Shaper: Jo Hansford

Show aired on 15th November 2014

Transcript

Elliot Moss
That was The Boss from James Brown of course, a very apt way to start the programme which I will be explaining very shortly. Good morning I am Elliott Moss, this is Jazz Shapers here on Jazz FM. Thank you very much for joining me. What is Jazz Shapers? It is of course the place where you can hear the very best of the people shaping the world of jazz, blues and soul alongside their equivalents in the world of business; a business shaper. My boss of a business shaper today is Jo Hansford. She has been referred to as the first lady of colour and in fact the best tinter on the planet if you are a reader of American Vogue as well. She is a very famous colourist and has a phenomenal business and has been building it for many many decades. You will be hearing lots from her very shortly. In addition to hearing from Jo, you will also be hearing from our programme partners at Mischon De Reya some words of advice for your business and on top of all of that of course a brilliant mix of music from the shapers of jazz, blues and soul, including Dr John, Nina Simone and this from John Lee Hooker and Robert Cray.

That was Mr Lucky from John Lee Hooker and Robert Cray. As billed earlier Jo Hansford is my business shaper; she is the famous colourist and if you haven’t heard of her you will know all about her by the end of this hour. Jo has her own place now in South Audley Street?

Jo Hansford
Yes.

Elliott Moss
Employs almost fifty people?

Jo Hansford
Yes.

Elliot Moss
And is very well known amongst a certain group of people? Probably lots of them actually. Jo thank you very much for joining me. She is sitting here smiling going ‘what’s he going to say next’. Now tell me about this. You have been in the industry many many years.

Jo Hansford
Yes.

Elliot Moss
You started in this world of hair and of colour and things like that when you were fifteen years old. How long did they give you?

Jo Hansford
Yes, when I left school I had no qualifications whatsoever but I absolutely loathed school, hated it to death. And I always wanted to be a make-up artist so I was lucky enough to be involved in a television programme for children when I was fifteen which I didn’t want to do but my mother wrote in. It was because they asked for anybody who didn’t want a normal job when they left school, teacher, nurse, doctor and she said ‘well you want to do television make-up, why don’t you do it?’. Anyway I went on the programme, my prize for the programme was an apprenticeship with the BBC to learn television make-up but I had to be nineteen before I could take the position. So as I left school at fifteen as I hated it so much they suggested I did hairdressing which I had nothing in my brain about hairdressing because I had never been to a hairdressers. So we went to the career officer and she suggested to do an apprenticeship so she had two positions open, one in Mayfair and one in Ealing. Well I lived in Greenford at the time and my mother said Ealing because that was near Greenford and I obviously said Mayfair. I had no idea where Mayfair was but because it was opposite I had to do it. So I started my apprenticeship in this amazing salon in Davis Street next to Claridges and it was very posh. I mean it was incredibly posh at the time with all the chauffeurs and everything. And I stayed there for two weeks thinking ‘this is rubbish, I am never going to do this for four years’; you know sweeping floors, looking at people back combing hair, rollers, big bouffant. God I hated it.

Elliot Moss
And the heat.

Jo Hansford
The heat and then suddenly somebody said to me one day ‘could you go into the back room and get something from Norman’. I thought Norman. This salon was enormous so I had never been allowed in the back room. I walked into the back room and it was colour, it was hair colour and it was like ‘oh my God, fabulous’. So…

Elliot Moss
That was it?

Jo Hansford
…I never too my apprenticeship I just stayed with colour on the hair and sort of colour on the face.

Elliot Moss
And the love affair began there.

Jo Hansford
Yes.

Elliot Moss
And of course it sounds like you must have been pretty good at it because I think when you were about nineteen Vidal Sassoon tapped you up…

Jo Hansford
Yes.

Elliot Moss
…and said, come and work for us.

Jo Hansford
Yes. And that was the start of my amazing career. It was, I can’t tell you, working for Sassoon in the early sixties was just out of this world. He was such a master, the work was so detailed, it was like watching sculptors in those days you know absolutely amazing. And I had an incredible mentor, a woman in the colour room who was a genius, absolute genius so I learnt a lot from her and I built my career basically from there.

Elliot Moss
Find out what happened next from my business shaper Jo Hansford. Time for some music this is Dr John and Bonnie Raitt and it is I’ve Got The World On A String.

