Pure Shampoo contains no silicones, parabens or colourants. Does contain Sodium Laureth Sulfate. On the other hand, I recommend Urtekram Children’s Shampoo and conditioner, get it from Amazon.co.uk.
  • Please be aware that the name baby or children’s shampoo, doesn’t necessarily mean mild and acid balanced – some of them are alkaline (above PH 7)!
  • Parabens are preservatives and are used to restrict the growth of yeasts, molds and bacteria.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, SLES) – an oil dispersant, detergent and surfactant, it is used in soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, and hundreds of cosmetic and beauty products. Personally, I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
  • Don’t leave any shampoo or conditioner on your scalp or in your hair, always rinse thoroughly.
  • Most hairdressing products are designed to be rinsed out.
  • If your hair gets very knotty, comb your hair from the ends first and work your way towards the roots. Never, ever, tug.
  • If you really need to dry and style your hair with a hair-dryer: use the lowest heat setting, gentlest speed and for God’s sake take off the nozzle.
  • All my hairstyles can be dried/styled by just using your fingers, hands; you don’t need to use brushes, they tend to catch and pull.
  • Feed You Hair, Eat A Rainbow: Diet doesn’t only effect your health, but also your hair – feed it! Eat: peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, mango, papaya, apricots, blueberries, sardines, salmon, pumpkin & ground flax seeds, walnuts and wheat germ – I’m talking, lots of multi-coloured fruit and vegetables, oily fish, nuts, seeds and grains.
  • I advise you to:
    • Leave longer for your hair appointment, so I can take my time to be gentle with your hair.
    • Try having your hair cut dry, without washing. It makes no difference to me or the outcome of your style, but it may help your hair a little? Wash it after the cut and allow it to dry naturally.
    • Still have your hair cut every four to five weeks, it’s important to keep your hair at the optimum length, plus I can keep an eye on the condition of your hair.
    • Obviously you must avoid all permanent tinting, permanent waving (all chemical processes) until at least three months after your chemotherapy treatment finishes. However, there is such a thing as a water rinse (they’re like the old fashioned coloured setting lotion): Roux Fanci-Full Temporary Rinse. They’re great for toning down and blending gray hair and roots. And just like a setting lotion they wash out.
    • Have a gander in Waitrose for your hair care products, they’ve got a very good selection. Don’t confuse Waitrose Pure Shampoo for Timotei Pure Shampoo.

That’s it! If you would like to talk with me personally, please get in contact x

Is Hairdressing An Art Form?

Yet another blog post that has been requested by my friends on #HairHour – 10 Feb 2016. Initially inspired by Salon Evolution (@salonevolution) and egged on by Hair Hour (@Hair_Hour). Actually this is a blog post that I’ve wanted to write for ages.

Grayson Perry - Guerrilla Tactics: (2002) Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. NAi(010) Publishers, Rotterdam, NetherlandsGrayson Perry – Guerrilla Tactics: (2002) Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. NAi(010) Publishers, Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The first time I saw Grayson Perry’s artwork was in June 2002 at the Stedelijk modern art museum, Amsterdam. And I was totally bowled over. And I felt an affinity with his work. You see, I’ve always fancied myself as a bit of an artist. A lot of hairdressers do; because we’re working with our hands and there is a strong sense of sculpting; we are working with shape and form, each hairdo being individual. At this point I could start rambling on and on about my education, art influences and my days as a trainee architectural and industrial model maker, but I won’t. You’ll thank me for that.

training to be an architectural and industrial model maker at Paradigm ModelsMe, 18, training to be an architectural and industrial model maker at Paradigm Models.

Yeah, well, anyway, it was 1976 and the client I was standing behind said, “You hairdressers are now like pop stars.”
“Am I like a pop star?” I asked.
“Yes, very much so,” she said, and that’s where it ended. And I’ve never really understood how she meant it; was it good or bad to be like a pop star? In reality, I felt as though I were like an artist because I was trying to express myself through my work. And for me, my creations had a narrative behind them, they still do; it’s why I found Abandoned Suitcase Reveals A Love Affair so fascinating – I felt a million miles away from what I visualised as being a pop star.

Over the past year (in 2015) the Bank of England asked for nominations for ‘people of historic significance from the world of visual arts’ – they want to put an artist on a twenty pound note. And yes, as one would expect, the wonderful world of hairdressing offered up the bloody obvious – the old maestro himself, Vidal Sassoon! A little embarrassing I thought. Let’s face it, hairdressing isn’t really a visual art, is it – even though I and most other hairdressers would like it to be. Hairdressing is a craft. And a transient craft at that!

