Laurie Headd is a mobile wedding hairstylist who travels Ireland helping brides to look their best on their big day. After qualifying eleven years ago she worked for Steiner as a hairstylist onboard the fabulous Princess Cruises on an around the world cruise. Laurie told us : Many traditional leaning brides will opt for an elegant updo for their wedding hair, which can come in so many amazing forms; a twisted French chignon, pretty low pony, high soft bun, glorious bouffant or a soft side teased upstyle, the less perfect plait with added embellishments which set the style off. There are also brides who prefer to leave their hair down, and go for retro, vintage style curls, boho beach waves, or create a bit more of a fresh look by going half up half down.Anything goes for your day. Laurie is happy to consult, and create with her clients. She has been a finalist for the ‘Hair & Beauty Awards 2018’ for ‘Best Bridal Hairstylist of the Year’ & also a finalist for ‘The Weddings Online Awards in 2020 & now again this year 2021 for ‘Best Hair Stylist of the Year’. We got to chat to her about her year and positive plans for 2021.
Tell me about your business?
I am a freelance wedding hair specialist who travels nationwide. I also own a salon at my house which I opened last year just after our first lockdown. I am a qualified hairstylist for eleven years & I trained in MOHH Academy in Athlone, Co. Westmeath. I am eight years out on my own as a business owner. For the first seven I was a mobile hairstylist covering all areas of hairdressing. Now I work from my salon & travel only for weddings. I love my job. I love styling hair & I love making my clients & brides feel amazing.!
How do I start your day?
If it is the morning of a wedding, I normally have to get up very early, all depending on where the location is & how far I have to travel. Sometimes I could have to get up as early as 3am for long distance weddings. I do not mind though; I love weddings & being a part of them. Bridal parties are the most fun, each & everyone so different & unique. I love getting to check out new places & venues around our beautiful country. I am so lucky with my job that I get to do this.
The first thing is of course COFFEE.! I cannot function without it. I will have my outfit & makeup ready to go from the night before to save time. I will always wear a full face of makeup & have my hair styled nicely for bridal parties, after all I am a walking advertisement for myself, so I always try to look my best. I always make myself eat breakfast no matter how early it is as the morning & sometimes depending on the size of the bridal party, I might not get to take a break or even get anything to eat until after I am finished. Irish mammies will always insist you sit down & join them for food, which I love if given the chance. I cannot function properly without food either, I lose focus & I find it hard to hold a conversation, I get HANGRY as they call it lol. So, I always pack nuts or protein bars to eat on the go, this is essential for me.!
I like to arrive early to the location of where my bride is getting ready to allow myself enough time to bring in all my equipment & get set up. Sometimes google maps could bring you the wrong or longer route so I must allow enough time for this just in case. Once everyone is ready to get started, I get stuck in styling hair. I will always wait around until all the bridal party are in their dresses so I can tweak any hair that needs tweaking & finally the most special part of it all, is fitting the bride’s veil. This is when I know my work here has been done & I can now relax.!
How do I end my day?
I used to continue working after weddings when I got back home which was exhausting for me. The early starts & travelling alone are trying but this pandemic has made me realise that I need to slow down a little & not take on so much. So, my new rule now is the days I have a wedding I only do that wedding. I try to finish for the day after each one now. Weddings are a day’s work in themselves. When I am not doing a wedding, I work in my salon & that to me is plenty. I will be no use to anyone if I burn myself out. Self-care is especially important to me now. I like to end my day relaxing in front of the fire on a winter’s night or chilling on my deck on a summers evening with a cold beer. I find if I do not allow time to unwind, I will not sleep. Running a business by myself & being a businesswoman is hard work but also extremely rewarding. Each day is a learning curve for me & every day I am learning and evolving both personally and professionally.
How about the middle part? What does a typical day in your job look like?
If I am working in the salon the middle part of my day is usually remarkably busy. I do not mark out a lunch break for myself which I know I should do & will be going forward. These prolonged breaks have taught me that rest is as important as work and I am better when I am rested. Most days I would normally grab something quick & eat it quickly while a client’s colour is on. I never get to finish a cup of tea or coffee; it always goes cold but that is my own fault. I take on too much & do not allow myself time out. I will be phenomenally busy when we so eventually reopen, but to be honest I am relishing the challenge.
How do you achieve a work/life balance?
Well, I love to walk & get out in nature with my dog. It is therapeutic for me. This is my quiet time to myself. I do not listen to music & I try not to answer the phone when I am out walking as it is my unwinding time. I talk to people all day long in the salon & whilst doing bridal parties so quiet time is a must for me.! My job requires me to be “on” as it is, so people focused. Fresh air is particularly important. Spending much of the last year in masks has certainly reaffirmed my love of fresh air.
