In the run up to our show #OnTheEdge, we’ve been talking to the ‘Sassoon family’ about how they keep one foot in the past and one in the future. This week, enthralling speaker and expert colourist Lesley Jennison takes you on her journey from a pink leather jacket-wearing Sassoon newbie, to renowned Schwarzkopf Professional colour ambassador.
You began your career at Vidal Sassoon in 1984. Tell us what your introduction to hairdressing there was like?
I remember everything from my interview day at Sassoon, from what I was wearing. A pale pink batwing, leather jacket and mini skirt (what was I thinking!), to having to tackle the narrow stairs with all the other interviewees attending the interviews that day. One of the first questions I was asked, was what I would do if I didn’t get in?
I replied, “I would finish my second-year art A-level and then reapply next year.” They must have seen my determination and gave me the job!
The first few weeks was spent learning the DNA of Vidal Sassoon. – The ethos, the practises, the standards. Even down to taking the client from their consultation to the back wash. Every motion had the highest standards. When we finally touched real hair, we spent the next couple of months doing finger waves, barrel curls and pin curls. Before I even got a tint brush in my hand, we had a couple of months of in-depth hair science.
One thing stood out for me during my introduction to hairdressing. It was that working at Sassoon’s you knew you were in a family and a community. Every salon you went to there was a true bond, everyone has the same belief and the same mentality.
Describe a typical day during your time at Sassoon?
It was always very busy or something going on. Everyday the client you had in front of you was the most important person there. Not the one before or the one after. The person in front of you at that time and in that moment was the most important person.
How has Vidal influenced your work today?
It has undoubtedly influenced my work. The fact that I constantly push myself to create new ways of thinking and looking at colour definitely comes from Vidal Sassoon. Where there was always a sense of order and discipline, whilst at the same time incredibly encouraging to stimulate people’s personal creative growth.
And how do you see that influence informing the future of our industry, and your own career?
For the industry, I think it’s the fact that they are always breaking new grounds. For me, I think of every single job and I put 100 % into everything and every job. I’m very passionate about what I do and that comes from Sassoon. If you can get through that initial, intense training it’s because you’re passionate and I’m so proud I had that time there.
How quickly did you realise that you were a technician at heart, that colour was your passion?
Within 6 months! As an assistant you were designated to a stylist or tinter every 3 months. I worked alongside Christian Gardener in my second 3 months and I loved every moment of it – a true legend from Vidal Sassoon.
You’ve spent lots of time travelling the world with your work. What have you learnt from your exposure to the hairdressing industries of different countries?
What’s really joyous is there is a passion about our craft, our industry keeping our craftmanship alive.
Your work is hugely popular on Instagram. How important do you think it is to be a progressive hairdresser, embracing new technology?
You must always be aware, and you can never say you know everything. You must be aware of all the new technologies coming into to play. Always embrace it and don’t be scared. If you don’t know something there is always someone to explain it to you.
It is imperative that we are open to new technologies and embrace it all. Or risk being left behind. Colouring/styling/forming products are constantly evolving with talented chemist pushing boundaries in technology – I say bring it on.
Where would you like to see the hairdressing industry in 10 years’ time?
I believe we have a responsibility to encourage and inspire and mentor young people to come into our incredible industry. In an age were less school leavers are starting full apprenticeships we must show that learning an in depth, true apprenticeship can give you a craft that can take you to the moon and stars.
Enjoy Lesley’s latest campaign, the Schwarzkopf Professional Dusted Rogue looks below.
Inspired by Lesley’s forward thinking? Join us and the Sassoon family at On The Edge for a night of hair heritage, and celebrating the future of the industry. Tickets from £30 HERE:
More inspiration on TRIBU-TE
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