Hairdressers Journal
Hairdressers Journal


When Kate met Sally Brooks

Sally Brooks

Sally Brooks is one of the most respected hairdressers of her generation, winning a multitude of awards, including Hj’s British Hairdresser of the Year, sponsored by Schwarzkopf Professional in 2017, 2018 and 2020. She is nominated again for 2021.

Kate Drury is a stylist at the MODE Hair salon in Chipping Campden and is the current Newcomer of the Year. Here, they interview each other.

Kate Drury


Kate: Sally, I want to know if you appreciate your own skills? And at what moment did you realise you had a talent for hairdressing?

Sally: I don’t think I ever sit down and feel I have a talent for hair; what I do have is a love for it. I think I have a good eye and a good TOUCH that makes hair work.

I am really happy that I chose a career that would always allow me to grow, that whatever happened in my life I could translate this to the work that I do. I think one of my biggest strengths is being able to move my skills as a hairdresser to different movements that we have in hair – being able to change what I do as fashion’s change, and knowing when the changes are happening. I am really proud of the training I received to allow me to do this and I constantly change my direction in hair to keep myself challenged.

Kate: Winning the British Hairdresser of the Year title is probably the pinnacle of all achievements, what was your drive behind choosing to enter for the second time?

Sally: You don’t CHOOSE to enter British, you get the phone call from Jayne Lewis-orr to say you have been nominated. But, once I get that call, I then have to decide what I want to do with my collection. It’s a great honour to be nominated for this title and I thank everyone that nominates me as it allows me to do something quite selfish – which is to shoot for myself! As a salon owner and a team leader, you are always putting your team and business first – and my British collections are really a bit of me. They show the mood I am in that year.

Kate: Do you think it’s important to enter every year?

Sally: In the early stages of your career, awards really allow you to focus. It’s not easy to create a collection and it takes a lot of brain dedication and commitment. As you go through your career you will look back and be able to see the hairdresser you were at different stages. For me, it’s never about winning, but to deliver a collection of pictures that I'm proud of. And no, I don’t think it is important to enter every year, sometimes you need time to grow. From winning Newcomer to winning a region is a big step. If you don’t enter for a few years, do take on different challenges, from educating others to working backstage at fashion week. Just keep progressing.

Kate: Would you ever try art directing, photography or education permanently? Sally: I don’t think I would ever stop hairdressing but I would love to art direct (it’s something I do naturally and have done alongside hairdressing my whole career). Educating permanently no; mentoring and growing people yes.

Kate: Previously you've said you’re most proud of introducing younger team members to the industry, why do you love this aspect so much? Sally: I love introducing people to what the industry has to offer. Seeing someone suddenly get it, is such a reward. And my one piece of advice – don’t get stuck just doing one thing! The industry changes and you have to change with it. Success means different things to different people; sometimes if you are too successful too early you never get time to develop your own identity.


Sally: What do you love about your job?
We have the most amazing team at MODE Hair and I enjoy the fun vibe in the salon and being around friends every day whilst doing what we are so passionate about. I love seeing a change in not only hair, but also clients when they walk out of the salon feeling fresh and uplifted. It’s such an amazing skill and feeling to make people look good and feel good about themselves.

Sally: What changes do you think the industry needs to make in order to attract more young people?

Kate: When I was at school it wasn’t an option to choose hair as a career choice. It was mainly university or college. I definitely think more education and awareness in schools around the UK would help open the eyes of younger people, and also their parents, with the view to choose hairdressing as a career. We need this to keep new talent coming through.

Sally: I loved your Newcomer collection, what else are you hoping to achieve in your career? 

Kate: I’d love to keep up with all of the competition work that I’m doing at the moment.

I have no doubt that I’ll be able to carry on as I have a fab boss, Martin Crean, that never says no! I think I’m so young in my career it’s hard to tell what direction I might choose, but currently I’m leaning towards becoming a colour technician.

Sally: Who inspires you both inside and outside the industry?

Kate: People I look up to are mainly within the industry and they are both women. Beverley C as she was the first woman to win British Hairdresser of the Year*, and you, Sally, for constantly creating beautiful and innovative collections. I always look forward to what you’ll do next!

Sally: Give me a sentence that tells us something about you...

Kate: I’m a great all-rounder at hair -not only on my clients, you’ll often find me shearing my sheep, and clipping my pony too!

*irvine and Rita Rusk won British Hairdresser of the Year in 1987

This article appears in the October 2021 Issue of Hairdressers Journal

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This article appears in the October 2021 Issue of Hairdressers Journal