I love to meditate also. This is another way for me to unwind & have quiet time. It is so beneficial & I find the days I do not make time for it I suffer.
I love to read self-help, motivation & positivity books. They help me keep the sunny side out & see the positive in everything. I do have my down negative days too like most of us I am sure, but these books help me get through it. Every day is a new fresh start to achieve our goals. I have learned so much from reading over the years & I want to continue learning.!
How important is upskilling to you?
Upskilling to me is so important. No hairstylist ever knows everything. There is always so much to learn. Trends, styles & colours change seasonally & me as a hairstylist needs to keep up. I love upskilling & learning new things. I love to learn new tricks & tips from different hairstylists. No hairstylist works in the same way, we all have our own way of doing things & that is what makes us so different & unique. I love watching tutorials on creating different up styles, I would watch them for hours, it is also very therapeutic to watch. In January, every year I will always sign up for courses & bootcamps. This is my quiet time in the salon & with weddings, so I have lots of time to learn. I love meeting new hairstylists from around the country on these courses too as working by myself can be lonely. I miss the craic sometimes & miss bouncing ideas off each other.
Tell us about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your life?
Ok well I have two things I am immensely proud of that I have done & accomplished in my life.
The first is after I finished my training & graduation from MOHH Academy I went working on a cruise ship as a hairstylist for 10 months travelling around the world. An was an experience of a lifetime. I had the privilege of going on a trip and work in a job I am passionate about. I got to see places I had never even heard off, while working along my way. I met friends from all over, who to this day I am still friends & in contact with. I will never forget this for as long as I live. Was one of the best things I’ve ever done.!
My second accomplishment was opening my own business & becoming a businesswoman. This to me is a huge success. Not for a second growing up did I think or even dream that I would accomplish this. I hated school, had no interest in going to college. I hated every job I ever worked in, always looking at the clock to see how far away home time was. Then I found hairdressing & instantly I fell in love with it. I have not looked back since. I now love my job, I don’t watch the clock only to see what time my next client is coming & what’s more I don’t even see it as a job, I see it as a hobby. Something I love doing. You know the old saying ‘If you love your job, you will never work a day in your life’ & this is so true.!
Tell us the most interesting thing about you that we could not learn from your CV alone?
Well, if you met me in person, I would welcome you with a huge friendly smile. My friends & family would describe me as a very bubbly & outgoing woman. I am fun to be around & I love having the craic. Even if I was going through something difficult in my own life, I will never show it, I am incredibly good at putting on a brave face & leaving my problems at the door. In this business I think we must do this. It is like a form of acting, clients come to us with their problems not the other way around, I feel like a counsellor some days & I love to be able to listen & give advice where I can. I thought of becoming a counsellor, someday maybe. My clients are not just my clients, they become my friends, I share a bond with each & every one of them. I like to think of myself as being a warm, kind person that people like to be around. I am a lover not a fighter & could not possibly show this on a C.V.!
How would your team describe you?
Since going out on my own 8 years ago I no longer work with a team, I work by myself. Clients & brides have told me though that I am very precise with my work. Every strand of hair has to be perfect before I will let you walk out that door. I love to have everything right. I love when my clients/brides face light up when they see the result. This is everything to me. I know then that I have conquered their desired look! The amount of repeat business and referrals is a testament to this.
Who is someone in your line of business that you admire?
I admire Nancy Cavanagh from Belle Hair Extensions. She is a hair extension specialist who owns her own salon based in Galway City. I did my extension training with her & I am also a stockist of her hair. She is an amazing businesswoman. I am a huge fan who has learned so much from her. She is a pro at everything she does, extensions, advertising, social media & managing her staff & huge client base. She is also a lovely person inside & out. Nancy started off working from the boot of her car, then to the kitchen table, to now having her own salon with many employees. She is an inspiration to every businesswoman out there. You can find her at www.bellehair.ie
What are your plans for 2021 once you reopen?
I am going to be incredibly busy that is for sure, me & every other hairstylist in the country. I look forward to it though. I miss styling hair. I miss all my clients. I miss doing wedding hair & being a part of such a monumental day in their lives. I crave the structure in my life. After nearly 2 months off now, that is plenty of rest for me. Do not get me wrong I love my time off, I am grateful love all the me time I have got but I need to get back making people feel wonderful again. I always say, if your hair is not right, you do not feel right. I am keeping n touch with clients who are looking forward to being papmered again and banishing the greys and split ends.
by Mary-Jane O’Regan