Oliver Cunningham Hair To The Stars
Ollie Cunningham is one of the South of England’s ‘must see’ colourists. As well as being the go-to-guy for many an A-lister, Ollie holds the prestigious Colour Specialist Degree from L’Oreal and is a graduate from the Wella Professional Master Colour Expert Programme – the highest colouring accolade available.
The stylist has over 15 years’ experience and has worked as Head of Colour for plenty of well-known London salons, such as Nicky Clarke, Trevor Sorbie and Daniel Hersheson. He has also worked on editorial shoots and TV programmes, as well as taming the tresses of clientele from the media, music, fashion and television worlds and Hollywood royalty.
Fresh from a full salon transformation and with 2019 looking to be the most exciting year yet, we catch up with Ollie to see why the team are a cut above the rest.
When did you first decide to become a hairstylist?
I started at an art college when I left school and soon after I decided I wanted to earn money. I loved fashion, colour and art so thought, why not mix them together and become a hair colourist? At the time Toni and Guy was at the height of its success. The company was making the way for the new generation of hairdressers, so I went to my local salon and enrolled in the apprenticeship scheme.
How did you get your first break in the industry?
My first big break was Penelope Cruz believe it or not! A very dear client, whom I had coloured for many years, was working at one of the most lux London hotels and had received a request to arrange a colourist for Ms Cruz. I was lucky enough to have been put forward and it all started from there!
Why did you choose Cuckfield as the location for your salon?
I chose Cuckfield not only because it’s a chocolate box village nestled away in the stunning Sussex countryside, but it’s also in The Times’ top places to live and a huge percentage of my client base live in the area. Having been based in London and Brighton, I wanted a location that falls in between, so hopefully nobody has to travel too far. It’s close to all the best public schools in the area, so it’s easy for drop off and pick ups and many of my loyal clients have moved out of London and still want that London salon buzz, which I believe we create.
Your salon is known for being different to the usual set up. Can you tell us about that?
After running the salon conventionally for the past 2 years I decided that I wanted to give my loyal team members the flexibility and financial rewards they all deserved. I wanted to create a shared creative working environment, where everyone was responsible for themselves. They all rent a space and now come and go as they please. They run their own days how they see fit. It’s created a great team bond and sense of responsibly for each member. The team are all very experienced and have worked in many salons previously so they have all taken to this new model with confidence and ownership. It’s like everyone runs their own business under one roof. This has helped everybody create a better work life balance. Life is so very short to be slogging every hour at work. We want to to do what we love but, enjoy the other things in life too. I believe it’s a much more modern and mature way to conduct a business. We are becoming paperless and slowly moving everything online, so each team member can access their diary from their devices. They have direct communication with their clients, which provides a much more personal service from the booking to the end result.
Who makes up team Ollie Cunningham? Tell us about your elite team.
You will be greeted by our amazingly friendly and helpful front of house Jodie and she will then recommend one of my elite team. The team is made up of my Assistant Holli who gives the best blow dries and other highly experienced hair creatives whom have all worked at the top of their game for many years. They currently still work with celebrities, editorial and TV whilst also in the salon on the days they are not travelling the world. We also offer make up and bridal specialists. Allow me to introduce you to a handful of my team..
Chloe Cassidy – Stylist/Colourist/Makeup
Chloe has just joined our team and has over twenty years experience in the Hair and Makeup industry. Chloe has worked all over the world on TV and photoshoots, working with celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, Matt Le Blanc, Adam Sandler and Jodie Kidd. Chloe works on a Wednesday and Friday in the salon offering all hair services.
Louise Brown- Stylist
Louise has been hairdressing now for nearly 22 years and still loves it just at much. Giving back to her clients and creating wearable current looks is something she absolutely adores. For Louise, it’s all about her clients. She’s been very fortunate to have been trained by some of the industry’s most influential stylists and has gratefully enjoyed partaking in London Fashion Weeks and styling for editorial work and published books. Louise’s work has been featured in Vogue, she was crowned ‘Fringe Queen’ by The Guardian’s Sally Hughes and enjoyed being Head of Education for Trevor Sorbie for many years. For Louise, being in the salon with the team is the highlight of her week and looking after her clientele. It’s like catching up with friends every 6 weeks, what’s not to love.
