I had the immense pleasure of interviewing the two adroits in the beauty industry responsible for opening “Jo Hansford” – world renowned hair salon based in the UK: Joanna & Jo Hansford.
It’s a “must try” if you are traveling to the UK in the near future – you will not be disappointed. Enjoy as not only will you want to get your hair done after reading this interview, but you’ll also be inspired by two fabulous women who made their dreams come true through perseverance and persistence.
WBM: How did your background lead you to where you are today?
JO: it didn’t! I came from a working class background and when I started working in a Mayfair salon as an apprentice I had no idea where Mayfair was! It was a huge shock as my mother was not particularly interested in beauty but always wanted me to have a career and to better myself
JOANNA: I was at college studying media and theater studies when mum opened her salon. I had no intention of getting involved as all I heard about 24 hours a day was hairdressing! At that time my father was the MD and he found the premises and dealt with everything behind the scenes. I wanted to be a beauty journalist but also desperately wanted to travel and was doing about 5 different jobs to save up! My mother needed a receptionist when her one went on maternity and I decided I would make more money on that than I would working at the stables, cattery and bars. The profession really got under my skin and I realized how glamorous and exciting being in the salon was. Although it was really hard starting a business in a recession, my mother already had a strong name for herself and we had clients fly in from all over the world such as Angelina Jolie, Cate Blanchet and Neve Campbell within the first few years of business. It was such an exciting time! My father sadly died 12 years ago and I had to suddenly fill his shoes as Managing Director which was a huge learning curve but imperative to have something to focus on during such an awful time. I have stayed in the same role ever since and have a fabulous relationship with my mother. We are so lucky to work together and also get on so well. I don’t think we’ve ever had an argument!
WBM: Tell me a bit about where you were raised and how beauty played a role growing up?
JO: I originally wanted to be a make up artist. I won a competition on TV when I was 16 and the prize was to be an apprentice at their make up department. However I couldn’t start it until I was 19 so they suggested I do hairdressing to fill the time. They suggested 2 salons that I could work with and one was based in Mayfair. I had never even heard of Mayfair so it sounded far more interesting than working in my local area and I took up the position. After that I moved to Vidal Sassoon where I learned all about hair color and from then on I was hooked!
WBM: What led you to starting the Jo Hansford salon?
JO: I came out of an acrimonious business partnership and couldn’t decide where and with whom I should work. I was fortunate to be in demand by lots of salons at the time and my husband persuaded me that I should set up on my own rather than work for or with someone else again. His theory was that if lots of top London salons wanted me then there was an opportunity to go it alone! If it wasn’t for my husbands support I would never have considered it.
WBM: What is a key lesson you’ve learned along the way?
JO: Always expect the unexpected and remain positive. Believe in yourself!
JOANNA: Trust your instincts and women’s intuition, it is generally right!
WBM: Think of these four characteristics of entrepreneurs: heart, smart, guts, luck. Which one were you?
JO: Guts! I remortgaged my house to start my business but I knew it was the right thing to do and I could make it work!
JOANNA: I would like to say smart but I have also been incredibly lucky to work for my mother and she took the risk but I hope that I have also been incremental in making it a success!
WBM: What was the biggest surprise you’ve had happen at your salon?
JO: Receiving notice about my MBE. I received a letter whilst I was working on clients and broke down in tears. It was such an honor to be recognized for my achievements. I was also very proud to look after the Duchess Of Cornwall for her wedding to Prince Charles and our manicurist looked after the nails of the Duchess of Cambridge when she married Prince William which was also very special.
WBM: Can you mention some VIPs and celebrities you’ve worked on?
JO & JOANNA: Elizabeth Hurley, Angelina Jolie, Claire Danes, Kelly Preston, Holly Hunter… (they are lots more on our website)
WBM: What has been your highest moment in hair and your lowest?
JO: Highest was receiving my MBE and the lowest was losing my husband to cancer.
JOANNA: The same, watching my mum receive it in Buckingham Palace and losing my father.
WBM: Where do you see yourself in five years?
JO & JOANNA: On a yacht in the South of France!! On a serious note continuing to grow our brand and our product range with a fabulous team still around us!
WBM: Who currently is your style icon?
JO: Audrey Hepburn always looked fabulous, Elizabeth Hurley always turns heads when she walks in the salon and is always impeccably dressed and groomed. Kate Winslet and Helen Mirren are also great and always looked good on the red carpet and wear what suits them.
JOANNA: The Duchess of Cambridge has become a huge style icon. Stella McCartney and Halle Berry always look stylish.
WBM: Fashion item you can’t live without?
JO: Louise Vuitton handbags and a blow dry!
JOANNA: Bottega Venetta handbag and currently loving Stella and Dot jewelry to accessorize!