I meet Jason Ball, director of John Olivers Hairdressing Group, who reveals how the East Anglian brand has gone from strength to strength with 16 salons and counting. Jason reveals what the life of an expert hairdresser really entails, the latest hair trends, their precision cutting and styling techniques and more. So, take a seat and relax, read on and, most importantly, enjoy!
How has the John Oliver brand evolved?
Hair by John Oliver was a group of salons that first opened in Norwich in the early 1970’s. Then, over the course of two decades, this grew to 16 salons throughout Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire. Also, with our expansion, we launched two Training Academies.
The Ipswich branch was the second salon to open in 1975. After John Oliver retired, there was a change in name and ownership to John Olivers Hairdressing Group. However, the strong brand, which developed in those early days still lives on today. In fact, the salons continue to offer all the very best in every aspect of hairdressing.
Our business is a combination of people and image. As a result, our main objective is to provide our clients with a personalised look. And this look is, in fact, based on individual consultation. We make hairdresser staff training and development a number one priority. This way, we can ensure all team members have up-to-the-minute knowledge and skills. As a result, they can provide all the latest fashions in both cutting and colouring techniques. In addition, our reputation has been bound in the ability to provide precision cutting. We train this hairdresser technique in a practical way to our youngest team members. In fact, we use a unique programme that was developed by our founder, John Oliver.
Our preferred suppliers, Goldwell, regularly provide in-house training. In fact, they also advise with updates on all the latest trends in hair colour and other technical services we offer like perming and hair straightening. So much of the art of hairdressing and the hairdresser lies in learning the skills involved in mastering the trade. However, it also lies in the psychology of the client expectation and learning how to properly translate a client’s needs into the perfect hairstyle whilst offering a welcoming, yet professional, client experience.
What are your most popular services?
Our most popular services are hair colouring and cutting.
What products do you use?
We use Goldwell, KMS and Redken professional care and styling products in the salon. In fact, we also recommend these as the preferred home care product for clients to use to keep their hair looking great between salon visits.
What is the best-selling retail product and why should I buy it?
Our best-selling product is the KMS Moist Repair Revival Crème, which is a fabulous leave-in conditioner. It rejuvenates porous ends and helps manageability, when styling your hair.
What are the hair trends we should be following this spring/summer?
This summer’s must-have colours sees a combination of the pastel tone themes such as lilacs, peaches and subtle pinks. Using hair accessories like diamanté slogan clips. will also be a popular way to inject some style into summer hair.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about a restyle?
Think carefully about the style you would like. Remember, magazines don’t reveal that the model in the image will have sat having their hair done with the hairdresser for ages. In some cases, they will have either used hair extensions or even wigs to achieve the desired look. So think about your lifestyle and your personality. Are you an extrovert or more conservative? What about your fashion style – do you prefer classic/smart, funky or casual?
It’s also good to consider how much time you have to spend on styling your hair. Will the style require much maintenance? Will you be able to manage the style easily or will a bit of work be required to keep it looking salon perfect? Or are you looking for a style you can quickly wash and go?
One important thing to remember is we only ever really see ourselves in the mirror, so it is probably good practice to take a selfie picture so we can see ourselves as others will see us. This also may make a difference if you are thinking about changing your parting.
Is there a new colouring technique everyone is talking about?
Balayage colouring techniques, although not new, are becoming more advanced. Free-hand painted on colour is increasingly popular for a more bespoke look.
Any tips for getting the best out of your hairdresser?
Instagram and Pinterest are good for searching for inspiring hairstyles so create a folder with your favourite hair looks. These visual references will help when having a consultation with your stylist prior to your hair appointment.
If you are new to the salon, aim to have a consultation with your hairdresser before you commit. It can be a bit daunting on the day if not and you need to feel relaxed knowing you and your stylist are on the same wavelength. Also, if you want your hair coloured, you will require a skin test at least 48 hours beforehand to ensure you have no allergies to the products being used. We’d also advise that you book a consultation with your stylist if you want to change your style, especially before a big event so that you feel more confident. Most salons do not charge for consultations, but you will need to allow for some time if the salon is busy.
Do you enter any awards?
Here, at John Olivers, we have a history of participating in hairdressing awards and competitions including Hairdresser of the Year and in recent years in the international event Goldwell Colorzoom. This year, our stylist Linzi will be competing for the fourth time with the final being held in Vienna in September.
