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  • Melissa Bode

Before it all began



Back when I was 17 I started working at a hair salon down south, which was about ten minutes from home. I was new to the world of hairdressing and had never had any experience. I was living with my parents, fresh out of school and just finished up at my job at wok in a box. Wok was my second job after working at McDonalds on Hindley Street. For those of you who aren’t from Adelaide, working on Hindley Street is pretty rough for a young girl in school. I got the job on good reference, as all my cousins on my mums side of the family worked there. It was my first job and I absolutely loved it…weirdly enough. I loved how systemized it was and the level of training you had to go through before working in amongst it all. That’s when I realized how my mind worked. I crave and thrive the most in structured and systemized work environments. This was also the case with Wok in a box; there was a system for everything and a structure you had to follow to ensure all things were congruent.

The first year of my apprenticeship was the hardest. I use to wake up and think to myself, wow, I don’t think I will ever know how to do this. Like any new job, you feel complete overwhelm with the 100 new things you need to take on and have just learnt. I remember looking at the 150 shades of colour and thinking, I don’t get it? It’s as though I try so hard and work on it so much that one day it just lands for me. It has been like this ever since I can remember. They say frustration equals breakthrough.

It was different to what I had just come from. It was structured but there was a level of creativity that had to blend with it. I’ve always been creative but this time I didn’t want to make mistakes. Hair is such a personal thing and when you are learning the trade, you haven’t had the experience or have the knowledge behind you to know how things will turn out or what could go wrong.

It was late into my first year, nearly starting my second year and I was on the floor, booked out back to back, my column was full. I was the highest performing apprentice at my salon and I was in my element. It took me a lot of hard work, late nights and forfeiting my days off so I could be the best. They use to chuck us in the deep end a lot as apprentices. I remember doing 5 practice mens cuts and I was chucked on the floor to do clients. I still remember my first client like it was yesterday. I had no idea how to consult properly, but I knew the basics. My hands were clammy, my voice and my hands were shaking and I wanted to bail. I didn’t want to do it, I begged them to not make me, I didn’t feel ready. I believe now that jumping into fear is the best way to learn. Sometimes we don’t see the potential in ourselves that others may see in us. Turns out, it was all ok. It looked good, he was happy and I was relieved it was over. Then I thought to myself, shit; I’m going to have to do this all over again for the rest of my life. It scared the living daylights out of me. If you ruin someones hair, there’s no turning back! It’s done; they need to wait for it to grow. This scared me but it was also my motivation.

After my first year I became hot property in the hair market. All my friends and their family would call me to do their hair after hours. So I would come home, finish work and then start all over again. It wouldn’t have all been possible without my parents laundry. This is where I gained my clients, some I still have to this day. I would work until all hours of the morning and it became something that I did on a regular basis to save some extra cash. So I thought to myself, considering I’m doing this regularly, I may as well make this place a mini salon. My sister and I decked it out. We got a full length mirror that dad hung on the back of the door, we bought a trolley, a hose to wash peoples hair and everything else we would need down to clips, combs and colour tubes.

I remember one night after work my friend Leshai came over for me to do her hair. She was blonde but she was over it and decided to go a little bit darker. I suggested we place some dark foils as well as the blonde ones through her whole head. Just earlier that month my boss had given us free tubes of colour. She was discontinuing the range and said we could all take some home if we wanted to. So I did, I knew they would be of good use. This was one of the colours I used as a dark foil in Leshais hair. This moment was a moment that I never forgot. One of my biggest hair mistakes I’ve made to this day. Now let me explain. With the current colour range we were using, the colours were green base. Which means that they aren’t warm, they are a lot more on the cooler side. So what you had to do was mix in some violet to make them tones more like a chocolate brown instead of a matte brown. The colour she had given us, to my surprise, was past expiry. I used it on her hair and it took completely to her blonde hair turning her ‘chocolate’ foils, violet! I was horrified. I confessed what had happened and she was completely cool about it. We ended up taking her dark brown that night. That’s one thing I love about my friends through my whole hairdressing career, they have always been my number one supporters. Especially Beth, my best friend. She has been my number one from day dot and still is.

So for the rest of my apprenticeship I worked from home as well as on the floor. I was hustling with an end goal of travel in mind. I lived and breathed my career and still do. My passion has never dulled but my focus has altered. Although I’m passionate on the floor still, my main passion is helping educated women on a large scale about their hair. Over the 15 years I’ve been in the industry, I’ve noticed a huge gap in the way we communicate with clients about the health of their hair. As an apprentice I was never taught how to look after someone’s hair, I was only taught how to do hair. As time went on it then became our brands focus and passion; to teach, empower and inspire people in whatever way we could, so they knew the importance of achieving amazing healthy hair. I can’t wait to share with you what I have created for women all around the globe, inspiring them to love themselves again through inspiring them to love their hair. Simple, easy and fun. Stay tuned.

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