Elita Hoxha- Stylist/Colourist
Elita has been doing hair for over 10 years now. Previously based in Brighton, she is still enjoying every minute of it. She loves following all the hair fashion trends and giving her clients the best advice and hair styles to suit them. Elita has always found huge satisfaction by creating beautiful hair.
Morgan has been in the hair and make up industry for over 15 years. Her portfolio of work consists of fashion show, movies, music video and celebrity clients. Morgan is known throughout the industry for her exquisite up do’s, styling and cool on-trend hair cuts. She is also a bridal specialist, travelling up and down the country to transform her brides on their special day.
Nails By Lola – Nail Technician and Artist
Lola has worked on many photo shoots and although is still young, is very experienced. She is a fully qualified nail technician and nail artist offering luxury treatments, ranging from manicures and pedicures to gels and acrylics. Perfect for everyday wear and special events!
Poppy Payne – Stylist and Colourist
Poppy has over 10 years experience, starting off her career at one of the top London salons. She specialises in both cut and colouring services as well as specialising in bridal hair and makeup. She has an effortless style that reflects in her seamless work. Poppy works in the salon 2 days a week, whilst the rest of her time is spent styling music videos and photo shoots.
Richard Humpreys – Colourist and Stylist
Richard started his career more than 30 years ago in London at Sanrizz. Since then he has gained a world of experience in the hairdressing world. He has previously been at numerous London salons and later moved to Brighton to work for the best Sussex salons. His work is soft and feminine. He is very good at guiding you in the right direction to fit in with your lifestyle.
Which products are you a big fan of at the moment?
I absolutely love using REDKEN shades EQ, which is a type of colour glaze. It creates super natural, translucent tones which I have never seen before in any colour product. It’s mainly used for adding tones after the colour service. It is used heavily in the states on every A-lister imaginable. It can also be used to refresh tired looking brunettes or adding soft subtle hues to blondes.
Styling-wise, as we are heading into summer we are using a lot of salt sprays to create that beachy undone look, perfect for the festival season. I love KERASTACE AURA BOTANICA EAU DE VAGUES which is their new vegan 99% natural texture spray, so no nasties and still creating beautiful hair.
What’s been the most memorable moment of your career to date?
Wow that’s a hard question. There’s been so many times that I’ve had to pinch myself and think ‘has that just happened?’ One such moment was seeing my work on the front of VOGUE – that was pretty memorable.
What inspires you as a hairstylist?
I gain a lot of inspiration from Instagram now. I follow lots of different hairdressers and colourists who showcase their work. I think the best way to learn is from each other, so to be able to access every trend around the world via one app just blows my mind. I also take a lot of inspiration from the seasons and I like to change my client’s looks according to the weather. When it’s dull outside it’s great to have a pop of colour around your face to brighten up your day!
You are known for a having a loyal celebrity clientele. Can you name any names and what is it like to work with the A listers?
Leona Lewis, Louisa Johnson, Lottie Moss and Penelope Cruz to name a few. Everyone I work and have worked with have been amazing. It can be challenging of course – it’s pressurised and you have deadlines. Everything must be perfect, boundaries have to be pushed and your aim is to keep the hair in the best possible condition whilst achieving the goal required. Naturally this can be extremely stressful, however that stress is teamed with a total buzz.
If you could style anyone you haven’t worked with yet, who would it be?
Adele! I think she would be a great laugh and l’m sure we would get on. I love to create golden copper blondes; those natural warm hues are delightful and so satisfying.
Are there any tips that you can offer our readers who want to go in to hairdressing?
Today with social media, beauty bloggers and the world of Instagram and Facebook, it provides the perfect platform to expose your work. Start a page showing before and after pictures. Get good training, work alongside the most experienced, watch, learn, absorb as much information as possible. Have a passion and run with it.
What does the future hold for you and the salon?
I hope to have more creative individuals sharing our beautiful space, and possibly expanding the model to create more shared creative hubs where like-minded individuals can work in the space. This way they are working for themselves so they have total control of their own lives, but doing what they love.