Emily: Where did you grow up, what made you want to be a hairdresser and when did you become a hairdresser?
Sheree: I proudly told my parents when I was 5 years old that I wanted to be a hairdresser - and I’m usually pretty stubborn because I stuck to it!! This is a little out of character for me as I’m a Sagittarius, we tend to not follow through all the time - but with hairdressing I definitely did!
I grew up by the coast in Jarvis Bay and started my apprenticeship in a really small country town. I quickly realised hair colouring is my passion and so I put my scissors down as soon as I had the opportunity and have been colouring hair ever since. I didn’t do many cutting or styling in the salon, purely colour. I have no idea where it came from? Perhaps from the feeling of going to the salon with mum all the time.
Emily: Let's discuss the journey of making our incredible Knobel Brush Me collection!
Sheree: This idea first came from a trip to America - I travel there a fair bit.
About 5-10 years ago hairdressing was very different in America compared to Australia, however, not so much now. I feel it is quite on par, but years ago we weren’t.
I picked up a few things when I was in America, such as the super wide foil, which Foil Me does amazingly! I honestly never used the smaller foil, always the wide – for everything! That’s all we order. I also noticed the large tint brushes in the states. Before I went on my first trip, I used to use a tint brush that was in between our Tint and Balayage brush – we just did not know any different.
However, once I saw what was happening in America, I realised that not only could I get through my colours faster with a wider brush but hold more colour on the brush – it was a no brainer.
The problem for me was there were not many brushes in Australia that were as wide as I’d seen in USA. We could order them of course, from the USA, but they were too overpriced. I found one I liked for a few years, but I kept thinking to myself, “if I could have my ideal brush, what would it be like?” I had this vision in my mind and then one day we were chatting and, voila! The vision came to life!!!
Emily: This was almost two years in the making, from talking about it, sourcing the right factory to make them, while ensuring had the premium aspect to them - we’ve included the finer details to the brush, such as ‘Foil Me’ and ‘The Knobel Collection’ etched in to ensure the logo wouldn’t be scrubbed off. The grip as well, we ensured we had the signature embossing. And of course, the bristles, being a client myself, I had reaction twice, having such a sensitive scalp, so I did find brushes would hurt my scalp. We wanted to make sure they were soft and Sheree wanted them to be feathered.
Sheree: Yes! The technique that I am quite well known is softening lines from the root area of the foil. I found with a standard brush, the line was so sever and sometimes the bristles were too hard. No matter how much you tried not to create a line when you first painted, it was unavoidable. Having the soft bristles instantly gives softness at the roots, and then the featheriness through the tips enables me to give detail and run through the root area.
And they are pink!!
Emily: We needed to make sure they had the beautiful pastel colour, the same as your foils.
Sheree: So much time and effort when into creating the brushes, such as making the colour match the foils. With the first round of brushes we weren’t 100% happy with the colour and the effort you guys put into the packaging, it really was quite an intense project, but satisfying!
Emily: Yes, it was! It was really cool. I didn’t want to bring out a brush that already existed - and neither did you. We wanted to bring out something that withstood our premium, luxury brand. And if you’re going to pay 10.90 AUD for a Tone Me brush, you want something that lasts and represents luxury and premium - and also cuts out your time! So that was the peach brush that was accidentally made!
You’re very much known for your lived-in blondes/balayage and being a foiling queen – Jennifer Hawkins being a prime example of that kind of style - do you have a preferred technique, or do you favour any particular technique?
Sheree: I felt like I was watching myself talk last night when I was watching your live with Craig – he is the male version of me! My passion is defiantly foiling.
When balayage first came to Australia I worked in a salon with a French guy who would do balayage and watching him do it completely turned me off the technique! I thought to myself, “if this is what balayage is, then I don’t like it.” So, I really focused on mastering foils.
I worked in another salon, where one of the girls I worked with went to Paris and she came back and showed us a different style of balayage. I thought, “this is quite nice!“ We mastered that and now it is a technique we use often in salon. I’m quiet a heavy handler colourist, I like to do colour and see a result. I like high impact. I found the softness of balayage just did not give the right amount of POP to me. So, with my balayage, I really like to see colour and so I need to use foils for that. I can still give someone a beautiful balayage technique, however, I feel I need to use foils so I can own that control.
I allow myself an hour to do a full head of foils, (I have been hairdressing for 27 years) and my team an hour and a half. We allow about 4 hours for a full application in salon.
Emily: You’re inspired by many different hair accounts such as the ones mentioned in our post this morning – tell us how has this impacted your daily and or work life?
Sheree: I gain a lot of inspo through myself, it’s not just one person/account, it’s seeing and thinking “oh I love that’, but for that to work on my client I’ll need to adjust these things.” So, I’m definitely inspired by other hairdressers - but not one in particular.
Be inspired by somebody or something, but never, ever copying it.
Find out what is it you love, then explore how you can make it your own! And even if you do see someone copy exactly what you have done, that’s why we share online, they find you inspiring.
Tracey Cunningham has been a huge inspo to me over the years. This is where I saw the really wide foils, they were massive.
Emily: You were one of our first ambassadors and first person to collaborate on a foil – The Knobel Collection – tell us about how you felt when I asked you if you wanted to do a foil together, becoming ambassador and now creating these amazing brushes together?
Sheree: I was renting a chair down the road in Cronulla and Instagram had just started. My account just exploded!! I had so many clients, I was so happy but it was very overwhelming as well. I literally had no time to rip my own foil, and then I saw Foil Me pop up on Instagram one day and I thought “WOW!! What a great idea!! Pop-up foil that’s already pre-cut!!” So, I started following you guys for a while and liking your posts, then the rest is a little blur!!!
