“Getting fired gave me a new outlook”
She’s heralded as the stylist who launched a thousand trends – meet ALEX BROWNSELL, 30, co-founder of Bleach salons
➤ Only lazy people say ‘no’ I started cutting hair in my lounge, which had a leak in the ceiling. At the time, my friends and I were all going through breakups, so we called it Heartbreak Hair and it became popular through word of mouth. We’d have drinks, gossip, laugh and cry, making the atmosphere different to a typical salon. Even back then I’d want to accept new challenges. Viewing trickier styles as a good thing and doing them in a chilled space is how Bleach carved a niche. Now, I tell our 45 staff, “Don’t say ‘no’ out of laziness – only say no if something could be detrimental to the customer’s hair.” ➤ Failure brings perspective I got fired from The X Factor in 2008, when I was 20. I was supposed to help a friend out on a shoot for the show, but ended up going to a party and waking up in a hotel with no battery, so I couldn’t call for a few hours. I thought she wouldn’t mind. She did – and my lax attitude was what annoyed her the most. I was gutted and it marked a real turning point in my maturity. ➤ Keep your nerves and ego in check It’s often those who are ‘up-and-coming’ who have the worst ego – and I was no exception in the beginning. Self-belief is vital, but a huge ego can be detrimental, especially when you’re working on an editorial or fashion shoot with a team. The best hairdressers are those who stay positive and act confidently, even if they’re freaking out internally because someone’s kicking off over a wig that doesn’t suit them. ➤ Say ‘yes’, then figure it out Years ago, Port Eliot festival asked me to do something original there. I thought about weaving silks and patterns into hair, then forgot about it. Weeks later, I had to blag it when the organiser called to ask what my plan was. I said, “I’ve invented… hair tapestry,” and then spent three nights failing to make a loom device out of cardboard. After researching medieval tapestries, I bought a picture frame from Oxfam, sawed grooves into it, and made a contraption which thankfully worked. I’ve since spent two years developing it with Bang! Creative.