More than most professions, hairdressing has a very high percentage of couples working closely together in both creative and managerial positions.
To celebrate Valentine’s Day, we talk to some of our favourite hairdressing couples to see how their personal and business relationships work in synergy.
Award-winning hairdresser Andrew Collinge and his wife Liz, began working together in the mid-80s, firstly as a hair and makeup team on photo shoots.
Their personal fame rocketed when they were invited to be make-over experts on the highly successful UK daytime TV show This Morning. The show launched in 1988 and Andrew and Liz regularly appeared on-screen for the next 10 years. Following their TV success they went on to open their own make-over studio in Harrods.
“The advantages of working together are immense” says Andrew. “It’s being able to rely on each other that’s so beneficial, always trusting our opinions and decisions. But there are a few disadvantages, like never really switching off from work. However, I think Liz and I have always had similar goals, which is important to any partnership, whether personal or business. Having said that, we often have different ideas, which can result in a ‘lively discussion’; though it has to be said, once a decision has been made, we always support each other.”
During their working relationship the couple have had some exciting career moments, including working together on Royal Weddings. But Andrew says their biggest highlight was being invited by the British Army to provide make-overs for the troops in Croatia, at the end of the civil war. The resulting catwalk show, held on the back of a tank carrier, was he says, a truly memorable moment and left them both with a long-lasting respect for the troops.
One of the hardest things about working together is not allowing it to take over your entire life. Andrew says it’s impossible not to take work home, and in fact aspects like creative planning can be fun, but he says he and Liz are very aware they need to maintain a healthy balance and though they have similar passions, such as music, travel and visiting galleries, they also have hobbies they do on their own.
So what advice would Andrew give to anyone thinking of going into business with their life-partner? “Make sure you share a mutual respect, support each other at all times, and enjoy it.”
Cornelia and Manfred Spirkner have been married since 2008 and own salon group: Friseur Team Spirkner, comprising 3 salons located to the south-east of Munich, with a team of 35.
10 years ago, with a new-born baby daughter, Manfred took on an existing hairdressing business and Cornelia became the company’s administrator. With a common goal to successfully grow the business and open further locations, as well as providing a first-class service; the couple realised their vision was totally aligned.
They see being able to concentrate 100% on their own area of the business as a clear advantage, but equally recognise the disadvantage of often talking about work in their private lives. But do they always agree? “Yes usually” says Manfred. “But often we have long discussions when taking important decisions, though in the end a consensus is always found.”
When it comes to their personal lives they try to maintain enough time for family, friends and the ‘nicer things in life’, which, Manfred says, is all “part and parcel with the often stressful everyday lives they lead.” And when time allows, Manfred rides off into the distance on his motor-bike, whilst Cornelia, relaxes with a long soak in the bath!
To anyone thinking of going into business with their partner, Manfred has some clear wise words: “If it works in your private life, you’ll find a way to work together in business.”
Hairdressers Eva & David Schwarz have a salon in Salzburg, Austria: Blickfang Hairdressers and Makeup Artists, where they employ 18 staff and 6 apprentices.
The couple met at a master class training session in 2009 and for some time maintained a long-distance relationship, with David travelling to Salzburg every weekend, where Eva owned a salon. A year on, David moved to Salzburg and the pair started working together, and married in 2015.
“We complement each other very well as a team, both professionally and privately” says Eva. “One thing for sure, working together you never run out of things to talk about, but it’s a challenge to separate private and work life.”
David adds: “Creating the company we have built would have been hard to do alone and I find it great to be able to exchange views and together work through any situations that arise.”
They both agree the route to their success is ‘the goal’. “We set short-term goals we can implement in a certain period of time and long-term goals we can achieve through constant development and being open for new things.”
Eva and David admit to having different opinions at times, but can talk through the issues to make the right decision. And like our other couples, they do take work home, in fact they have their office in their house, and do their planning and marketing from home.
Still in their early 30s the pair have already achieved several highlights including winning the Austrian Hairdressing Award and opening a second salon, and have created a strong team that allows them to switch off their mobiles for a week when they take family holidays.
Their message to other couples thinking of going into business together? “Start small and grow healthily through many conversations and an open exchange!”
Chris & Alex Harris-Gibbs are the owners of Harris Gibbs Hair Shop in Birmingham, UK. The two of them met in 2007 whilst working for separate larger groups in the hairdressing industry. In 2009 after 2 years sharing their personal life they decided to open Harris Gibbs Hair Shop and share their work life too. Forward 10 years (and a bit more) and their salon is going strong and continuing to grow with a team of 9. Their philosophy has always been to create an independent salon with a team providing the highest standard of hairdressing service in a relaxed casual environment.
Both of Chris and Alex are members of the TIGI UK Collective team, with Chris on the Styling Team and Alex on the Colouring Team, Chris is also a member of the TIGI UK Session team.