In 2013 Grayson Perry gave BBC Radio 4’s Reith Lecture, entitled Playing to the Gallery. As a devotee, I listened and actually took some notes (of which I’m about to use). In one of the three lectures (Beating the bounds) Perry presents eight tests to mark the boundaries of art to establish if it’s art that one is looking at! Here I will sort of apply Perry’s tests to hairdressing and see how we fare:

Is it in a gallery or an art context?

Artist Cornelia Parker, in a collaboration with Tilda Swinton (British actress, performance artist, model, and fashion icon), created an art installation called: The Maybe (1995), where Swinton lay ‘asleep’ in a glass vitrine display cabinet at the Serpentine Gallery, London. There is no mention of Swinton’s hair anywhere – You can take a hairstyle into a gallery, but that doesn’t make it art!

For me, art is about ‘expressing an original idea’ within a context (a body of work) and a narrative. Take Pablo Picasso’s artwork: Bull’s Head (Tête de taureau – 1942), simply assembled from an old leather bicycle seat (the head) and a rusty pair of handlebars (the horns). It’s one of those artworks that you can easily diminish by saying, “I could have done that!” However, it expresses an original idea, it sits well within today’s art context and was intended by Picasso to be art – pushing your old bike into a gallery wouldn’t have the same effect.

Hairstyles struggle, in my opinion, to fit within an art context because of their ‘intentionality’ and lack of ‘meaning.’

Is it a boring version of something else?

Even though the fashion industry, coiffeurs and their clientèle take hairstyles seriously, in my view there is far too much acclamation. There is a falseness in the fashion industry that ‘hurts’ hairdressing – the hair at the Paris fashion show was unoriginal, drab, boring, but the fashionistas applauded it enthusiastically.

Hairdressing can be both original and aesthetically pleasing (yeah and it can be funny too G.Perry), but however it appears: divine or disgusting, ordinary or extraordinary, it functions within the bounds of an aesthetic framework – Sounds quite a lot like ART to me – Oh Dear!

Is it made by an artist?

“Art historian Ernst Gombrich said, ‘there is no such thing as art, only artists.’ So you have to be an artist to make art.” Grayson Perry, 2013, BBC Radio 4, Reith Lecture, Playing To The Gallery, Beating the Bounds.

Ai Weiwei The Artist Barber of Caochangdi, Beijing

The Chinese Contemporary artist, activist and Lego bandito Ai Weiwei, is known for cutting hair. Does this make his haircuts a work of art? Absofuckinglutely NOT.

Photography. Problematic!

Yeah, photography Is problematic. I’m not sure Perry got this boundary marker right? He asked a photographer friend of his for a definition of a photograph as art, and his friend said, if it’s bigger than two metres and costs more than five figures! There was no mention of the visual artist Man Ray, who contributed so much to the Dada and Surrealist movements – his photographs usually make five figures or more.

Obviously hairstyles and photography go hand in hand, for how else are we to see hairstyles from the 1930s, 40s, 50s… or ‘Trevor Sorbie’s wedge?’ Is a photograph of a hairstyle in a gallery representative of hairdressing as an art form? Surely the answer has got to be ‘No’ – isn’t that artistic entitlement by proxy?

I suppose what I’m saying is, even though the National Portrait Gallery are celebrating one hundred years of Vogue, ‘A Century of Style’ (1916-2016), by putting on an exhibition, the hairstyles therein are not art.

The limited edition test

A classic example of a limited edition is that of a signed limited edition print; in the bottom left-hand corner, written in pencil by the artist, is the edition number of the print: 3/250 – meaning that this is the third print in a run of two hundred and fifty copies. I’m sure you can work out the maths, the greater the number of copies, the less each copy is worth. And I suppose you could say, the greater the number of copies, the more likely each copy becomes less of an artwork and more of a commercial object?

Apply this to hairdressing, and quite frankly you’ve got a shed load of hairdressing industry bollocks to contend with. Limited edition doesn’t really exist, even though in theory it’s supposed to – each client is a one off – in spite of the fact that they all look the fucking same!

The handbag and hipster test

The ‘handbags’ are the wives of the super rich Russian oligarchs, they waft through the streets of London soaking up culture and property. The ‘hipsters’ look a lot like lumbersexuals – beards, glasses, messenger bags and single speed or better still, fixed gear bikes (but they can’t build a fire or chop wood). It’s said that art belongs to the educated and the rich – so where ever you see a preponderance of ostentatious designer handbags and custom built Brick Lane bikes chained to the railings, you can be pretty sure something arty-farty is in the air.

