In 2003, addressing guests at a night celebrating the Best of British Hairdressing, Chairman of the Fellowship for British Hairdressing at the time, Stephen Messias called Ann Herman’s workload ‘unbelievable’ and described her as a one-off. At the tender age of 77 Ann was proving invaluable to the industry and the following 17 years have only served to compound this view! Today, at 93, Ann continues to be cherished and feted by the industry and the Fellowship in particular. Whippet-sharp and funny as heck, we love her and we’re delighted to present a very recent interview with her.
An extraordinary lady
Ann Herman was born on 28 June 1926 in Perth, Scotland. Although she started hairdressing training on leaving school, this was quickly interrupted when she joined the Royal Naval Nursing Service from 1943 to 1948, spending time working in Sri Lanka and throughout the UK. As war settled, Ann moved to London and worked in several salons before managing then acquiring a salon in North-West London. In her heyday Ann was known as an accomplished technician, often winning perming and colouring competitions. In May 1995 Ann officially “retired” and sold her business but the hairdressing industry remained her passion.
The Seventies were an important decade for Ann. She married her beloved, husband Sid on 4 September 1971, and equally important to us, Ann was also invited to join the prestigious Fellowship of Hair Artists of Great Britain. In a long and illustrious career within that organisation (now known as the Fellowship for British Hairdressing) she has held the formal roles of Vice President, Deputy Chairman and currently Chief Show Coordinator and Events Director. Ann was also the first person ever to receive the high honour of Fellow with Distinction.
What Ann says…
Ken Picton might be the President of the Fellowship for British Hairdressing, but the undoubted first lady of the Fellowship is the legendary Ann Herman – Patron of Honour and doyenne of the industry. Ken sat down for a Skype interview with Ann, for the Fellowship’s #THEKNOWLEDGE education platform. They talked about working in isolation, the industry’s struggles during pandemic, the first years of Fellowship and Ann gave some precious advice for the younger ones. Here’s part of Ann’s interview that is really insightful…
Ken: I guess the first question is how you’ve been doing?
Ann: I’m doing quite well because my husband and I are used to being together a lot. I work from home and he retired a long time ago, so it’s not a problem being at home together. I’m not ready to strangle him or anything! I’d just like to be doing some work.
Ken: You’ve been active in the Fellowship for many, many years. Have you ever experienced anything like this in your lifetime?
Ann: No never – never ever. The hairdressing industry has ups and downs, but we’ve never had anything like this before. It’s new to everybody. And the only consolation I’ve got in this time is that we’re all in it together. No exceptions. We are all suffering but there’s no point in mourning. We’ve just got to get on with it. I think the one thing we will find is that this is an industry that will have impact and stick together. I’m absolutely sure of that.
Ken: You’re a Patron of Honour for the Fellowship and I know it’s been a massive part of your life over the years. You’ve given so much back, too. You must have some fantastic fond memories of events and people.
Ann: I have wonderful memories. Years ago we went to New York and did a show with the Fellowship, Seattle too. I’ve had wonderful times with the Fellowship – things I’ll never forget with people like the late Terry Calvert, Simon Forbes, Guy Kremer…
Ken: I recently found out that actually the Fellowship was originally created as basically a competition platform?
Ann: Oh it was. That’s what the Fellowship was all about. They used to go all over Europe. It was a big thing at the time of the late Christofer Mann. Then, competitions got to be a bit old hat, and that’s when the Fellowship changed to fashion more than competition. I think it’s grown since then. I love every minute of what I do, because it gives everybody a chance. Not everybody can do the competition work. It’s great to get the youngsters involved, like at Members’ Night for example. They show us what they can do and we say, wow, you should be on a bigger stage. You know, that’s where I pick up my talent from.
Ken: Last year was my first year as President during Salon International, and you came up with the idea of getting the young up and coming on stage.
Ann: There’s another side I’ve tried, you may have noticed. I thought we were neglecting men a bit, so I’ve tried to do everything to bring men’s hairdressing into it. And more Afro hair. I’ve tried to bring that up as well so we can have a more diverse mix, as well as cut and colour. We’ve got everything now.
Ken: Have you got any thoughts or advice for people who want to join the Fellowship?
Ann: I want to say something to the youngsters. If you want to be noticed – and let’s face it, when we’re young we always want to be noticed don’t we? If you want to be noticed, there’s so many ways. We want to see you at the Fellowship. We’ll give you that chance. At Member’s Night, on a Project team. You can join those and make your name. Join the Fellowship if you want to get somewhere.
Ken: I recently saw a list of the F.A.M.E. Team from the last 25 years and it’s quite incredible. You must have seen that list and you must be super proud?
Ann: Some of them come and say thank you. Charles Worthington said ‘If it hadn’t been for you, we would never have got where we are. It was all through the Fellowship’.
Ken: Anything you just want to finish on in these tough times?
Ann: Just to say that anyone who is a member of the Fellowship, or would like to be, if they want to talk to me, anytime, they’ve got my telephone number. It’s on the website. Give me a call. I’d be delighted to talk to them at any time.
Ken: The hairdressing community is going to be locked up for a minimum of three weeks. What can they do to inspire themselves?
Ann: We’re doing #THEKNOWLEDGE. Look it up on the website. And keep in touch. Keep in touch with each other as well. That’s very important. Other people have different ideas so keep in touch with each other while you’re isolating. We’re going to come back – we’re coming back as soon as this is over.
Here online you may browse our Portfolio section to find inspiration from the greatest hair artists… read our Blog to discover the top events and what we like about them,… then visit our Magazine section to read the latest edition (and archive editions) of Tribu-te publications. If you’d like to enjoy your very own edition of Tribu-te delivered directly to your home – visit the Shop to order a subscription to arrive quarterly. And of course, once a year, you can visit the Tribu-te Show – it’s an awesome presentation of the leading hairdressers on the best stage possible in central London each October! Contact us if you have any questions or would like to submit photography and ideas for any of our editions in Europe – we’re particularly keen to see your salons for our Design section both in print and online.