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The Power of Self-Belief | Christopher Laird

September 29, 2023

At the age of just thirteen, I discovered my passion for hairdressing. Little did I know that this passion would drive me to achieve some of my biggest career goals and open my own salon, November Collective, all by the time I was 25. The journey has been one of self-belief, determination and continuous learning, and I am excited to share it in the hope it can inspire another young hairdresser to reach for their dreams.

Nurturing My Passion: The Early Years

By the time I was sixteen, I had already qualified in hairdressing in my hometown of Edinburgh. It was evident to me and my clients that I had a natural flair for creating beautiful and wearable hair. However, my employer at the time was not as supportive, criticising my work and insisting that I needed to be more ‘edgy’ to succeed. Those negative comments hit me hard, but little did I know they would become the catalyst for my future success.

Finding My Partner in Crime: The Turning Point

Fortunately, I wasn’t deterred. At just 18 years old, I met Emma-Louise Cantwell, who would later become my business partner. We clicked instantly, and together we won several awards and landed our first commercial job. Over the course of the next few years, I began working with ghd, first as a Brand Warrior and then soon after as a Senior Educator. Then in 2019, I was taken on as a digital ambassador for SKP Collective (thanks to my rapidly growing social channels). I was starting to be taken more seriously as a hairdresser, so Emma and I put the wheels in motion to realise the dream we’d had since meeting – opening our own salon.

Making Dreams Come True: Opening November Collective

In 2020, Emma and I finally realised our long-held dream of opening our own salon, November Collective. After months of extensive planning, building and endless decorating to create the five-star salon we envisioned, we opened the doors in August 2021. The space – which spans 150 square metres over two floors – offers people a completely indulgent experience that puts the client at the centre of everything.

Learning from Adversity: A Break-In and a New Direction

Six months after opening, the salon experienced a devastating break-in. It was a major blow to the business – not only did it feel like a violation of the love and passion that we had poured into the space, but it was also a very big wake up call to the way in which I was running things. We had steamrollered through our first six months, enjoying success from the day we opened, but we were just going with it, without a real direction or plan. The break-in was a turning point – it made me realise the need for a clear direction and strategy to ensure the success and security of the business. I sought guidance from Salon Jedi, a programme focused on business strategy, mindfulness and profit, and it transformed the way I approached my career and personal growth. My goals became clear, and my top three values — wealth, health and success — now guide every decision I make.

Achieving Goals and Setting New Ones: An Exciting Journey

In the last year, I have achieved many of my career goals, from working on a trend reveal for ghd, leading a product relaunch for Schwarzkopf Professional and styling A-List celebrities for ghd at the EE BAFTA Film Awards. I have also learned not to compare myself to others and to focus on my own growth, reminding myself that success is a culmination of years of hard work, sacrifice and self-belief. Now, I aim to build my editorial profile, to continue to grow November Collective and to ensure my team reach their fullest potential too. As a team, we set goals for where we see ourselves in the industry – having a young team and being such young owners, we have to work hard to instil the belief that we’re mighty, that we belong, and that hard work really can give you what you want.

The Advice I Live By: Self-Belief, Connection and Hard Work

My advice is to believe in yourself and your abilities. Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you; reach out and seize them. Build genuine connections and be nice to others; kindness goes a long way. Don’t compare yourself to other people but focus on your journey and the hard work you put in. Remember that success takes time, dedication and unwavering self-belief.

Embrace Growth and Keep Learning: The Sky is the Limit

As I reflect on my journey so far, I truly believe that you can have whatever you want from this industry – the opportunities are unlimited, so my advice is to really work hard and put your head down. I see a lot of negativity and competition online – people look at your success now, or your ‘likes’ on a post, rather than asking how you got there! Instead, look at their journey, look at the pushbacks and failures – right now, this is the fastest growth I’ve ever seen in my career, but there was so much work behind that, and I believed in myself consistently throughout that time, even when no one else did.

With self-belief, determination and hard work, the sky is the limit if you’re willing to take the leap and follow your creative heart.

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