March 7th, 2022
Stylist, Samantha Cusick, 34, has tended to the tresses of Instagram’s biggest names, from Zoe Sugg to Tanya Burr, providing endless hair inspiration posts for her followers.
Originally from Nottingham, Samantha grew up around hairdressing; her mum is also a stylist. She began her training in her hometown when she was 17. She opened her first salon, Samantha Cusick London, in Notting Hill in 2016 and subsequently opened her second space in Fitzrovia.
Sam aims to make visiting the hairdresser not at all intimidating or pretentious but rather an empowering, euphoric experience. Her team specialise in all things colour, combining their knowledge with cohesive styling, creating wearable, everyday styles and colours using the latest technology and techniques in a fabulous, unique environment.
Samantha is passionate about empowering women in the hairdressing industry – and beyond – so was the perfect person for us to chat to ahead of International Women’s Day. She also shares her confidence igniting hair looks to get you ready for the day.
What does a day in the life of a hair salon owner look like?
My day to day varies so much, this is one of my favourite things about being a salon owner. I try to allocate specific days in the week to colouring/cutting, I like to think if you’re with your client you should be 100% present. Other days in the week are split between meetings with our management team, projects with brand partners and content creation. There are also days where I am teaching and learning from peers – sharing my knowledge and experiences with them is something I love to do.
What women have inspired you to achieve your career goals and reach your full potential within the hairdressing industry?
There have been many women that have inspired me and keep doing so. I feel like I’ve only just started getting to where I want to go in this industry – and want to continue to learn from others.
Barbara Hulanicki is one of my biggest inspirations. She is the woman responsible for Biba in the 60’s. What Barbara started with (a mail order dress) grew into a multi-level own-brand department store on Kensington High Street that was not only the place to shop but the place to be. She did things her own way, listened to her customers and offered something different.
Sophia Amoruso is another huge inspiration. Sophia is the founder of Nasty Gal. My friend Orsolya gave me a copy of Sophia’s book Girlboss and this was the catalyst for me starting Samantha Cusick London. Reading Sophia’s story really resonated with me, even though it was different industries. I instantly thought ‘wait I could do this; I could start my own thing and do it on my terms’.
What three things do you think you need to progress as a woman in the hairdressing industry, and in business?
A clear vision – the strength to commit and not waiver in creating that vision, and self-belief.
What has been your hardest lesson?
Self-reflection and delegation. It was challenging in the beginning to relinquish control of elements of the business and accept that as the business has grown, my role has changed and delegating became essential.
I am so grateful for my team who believe in the ethos of Samantha Cusick London and our vision to do things differently.
What has been your proudest moment?
This is a hard question as I am so focused on driving the business forward, I don’t take enough time to reflect. But getting the keys in my hands for each salon was up there with ‘best life moments’, for sure.
One thing that really does make me proud is reading through the reviews our clients leave us. Reading about their positive experiences, whether it’s the results of their hair appointment or the feeling visiting our salons gives them – it’s the validation and articulation of my vision and that is an amazing feeling.
What can the next generation bring to the hairdressing industry that previous generations may not have?
To disrupt the status quo that legacy salons have over the industry. Utilise social media platforms to break the hold these establishments have had over individual self-worth and creative work within the hairdressing industry.
Hairdressers can reduce having to look to employers for validation, but instead have their work seen by clients and have control over the type of hairdresser they want to be.
What advice would you give to young women starting their career?
Recognise the value in yourself, your creativity and vision, and align yourself with people that do the same.
As a successful CEO, what are your tried-and-true self-care routines?
I have learnt through experience that taking some time for yourself is essential if you want to maintain a high-level of effectiveness. I have a night-time ritual that helps me disconnect from the day, which is as simple as taking some time for me to take my make-up off and moisturise. But even something so simple, really does change my mind set.
On the flip side of that I make sure I take the time in the morning to ‘get ready for the day’ and that means dressing for my day ahead and making sure my hair looks good, as that makes me feel powerful and ready to take on any challenges the day might present. I don’t always have the most time in the morning, so even refreshing yesterday’s hair with a spritz of my Batiste Dry Shampoo makes me feel confident to take on the day ahead.
What are your top tips to help boost self-confidence?
I deal with imposter syndrome, as I’m sure a lot of women do. Often, I can’t believe I have one salon let alone two! So, making sure I look the part helps me get in the mindset and connect with the confidence I need for running my business.
Sometimes you need that high-power ponytail and winged liner to feel like the girl boss you are!
How do you find it being a salon owner within a particularly male dominated industry?
It feels empowering to be lucky enough to be part of the generation continuing a pivotal change with this industry – seeing the retreat of male relevance and profiteering from women in the hairdressing industry.
Purposeful. Seeing other women, and those identifying with women, stepping forward and claiming the industry that is rightfully theirs.
It is liberating to be a woman leading a team that give our clients beautiful wearable hair according to what they, as women, think it should look like. Not what the male dominated hair industry decide and dictated it should look like.
Confidence-Igniting Hair Looks
Samantha Cusick’s Top 3 Hair Looks – to help reignite your confidence and set you up for the day:
- The ‘Snatched High Ponytail’ – for me is the classic confidence boosting up do. I like to add Batiste Dry Shampoo through my ponytail for texture and thickness – to contrast the slick, snatchedness.
- The ‘90s Super Model Blow-Dry’ – is there any hair style that makes you feel more powerful that a voluminous blow-dry? The answer is no! I always spray in Batiste Dry Shampoo straight after styling, to not only give hair extra oomph, but to pre-empt hair from getting oily.
- The ‘Top-Knot’ might just be the ultimate empowering hair style… It has universal status as the sign for getting stuff done! If you see a woman chuck her hair in to a topknot you know that ‘to do’ list is about to be handled.
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