Every London hairdresser knows these people, they are the wonderfully pernickety friends and clients who call us pop stars, artists and Daaarling. However, it’s also these people who I believe Vidal Sassoon was referring to when Reuters interviewed him in 2010. Sassoon said, “Hairdressing in general hasn’t been given the kudos it deserves. It’s not recognised by enough people as a worthy craft.”

I agree with Sassoon, it’s not recognised as a worthy craft; and that’s because of the transitory nature of hairdressing, a chignon, a style, a haircut are ephemeral and therefore seemingly worthless like paper cups, or a copy of Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss on a never-ending print run.

The rubbish dump test (my favourite)

The rubbish dump test is the test I’ve always used. I imagine the artwork hidden in a scrap yard and wonder if I could pick it out amongst debris – BTW, I used to spend a lot of time in scrap yards looking for car parts. I liked Grayson Perry’s warning that a lot of artworks would fail the test because the rubbish dump itself may be the artwork.

Do you remember David Mach’s ‘nuclear protest’ sculpture Polaris (1983), made out of thousands of used car tyres? A scrapheap challenge extraordinaire outside the Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, London – someone set fire to it.

What’s the equivalent rubbish dump test for hair? Oxford Street on the first day of the winter sales? Discovering a genuine artistic creation under such conditions may take a little extra artistic talent in itself. Most people wouldn’t recognise a good haircut if it jumped out and bit them.

The computer art test

The computer art test is the last of Grayson Perry’s tests. Perry asks, how do we know it’s web art, and not just another interesting Website? The question seems a little naive to me, it shows a slight lack of understanding about what the internet is. Does a ‘piece’ of web art really need to be a Website? And it’s very interesting to look at Contemporary Artists’ Websites – not an inspiring pixel to be found.

Internet art, just like art in the real world, must make us stop and think and engage.

The same can be said for hairdressing sites, very uninspiring; my desire to stop and think, and not click-off within five seconds, has yet to be fulfilled.

I’ve got to say: for me, the epitome of shitty internet hair are those unbelievably egotistical, Mirror Image App. photographs that are the excrement of social media.

This is not art because we're smiling!

This is not art because we’re smiling – it’s a Happy Snap

Obviously hairdressing could be an art form, hairdressers, like artists, have the ability to see the world differently and express it and themselves through their work – most hairdressers do that, it’s part of the job. The problem comes with value, because hairdressing it so transient, so everyday, so commonplace.

Anyway, I’ve no problem with being called a craftsman; take a trip to your local museum and see all those artefacts made by craftsman throughout millennia – brilliant.

Further Reading and Resources

1970s Shampoo Nightmares

Model: Anik, Photographer: Chris Roberts 1981, Hair: Ian Robson. London - Willie Christie's Studio

Model: Anik, Photographer: Chris Roberts 1981, Hair: Ian Robson. London – Willie Christie’s Studio

This blog post, 1970s Shampoo Nightmares, has been requested by my friends on #HairHour – 10 Feb 2016. They thought it “would make a very interesting read!” I’m not too sure about that, you’d better judge for yourself!

Without meaning this to be a biography of my early years as a hairdresser, or a fucking history lesson: I’ve got to say this starts in the period between 1970 and 1980, maybe it was when Jimi Hendrix died in September 1970, or when Andre Mizelas (of Andre Bernard) got shot in November 1970, or maybe when Vidal Sassoon created his line of hair-care products in the early 1970s? The thing is, there was an imperceptible wind of change gently blowing – just like there is today, and it’s difficult for me to put a date to it, let’s say the early 1970s.

It was a time when most, if not all, London salons had their own line of self branded hair-care products for sale – I’m talking mainly shampoos and conditioners. They were formulated by so called, cosmetic chemists in small laboratories come kitchen sink factories. The name David Gold rings a bell, I don’t know why – the smell of coconut comes to mind when I think of the name! Salons bought their shampoos and conditioners by the gallon (4.5 litres) from the labs who personalised it (branded it) with ridiculous flavours and the salon’s name. These shampoos and conditioners were absolute crap – or were they? If you washed somewhere between fifteen and fifty heads of hair a day, six days a week, for three months solid, believe me, it really was absolute crap!

I say ridiculous flavours: lemon for greasy hair was typical and obvious, pineapple and orange were slightly less obvious and sickly. pine for normal hair, didn’t smell toilety, but of the woods. almond and coconut for dry and damaged hair. And the colours of course were pretty vivid: yellow, orange, green, pink and spunk white! As a creative junior I liked to mix them and create ‘cocktails’ – my favourite being a pina colada: 3 measures of pineapple, a dash of pine and lemon, 1 measure of coconut – the end result being clean hair, a happy mixologist and an oblivious client!

