‘bebop’ salon owners Pont Smith and Chloe Herve have taken on a mature apprentice for the first time. Forty-three-year-old Ricardo Gavaia has been working at the award-winning salon in London since September. How is it working out for both bebop and Ricardo?
What were you doing before becoming a hairdressing apprentice?
Ricardo: I worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 18 years.
Have you always had an interest in hairdressing?
R: My mother and some of my siblings are in the beauty business so I have a bit of knowledge about the beauty industry.
It was a big decision to become an apprentice at your age? What prompted you to make such a career change?
R: Once I was over 40, my heart told me that after 20 years doing other work, it was time to start doing something different. Now hairdressing is my passion, my heart.
R: I believe it can actually play a real part in changing people’s lives.You can transform how they feel about themselves, help them be more positive about life, just by making their hair look beautiful. There’s a very emotional aspect to hairdressing because of that.
And especially on the colouring side, there’s a bit of chemistry involved and that fits with my experience in the pharmaceutical industry.
Are your apprenticeship and the training you’re getting living up to your expectations?
R: It’s the best thing I could have done and I’m really enjoying improving my skills all the time. At the moment I go to college two days a week, learning more about colour correction, and I’m in the salon three days.
Why did you choose bebop?
R: Someone told me how good they are and I am so glad to be here, they provide all the best conditions. Pont and Chloe are super, super encouraging. I’m a perfectionist and it’s great to be in a company that does everything so well.
Is Pont glad to have taken on a mature apprentice?
Why did you decide to give someone who is 40-plus the chance to become an apprentice with you?
Pont: We’re in a time where people can change their careers quite easily and I think it is important for businesses to help them be able to do so.
Is that kind of life-changing decision right for everyone – and for the business they join?
P: It all depends on their personality. You have to make sure they are the right fit. Age doesn’t matter, the important things are motivation and commitment.
As an employer, do you fully appreciate that it is a big change for the person concerned who may be giving up a well-paid job in order to pursue their dream of becoming a hair stylist?
P: We believe we have a responsibility to help them make the most of their apprenticeship, to pay them a good wage and to push them to develop to their full potential.
Do you find that an older apprentice is fully committed to learning new skills and wants to make real progress in their new career?
P: We think Ricardo is a great example – he is the one who really wants to push ahead.
Does a mature apprentice receive the same training as someone straight from school?
P: We provide full training and have our own training programme which makes sure they reach our very high standards and become good enough to be on our salon floor. Obviously college is a part of their education and that works side by side with our regime.
Would you take on another mature apprentice in future?
P: Definitely. Ricardo is proving a great success, willing to put the work in, and I think businesses should be prepared to encourage that kind of commitment from someone of any age.