Click here for more Exquisite hair news!
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN...
Was it always your plan to become a hairdresser?
Always. Back in 1980, I saw the L’Oréal Colour Trophy competition. I was simply wowed by the hairdressers who were running their hands through the hair of these beautiful models! I then started through trial and error with some old hand held clippers. I had black hair at the time and put a bottle of domestos on it and it went bright orange. But I didn’t mind, it was the new romantic era!
What was your first hairstylist job?
I started in Jeeves. The largest chain of hair salons in Essex in the 70’s. Ask any old school hairdresser and they will remember Jeeves! Later, I joined celebrity hairdresser Lee Stafford’s super salon with all the best hairdressers under one roof. I was with him for 10 years. We made hairdressing rock and roll. From the early 90’s we were the pioneers and known as the rock and rollers of our industry. It was a fantastic decade and we partied hard. After 10 years, I moved on, opened Strangeways in 2002 and the rest is history.
What was it like growing up in Essex?
I was born in Essex, raised in Essex and still live in Essex now. I grew up in Southend with the family and went to Fairfax High School for boys, which was a tough school but it was character building.
What is your favourite past time in Essex?
I have a boat so I love to fish, and sail up the river. I’ll sail up to North Fambridge with my wife and have lunch in the Ferryboat Inn. I love being on the water because it gives me a chance to think.
What makes Essex Exquisite?
It’s got to be the people as a whole. A lot of talent comes out of Essex. There are so many successful bands, artists and musicians. Essex is affluent and it is a hub for creatives. And personally for me, living near the sea is very important!
STRANGEWAYS - 15 YEARS ON
Going back to Leigh-on-Sea and the early days of Strangeways, what inspired you back then?
In the beginning, there were about 12 hairdressers within a mile radius of our shop, which was great as there wasn’t a lot of competition. Now there are about 43 hairdressers, which makes the competition harder. You always have to try and be on top of the game and offering something better than everyone else.
How did you decide on the name Strangeways?
I was working with Lee Stafford at Granada Television Studios in Manchester and we found ourselves walking past Strangeways prison. We thought ‘what a great name for a salon!’ This was 10 years before the salon opened, but when we did, we called it Strangeways. We used the prison theme to our advantage with our logo featuring our own HMP crest, with barbed wire and our strapline, “Strangeways – freedom for style”.
Strangways used to be an abandoned silent movie house – what made you pick this location?
In 1890, it was the very first silent picture house in Essex. It has also been a bingo hall and an under-17’s disco in its time! It’s in a prime position, and it is an iconic building. Don’t think I’m crazy but I believe there are ghosts here! When we first renovated the salon, a photographer came and took PR shots. When the pictures were developed, the one picture where we was stood outside looking in, there was, a figure standing by the back wall and obviously there is no one there. A ghost! People might laugh but I’ve seen the picture, I’ve seen things fly off the wall and once you’ve seen it happen, you believe it!
MARTYN HOLMES & EXTREME HAIR WARS
How did the opportunity to be a judge on 5STAR’s Extreme Hair Wars come about?
Ricochet Production Company were informed that some of the best hairdressers were in Essex. They googled ‘Essex hairdressers’ and I (Martyn Holmes) came up! They contacted me but it was then down to Channel 5 to decide who they thought was best for the programme. From then, it was full on. We picked the best hairdressers for the show, decided on the tasks and themes and had free reign in terms of the creative. However, it was hard work; we were doing 15 hour days filming for one hour of TV. When you watch the final and it’s getting teary at the end, it’s because it is midnight for a start and we were exhausted!
What do these creative hairstyles do for the industry?
Unfortunately, we are going through a period where recruiting youngsters has taken a down turn. I want the show to inspire young hairdressers and motivate people into the industry. The programme has revitalised hairdressing and will persuade hairdressers to explore outside the box. I think it’s brought a side to hairdressing that people didn’t know existed!
Are there any new projects you have lined up for the future?
I am keeping my fingers crossed for Series 2 of Extreme Hair Wars! I have been holding masterclasses at colleges and Hair Academies in and around Essex. So I am getting out there and inspiring the kids! I’m 50 years old soon and I really believe it is pointless taking my knowledge to the grave. It is a bit of a cliché but I think children are the future! I had to work hard and struggle for my education, it was just a case of having to watch and learn. I want it to be easier for young hairdressers today.
MARTYN HOLMES HAIR TRENDS AND TIPS
We are coming up to summer now, what do you predict the popular hair trends to be?
Men’s hair is getting longer and hopefully women’s hair is getting shorter!In hairdressing, what goes around comes around; you always go back in time for influences. What I quite like at the moment is a 70’s style influence, like the wedge haircut! Also, beards made a comeback and that’s definitely not on its way out, but they will be getting shorter. Men will go for a more trimmed down and groomed look. The last time the hipster beards were around was in the Edwardian period where women had great big buns and men were growing beards. Everything has been done before. Think about the 1920’s and the bob, the bob has been cut forever, for example Cleopatra, She had a bob 2000 years ago! Each time a style comes back, it comes back with today’s modern twist.
Have you any ‘strange’ hair tips?
The best way to get rid of static hair is with tumble dryer sheets. Rub it on your hair and brush, and the static disappears into the fabric. A bizarre trick I’ve been doing for years!
Lastly, what’s the one hair care tool you simply can’t live without?
If someone said they were putting me on a desert island and I could only take two products, I would take a classic mousse and a classic hairspray because with those two products, I can do anything! Combs and brushes would be helpful, but the best brush in the world is your hands. In the old days, they used to do finger drying, as it says, drying the hair just using fingers. It took a bit of time just running fingers through the hair, but it works, I’ve tried it!