Interview: Hooker and Young

Gary Hooker and Michael Young, owners of the multi-award-winning, UK salon group, Hooker & Young took some time out for a catch up with the Essential Looks team:

 

You’ve been in business together for 20 years now, but how did you get started in hairdressing?

 

Michael: I finished school and just fell into it – there was no plan – but I absolutely loved it and my creative journey started there.

 

Gary: I was a confectioner/baker before I went into hairdressing. On day one in a salon I felt like I’d come home.

 

No two days are the same for you, but what do you enjoy most about being in the salon?

 

Gary: We’re always on the go, and this weekend will be our first at home in six weeks… But usually, we spend Monday and Tuesday out of the salon – that’s when we do shoots and trips. If we’re not doing seminars, shows, exhibitions, tours or shoots, we’ll do press or generally catch up – looking at the blog, meeting our PR team, etc.

 

Michael: We always try to be in the salon Wednesday to Saturday. First we spend time catching up with our wonderful team. Then we’ll both see our regular clients, and it’s all busy on the salon floor. We’re like a family, really, our people stay with us for years and we’re all very close.

 

You have five salons in the North East of England. Can you describe your clientele to us, and give us an idea why you think they come to you and what keeps them coming back.

 

Michael: We have clients of all ages, from many different backgrounds. We treat every one as an individual – and always listen carefully to what they want. Some of our clients have been coming for years but our team never takes anyone for granted. Everyone who walks out of our salons has to look and feel really fantastic.

 

Gary: Clients also come to us because they like our luxurious salons – we want every visit to feel like a real treat. Our service generally is really important too – so we’re always warm and friendly, never intimidating or formal.

 

When you’ve been nominated for Hairdresser of the Year, and won North East Hairdresser of the Year 11 times, you must have achieved so many of your professional goals. What next on the list?

 

Gary: It’s really motivating for the team winning awards, especially nationals like Schwarzkopf British Colour Technician of the Year. But we want the big one – British Hairdresser of the Year! We’ve been nominated but not yet won it.

 

Michael: We’ve always worked really hard and we’re proud of our wonderful team, our quality, our reputation and every one of our five salons, but we definitely want to do more. We’re working on a few really exciting ideas right now – but our lips are sealed until it’s all worked out. Watch this space!

 

What is your proudest moment so far?

 

Gary & Michael: That’s an easy one. When we won Schwarzkopf British Colourist of the Year. We’re both really passionate about colour and this was the first time we’d entered as a duo so it felt like acceptance in the industry of us as a couple, and it’s such an honour for our fabulous team, who work so hard.

 

Ok, one final question. Who in the public eye would you most like to get your hands on?

 

Michael: Madonna! Every time. I think she’s wonderful, but I’d LOVE to work on her colour. I’ve always wanted to take her blonde colour a bit cooler, maybe a little darker round the face – then I saw the Ghost Town video and I think she looks amazing – really beautiful.

 

Gary: I’d like to win over one of our British dames – Judi Dench or Helen Mirren – as a SilverWhite client. That would be fun!