45 years in hairdressing is really something! We’ve pinned down Robert Bell to find out the secrets to success. Robert has both salon clients, and clients who are in the public eye, he believes that treating each and every client with the same amount of respect and interest is crucial.
From Knightsbridge, to Hollywood, to Europe and back to London – Robert’s drive to succeed has allowed him to travel throughout his career. Robert and his wife Kimberley have been nominated three times fr L’Oreal Colour Trophy and British Hairdresser of the Year. How does he do it?
Your family having an amazing heritage in the hairdressing industry. Please tell us more?
My Great Grandmother was the first family member to become a hairdresser and she worked in a shop on Soho. She had three children who went on to become hairdressers, and one went to work with Vidal Sassoon. My grandmother then went on to have my mum who followed in the family’s footsteps. Then my mum had me…
I didn’t aspire to become a hairdresser, I wanted to be a musician like my dad. I left school and was offered an apprenticeship with a sound engineering company but had to wait 6 months before starting. I needed something to do in the meantime and started a hairdressing apprenticeship which I ended up loving. I earnt £1 a week, then it went up to £36 a week as a stylist.
In 1988 I got married and we lived in USA for 2 years. We bought the salon we’re in now in 1990 and have been here for 32 years.
You’ve seen a lot of trends, what’s your favourite influence?
For short hair it has to be Twiggy’s side parting and slicked down; or Joanna Lumley’s ‘Purdey’ cut. For long hair it has to be Stevie Nicks’ and her rock’n’roll haircuts.
I’ve always loved the beehive, 1950’s and 20’s glamour styles too.
Tell us about the ‘Singing Session Stylist’?
I’ve always been a music person because of my father. When I was in LA I wanted to get published.
I do still get calls for jazz performances, I did a festival in the summer and have pub gigs lined up. I have a good time performing and I enjoy it. I still get music work but I’m over trying to become a rockstar now.
How have you achieved 32 years of success?
Consistencey and caring. Looking after the new generation of hairdressers, and offering them further in-salon training once they come out of college.
Is creativity in the Bell genes?
I’ve got three boys, Robert is 30 and wanted to be clothes designer. He studied at Central St Martin’s and now works at Loewe – he was very particular about where he wanted to work. George has always been into men’s hair and studied at the London School of Barbering. Then Toby went into hairdressing at Vidal Sassoon in Brook Street.
I got this feeling about the products. I liked the look, I liked the smell, and you can tell they are high quality. I took it on straight away. I feel like Unite is the real deal.
How did you find the Paramount Business Course?
I’ve done it myself before but this time I wanted to go with my boys. Dale is great and puts his knowledge into bitesize pieces. He simplifies how to run a salon in a way that young people to understand.
How did your team find LFW?
It was a great experience for the whole team and I felt very proud of them.
What are your favourite Unite products?
The 7Seconds system, Boosta and I like the Go247 Grooming cream. We sell lots of that in the salon. Plus all the hairsprays – they are a good, high quality.
What does the future hold for Robert Bell Professional?
I’m writing a book which I’ve titled ‘My life Sassoon’ – it’s play on words with a Jewish saying ‘my life so soon’.
We’re also planning to extend the shop in Woodford. It’s a 1930’s building and we’re going to keep the buildings character as I feel that’s important – just want to make it three times the size!
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