From his early days cutting hair in his mother's dining room, Lee Stafford has gone on to be one of Britain's most successful, multi award winning hairdressers. Always with a passion for education, Lee has managed to find the time to teach thousands of other hairdressers all over the world in his renowned seminars and shows that sell out globally. In 2015 he presents four live shows at the Redken International Symposium in Las Vegas, demonstrating that he is still a leading figure at the top of the game.
I left school at 15 with no qualifications and started my hairdressing career in the West End of London.
I travelled 4 hours a day to get to work and back as I lived in Essex, so they were long days as you can imagine. I was doing all the dogsbody jobs that every assistant is expected to do and I didn't make a penny, as all of my wages went on my travel to and from work.
Why did I work all those hours, do all those dogsbody jobs for no pay?
I did it for the same reasons that every young person does it, in exchange for education and inspiration.
Unfortunately this salon's idea of educating and inspiring me was to make a stylist reluctantly stay behind once a week, for a few hours on model night, who tutted every time you asked for some help, because they were too busy on the phone, or reading the paper; they just didn't care.
I quickly realised the trade was way out of line, so I left after a few months and set up shop in my Mum's dining room.
I always vowed that if I was ever in a position one day where I was responsible for educating young people, I would do things very differently
I spent 6 years in my Mum's dining room without any hair education; the only haircut that I learnt how to do was a short back and sides with a pair of clippers, badly, I might add.
My Father kept saying to me, "you can't cut hair in your Mum's dining room all your life, Son."
He was right, so I started to look for a little salon in my local area.
I then started to panic, get anxious. I thought how can I be a hairdresser or a salon owner if the only haircut I can do is this dodgy short back and sides?
So I started to go on lots and lots of seminars. I went on Vidal Sassoon's, Tony & Guy's, Redken. I went on everybody's seminars, time and time again. I became an absolute education addict. And my career grew and I ended up presenting my own seminars all over the world. I ended up owning 7 salons and I employed 100s of young people and I did do things very differently when it came to educating them. Don't get me wrong, I still expected my young people to work long hours, still expected them to do all the necessary jobs and I only paid them the going rate.
But what I did do differently, and some, is I gave them back as much and more when it came to education and training, because I believed that was the fair and moral trade off.
Something very interesting happened when I put all that time and energy into training. I ended up with incredibly motivated, enthusiastic, hard working assistants that ended up being extremely talented, young, loyal stylists and I personally kept getting better and better as a hairdresser because I was constantly getting educated to educate my team. It was a win win for everybody.
What started off as a moral decision with education, because of how I was treated when I was young, ended up being one of the greatest decisions I ever made.
Education became a way of life for me, and that's what led and guided us to setting up Lee Stafford Education.
Known to many, Lee has been a regular on British television and radio. He had two series of his hugely successful fly on the wall series 'The Hairdresser' on Sky Living and has hosted three series of of the annual BBC TV Children in Need charity telethon - 'Celebrity Scissorhands'. Lee also likes to find as much time as possible to undertake charity work and this include going undercover in Salford to take part in the Channel 4 hit show The Secret Millionaire.
He is truly one of the UK's top ambassadors for the hairdressing industry and he, along with his multi-award winning haircare products and Training Academies, appear editorially in publications every month. Lee has won many personal awards throughout his career as well as the innumerable product awards and accolades.
With a burning desire that young people completing a hairdressing qualification should be sought after by top salons, Lee is delighted to continue sharing his passion for his industry through the training of college staff to deliver an education that, in particular, inspires new generations of talented hairdressers.
"...Lee has managed to find the time to teach thousands of other hairdressers all over the world..."
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