What enticed you to enter TIGI Inspirational Youth (in 2007)?

In 2006, at the beginning of my hairdressing career, my salon team went down to London to visit Salon International [UK trade show] and we got tickets for the TIGI Inspirational Youth Show. There was a huge audience and I was blown away by what I saw. I loved the panache and the energy of everyone from TIGI, and the team themselves, and I knew from that moment I wanted to be part of the next group.

How did you feel when you were accepted?

I can clearly remember my reaction when I found out I’d won a place. I’d never entered any kind of competition before and I felt very honored. I was doing a client when I found out. Someone came over wearing a huge smile to tell me –as they’d opened my letter!  So my client and I celebrated together.

Did the hairdressing courses achieve what you hoped?

Absolutely and much more! Everything I learnt from my experience as part of the TIGI Inspirational Youth Team shaped me for the future. In those days the training was over several months and I really looked forward to coming down to London and meeting the other team members and our mentors, including Akos Bodi and Maria Kovacs. We learnt the latest cutting and hairstyling trends, but it wasn’t just about the hair courses, although they were amazing, it was also everything I learnt from Mike Esa who taught us presentation and stage skills, and Linda Evans who made me see hair trends and fashion trends from a different perspective. This background work, the extra skills I learnt, were life lessons that have remained with me.

As a team, we had great camaraderie. I didn’t expect to ‘come out of my shell’ so much, but my mum and family really saw a big change in me. If you like, it was my transition into a man. Before that I had never left home and had gone from school to a job in a local salon. Everything I learnt added a layer to what I’d previously learnt.


How has being part of TIGI Inspirational Youth helped your hairdressing career?

In October 2007, after the TIGI Inspirational Youth Show, my adrenaline was running high. Then the realisation hit me that something special had ended.

The whole experience had made me want to spread my wings.  The following year I went to live in Ibiza for 6 months to experience living away from home.

When I returned I began to work on a freelance basis for TIGI’s Field Education Team. I remember feeling very proud to promote TIGI, helping salon owners and their staff learn how to sell hair products in a salon. In 2009, TIGI’s Global Creative Director gave me the green light to teach hair cutting and hair styling, as well as product knowledge. The confidence I gained and skill sets I learnt were invaluable and gave me a great relationship with TIGI. But, I would never have developed that confidence without the TIGI Inspirational Youth.

TIGI Inspirational Youth was a massive eye-opener. I saw how big the hairdressing industry truly is and what it could offer me.

What would you say to someone wanting to become part of the team?

Never doubt yourself. You’ll meet amazing people and the experience gives you the opportunity to turn your life around and help you become a hairdresserwith skills and experiences others won’t have had.

It’s unquestionable. Don’t think about it, just enter!

TIGI 2018 Total Concept August NYC_ABH_2150 copy
TIGI 2018 Total Concept August NYC_ABH_2150 copy

Since being part of Inspirational Youth, how has your hairdressing career progressed?

As soon as I’d experienced TIGI Inspirational Youth I knew I wanted to join the TIGI Creative Team. When I was finally offered a place on the team, it was unbelievable. However I was very much the ‘baby’, but also totally accountable. I had to learn very quickly. Moving to London was a big change and I soon had huge responsibilities. At 26 years old my haidressing career really progressed; I was travelling, teaching and working on new collections.

Then I had a new and incredible opportunity to work with the TIGI US Creative Team in the New York Hair Academy. Having the opportunity to work with Thomas Osborn has been amazing. He is an incredible educator with so much experience. I am very grateful for the opportunity I was given and I feel fortunate, although I also think I deserved it!

What are some of the key successes you’ve had in recent years?

I am very proud that, with the TIGI US Creative Team, I have worked with Beauty Changes Lives, a non-profit organisation created to make the beauty profession a first-choice career, by empowering individuals with mentorship, inspiration and scholarships. Like Inspirational Youth, it supports people with the education and expertise to realise their full potential. It has been a great project to work on. I naturally enjoy being able to support the next generation of hairdressers.

What’s next in your hairdressing career?

Working in New York has been incredible.  The location of the hair academy means we get amazing models and I feel I have great creative opportunities, but I also know I want to shoulder the responsibility of creative progress to a greater extent. The ‘rawer’ stuff is closer to my heart.  I want to look at ways to do the latest creative hairstyles whilst also finding new ways to capture our creativity. One thing I’m sure of, like everyone, we hairdressers need to be tech-savvy to capture what we do and share the latest hair trends on a daily basis.


Philip Downing teaches at the TIGI Hair Academy in New York, US. Discover more about the courses taught by Philip and the team.

If you’d like more information about TIGI Inspirational Youth and how it can help further your hairdressing career, please speak to your TIGI Account Manager, Local Education Specialist or contact us.