The Head Gardener Nurturing Young Talent

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The Head Gardener is celebrating the recent success of not one, but two of its stylists at Wella’s International Trend Vision Awards. Vikki Bell and Jamie Fraser were selected from hundreds of photographic entries, submitted by top salons across Scotland, and given a place in the top 20 at the regional heats of the 2014 competition.

Jamie was then chosen as one of only five stylists from the Scottish finals, which took place in Edinburgh last month, to go on and compete in the UK round in October.

Alison McRitchie, director of The Head Gardener in Inverness, was immensely proud of both employees,


To get in the top 20 in Scotland is no mean feat, so for Jamie and Vikki to both get that far was a tremendous boost, and for Jamie to make it into the top five and go on to the UK finals is absolutely fantastic. We are so proud of them.

Participants in this year’s awards had two trends to choose from for their design interpretation, which were spring and summer or autumn and winter. Vikki did an interpretation of spring and summer, which is called Urban Native, while Jamie opted for the autumn and winter theme, which is called Borderline Beauty. Alison explained,

Vikki’s theme was about how we are living a fast pace, crazy lifestyle in a concrete jungle, but people are starting to look for some peace and tranquillity in their life. That’s what she reflected in the hair. Her design was very soft and feminine and the colour palette she worked with was stone-washed tones, which was purposely made to look washed out. It was absolutely stunning.

Jamie’s interpretation was based on the idea that you can push the boundaries of hair and what is currently considered as ugly. When you look more closely, you realise it’s actually really beautiful. His look was very strong. The model’s head was partly shaved and she had a very disconnected boxy fringe that was cut into different lengths and angles. He worked with a monochrome colour palette of petrol black, charcoal grey and pure white.

The two looks couldn’t be further apart and I wouldn’t have liked to choose between them because they were both fabulous, but in the end it came down to what look the judges themselves were tapping into.

This is the third year one of the stylists at The Head Gardener has reached the UK finals, but it is the first time the salon has had two members of the team make it into the top 20. Alison said,

Generally we’ve always had one entry, but this year I really wanted to focus on nurturing the talent of my young stylists. In the run up to Christmas I set up an incentive where the stylist who performed the best would get to enter the 2014 Wella International Trend Vision Awards. Jamie and Vikki both got the chance because they worked so hard.

At 20-years-old, Jamie is also the youngest stylist from The Head Gardener to reach the UK final. Alison said,

He has got a lot of promise and could absolutely make it to the world final.

As part of Alison’s commitment to nurturing the junior stylist, she has signed him up for a Sebastian MOB mentoring programme with Wella, which is named after one of its high-end and quirky product ranges. As a member of the Sebastian MOB, Jamie will be mentored for a year by the Sebastian Cult – a team of creative hairdressers who travel the country giving inspirational seminars about artistic and thought-provoking hair design. Speaking of the opportunity, Alison commented,

Once Jamie completes the MOB programme he will get the chance to join the Cult team and travel throughout the UK taking seminars. It’s a great opportunity for him.

But it is not just the young stylists at The Head Gardener who get the chance to develop their skills – the whole team at the salon undergoes regular training and takes part in a series of industry events. Earlier this year the salon team completed a highly prestigious World Host customer care programme with Inverness-based ITP Training.

The programme is recognised globally and was used to train staff at the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympics. In April, award-winning Nottingham stylist Angelo Vallillo was in the salon for an intense in-house training session with all the staff. Alison explained,

Angelo has just won the Best Salon Stylist title in the Hair magazine awards. It was an incredible day and Angelo is a lovely guy.

Salon manager Cors Davidson will complete the prestigious Wella Master Colour Award programme this month – earning her the title of Master Colour Expert. Meanwhile, Alison, who is also a Master Colour Expert, has been invited by Wella to take part in a revolutionary business management course.

Speaking on the course, Alison said,

Wella has spent millions of pounds on a new business management system that will enable salon owners to tap into a laptop or iPad whenever and wherever they are, to see how all their staff are performing. The new system takes data and does various things with it to help us streamline the business into performing at its optimum level.

Wella selected one salon from each area to take part in this course and we were the one they chose from the Highlands, which is a great honour.

The team at The Head Gardener spend as much time taking part in fundraising events as they do on training and development. For example, every year the salon styles the hair of the dance contestants taking part in Strictly Inverness, which raises money for the Highland Hospice and the Inverness Ice Centre.

The team also held a Wig Wednesday event recently to raise money for children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent. Alison explained,

This was in support of the 16-year-old son and the family of one of our client’s. We are also holding a fashion show with Next on the 11th June at Culloden Academy to raise funds for the Vine Trust.

Meanwhile, Alison’s husband Steve is training for the Everest Highlanders Cycle 2015, which will raise money for Highland Hospice’s Project Build Appeal. The team will cycle 380 miles in five days and ascend over 25,500 feet – the equivalent of climbing Everest on a bike! Alison added,

I will be putting as much effort into the fundraising as he will be putting into pedalling.

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