Man in the Mirror

Our “Man in the Mirror” campaign addresses gender imbalance and stereotyping in the hairdressing industry by highlighting the positive learning experiences of some of our students.

In the second of our blog series, we interviewed Martin McCluskey, HNC Hairdressing student from Kilwinning. We wanted to find out a bit more about what it’s like starting out in the hairdressing industry, and an insight into Martin’s career so far.


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Here’s what he had to say:

“I’ve been doing the HNC Hairdressing course part time over 2 years.  It’s really suited me as I also work part-time at the hairdressing salon on the Ayr Campus of Ayrshire College as a Salon Assistant.

I’ve been doing hairdressing for 12 years and I managed to get that role 3 years ago.  It’s been a good opportunity to work and get a qualification at the same time.

I left school when I was 16 and went straight to college to study art and design and graduated with an advanced diploma in digital art.  I knew I wanted to do hairdressing, but wanted to finish what I had started before changing career.

I then worked as an apprentice in a salon in Glasgow where all the training I received was in-house.  My friend opened a salon in Ayr, so I started working there.  The industry was changing a bit at that time, and it was beneficial to have a hairdressing qualification, not just the in-house training I’d already had.  So, I decided it was a good time to go back to college to get L2 and L3 Hairdressing, before I applied for the salon assistant job at the College.

Hairdressing is a creative career so it suits me perfectly.  I like being hands on.  The role that I have just now is ideal because I’m in with the hair and beauty department so I get the chance to work with creative people every day.

I get to help out with the classes as well, whether that is mixing up colour or helping with the appointments.  I’m a really people–oriented person, and get to know the regular clients on a first-name basis.

I get the chance to work at the Kilwinning campus sometimes too, which is good as I’ve got to know the salon staff there as well.  We’ve got a good relationship across campuses.

It’s been great doing the course over two years.  I think I’ve enjoyed this way of learning more as I get to work and earn as I learn  –  it’s not as stressful so I get to enjoy every individual class that I study.  It’s the best of both worlds.

I absolutely love the job that I’m doing just now.  I’ll continue to work in the role that I’m in at the moment to the best of my ability.  But, my hope for the future is to use the experience and qualifications I’ve gained to move higher up the career ladder.  I’ve also wanted to get more involved in make-up artistry, so might consider doing a bit of training for that too.

I always like to keep my skills up to date and like working in the college environment.  In years to come I might become a lecturer.  I’d like to get a bit more salon experience first though.  As a salon assistant I work with so many talented hairdressers.  I’m inspired every day by their work and the teaching that goes on within the classrooms so I’m still gaining experience all the time.

The best thing about working in hairdressing is the creativity. It’s amazing how much a new haircut or colour can change someone, by making them feel happy and confident.  I love seeing the difference in a customer from when they arrive at the salon to leaving, it’s the most rewarding part of my job to know I have made someone feel better about themselves.  They leave with a spring in their step.  To see that gives me a buzz.”

Courses are open for August 2017 applications:

  • HNC Hairdressing, click here.
  • NC Hairdressing Level 5, click here.
  • NC Hairdressing Level 6, click here.
  • SVQ Barbering @ SCQF Level 5, click here.

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