Updated: Nov 19, 2020
I have always been a ‘yes’ person: saying yes to things that come my way and never turning down the opportunity for learning and expansion. When I was aged 17 my boss sat me down one day and said ‘Amina, you really have to stop saying yes to all walk-in clients when you already have clients waiting for you.’ I would sometimes have 3 people waiting for me whilst I was finishing a client and when another walk-in client came in the door, I would just say ‘take a seat’ as I could not turn people away. I realise now that this was very unusual as most of the staff I have worked with throughout the years would try and have less clients to attend, rather than more. My response to my boss was ‘Well I just need to learn how to speed up.’ Even though, looking back I do agree with what he was saying, I cannot ignore the fact that I had so much energy for my job: I really loved what I did and enjoyed connecting with people. Give me a fully booked 12 to 15 hour back to back day of clients and I will still have energy at the end of the day, but give me a day with an issue with someone and I will have no energy and be exhausted come the end of the day.
At age 17 I got a job as a stylist at the BBC in London. This was a big deal for me as I had worked as a junior stylist up until this point. I took the opportunity with both hands and made the most of it. I was really strong in ladies’ cuts and blow dries as I had curly hair myself. This meant I had spent a lot of time working on mastering how to blow-dry my own hair which actually then meant I could support other people with curly hair. I ended up being able to blow-dry all sorts of hair types, including really challenging ones - very supportive for many clients who had been unable to handle their own hair. Gents cuts was the last thing I mastered as there was so much to learn, and colouring always takes many years to master. I do not feel you can ever be truly mastered in colouring because there is always more to learn about different hair shades and how they respond to colour.
I spent a good few years in this position where I really developed my skills in colouring, hair up, gents, and with rhythm and timing. I started to build a very solid client base and still look after some of their hair today. Some have followed me the whole way, meaning that I have been doing their hair for over 20 years now.
In addition to working full days, I also fulfilled a contract with the BBC News channel, where I styled 5 of the presenters’ hair every morning before they were live on screen, and always said yes to other things - being filmed for a children’s channel about being a hairdresser, or answering the phones for a television programme, and filming a scene with celebrities. I saw many famous people in the building over the years, which never really threw me or made me go giddy. Celebrities were made normal to me from a young age and I have never seen them differently to anyone else.
As I turned 21, I had an existing client bring to my attention that there was a call for a salon in a location 200 yards up the road from the BBC salon I’d worked in for the previous 3 years. I did not hesitate and picked up the phone straight away and made some calls. You could have said that I was totally out of my depth but the reality is that I was actually more than capable, and looking back now, I know that I always have been.
In life we can sway towards thinking that we’re not capable of handling situations, or on the flip side we get arrogant and think we know it all. But the truth is that we can handle anything that is presented to us if we hold steady, knowing that we are not alone and that we cannot do things alone, and by simply feeling each moment and responding to one thing at a time.