Dawson’s Cuts | Believing in yourself is the first step to success

June 16, 2021

Introducing what will be an interesting new series from the inimitable Sean Dawson, General Manager at Adam Reed London.

Since this devastating COVID situation has impacted the world and we have all had so much spare time away from our salons, one of the key buzzwords that keeps being spoken about is ‘RESET’! Like you, I have thought long and hard about how I do things and what I would like to change to do them better or be more inclusive and rewarding for others but the key will be, what we are willing to change NOW to make our own and others’ lives better. I truly believe that this is an incredible opportunity for the hairdressing industry to thrive, not just survive and I’m so thrilled to have this column over the next few months to share some of those ideas with you, but… if we are going to change then it has to start with How We See Ourselves!

Over my career the most commonly asked question I get is “How can I become a successful hairdresser?” Well the obvious answers are – it’s about learning your craft, networking, working hard etc, but mine is always this… How much do you really believe in being a hairdresser? LET ME EXPLAIN…You cannot ask someone else to believe in YOU if you truly don’t believe in yourself, which sounds obvious but what about how much you believe in being a hairdresser? I show this with a really simple exercise on a flip chart. I write a list of career professions in order of what I believe the public perceive as most important to them and it looks a little bit like this:

Estate Agent
Shop Assistant
Road Sweeper

Now this isn’t my ratings as you will soon find out, but it is a pretty good example as to what the average member of the public would list. I then ask my students “Where do you think the public would place hairdressers within this list?” The answer I most commonly get is above the Nurse and below the Manager. I then ask them, as a hairdresser, where would they put themselves on that list? Again the answer I get is a little more positive and usually just above the Estate Agent and below or the same as the Teacher.

Well this is where I believe I have been successful in my career, because I would put us right at the very top, above the Surgeon! You obviously thought I would say that wouldn’t you because I am writing this… but I can prove to you why we should be there, so here goes:

It takes around nine to eleven years to train to become a top surgeon. How long from when we start as an assistant does it take to even become the top stylist in your salon? Probably about the same level of time, training and perfecting your skills and ability. Now think of some of your icons in the industry and think how long they have been tuning their skills.

A surgeon and a hairdresser are the only two professionals that a member of the public will let cut a part of their body. Yep that one made you think didn’t it? But it is true, and now really think about the amount of trust each and every client puts in you every time they sit in your chair.

The best surgeon should leave the smallest mark or scar when their work is completed, shouldn’t they? I mean if I was to have a tummy tuck, which I probably should have, then if the scar that I was left with was small then how amazing would I perceive that surgeon to be? Now think about us, the best hairdresser should leave the biggest mark once we have finished our work. Think about how many times you have transformed a client with a haircut or colour. Also remember what we do is on top of the clients head and often cannot be concealed or covered and if we get it wrong it can take weeks and sometimes months to grow out.

Statistics say that only 53% of the public will ever need the services of a surgeon during their lifetime, so many will not even meet or need one. They will need your expertise every six to eight weeks, so that means if they lived to 75 years old they would need to see you over 487 times in their lifetime.

Finally, for those that are still sceptical about what I have just written, I admit that as a hairdresser if you needed me to, I am not trained or able to save your life… But I can change it considerably for the better every time you visit my salon. I can make you feel better about yourself, increase your self-esteem, your confidence and your well-being. I can get you noticed by your friends and sometimes even strangers when they complement you on your haircut or colour, and I can achieve this for you on an ongoing basis throughout the rest of your life.


Now I hope that I at least made you think because as I said previously if we want to change the perception of what we do, then we have to first change our own thinking before asking others to do the same. Going back to the ‘lockdown’ situation and how long we have had to remain Really think about how often it was mentioned in the press or on TV about how people couldn’t wait for salons to re-open.

Think how desperate your clients were to get booked back in with you and how much they missed looking and feeling great. Now go back and look at that list of professions again and think about where the public would really place hairdressers NOW, in terms of importance to them as a person and in their life, do you think we’ve climbed a lot higher? So that’s a great place to start building from and remember, if you want to be more successful at whatever you do, you must always upgrade your belief system to match your vision.

Love, Peace & Hairgrease
Sean x