A junior’s morning job would be to: decant the shampoos and conditioners into the various ‘clean’ 2 litre glass carafes with cork stoppers, that sat behind the backwash like grand apothecary jars.

After a flutter with Lamaur (my favourite: apple pectin shampoo) and Wella, Ricci Burns (where I worked) ditched the laboratory and went down the innovative product road and embraced Redken products (first UK salon to do so); on the other hand, Vidal Sassoon was heavily into self branded products and I think they were the first to go into major production (with Helen of Troy Corporation), selling in the USA and Europe in 1980. This was the beginning of celebrity hairdresser branded hair-care and beauty products.

Today there are a plethora manufactured by ‘global’ beauty companies like: Procter & Gamble (Vidal Sassoon), L’Oréal (Jean-Louis David), Estée Lauder (Bobbi Brown – Makeup Artist) and Unilever (Tigi for hair salons, Toni & Guy)…

And you may ask: are salon (professional) products better than High Street (retail) products? Sadly, No, they’re not better! But I know it’s what hairdressers, salons, have always wanted. Unfortunately, expensive, celebrity/professional shampoos aren’t better – £3.99 or £39.99 there’s not a lot of difference; you don’t get what you pay for!

The trouble is, there’s such a lot of bollocks talked about hairdressing products; in the end it’s all about money, the bottom line, sales, turnover… I remember all the fuss caused by Wella in the mid-late 1970s, when they removed Lifetex conditioner from their professional range and allowed Boots to sell it at half the fucking price that a salon could buy it for in the first place (supermarket purchasing power)! (Get your arse down to the supermarket, but talk with your stylist first!)

There have always been well-known ‘celebrity’ hairdressers: Marcel Grateau (Marcel wave), Antoine (original short bob cut), Raymond Bessone (Mr. Teasy-Weasy), Andre Bernard (royal hairdresser)… Vidal Sassoon… However, it is today’s branded High Street beauty products, celebrity culture and consumerism that have changed the hairdressing and fashion scene for the worst – maybe those carafes of shampoo weren’t so bad after all?

What does SS17 and AW17 stand for?

Session Hairstylist: Ian (me). Photographer: Chris Roberts. Hard at work light-testing 01:10:1981.
Me taken by photographer Chris Roberts. Light-testing 01:10:1981 – SS82 season!

What does the SS and AW in SS17 and AW17 stand for within the world of fashion?

Answer: SS17 stands for the Spring Summer fashion season in the year 2017. The AW17 stands for the Autumn Winter season in 2017! The SS17 shows are held in the Autumn of 2016, and the AW17 shows are in the Feb/March of 2017

There are also two popular hashtags to be found on Twitter (and other social networks): #ss17 and #aw17 – they will be busy at the time of the shows, UK busy time is London Fashion Week (AW16) – Friday 19th – Tuesday 23rd February 2016. London Fashion Week (SS17) 16th – 20th September 2016.

And of course you can follow #ss17 on Instagram and Facebook!

The British Fashion Council and the London Fashion Week Site are always a good places to keep up with events and for the links to the latest and live London Fashion Week news – Also see/follow: #LFW.

My fashion and hairstyle predictions are more general and not really seasonal! See my SS17 and AW17 fashion predictions: Fashion Trends & Hair Styles – Predictions – New and Old and my most recent at time of writing. I usually post my latest trends and fashion predictions in December, however, yeah, I’m usually late!

So, there you are SS17 and AW17 equals the fashion seasons: Spring Summer 2017, and Autumn Winter 2017!

Does A Hair Salon Need A Website?

Does a hair salon need a Website? In short, Yes. Stop reading!

In 1975, Ricci Burns’ hair salon was fully booked; not a Website on the planet! Has ‘it’ changed so much in forty-one years? Well, I think perceptions of how we do things have changed.

I’ve been working on website promotion techniques since 1994; in August 2004 I founded UnsignedBandPromotion, focusing on website promotion for independent bands…

It’s my strong opinion that if an individual musician or band wants to ‘make it’ on the music scene and make a living from their music, the most important area to get right is their musicianship and stage act (Music and Performance). Fundamentally, how good at ‘doing it’ are they? This is their Core Essential, and the best indicator of whether they are going to make it or not. Nine times out of ten, if they are having trouble getting noticed and making money out of their music, then they probably can’t ‘do it’.

I believe the same is true for hairdressers, if you can’t do it then you’ve got problems (a salon is only as good as its worst hairdresser). A website isn’t going to save you. That’s the power of the grapevine.

On the other hand, if you Can Do It, the word will spread like wildfire and you still won’t need a website! That too is the power of the grapevine.

