Akin Konizi, Hob Salons’ International Creative Director – Exclusive Interview for Styling Magazine

SM: What is the feeling to be crowned The 2008 British hairdresser of the Year?

This year was my third time being nominated and I was thrilled to have won. Winning this award was more than I can put into words. It is the culmination of all my team’s effort, my two partners and it just felt great to be acknowledged for all my hard work and commitment to what I do. I feel extremely proud and honoured and the award is something I will always treasure.

SM: When did you first realise you wanted to become a hair stylist and where did you start?

At 17 years old I started as an apprentice at the Alan International Academy in Leicester Square, London. At the time it was one of the biggest and most prestigious training institutes in the UK. I trained there for 3 years under some fantastic educators. I have been in the industry for about 30 years now.  In terms of what drew me towards this profession, I always knew I wanted to work in a creative environment and was initially drawn to the fashion industry. I’d never really thought of becoming a hairdresser until my cousin opened a salon in the early 1980’s and on walking into the salon there was so much energy that I knew it was for me.

SM: We always like to ask stylists, what is their own particular favourite hairstyle of all time?

One of my favorite haircuts is the bob. I love strong geometric cuts because I enjoy the challenge of making the strong hard lines look soft, sexy and feminine. It’s technically demanding and pushes you.

SM: How is the academy developing?

The academy is steadily growing and getting busier. We have had a great deal of international interest from countries such as Italy, France and Japan, in addition to bespoke course enquiries which allows the attendees to tailor a course to meet their requirements. In the economic crisis we are in, it is a good sign to see that hairdressers are still acknowledging the importance of education. In such difficult times, it is more crucial than ever to ensure the highest hairdressing standards are maintained, to ensure you are providing your clients with value for money and a reason to return again and again.

SM: How do you go about creating your signature collections? Is it difficult to think up new ideas each year?

My 2008 British collection is called ‘Signature’. I chose this name as the collection really symbolizes the hob brand and reflects the hair I create. The collection took about 3 months to create from start to finish and incorporates strong hair shapes, combining geometry with beauty.  I took inspiration from various techniques I have learnt throughout my years of hairdressing experience. Referencing back to the mid sixties, I was inspired by the wide spectrum of varying photographic images, hair styles, textures, movement and fashion. The hardest part of any collection is to interpret what it is you are trying to achieve. I find this can take many months e.g. is it a black & white collection, a retro collection – what is it that your mind is trying to show and convey. Once you identify this you need decide how this translates into haircuts and this is difficult. Once you start the creative process, you need to ensure you don’t detract from your ideology but that you stay true to what you want to show and what it is that you stand for.

SM: What tips can you give to up and coming hairstylists?

To work hard, continue progressing, stay focused and be sure to take some time to have a little fun along the way!

SM: You must have seen many changes in hairdressing over the years. What in your opinion were the best innovation and the worst?

I would say the best innovation has to be the introduction of texture in the mid-90’s as it created a whole new way of styling hair, creating volume and shape, with the aid of the right products. The worst has to be the general attitude towards simplifying technique as opposed to becoming masters of technique. In our training programmes we aim to teach people to master technique which will allow them to achieve any hair cut they want, with confidence.

SM: Is it better to cut and shape hair when wet or dry?

It is generally better to cut hair wet as you are then able to work with natural movement and fall of the hair. In addition, by starting with wet hair, you are able to see the way the hair sits from wet through to dry, giving you greater opportunity to ensure a great haircut is created.

SM: What are the newest trends for 2009?

For 2009 we are seeing a strong nod to the 80’s era developing, strong individual haircuts but much more wearable this time round than what happened in the 80’s. Individuality will be key with sharp lines softened with unusual texture i.e. frizz, perms etc.

SM: What is your opinion about STYLING Magazine, considering it is a new magazine on the market, what is it development?

Styling Magazine is a strong Macedonian publication. Always incorporating beautiful photographic collections from around the world through to the latest news and hair trends, it is always beautifully designed and presented.

SM: What is the most important thing to become successful hairstylist?

The most important element to becoming a good hairdresser is to continually learn and hone your skills. Seeing education as the key to success, I strongly believe that by improving your technique, enhancing your ability and constantly learning and progressing, you will become a more skilled hairdresser and inevitably have greater professional success.