Emily: Having someone like and engage with our posts, I thought, “who is this lady?? How beautiful and kind is she!” I contacted you and asked if you’d like to try some of our foils. I remember doing some ‘stalking’ ha-ha, and I looked at your online presence and website and how you were inspired and trained with Tracey Cunningham. I thought ‘’oh my gosh, Sheree is amazing!” We have to help this lady!” So, we sent you some foils and you started using and posting about them, which was really kind of you. We re-posted, then you and I got to know each other, by having an Instagram relationship and chatting. Stalking is the best way to make Insta buddies ha-ha!
Sheree: It sure is! I remember that too. I opened Bixie, and you were following my personal account. I created a second account for the salon and 2 months after opening my baby sister passed away. For a few years I had pink hair all day, every day, because my sister loved pink. My mum and I wanted to have pink hair for a while. I became quite well known for it, then one day I received a call from Em saying “hey, how do you feel about us naming a pink foil after you?” and I remember feeling so overwhelmed with happiness and sadness, it was such a special moment – so thank you, so much.
We don’t tell this story often.
You also had a loss in your family - your father passing away. So both of us had losses from cancer. Then, you came to me with the idea to promote our pink foil for cancer awareness day, so that was really special and dear to us both. I feel so grateful we’re able to give this back to the community.
Emily: Social media is very much a driving force behind your brand – in fact you won the AHFA’s Digital Influencer of the Year last year - tell us about how you started Instagram and what you have learnt from social media over the years?
Sheree: We were actually up for three awards! Business of the Year, Excellence of Education and Digital Influencer. I was so happy to be a finalist and taking out Digital Influencer of the year blew my mind! We were up against so many great salons, I just never, for a second, thought we’d win! I remember sitting there and all of a sudden they were about to announce it and a camera man popped up beside me – and I got ‘that feeling.‘ Modestly, when they said Bixie colour, my team SCREAMED so loud! I didn’t even know what was happening! It was the first award we ever won, I’d never felt like that before. It was so overwhelming, it was so much excitement and happiness, I still get goose bumps thinking about it. All that hard work just because you love it, not expecting anything in return – but it defiantly paid off. One person I would like to thank with our social media over the years is Natalie Ann, she’s been a great friend to me, she really coached and helped me. If anyone gets a chance to learn from her, she is a genius! We’ve put the hard work in ourselves so we’re really proud,
Emily: Like Craig said last night, you can’t have a s successful social media without working for it.
Emily: How do you juggle the working mum life?
Sheree: I just think there’s moments when you’re like “yes I’ve being an amazing mum, and moments when your not.” I’m really lucky to have my incredible husband, I couldn’t do what I do without his support. He looks after the home life, I look after the business. It works really well for us.
Emily: In regards to working hard, what’s one of your greatest achievements?
Sheree: There’s so many! It’s been so amazing. Opening Bixie - when we first opened, we had a team of four. Funnily enough, I grew up never wanting to be a business owner. I used to always have people telling me “you need to open a salon!“ I’m so grateful now, I absolutely love owning my own salon. We expanded a year later and tripled the team, which is incredible!
Then becoming a Redken artist and Foil Me Ambassador. As a younger hairdresser, if somebody had had said to me “what is your idea to measure you’ve made it?” I would had definitely said being an ambassador for a company I love. Thank you for having me!!
About 20 years ago I was asked to do a presentation in the main area of Hair Expo, and I completely blew it! My boss had to take me off the stage and finish it for me. Fast forward to a couple of years ago when Hair Expo asked my team and I to do a proper show for them, I will never forget it. We did the best show! I had so much fun! I felt like I redeemed myself! It was so incredible, I was so proud of my team – to even be asked was an honour.
Emily: What’s something you’d still like to achieve in your life and career
Sheree: Like I said, I’m such an in the moment person, If I see an opportunity, I’d go for it! I don’t usually sit down and plan, I’m easy-going, go with the flow, lets explore this and see where it goes, type of person. I do have a few things up my sleeve that I’d like to happen, but I don’t think I’ll share them just yet ha-ha!
Emily: In Australia, as you know, each state has it’s levels of ‘lockdown’ – NSW obviously still allows hairdressers to stay open - how are you coping with it? What is daily life like there?
Sheree: I was in Bali for a business conference with 100 women who owned beauty salons and we got the word we needed to be in self isolation once returning to Australia. It was terrifying to hear the rumours and gossip, such as being stuck in Bali. It was fine, I had to self-isolate for 14 days. For anyone that knows me, I’m somebody who doesn’t like to stay at home, I need to keep moving. I spent most of the time keeping up to date with what was happening with the virus. The hardest part was not being able to come back to the salon and experience what my team was going through. I ended up closing the salon down and paid my team for 2 weeks while trying to figure out what the government was doing.
Fortunately, I have a business coach, he kept me calm. It was day-by-day, although things were changing, daily. It was crazy. Luckily for us, I am glad we didn’t close permanently and at the end of the day my goal was to keep my team employed. We applied new strategies to ensure their employment. All 15 of us. My worst fear was losing one of them,” I’m the caption of my ship, I’ll go down first!” These are the times as salon owners we need to step up and look out for them.
I am entirely grateful for being a part of your Foil Me family!
Thank you for sharing your life and giving us a glimpse into the life of Sheree! For those of you who aren't following Sheree, she has two instagram handles - @shereeknobel_bixiecolour and @bixiecolour. Thank you for your time today, Sheree.