Interview with Craig Purves

Emily: Social media is very much a driving force behind your brand – tell us about how you started and what you have learned from social media? 

Craig: I LOVE social media, as you can react and interact really quickly, and for me, as an educator, I think it's an awesome tool. I wanted to put myself out there in ways that I have never really been able to.

As a business owner, there are many different hats to wear. I decided to re-focus and start-up my hair Instagram, which then led me into YouTube.
Of course, it means a lot of different things to different people – But I think social media is a great platform.


Emily: Do you think Instagram has lifted your persona/people being able to find you?

Craig: Instagram can be whatever you want it do be! We’ve all done mindless scrolling. I made a very conscious decision to be involved and put myself out there fo rmy business and career. 


Emily: Tell us about your video and YouTube presence – where do you film and do you have a particular style where you are very animated and able to draw your viewers in - How did it come about and why do you do it?

Craig: My tutorial videos on YouTube are done in the salon. The YouTube algorithm is a bit like the Instagram algorithm. It’s changed over time and is changing all the time. YouTube is quite tricky. - It’s the future for television, (apparently), music and everything else! They’re trying to turn it into more of a social media - but I use it heavily to produce content.

I tend to do 12-hour-long shoot times and tutorials - they are really fun to do!! Although, there is a lot of pressure, such as if you’re doing a full head bleach transformation, they normally take 12-15 hours to film, then about a day to edit, and cost a bit of money to produce. So, I was doing this type of content and gaining 50,000 views, but then the algorithm changed and it’s dropped off a cliff.

However, I am really grateful I can produce content anywhere. My most recent video is shot and edited by me, on my phone at home.

[VIew Craig's YouTube channel here]:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGItqh5szXN4DOKSoCLXikQ


Emily: Do you own your own salon?

Craig: No, I rent a chair in a salon in Mayfair, there’s about 15 of us. We all pay the same rent and pay towards product - it is a commission base structure and we all do our own thing. We have a front of house who looks after bookings. It is really great and it suits me well as it’s flexible. If I don’t need to be there, then I don’t need to be there – I can be out doing other stuff.  


Emily: Tell us a little bit about yourself! Where did you grow up?

Craig: I grew up outside of London, in a place called Harpenden. It is quite a rural, British Countryside.

Emily: What made you want to be a hairdresser?

Craig: From the age of four I always wanted to be a hairdresser. It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do, apart from a tiny window when I wanted to be either a fashion designer or an actor! But other than that, I’ve always wanted to be a hairdresser. I remember dragging around my teddy bears telling people I was going to be a hairdresser. I think it was mainly because my mother was a very glamourous person. She didn’t spend an awful lot of money on clothes and such but was very very glamorous. As a kid I used to watch her get ready every day, she'd put on rollers and make up (a very kind of 80s Joan Collins type situation) and I used to go with her to the salon. She didn't not go to the salon often, but she did, she always spentmoney on her hair (and I think that’s why I fell in love with hairdressing)!
I wasn’t desperately academic at school, I was good at drama and art – but I wasn’t very good at lots of writing and learning – I’m very creative.

Emily: When did you become a hairdresser?

Craig: I left school at 15 and got a job in a tiny salon that was called Hair by Antony where I was shampooing and taking rollers out of people's hair, working there for about four months.
I then moved to the salon that my mother used to go too, and that was a massive salon! It was 1989 and was underneath a multilevel car park. It was THE place to go and get your hair done. There were 50 stylists and 50 assistants - you'd spend about three months with one person then rotate. I worked there for about six months. By this time, I was 16. I became head junior. I was very, very keen to learn! I qualified there, working as a stylist – by that time, I was about 17½, and at the age of 18, I moved to London. I fell in love with someone and moved!

I then worked in a salon where the two owners of the salons were previously International Creative Directors. They didn't do any colouring, only cutting. They then said, "we'd love for you to do all of our colouring, but your hair cutting is shocking!" And it was, it was quite provincial! So they trained me and I did all their colour (and they taught me how to cut hair)! I worked there for about 2 years then left to work for somebody else, who was Australian. I worked for him in Soho and grew a massive client base! By this time, it was 1983. It was booming!

