Dreaming of hair
Max Tate knew he always wanted to be involved in something artistic. He tells P&J Recruitment how a then 29-year-old from Leeds ended up a franchisee in an Aberdeen salon.
As a toddler, Max Tate, 48, actually wanted to be a bin man. That didn’t last long, and his school soon harnessed his artistic flare and lined him up to be a graphic designer. By that stage, Max was already working in a salon on a Saturday, and knew where he wanted to be.
HOW DID YOU END UP IN ABERDEEN?
I am originally from Leeds, but I moved to Norfolk when I was about eight then to London following my initial hairdressing training. I moved up to Aberdeen to open the franchise when I was 29 and now I am the franchisee for Toni&Guy Aberdeen and Inverness.
IS THIS A JOB ‘10-YEAR-OLD YOU’ COULD HAVE IMAGINED YOURSELF IN?
Yes, I knew it would be something artistic. A friend of my mother’s son had just finished his hairdressing training. I must admit I thought he was majorly cool, so he obviously had a clear affect on me and my career choice.
WHAT TRAINING DID YOU DO TO GET ON THIS CAREER PATH?
I began my training in my hometown then made the decision to be fully immersed in hairdressing and to go for it – so I moved to London.
What I want people starting out on this career path to know is that now you don’t have to move to London – you can stay in your hometown and still work for a globally recognised brand. There are still all the same opportunities available. For example, we recently had the Toni&Guy International Art Team in to the Aberdeen salon to provide hands-on training, showcasing the latest trends and colour and cutting techniques.
HAVE YOU DONE ANY JOBS OTHER THAN WORKING IN A SALON?
Since school, this is the only profession I have been in. I did have a few backbreaking jobs during the school holidays, where I was mainly in fields picking odd vegetables – something that was definitely not for me.
WHAT SKILLS HAVE YOU DEVELOPED THROUGH YOUR CAREER?
After my formal training in hairdressing, being surrounded by so many amazingly creative people has developed me in so many ways. The ability to look beyond the ordinary, or making simple changes to a person’s look to make huge differences, is such a rewarding skill to have. I think as a hairdresser the ability to listen is the hardest one to crack but is also the most important.
HAS ANYTHING SURPRISED YOU ABOUT YOUR WORK?
I never thought I had the stamina I have. The Aberdeen salon has been open for 19 years. I not only have to be behind a chair working but I also face the challenges of running two salons which are over 100 miles apart. I am in Inverness at least once a week.
WHAT SKILLS WOULD YOU SAY ARE NECESSARY TO YOUR JOB?
I can talk about the five or six “jobs” I have, but the main two include:
Being a hairdresser: here you have to be so aware of what is happening, not only in fashion at its highest level but also what is rising from the street. Today there are so many influences and it is more diverse than ever before.
As for being “the boss”: patience is not always something I have in abundance but it is something that you must gain to be a good boss.
It is not a skill, but my advice to give yourself the best fighting chance in this industry is to have a clear vision of how you want things to be within the salon environment and also surround yourself with people who can learn or share the same vision.
HAVE YOU MET ANYONE WHO WAS A PARTICULAR INFLUENCE TO YOU?
My biggest hairdressing influence at the start of my career, in the eighties and early nineties, was Anthony Mascolo, the youngest of the Mascolo brothers – not to be confused with Toni the eldest, who founded Toni&Guy with another of the brothers. I had the opportunity to work with him a couple of times and loved the way he was so inclusive and driven at the same time.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WANTING A CAREER IN THE HAIR INDUSTRY?
This is not for the faint hearted. Firstly, it’s really hard work before you get to the creativity part. To be at the top of your game it takes a lot of dedication – hours and hours of it. You need complete focus, especially while you are in your initial training. Then it doesn’t stop – there is always something to learn. Anyone who has watched any of the reality TV shows within professional kitchens has witnessed something similar to the pressure that our industry has. You have to love it.
WOULD YOU CHANGE ANYTHING?
For me, it would be for our industry to receive the respect it is due. I have worked with some of the most talented and hard working people, and I don’t think they get the credit they deserve. I would also like the younger generation to know that you don’t have to go to university to succeed.
I have been involved in London Fashion Week and I also regularly taught at the London Academy as I was heading up the Scottish Academy at that time. I also worked heavily for TIGI during that period too. Dream big and it will happen.