Can you explain how the Goldwell Kerasilk Treatment works?
Goldwell Kerasilk Treatment is a hair smoothing service designed to transform frizzy and unruly hair. It works its magic by making the hair smoother but keeping the volume and body we all desire. Results last up to six months and it takes approximately three to four hours depending on the length of hair and thickness. Kerasilk Smoothing Treatments usually cost around £150 and there is a range of home haircare products specially formulated to maintain the condition following the treatment. There is also a Kerasilk Express formula, which takes less time and costs around £75, and will last up to two months.
How does your apprenticeship and training scheme work?
Every year, we encourage school leavers to apply for hairdresser apprenticeships. It takes about three years for a trainee to attain their Level 2 in hairdressing and our apprentices work alongside our team of hairdressers and technicians in gaining practical experience as well as the theory element delivered by our trainers. Once trainees have gained their level 2, we invite them to take the John Oliver Pre-floor test, which is our point of difference to other salons. We have very high standards at John Olivers and will only allow only newly qualified stylists their own client column once they have passed our Pre-floor test.
Do you work on fashion events, festivals or other creative events locally?
We have supported fashion shows held by schools, colleges and retailers. We have also featured in magazines not only regarding hairdressing features but supporting clothing fashion shoots at locations in Norfolk and Suffolk such as Framlingham Castle and Felbrigg Hall.
Any good tips for styling your hair on a bad hair day?
If you are having a bad hair day and have long hair, rather than wash it why not wear it in a smooth and chic low bun? It’s easy to do yourself, so ask your stylist for tips. Alternatively if you have a set of GHD’s on hand, they are always a good way to rescue a bad hair day!
If a client is thinking of a dramatic colour change what would you ask them to consider first?
If you are thinking of a dramatic colour change, don’t be guided by your favourite model, who has black hair one day and blonde locks the next. Chances are it’s either a wig, or they are taking the chance in significantly damaging their hair by undergoing harsh chemical procedures. The reality is that some colour changes may require multiple visits before you achieve the desired colour and finish. As always, talk to your hairdresser about how you would like your hair to be coloured and discuss how the colour will blend with your hair. Sometimes, colours may differ slightly to the hair sample you have seen and it will depend on the current tone of your hair.
What do you think of the Dyson hairdryer? Is it worth the price tag?
We use GHD hairdryers in the salon and our clients who have purchased them seem very pleased with them too. The GHD brand has long been a hallmark of quality hair styling. In fact, it now includes a range of curling wands, hot air brush as well as their iconic straightener.
Client feedback has been mixed on the Dyson hairdryer. Clients with longer, thicker hair seemed to notice a slight difference in drying time. Clients with shorter/finer hair hadn’t really noticed much difference.
What’s your typical working day like?
My typical working day starts at the salon at 7:45am. This is when I make sure the salon is ready to receive and greet the first clients from around 8:00am.
I work on hourly appointments. This means I can enjoy every haircut I do, making sure every client gets 100% attention.
Of course, things don’t always run smoothly….. but we have strong team and can cope with most eventualities! One example which springs to my mind could be no hot water when the boiler breaks down. Luckily, this has only happened twice in 31 years in the industry!
What’s the funniest thing you can recall at work?
I can think of numerous examples of weird and amusing salon stories, eccentric and outrageous clients. It’s all ‘a day in the life….’
One story that does come to mind was a frantic lady who stormed into the salon early one morning. However, she had a roller brush stuck in her hair. She was desperately late for work but couldn’t go anywhere until it was out. After a painstaking hour, we managed to remove it without cutting any hair out!
What’s the best way to help dry, dehydrated hair?
Remember that heat can damage vulnerable hair. This is especially the case if it has been coloured and you are exposed to extremes of weather. A good tip is to insure your new hair colour with professionally recommended hair products. This will help to prevent fading and brittleness, which can lead to dehydration. Try the KMS Tamefrizz range, especially the KMS reconstructor; all our stylists love it.
Which celebrities do you think have amazing hair?
Rose Huntingdon-Whitely because her hair is always chic, effortless and timeless.
Ariana Grande also looks very current and modern with her high ponytail and braids.
Helen Mirren and Judi Dench are both great examples for our older clients who still want to look fashionable and glamorous.
Fleur East has a great haircut and, for the boys, David Beckham and Joe Wicks.