Sharon Blain, Sharon Blain Education
TJ: Name one of your greatest achievements as a woman.
SB: Being recognised internationally as an educator and attracting renowned and respected students into my classroom. Also, being a mother of three equally grounded and successful children.
TJ: Name a time when you felt most challenged as a woman in the industry.
SB: After starting my business from scratch and expanding quite quickly to three salons, my marriage broke down. The bank manager was so disrespectful towards me. He believed I would not be able to service the OD and run my salon successfully without the support of my ex-husband – who I may add, made limited contribution to the business. The pressure on me was extreme and for years I had to deal with this challenge, all while putting on a strong bold front.
TJ: How has the perception of women changed in the industry?
SB: From my observation, there has been none. We are in a female dominated industry, yet it’s still a challenge for women to earn the respect and credibility deserved. Rarely do females win the top awards here and especially internationally. Last year the British Awards saw the first female nominated in ten years, who went on to win. Females have to work so much harder to prove themselves. No matter how hard we work, it’s a never-ending fight to get to the top and stay there.
TJ: Name another female figure who has supported your industry journey/whom you look up to.
SB: I think the amazing staff I have employed over the years have been my greatest supporters, especially Sandra Osman who worked with me for 26 years. She was instrumental in the success of my salon business, has supported me through all of my career endeavours and was notoriously prepared to be good cop, bad cop when needed.
TJ: Advice for young women starting out in the industry?
SB: Don’t get caught up in the whole social media phenomenon. Many young hairdressers feel their success is based on likes rather than a loyal client base, self-drive and enhanced talent and creativity. Success is not about the likes, it’s about longevity. Social media is a big part of our world, but my advice is to focus on developing exceptional skills. This will offer a more sustainable future that enhances career growth and success. As an educator, my success is built on superior skills, willingness to reinvent oneself and being grounded and real.