You may be wondering why I might have interviewed a blokie as the first profile here on Susty Girl. Well, full disclosure here, I live with the guy, so he’s doing his bit to help me get cool content here 😉 But more importantly, he’s managed to set up a successful freelance hairdressing business, and I know that the going-out-on-your-own thing is an aspiration for many of us. He’s also in an industry where his gender is the minority rather than the majority, and I’m sure you ladies can relate to that.
Hair By Henry is the #1 rated mobile hairdresser in Bristol on FreeIndex, and #2 in the South West. His website and Facebook page are the third and fifth listing respectively when you search “mobile hairdresser Bristol” in Google too. Not too shabby!
The question is: how do you make your business more sustainable as it gets bigger? And what ingredients do budding freelancers/hairdressers need to do their thang?
I grabbed Henry for a little brain pickin’. Hope you enjoy!
Who’s Hair by Henry, then?
I’m a 31-year-old freelance hairdresser from Bristol, a big cat and dog lover. My hobbies include snowboarding and cooking. I like eating and living sustainably and am very nutrition aware. I decided to become a Mobile Hairdresser after years of running the columns in salons over 3 years ago. I merely needed a change of direction and never looked back!
What do you love most about being a freelance hairdresser?
I think it’s getting to be creative everyday and feeling confident about what I’m doing in a low impact way. I particularly like being so portable. I can theoretically work anywhere and having the time between appointments rather than being back-to-back in a salon works for me. I get to meet a lot of great people who put my faith back in humanity!
How did you get to be as successful as you are today?
I guess I never had a clear ‘goal’ in terms of where I would like my business to be, it was very much a gradual thing. I do have incentives, things I want in life, for example taking that long awaited holiday or saving for that dream car. It helps having goals in life as they just drive you forward in your business. If I didn’t want anything from life, I would not work, I work to live rather than live to work. I think you reach a point where you are comfortable in your business and you begin to think, ‘okay how can I move forward?’ I just like to develop things and improve the working system. I guess as long as i’m enjoying what I do then it’s good to think that i’m successful in achieving that. In terms of what i’ve done for myself along the way, then I feel a bit of luck and putting hard work in and pushing yourself as much as you can in the beginning really has a knock on effect after. I chose to reinvest a lot of my earnings in the early days and still do. Your tools for your trade really do need to be well maintained as this will affect your work. Be prepared to work very long hours, random meal times and be willing to test the market and change your price point if you feel that it isn’t quite right. You start small but once you’ve got that snowball gathering momentum it gets bigger and if it’s going down a hill, then thats just the luck along the way!
How are you going to scale up now you’re fully booked?
I’ve just presented a new area of the site for wedding hair and styling. These services are now going to be passed onto a very credible colleague who can take on the wedding hair bookings so I can focus entirely on cuts colours and barbering.
There are also plans to travel to a larger fraction of my appointments by bicycle. I’m working out routes using a map and cycle network and finding just how easy it is to get around Bristol in a faster way than previously thought possible by bicycle.
How did you gain that ever-elusive Google ranking? Can you give newbies some tips and point to some helpful resources? 🙂
A little thing called search engine optimisation and having a lot of web content on different sites really helps. I was lucky because I had a lot of clients who where willing to give advice and help me in the beginning and it was a friend who first encouraged me to get on social networks and get a good website made. I went to a workshop on social networking tips and this really helped. With regards to google, It won’t happen over night… unfortunately. It does take time, and plenty of online engagement for your site to start to get noticed by google, it’s about working hard, spreading the word, flyer-ing, dropping cards, referrals and all that ground work, along with the online stuff that will start to move your ranks.
How have you dealt with gender stereotypes in your profession? Do people ask if you’re gay and does this bother you?
I’ve only been asked a few times. Perhaps if I’d been a hairdresser 20 years ago it may have been different but most industry leading male stylists are hetrosexual and so it becomes the norm now. I have no issues with someone’s sexuality, religion, race whatsoever so it never bothered me that I may have been labeled gay.
Do you have any advice for budding hairdressers and those who want to go freelance?
I have to be honest and say it only became something from my own hard work, and if you work at something hard enough it can be what you want it to be. Having a good website is key!
You can catch Henry at HairbyHenry.com.