I had a friend around the corner who rented a chair and said, "ïf I wanted it, I could have it" and boom, my life changed overnight! I moved my clients and became self-employed - and that was it!

I was about 25 and bought my first home, which I'm currently sitting in today! I was working from 9 am - 9 pm and booked out up too six months in advance. I then opened my salon at 29, which is the proudest thing and toughest thing. And the rest is history!

Wow, Craig!!!!! What a journey!!

Emily: You’re very much known for a variety of techniques – do you have a preferred technique or do you favour any particular technique?

Craig: This sounds like a real shameless plug but foiling!

About 15 years ago, a lovely French gentleman I worked with (probably the best hairdresser I've known), taught me how to balayage hair. For me, balayage is an open technique, painted on the top of the hair. Balayage is balayage and I didn't use to do much of it, then balayage became HUGE, and I would balayage everyone's hair. I then realised that it's not predictable and learned that in the USA, the technique differs from the UK.
My preferred technique is foil as it's predictable - I can create the exact same results as Balayage. I don't do balayage.

In foils, I use more traditional techniques that have been tweaked, such as slices, baby lights and teasy lights in a foil. But for me, I'd rather spend 45 minutes putting foils in, knowing they're going to be where I want them to be, achieving the results I desire.

It's not so much technique, but more process and that for me is foils.

I like to take the hair up, then bring it down. I use a lot of lighteners and I don't use any high-lift tint. It's my preference. I like a very truculent/iridescent/shimmery result. There's a reason lots of colour houses have produced blue-based tones, as everything's thrown up warm. Balayage is warm. Foils are not.

When I was teaching in the states, I learnt it's very different compared to the UK. (I'm very grateful that I've had the opportunity to teach in the states!) It's very unusual to use higher levels of developer and lightener, as we wouldn't normally apply heat to it. Whereas in the states, they go for it! I don't want to be in a position where my client or I don't get the result they want.

Foil all the way!!!

 

Emily: You’re inspired by your students - how has this impacted your daily and or work life? 

Craig: I'm inspired by people! I love people!

Whether I'm teaching a class and I'm conscious there may be people who are anxious - or may find what I'm teaching complicated. Or prehaps not even wanting to be in a class.

Or, if I'm at the supermarket and the checkout person isn't having a good day, it's up to me, as an individual, to determine how I go about dealing with that. Do I snap at the person in the supermarket, making them feel worse? Or, do I try and lift them somehow! I do want the best out of my world and the best for other people too. Maybe because I had a 'challenging' childhood or because I've been 'slapped in the face' professionally. But I always get up, brush myself up, and get on with it.

(fantastic mindset, Craig!!!)

The current situation has made me really realise this is how I want to be. I want the best out of everything and the best FOR people!
My world is hair!


I coach people about social media and tell them to decide exactly what they want from social media. It is work! Sometimes I spend up to 2 hours a day!
It makes it easier if you're really passionate. If you take a photo of something you love and it makes your heart beat faster, you're onto a winner! If you look at a photograph you've taken and the one that jumps out at you makes you feel really proud, that is the one to post!

I would suggest to business owners who are thinking of employing social media assistance to step away for half a day and spend the time yourself. I've worked with many big brands that have spent millions of pounds of research. It's authenticity – from the fact that your content is your own, the ideas are your own. (I see my work re-created) and I don't watermark my work.

The key is to have an authentic voice and produce authentic content. I've seen it a lot recently, where people produce content because they want people to like it/to attract attention - but if that is your thing, then that's totally cool.

I remember the feeling vividly when Olaplex asked me to take over their Instagram stories, which is crazy! However, now that doesn't resonate with me so much as I've done it and there are other things I want to achieve about moving forward. But I still remember how that feels, which is why, if that's what you want to do and put yourself out there, then there is nothing wrong that - as long as it makes you proud!!!

