Confessions Of A Celebrity Hairdresser – Part 1
Hi, my name’s Stuart Phillips and people tell me that I’m a celebrity hairdresser. Well I suppose I am, considering I look after a lot of celebrities and I also seem to receive quite a few editorials written about myself and the salon, but the most important thing is I enjoy my work.
A few weeks ago I had a Q & A session and I felt before I started with my blog “confessions of a celebrity hairdresser” I thought it would be nice to give you some history of the salon and myself.
Here goes! In May 1995 I bought my salon in Covent Garden. I knew that it would be difficult to survive in London as there was so much competition but this is something that I always wanted to do. It didn’t matter how difficult the task was going to be, I was very determined.
At the same time as the opening of the salon I was also a semi professional (15 stone) bodybuilder and my wife at the time, suggested to me that I go shopping and buy some smart clothes because as a bodybuilder I mainly had jeans and t-shirts. So off I went shopping and unfortunately (or fortunately!) I didn’t stop. I bought so many clothes (ten wardrobes) that one day, a client said to me “I have never seen you in the same shirt twice”. From that an idea came to my head. If a client catches me in the same outfit twice they would receive a free hair cut. I then contacted my friend Mac, a photographer and set up a photo shoot of my many outfits, then I set up a meeting with the beauty editor of Hair Flair magazine, showed them the outfits and they came up with a feature. They loved the idea and run a four page spread.
I then realized that PR is essential for the business and decided to take this story to a glossy magazine and because I remembered previously meeting the assistant beauty editor of New Women magazine, I decided to try and sell the feature to her. To my delight they ran it.
I then appeared in The Sunday Times Style magazine as a DPS. This was because I was about to be seen on BBC1 by millions on a programme called “The truth about men”. From here, my profile started to escalate. BBC2 then contacted me and included me in a one hour’s documentary called “Spend Spend Spend”, which was aired on a Saturday night at 10pm.
A few months later I was then asked to be the hairstylist for all four of the Kenco Coffee commercials staring Dervla Kerwin as the Kenco girl.
At this stage I was so excited with PR, firstly not knowing how far I could take it and secondly breaking new ground within the hairdressing industry.
Every Thursday I would not walk through my salon doors but spend the whole day at home on my computer thinking of many ideas on how to PR the salon. This, along with hiring a PR company (to help raise myself and the salons profile even more) proved to be a winning formula.
In 2001 I was approached by the MD of OK! magazine and the Express Group and I was given my own monthly page. I was to choose a celebrity and write a few ways of styling the hair, so I had to think of current good celebs. I had my own page for over a year, after this time it was then offered to a group of different hairdressers. This was a bit of a blow for me but I learned quickly that, although you may be the first hairdresser to start something new, nothing lasts forever and other hairdressers will take over. Knowing I was the first made me happy!
As I stopped writing for OK! almost immediately I then started writing for another magazine called Shape. As a hairdresser I would give readers advice on sex, relationships’ etc. The same questions were also asked to an Eastern Guru and a Psychotherapist. I would always try to involve hairdressing in the answer wherever I could. I kept this page for 18 months.
Around the same time as I was writing for Shape I also was asked by Liberty for London Radio station (owned by Harrods) to have a 5 minute slot every Tuesday live from my salon. I would talk about new trends, celebs that had been into the salon, what I was wearing, (being such a dedicated follower of fashion of course!) and general gossip. I enjoyed this very much.
In 2002 I decided I would like to try and work on a Movie set, but the difficult question was how? On one of my PR days I literally spent the whole day thinking how I could make this happen. I came up with a solution. To walk round the streets of London and introduce myself to as many production companies as I possibly could. In fact, this took me 5 days and I managed to get a meeting with seven different production companies. One out of the seven called Lucky Seven Productions (would you believe) looked potentially good. The deal was to style the hair of up to three people a week complimentary. This could be people that worked within the salon or celebrity guests, and in return if a movie came up I would be the head of the hair department.
I new this was a big gamble because they could just use my free hairdressing but I had a good feeling about this.
At the end of 2002 Lucky Seven Productions asked me to give a hair cut to a special guest which was no other than Jean-Claude Van Dam. Jean-Claude and I got on really well and I was finally asked to fly to Cape town to head the hair department on my first movie. It was a Mafia film called ‘The Wake of Death’. I was there for two months and I had an amazing experience.
While I was in Cape Town I received a phone call from London. It was a contact that I previously met in London, and they wanted to interview me (basically to see whether my profile was big enough) to sponsor the BAFTA’s 2004. As soon as I arrived back in London I met the contact at BAFTA, they interviewed me and then decided to give me the job and official title of hairdresser to the British Academy Television Awards. I calibrated with L’Oreal Professionnal who helped by co sponsoring. Stuart Phillips and L’Oreal professional sponsored the television Awards for three years and I was the first hairdresser in England to have the title hairdresser to the British Academy Television Awards 2004-2006.
During the three years of sponsoring the Awards my team and I looked after many different celebrities and it was from this I suppose that I became known as a true celebrity hairdresser.