However, on the High Street, like in the pubs, clubs and venues, there’s plenty of competition and that’s why hairdressing salons need a Website! Every little advantage helps. It’s also what your clients expect, they don’t want to phone up, or call in for holiday opening times etc.

Additionally, without a website, your salon will still be listed on any number of shitty directory sites, making you look like douchebags to potential clients – If you haven’t got a website, search Google for your salon’s name, and see all those dumb-ass listings!

Get More Website Visitors

One of the common UBP questions I get asked is, “How do we get more visitors to our website?” Obviously it’s one of the biggies, as soon as you get a website you want to attract visitors; here are some ideas:

  • First, you must understand the people who you want to visit your website. Create a Target Client Profile – without one you are totally screwed. Think about your clients’: geographical location, age, gender, occupation, attitude, general personality, life-style choices, habits, loyalties, needs, knowledge of your salon, and the sources of where they may get information about you and your salon from. Also think about the different networking platforms.
  • Create a basic promotional plan. Simply ask yourself: Who is my target audience/client? Who can help me spread the word? Where is the best place to go (e.g. social media) to connect with my target audience/client?
  • About 70%-ish of your Web traffic will come from Google – a lot of the traffic, unfortunately, could be Web crawlers and fucking Spambots and mean nothing! To help cut the crawlers and increase the client requests (or hits), you need words. Search engines use TEXT to find you. Find the top 12 keywords / key-phrases that best describe your Salon – e.g: Business Type (hair, hairdressing, beauty salon…), Location (Chelsea, London, Postcode), Fashion and Lifestyle Choices i.e. reflecting the demographic factors (habits, attitudes, tastes…) that define your target client. Include the keywords and key-phrases throughout your website. When I say website, also think blog posts and product pages.
  • Everyone in the website promotion business talks about Website Content – I won’t labour the point. However, a blog is the easiest way to create new and entertaining content that will attract visitors. Write 300-500 word articles (include images, especially of YOUR hairstyles), talk about your fashion/style philosophy…
  • One cracking image of a client could easily attract twenty extra visitors from that client’s social media circle; include photographs of clients, but for god’s sake don’t pressurise them. I LOVE the idea of a client selfie wall, then all the promo comes from the client – URL wallpaper anybody!
  • Put your salon on the map! Geographical Location and Geo-Targeting is a fairly big subject and a full blog post in itself! However, see: Google My Business Help Center – it’ll help you to target local traffic – sign-up and your salon will be included on the search results map!
  • I don’t want to go all search engine optimizationy on you, but choosing the right set of keywords for your salon’s website is vital to achieving your objective. If I was looking for a new hair stylist, I would go Google and search for: Hairdressers Windsor Berkshire or Hair Salons Chelsea London – What would you search for?
    Include your full postal address within your website’s footer, and generally, promote your location from your website – encourage the long tail to wag. Anticipate and second-guess what your website’s visitor will be searching for.
  • On Twitter, follow other local hairdressers followers. But, only follow them if: They have a full and expressive profile, for instance: no lazy egg-head twitter avatars – a real avatar is a must. A Username that’s identifiable. They ‘should’ (it’s not essential) be within your catchment area. Have a Bio (and recent tweeting record) that gives an indication that they’re a real person. It’d be brilliant if they have a link to a blog.
  • Okay it’s time for an idea. You need a Hook. Make an instructional video, for example, how to do a simple three pin chignon. That’s called a hook, a reason to visit your website; it could be a voucher for a free fringe trim or treatment. Tell everyone on social media, clients etc., about your hook and ask them to share – BINGO! More visitors to your website! And the pay-off? Try to think beyond your emailing list if you can!

A Few Webmaster Resources

  1. ColorHexa color encyclopedia – information and conversion [*handy]
  2. creativecommons make a copyright license
  3. dmoz Open Directory Project
  4. css validation [w3]
  5. Fagan Finder URLinfo [*handy]
  6. Google Adsense
  7. Google Analytics
  8. Google Webmasters
  9. Google Blogsearch Ping
  10. HTML 4.0 Reference
  11. Open Source Web Design
  12. page rank [pagerank] [*nice/ handy]
  13. PageRank Tool Page Rank Checker is a free tool
  14. phpbb PHPBB open source bulletin board package [a bit techie]
  15. TAW [disability access] [*notable]
  16. Varian Dreamview
  17. W3C HTML Validation [*notable]
  18. Web Reference
  19. Web Standards
  20. WordPress.com get a free blog with amazing features.
  21. WordPress.org download to host it yourself.

Does A Hair Salon Need A Website?

Yeah, I think so.