Emily: And consistent as well, if you're going to start that way, then keep going that way. So what’s one of your greatest achievements?

Craig: On a personal level, buying my property and having the salon for ten years. When I opened the salon, three years later, the world fell into the worse recession. It was scary. I had stylists approach me who didn’t have many clients. I had break-in’s - it was very full-on. So I’m incredibly proud of the fact I was able to keep it going. I didn’t have to leverage my place over the business, nor close down the business .

The stylists who had worked there for ten years (they were all trained by me as we all worked very similarly), they went off to become successful hairdressers in their own rights! So that’s really cool, I’m really proud of that.

Then the other thing that brings me SO much joy is working with teams! I work with Glam Squad UK, where we do the MTV EMA’s and other live and pre-recorded TV shows. I also work with another team where we do things for anything that is connected to the red theatre carpet. Working with teams feeds my heart. It is MEGA.

Every November, I work for MTV. You do 5-6 people, which is a short burst of really full-on fun! The energy was amazing! The next day we’re almost in tears. It made us so proud.

Working with great people and forming professional, strong, and unified relationships make me feel very full. I like that feeling of achievement.

Emily: What’s something you’d still like to achieve in your life and career?

Craig: have a goal book for long-term and short-term goals.
I feel I'm in a time in my career where I put so much work in, I'm so into it ALL.

I really want to be an official ambassador for a colour house.

It's very important for me sitting here, talking to you and it's so great that you guys appreciate that. There has never been a moment where I haven't felt appreciated by Foil Me. That's really what I want, and it's what I'm all about.

It is perfectly okay to want something! I'd also love to do more independent classes in the UK. The past 2 in Manchester – they were just amazing!

Independent education is saturated so it's tricky. (I'm afraid) as I'm somebody who believes so whole hearty, where my classes are so jammed packed, you'll leave with your brain overflowing with education!!! I wouldn't do a class for 100 pounds.

Emily: Are you in full lockdown in London still - how are you coping with it? What is daily life like there?

Craig: London is in complete lockdown. I popped into the salon to collect some bits and pieces - walking through the west end via the back route. It just felt very weird!

It is funny. I am such an upbeat, positive person - that is just how I am, you can't fake, 'me' (and it would be exhausting if you tried too)! But it was very disconcerting. I have tried to be as positive as possible throughout the whole situation, as a lot of us are, but I know it is very hard for some people, and I really feel for those people.

There was a grey area regarding hairdressing salons, as everything else had closed, except salons - and I'm sure you will know and appreciate what I'm talking about, such as on social media there was a slightly weird 'bullying' going on. Such as, "you're open!?" and "What are you doing?!" – but we weren't told we had to close?

There's no hairdresser, business owner, restaurant owner and bar owner that wants to close – and that is reality. At the beginning of this all - I did a couple of Instagram Live's about being mindful and careful about what we share online. I was seeing people's stories state things such as, "if your salon is open, then you're 'this'" or, "why are you still open!?" I had people reaching out to me, such as salon owners - who were already struggling before this happened. It is really tough times.

I have a podcast coming out later this week, which is about 'demonising home hair colour' as there's been a lot of that out. I understand people's motivation for it - I really do, but I talk in the podcast about how that might make people's followers feel, especially if your followers are your clients.

I am on Instagram for two things:
To make nice hair and content that I like and to educate and make them feel good and successful stylists.
I had a boss when I was 16 years old, and he always told me, "it is your goal in your career, Craig – to be as busy as you can be, to make people feel as happy as you can make them feel - and to make money. The end."
And that is kind of what I'm all about. I know we can't all have a great time all the time - I'm a realist - but It's all about making people feel great and doing great hair and making money to pay the bills!

Emily: Absolutely, I love that philosophy as I have a saying “don’t lose your kind during your grind” I was almost going to make it into a t-shirt!
Thank you for sharing your life and for giving us a glimpse into the life of Craig!