Hairdressers Journal
Hairdressers Journal


4 MIN READ TIME

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON

What’s it like working with family? 

Russell: I feel privileged to work with my children. The only negative is we never stop. Talking about work becomes a way of life, particularly being actively involved in the industry. 

Robert: I love the trust and reassurance we have as we’re all working towards the same goal.

We’re there to support each other. It’s difficult to separate work time and family life – it’s something we are not very good at. We try to ban work chat at the weekend, but it often creeps in.

What have you learned from working together?

Russell on Robert: I’ve seen you grow from a 16-year-old apprentice into the hairdresser you are today. You had a traditional apprenticeship and built your column from there. It’s given me great pleasure to see you learn from icons in the industry, like when you were part of the Fellowship for British Hairdressing’s Project: X team. You’re incredibly passionate about the industry and what we do. I’ve learned to listen to you and all of the younger members of the team – it’s a continual growth for me.

Robert on Russell: It’s your work ethic – you work hard, stay focussed and true to what you believe in.

Watching you has taught me a lot about running a business. I’ve had an apprenticeship in both hairdressing and how to run a salon. Many of your decisions were successful, but you see the less successful ones as learning experiences too.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from each other? 

Russell on Robert: Artistically I love listening to you – you are so talented and it’s a genuine pleasure listening to you talk. When you started out, someone with a prominent salon in London said: “Listen to Dad, we are in the trenches together” and I do believe you listen, even now!

Robert on Russell: Work hard, stay true to your beliefs and be respectful – you’ve ensured I am always respectful to the people I work with and other hairdressers. As a business owner I’ve made difficult decisions at times and people don’t always like you for that, but it’s so important to be respectful, regardless of the situation.

What’s the secret to running a successful salon?

Russell: Hard work combined with passion. It’s not a job – it’s our lifestyle. Be consistent and make sure you build your foundation slowly and make it strong. Never forget the reason you are doing it – to look after clients.

Robert: Understanding the team and the people that work for you.

Salons are made up of the people that work in it and their personalities.

It’s important to understand what drives them – is it the creative aspect of hairdressing, are they financially motivated, or just want to be happy in the workplace and enjoy coming to work? This is the key learning for us over the years and we also believe you need to be there so you can deal with issues and problems first-hand on a daily basis.

How would you describe each other? 

Russell on Robert: You are a modest and real person – there’s no ego. You’re very humble despite your successes.

You’re a hairdresser’s hairdresser who is always happy to help. You’re forward-thinking and unique as a colourist. You always give 100% to everything you do and want clients to relate to what you do by creating beautiful wearable hair.

Robert on Russell: The biggest perfectionist I know. You are an incredible haircutter with a huge passion for the industry – even though you’re approaching your 70s, you’re still as passionate as ever. You have worked so hard over the years to build the business and the brand and make it the success it is today.

What was the initial goal for your career?

Russell: We opened with a six-chair salon and my goal was to grow it to a bigger salon on the high street. After three years we moved to the high street position we still occupy in Barnsley.

Leeds came along many years later.

It’s a city centre salon, which is a huge commitment but it’s working. I also wanted to build a reputation and be involved within the wider industry.

Robert: My goal was to become the best hairdresser I could be, develop the family business and learn as much as I could. You gave me Trevor Sorbie’s book when I first started in the industry and wrote – “one day this could be you” –I look back now and think how you inadvertently set me that goal.

RUSSELL AND ROBERT’S INDUSTRY PREDICTIONS

Russell: If the freelance market continues the way it is, my worry is there will be fewer salons in the city centres. In turn, this could result in a skill shortage, and less opportunity for young people. We will continue to do what we always do – create beautiful, wearable hair and provide training. We are here to look after clients, look after our team and train them – that’s the Russell Eaton philosophy.

Robert: Salon life brings amazing things to hairdressers – sharing ideas, working together, bouncing off each other, mentoring and apprenticeships. People aren’t investing in apprenticeships and young people in the same way, which is a concern for me. Hairdressing will always be a vibrant industry. It’s a career that will continue to take you in so many directions – salons, shows, shoots and seminars – the opportunities are endless.

This article appears in the May 2021 Issue of Hairdressers Journal

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COPIED
This article appears in the May 2021 Issue of Hairdressers Journal