Debbie from Montana Blu Hair Salon tells us her story from starting her career as an apprentice to teaching and representing her craft all over the world. Her passion for education and upskilling is what sets her apart. Montana Blu is among the leading high-end hair salons in Cork, known for providing personalised attention to fashion-forward clientele. The heart and soul of her hair salon is the expert team of stylists, handpicked for their fearlessness in the art of hairdressing and pure inspiration.
Debbie tell us about how you came to be a hairdresser and teacher?
I started my career when I was 14 after school on Wednesday’s half day and Saturday in Salon 33. At the time it was one of Cork’s busiest salons and I learned the benefits of working hard. At 16 I was offered an apprenticeship in Merchant’s Quay and completed the typically 4-year program in 2 years. At 17 I was the first Cork girl or country girl as they would say in Dublin to win the loreal colour student of the year out of the 75 Salons. I had begun teaching in the salon before I even qualified and soon my love of education developed. I would even teach them at home to prepare them for upcoming classes in Dublin. Very quickly the company noticed my determination, commitment and ethic hence my progress faster than expected. At a young age I volunteered to partake and assist in hair competitions. I did the hair for fashion shows for Brown Thomas purely for inspiration to expand my creativity and to help me to grow. Twenty years on I still love the creative side of hairdressing
Almost 2 years ago I opened Montana blu Salon and Academy. My role is everything really, being a businessowner means I am the bookkeeper, promoter teacher stylist and most importantly mentor, guiding my team and students to reach their goals. I cherish the teaching aspect so much because I understand the value of a good mentor.
What inspires you?
I’ve been lucky enough to work with, or rather be mentored by extremely talented creative motivated hairdressers from day one. I loved watching them during competition work even helping glue pieces together, their passion hypnotised me. I loved every minute of it, working outside hours for free just to create. That ignited a fire in me from the start. so, it was absolutely my trainer’s in Dublin and stylists in the company. They really took me under their wings. Saying that my inspiration comes from any who battles on the create something special, be it a hungry student or a client struggling to keep it together with a smile on their face.
What three things would you take to a desert island?
Desert Island? Would it be a holiday? I’d probably drown before I reached it!!
If I must answer here goes: My family comes first. Walls are nothing without the people who are truly important. everything is replaceable bar the people you love, a fact!
A lighter. its seriously baffles me how they light a fire by twisting a stick my nerves couldn’t handle it! I am no girl guide!! wouldn’t have the patience. I like to keep warm. I like to eat.
And absolutely a scissors. if I’d to listen to my husband rant on about his hair being too long I’d head back to the sea !! My grandfather was a Barber and it was drilled into me ” as long as you have a scissors and comb, you’ll go anywhere in the world” and true to his word I have.
What are three traits you need to be successful in your job?
Talent, a thick skin and education.
How do you measure success?
Everyone’s definition of success is different. For me I’m doing what I love, my bills are paid, family looked after, clients and staff as well as students are happy and growing. People are choosing Montana blu to train with! I don’t say I’m successful I’m not that big headed, but I am happy and that is a measure of success. I think knowing what really goes on in business, on the salon floor is imperative. I’m merely surviving well in a competitive industry. You are only as good as your last client and student. When I reach retirement with my husband (obviously he’ll be there way before me!) and in my 80’s then I’ll answer that question, success is a path not a destination.
Are you a wold or a sheep?
I’m absolutely a wolf, a survivor, leader of the pack who provides and protects, and I’m certainly not afraid to do it alone to survive.