British Hairdresser of the Year Nominee: Mark Leeson

Next up in my British Hairdresser of the Year takeover is Mark Leeson. Mark began his career as a teenager, and has continued to work in his beloved Nottinghamshire to this very day. Will he win the elusive title that could make a Midlands lad very happy? We'll find out next week, but in the meantime enjoy my interview with the man himself. 

Please tell me a little about yourself...
I have been hairdressing for more than 25 years and my career began when I was just 16. It was the 80s and the time where hair and fashion were breaking all the rules. Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran were massive – all the guys were having colour in their hair and it was a great time to be entering hairdressing. There were no limits when it came to creativity. My career started in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, working in a local salon. Then in 1996 I opened my own salon, then in 2006 we moved into a larger more luxurious salon.  Mark Leeson Hair, Body and Mind is a 3,000 sq ft luxurious haven of tranquility providing the ultimate experience in hairdressing and beauty.

How many times have you been nominated for British Hairdresser of the Year?
This is my second nomination and I am still completely euphoric about the fact that I have been nominated. I entered my first hairdressing competition in 1984 and was hooked on the competition circuit. I then went on to become a member of the World Cup Hairdressing Squad representing Great Britain and spent many years travelling the world representing my country in hairdressing. One of my ultimate aims in life has always been to be nominated for British Hairdresser of the Year, and I am truly grateful for that recognition.

What would it mean to you to win the accolade?
It’s hard to describe how it would feel. Hairdressing is my biggest passion and I have dedicated my entire working life to the craft. It has become my social life and my partner and I run the business together, so our lives are always focussed around the hairdressing industry. To win would be simply incredible and I would be very proud and honoured.  

What do you love most about hairdressing?
On a day to day basis when I am in the salon, I love the fact that I can transform ordinary into extraordinary and make someone look completely different by changing their hair. In any makeover it is always the hair that makes the major difference. I also love the bond and relationships I have with my clients – they are incredibly supportive and many of my clients have been with me for my entire career and I am humbled by their loyalty. The other aspect that I love about hairdressing is photographic work. I am a big fan of fashion and spend a lot of time studying what’s happening on the runways and predicting the trends for the coming seasons. I am in my element when I am in a studio and creating a photographic collection – seeing the whole concept come together is a great buzz. It takes months of planning, and I invest a huge amount of time and money into creating my shoots, but when it comes together and I see the final results it gives me a lot of pleasure.   

Why do you think awards like this are so important for the industry?
The British Hairdressing Awards are the Oscars of the industry. British hairdressing is regarded as the best in the world and it is fantastic that we showcase our talents. We have some outstanding hairdressers in this country and when it comes to hairdressing, the whole world is watching to see what the UK is producing. The British Hairdressing Awards are the best way of showing the world what we are capable of.  

What are your aspirations for the next 5-10 years?
Of course to win British Hairdresser of the Year would be amazing and a dream come true. I spend a lot of time educating and performing shows both in the UK and globally, and have just returned from a major show in Hong Kong, so I would like to build on this and do more international work. There are lots of projects that I am working on right now which are very exciting – everything from TV work to product development – and I am also always on the lookout for the perfect premises for a new salon. Ultimately I would like to see my younger team members develop, win awards and be recognised for their outstanding talent.  

What are your favourite products to use and why?
I love Goldwell colour because it is so intense and lasts so well. It delivers on every level. Goldwell’s styling products are always in the salon and in my session bag too. Its glamour whip brilliance styling mousse is a must-have product for preparing the hair, and Goldwell StyleSign Diamond Gloss Shine Spray is the ultimate finishing spray.

Why are you different from other hairdressers?
There is a huge amount of talent out there right now, and I am simply in the mix doing what I do best. My signature look is very feminine, gorgeous, sexy hair which oozes vitality and is extremely desirable. I love high-end, expensive and luxurious looking hair and making a woman look the best she possibly can.

Find out more about Mark and his salon on his website here: www.markleeson.co.uk


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