That was I’ve Got The World On A String and if that didn’t wake you up, absolutely nothing will. Jo Hansford is my business shaper today; she is the most famous person in the world of hair colour. I know you probably don’t like people saying that but it is probably true. Back so we were talking about where you began your love of colour. You went to the back room, Norman was there.

Jo Hansford
Yes.

Elliot Moss
And then a few years later Vidal Sassoon said you were rather good and the heady sixties must have been extraordinary in that salon and you talked to me about where you learnt your trade. At what point did you think ‘I want to do this for myself’ and why? Because some people would have just happily gone along and been working in a phenomenal environment with the most you know, famous people in the world coming in there with a great mentor but you wanted more?

Jo Hansford
I wanted more but I stayed with Sassoon for fifteen years because it was amazing, it really was wonderful. And then because I couldn’t go any further I was running the Bond Street salon in the colour department there, I went into partnership with another colourist and that lasted for thirteen years and I never really wanted my own business, I never wanted the responsibility of having my own business. My husband always wanted me to have my own. Anyway so for thirteen years carried on working together, ended up in a very acrimonious court case, big split. It was 1991 which was an original recession.

Elliot Moss
Yeah bad time.

Jo Hansford
A very bad time and David said to me ‘right let’s do it’ and I thought ‘Oh my God are you serious’ and because I had had so many phone calls when this split happened from all various people offering me the world who I didn’t think even knew anything about me but obviously our grapevine is quite extensive I thought the least I can do is fail. If he is there behind me backing me why don’t I give it a go. So if it doesn’t work then I can go and work for somebody else again.

Elliot Moss
It sounds like even though you are obviously at the top of your game and all the calls were testimony to that at that moment that without David nudging, your husband nudging you, you wouldn’t have done it?

Jo Hansford
No I wouldn’t have done it but he had so much confidence in me. I had great self-belief in what I could do you know I mean, that’s the one thing that really kept me going and also the second thing was the fact that I wasn’t a hairdresser, I was a colourist so I was a specialist which was niche and that was a very very important thing. I couldn’t compete with all the other beautiful boys out there, you know the Giles Worthingtons, the John Freda’s and Nikki who would all wine and dine the press and take them for lunch and lend them their cottage and everything else. I couldn’t do that, I had to prove, I had to prove myself and prove what I could do.

Elliot Moss
And when was the first opening day? What was the date do you recall it?

Jo Hansford
March 3rd, 1993.

Elliot Moss
As if it was yesterday.

Jo Hansford
Yes.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for much more from my lovely business shaper, Jo Hansford. Latest travel in a couple of minutes but before that some words of wisdom for your business, go on just go and do it, from our programme partners at Mishcon De Reya.

You are listening to Jazz Shapers with me, Elliot Moss every Saturday morning I get to meet and talk to a person at the top of their game, a brilliant business shaper and my business shaper today is none other than Jo Hansford. For those of you in the know, she is in the world of colour and for those of you who didn’t know, she is in the world of colour. She colours people’s hair and she has been doing it rather well for a rather long period of time and she has also brought out her own range. We are going to talk about that in a bit as well but I want to go back to Jo, that seminal date, 3rd March 1993 when you opened your own salon. I say it easily, it is very easy to look back on someone else’s life and go, well you just opened then. How hard was it to make that first move into setting up your own business?

Jo Hansford
It was incredibly hard. It really was. When we went to the bank manager to obviously get money to help start the place, we opened in Mount Street and Mount Street in that particular time there was eleven units vacant. Can you imagine. I mean Mount Street then was a back water. It was art galleries, antique shops. There wasn’t any retail there at all. I think Nikki Clark had just opened down the road eight months before but because if you are a specialist you don’t actually need passing trade. You know if you want a specialist doctor you go to Harley Street don’t you? It’s a destination and I knew that as long as we had a good destination the most important thing was in the budget for expenses was to put in for a PR because there is no point in you opening anywhere in the world unless people know where you are. It is like a restaurant, you have to have exposure and people have to know what you do and where you are.

Elliot Moss
When you first opened, although you knew you were good and all that, that’s very different from running a business. Did you, were you very very nervous or did the trade, did the people come quite fast?

