Podcast host says Northamptonshire should be proud of its hairdressing industry
There are many reasons why trainee hairdressers want to get a foot in the door. For fourth-generation stylist Dom Lehane it was certainly not a shampoo and set.
At 48 years old he has owned his own salon in Brixworth for six years but his passion stretches to podcasts, too. He has been the voice of 'How To Cut It' since 2016 - the UKs most listened-to podcast for the hair and barbering industry with 10,000 downloads a month.
While the podcast might be niche content for the everyday listener, Dom is making waves and has interviewed big names in his industry including Shoreditch salon owner Sophia Hilton and double British Hairdresser of the Year winner Sally Brooks, who is from Raunds.
He said: "Alongside Sally there are so many other great hairdressing names coming out of Northamptonshire and making a big impact.
"I think it’s time we as a county celebrate the successes who are all flying the flag for Northamptonshire on a national level."
Away from his salon, his podcasts are also being used as a training tool in hairdressing colleges overseas and he has founded #OpenChairNight - where young talent can showcase their creativity on stage, similar to a comedy open mic night.
"The biggest problem is that people are not aware of the opportunities in the industry and that's why I probably started the podcast," Dom said. "I think it has to be opened up and younger people have to see what is available.
"Sometimes I think I wish I had found this earlier, I've found this so late, but the technology wasn't there 15 years ago.
But as opportunities evolve so does the typical high-street salon and its operations. Less and less young talent is coming through the ranks.
"I think the problem that everyone is talking about is getting staff.
"Young kids are not coming into the industry anymore because I think schools always look to encourage them to stay on at sixth form and university because, financially, the money is there.
"The industry has to change, I think, in how we employ people and get them to work Saturdays. If I was younger, I'll be honest, I probably wouldn't do it. Who wants to work Saturdays?"
There's a misconception that most hairdressers chat for hours on end offering back-and-forth small talk but there is a lot more to running a successful salon in 2019 than meets the eye.
Some salons in London have revolutionised their blow-dry bars into 'hairclubbing' where you can have cocktails in your chair.
"I think there's a hell of a lot more," Dom added. "I keep coming back to mental health but I think we live in the times when you have people in front of you who sit there and talk openly and the feel good factor you can give somebody is a lot more than a cut and colour. It's about that power you have of really connecting.
"I think hairdressers should work for many more companies because their social communication skills are some of the best you can get."
"It's the time of the independent hairdresser, everybody can be their own brand. With social media, people can build their own profile."