Mark Hayes, International Creative Director for Sassoon, is celebrating forty years as a professional hairdresser and all of them with Sassoon. On his Instagram (@markhsassoon), Hayes shared a photo of himself as a young man with the caption: “40 years ago today, this young man started a journey that has become a life’s work.”
MODERN caught a few minutes with Hayes, while backstage during Wella Professional Trend Vision Awards in Los Angeles, and we asked him to talk about what set him on the path he has been very pleased to follow.
“It has been forty years since I walked through the doors of Sassoon in London,” Hayes says. “I wasn’t very good at interviews so I stayed there. I have spent forty years hanging out with really cool people.”
Hayes was born on the edge of London in Essex, and he says he’s always had a natural inclination towards “craft-based stuff.” And what brought him to beauty?
“I'm not completely sure but I think it had to do with when I was twelve and my older sister took me to a David Bowie concert. I had always been interested in style, in music and art, and was always making things. Seeing Bowie--his hair, his style, his everything—I think I watched all those things I loved, coming together. I’d also gone to get my haircut at a barber shop and everyone was enjoying themselves. It seemed like fun but I didn’t know anything about working with hair.”
His aunt suggested he interview at Sassoon.“Truthfully, at that time, I didn’t even know who Vidal was but when I walked in that salon, it was like walking into a party. “
Hayes said after this early start he discovered he had some innate abilities that lend themselves to his role as educator, mentor and creative director. “I found that I could communicate easily with people and explain what I was doing and also that I had a natural ability to work with hair. It was a manifestation of everything I was interested in.”
For years, Hayes has encouraged and inspired the many students who come to Sassoon for training, following the example of the man himself, Vidal Sassoon.
“I first met Vidal after I’d been at the salon for about five months,” Hayes says. “He came through the doors and he looked like a movie star—tan and healthy. He wanted to talk to the assistants and they showed him an elevated platform but he preferred to pull up a chair and join us. We were all dead nervous but he just smiled, paused, and said, ‘Ah, now I get to talk to the important people.’ Immediately, you felt like you were part of something really special.”
At the very young age of 21, he became an Artistic Director for Sassoon. He knows how fortunate he has been to be doing something he loves, every day, for a living. “My son is a barber and I always told him, it doesn’t matter what you do (as long as it’s legal) but find something you really like because you’ll be doing it for many years.”
During his forty years, Hayes said he discovered a big difference between being creative and being a creative director. “Creative is yourself, your imagination while creative director is about other people. That is something I learned while I was doing it. My role now is about working with other people. I find it even more fulfilling than anything I did for myself back in the day. They are the future. We have to show them it’s not just a job, it’s a career you can take anywhere.”