When we first got together we loved supporting and inspiring each other in our individual careers, but 2 years later we decided the only way to create a salon was to do it together.
Once the business was established we both applied to be TIGI Ambassadors and then TIGI Collective team members. Doing this together is a great way of developing our own skills and sharing the experience together whilst working for a brand we love.
As our other couples have confirmed, the biggest advantage to their business is having different skills and strengths that combine well together. This means both supporting each other, and also sharing the successes of their work life. And of course, the biggest disadvantage is not always leaving work ‘at the salon door’, and having to remind themselves they have a personal life to enjoy as well!
Unlike the other life and work partners, Alex and Chris haven’t always had exactly the same goals, but they’ve always shared the same desire to see their business and salon exceed and although they admit to sometimes taking different directions they always have the same objective.
One thing they’ve learnt is compromise. “Most of the time we have the same opinion,” says Alex, “But if we disagree, we can usually decide who has the best experience and insight into making the correct decision, a bit like in our marriage.”
After 10 years the couple are able to generally keep their work and home lives separate, but say this has taken “years of practice”. “Mind you,” says Alex, “most couples discuss their work lives at home, don’t they! It’s just that we’re in the same situation.”
Out of work, the pair like to eat together, watch films and TV, but they also have hobbies they do on their own. The biggest highlight of working together, Alex and Chris agree, is having the person you most trust with you, to share ideas, visions and goals. “Knowing we both have the same long term plans motivates us both to strive for the success of our business.”
So what do Alex and Chris advise other couples thinking of entering business together?
“As early as possible learn each other’s strength and weaknesses,” they suggest, “With a bit of luck you’ll be able to help each other, without the pressure of trying to begin a business alone. Most of all, enjoy it and have the same excitement for your partner’s successes as you would if they were working separately to you.”
Amy and Anthony Trianoski have worked together for almost 14 years and own the Bella Hair Salon in Jackson NC, USA. Starting out as a barber, Anthony transitioned to women’s hairdressing with the main purpose of working with his wife. Their collaboration was developed on their joint vision to invest in a team, built on passion and education.
“We love being able to bounce ideas off each other, balance each other out, share leadership roles, grow together, and know that we are 100% invested together,” they say, “but we also have flexibility with our family and work schedule.”
So do they see disadvantages? They agree, as do our other couples, that the biggest difficulty is bringing work into our personal life. “We have learned that scheduling time to discuss business separate from family is important” says Amy.
“But, we’ve always had the same goals when it comes to working together. The magic is having the opportunity to share our own thoughts and opinions on how we can reach our goals, whilst still holding each other accountable!”
But the question is, do they always agree when a decision has to be made? “Yes,” says Anthony, “When it comes to business, we really do for the most part. However neither one of us can agree on where to go for dinner!”
For Amy and Anthony, it’s important to strive hard to separate work and personal life and they have learned how important it is for their family. “We both love the beach, boating, and spending time with our daughter” says Anthony, “And when she has some free time, Amy enjoys interior design whilst I enjoy photography.”
The success of their partnership they put down to growing together and helping other stylists grow and reach their own goals. They describe their journey as an irreplaceable experience, including the successes and challenges that have helped shape them for their next chapters. And their advice to couples thinking of going into business together? “Going into business with your partner can be a beautiful blessing. Make time for each other. Utilise each other’s strengths. Separate business conversations. Expect to work hard. Most importantly, “know your why, have faith, pray and always put your family first”.
Anton and Anita Nallo own Anton’s hair studio in Canberra, Australia. The multi-award winning salon is one of the oldest in the city has been part of Canberra’s fashion and editorial scene. Anton originally opened the salon 43 years ago. Anita joined his team 6 months later and the couple have now been married for 40 years.
“Working together is fantastic,” says Anton, “but as with all relationships you need time to breath and reflect, so having clear boundaries about salon and family life is important.”
Throughout all the years they have been running the salon together Anton says their goals have always been aligned with a joint vision to run a
successful salon both from a creative and business point of view. But, like the other couples we’ve interviewed Anton and Anita don’t always agree, but are always able to discuss and find a compromise. One thing though, they have a strict rule to not discuss work at home and home at work!
When they’re not working like all the couples we talked to they find time to be with their family and friends, but spending time alone on separate interests is also important to them.
“For over 40 years we’ve run a successful salon, won multiple creative and business awards – all as a family. We have 3 kids and they’ve all been part of the salon over the years. That’s the highlight of our lives together,” says Anton.
To any of you thinking of going into business Anton’s words of wisdom are: “Have clear boundaries of business and family life. Understand who is responsible for a certain part of the business and who is doing what. Face change! At times I’ve been the driving force behind the creative side of our business and Anita has run the salon side, but then over the years these roles have swapped. And of course, Anita has also brought up our 3 children, as well as playing her role in the salon.”
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