How does Poppy Delevingne’s go-to colourist stay inspired, organised and motivated? We caught up with him to find out his top career advice
With an A-list clientele including Poppy Delevingne, Suki Waterhouse and Gillian Anderson to name but a few, a bevy of loyal customers frequenting his seat at Paul Edmonds salon and a name synonymous with education and innovation, Jack Howard is the hair colourist regarded as one of the best in the country.
An expert, teacher and hair colour pro, Jack is widely credited as the man who brought the hugely popular sun-kissed technique of Balayage from the US to the UK. His intuition and creative eye go beyond seasonal trends when it comes to developing natural, soft and effortless looks for his clients that stand the test of time, (we were left glowing from the inside out after our appointment!).
Jack also counts his duties as Social Media Ambassador for the National Hairdressing Council and teacher of a hugely popular course for L’Oréal Professionnel as huge aspects of his job, encompassing a number of roles that touch every aspect of the hair industry. As the official colourist to Next Model Management and an incredible reputation that reaches both the runways and beyond, his career makes for amazing inspiration for those looking to follow in his footsteps.
We caught up with Jack to ask him for his top career advice , what it’s like to be one of the main men at the head of the newest hair colour techniques and his tips for becoming a successful colourist.
GTG: Could you describe for us the various aspects of your job? What does a typical day look like for you?
JH: My day always starts at 6.30am with an Americano and some granola while I read the papers - usually the Telegraph, then a quick look at the Guardian and New York Times. After I’ve caught up on current affairs, it’s a shower and shave and then onto walking the dog. Those few hours are my time for me before my day starts.
The day itself is either spent in the salon working on a cross-section of clients, models and actresses, all having different needs but all wanting a little magic. Or if I’m teaching, it’s all about sharing my love of what I do and hopefully inspiring others to shine - I'm usually home between 7 and 8 and then it's chill time during the week.
GTG: Could you tell us a little about your background and how you broke into the industry?
JH: My story is quite interesting: I started hairdressing at an early age as a Saturday boy washing hair, making coffee and sweeping up. At 16 I went to work in the nearest town to start my apprenticeship, by 19 I’d moved to London and started working. It wasn’t until I moved to the USA in 1993 that my career really started to grow. In 1999, I helped set up one of L’Oréal Professionnel’s Academies in DC, which is where my education background started.
In about 1995, I saw the colour industry start to change and Balayage become a salon service. I retrained in it becoming a specialist and educator for this technique. In 2010, we moved back to London and that's when my career took another change with me taking up the challenge to make Balayage a salon successful service in the UK.
GTG: What’s the most challenging project you have worked on?
JH: There have been lots of moments that I have felt challenged, but I think breaking into British hairdressing has been a tough one. There is so much talent here and finding a voice that resonated and stood out with colourists and consumers alike was really interesting.
Initially in 2010, everyone was saying Balayage was a trend; it felt like I was a lone voice, a pioneer, but thankfully most people see it differently now. I had lots of doors closed in my face to begin with and amazingly it was beauty bloggers who were really keen and helpful.
GTG: What inspires you and how do you stay on top of the newest trends?
JH: Exhibitions. I just saw the McQueen exhibition which was truly magnificent, a real genius and you don’t see many of them in a lifetime. I’m very much a visual man; I use Pinterest and Instagram for both work and inspiration.
Living in London is amazing, there’s so much history as well as an incredibly progressive culture so that helps. This year I’m off to China for a vacation and hopefully I’ll be able to absorb some of the culture there too.
Inspiration is all around us: open your eyes, read a book or go for a walk. Last autumn, I spent a good amount of time being inspired by the colours on a conker – beautiful.
GTG: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to do what you do?
JH: Work hard and study hard. You have to remember that this is not a 9-5 job, hair colour is a lifestyle. Look for a salon that encourages its staff, is well run, and involved in the industry or at the very least a salon that is kind.
GTG: How do you achieve a work-life balance?
JH: What’s that? [Chuckles] I struggle being my own business, so it makes balancing tough as it’s not a 9-5 job. I turn my phone off when I walk through the door as well as my watch but I do keep my iPad on. There’s always a list that I’m working through, but I’ve decided that this year July and August are no extra work, no working weekends and generally just taking some time off.
GTG: What 3 things do you do to maintain energy, focus and motivation throughout the day?
JH: My passion is really my energy and motivation. I used to be a gym rat and somehow that’s taken a huge hit as I’ve concentrated on work. I’m feeling that I need to get back into it and get fit – I need to make time for Jack (I’m going to find that hard for sure!).
Jack Howard at Paul Edmonds, 217 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London SW3 2EJ, 0844 770 9410 / 020 7589 5988.