Jo Hansford
They didn’t come fast at all because I literally only had eight staff because I had been out of sight for nearly two years. I was renting a chair in South Kensington from a friend while the court case was going on because this was like a High Court case, it was really big. Which was settled a week before it went in thank God. So therefore it was very hard, once you are out of sight in our industry, you know, out of sight, out of mind, you have to then start building back again so I had eight staff literally in two thousand square feet and trying to make this place look busy. I knew that what we all could do was very good and it was very good work styling wise and colour wise but unless you have an atmosphere, it is like a restaurant. You know you can go to a restaurant and have the best food in the world but if the place is dead you don’t go back again. So to try and make the place look busy was really really hard because it was an enormous salon so we ended up having more friends, family, anybody we could lay our hands on to come and sit in seats. I even though that buying blow-up dollies for the back room, visual. Let’s have a bit of atmosphere.

Elliot Moss
That’s a great installation, actually it’s just to fill the place. And at what period of time in so much, when did it start to, when did you start to think this is alright, it is going to be okay. How long did it take?

Jo Hansford
We haemorrhaged for about eighteen month’s big time, I mean we really did financially.

Elliot Moss
How did you manage financially then if you were haemorrhaging?

Jo Hansford
Well I didn’t take a salary, my husband didn’t take a salary. I was there from sort of 8.00 in the morning until 8.00 at night. I always believe lead by example because whatever you do your staff have to know that you are capable of doing it. And we turned the corner in about eighteen months and then it started to escalate and people started to come and join us but the whole adage was the fact that it was ‘oh yes we’ll join you when you are up and running’ but how can you be up and running unless you have got the staff?

Elliot Moss
Yeah.

Jo Hansford
It was incredibly hard and also because I was a woman that the industry literally gave me three months when I started. It is like ‘oh she’s a woman’ you know, ‘how’s she going to survive?’.

Elliot Moss
And here you are twenty one years later.

Jo Hansford
Yes.

Elliot Moss
And a pretty fantastic tail to tell.

Jo Hansford
Yes.

Elliot Moss
Time for some more music before we talk more to Jo. This is Kandaiki and it is Mammal Hands and they are if you didn’t know, a Manchester based band.

That was Kandaiki from Mammal Hands and rather lovely it was too. Jo Hansford is my business shaper, she has been very honest about the world of colour that she went into many many years ago and then from being in the world of colour she went into the world of business properly. March 3rd, 1993, I am going to keep remembering that date. It took those eighteen months. You were haemorrhaging money. You came through. At what point did you start to feel more relaxed. Have you ever felt relaxed about the way the business has gone?

Jo Hansford
I never believed that it wouldn’t work. I always had great self-belief that it would work because I believed, I am certainly not an egotist, but I believed in what I could do. I just needed a chance to prove it because I had David as the business partner. He was very keen on awards. He said any award that we can get, you know which we can PR etc., etc., we must go in for awards. So we actually entered the Mail on Sunday’s Enterprise 2000 Award and won the sales and marketing side which was brilliant because in those days everybody outside of hairdressing or especially in schools, universities and everything else would say well if you are not a brain box, if you can’t do anything else then at least you can be a hairdresser as if hairdressing was a non-career. We proved our point by winning that award that it is a very proper business and it is a very exciting business. It is an amazing business. I am so glad that I actually fell into it. I can’t think of another career which is better personally. You make people feel glamorous, you make people feel good, confident and it’s a very satisfying thing that you have achieved by the time you have finished your job you know.

Elliot Moss
And so much so, you talk about whether it can be a career or not and you proved it can be. Your daughter is the managing director of the salon.

Jo Hansford
Yes.

Elliot Moss
Obviously your late husband was right behind you as you made it happen.

Jo Hansford
Yes.

Elliot Moss
What’s it like with family in the business? Is that easier because you’ve got a shorthand or is it actually complicated when there is difficult conversations?

Jo Hansford
It’s easier now. I mean when Joanna first came into the business she only actually came into the business because she was travelling. She was a big traveller. She started at nineteen and did her year out, came back, started mucking out horses to earn money and I had just opened the business then and I said you know, can you just come and work the reception for me and would rather pay you than mucking out horses. Which she did so she came in literally like that. Then she went off travelling again, then she came back again and then she sort of fell into it when David died, she sort of had naturally progressed into it and decided that yes this is what she wants to do. She did try her hand at hair colour but she felt that I was a hard act to follow so she didn’t bother with that. And she was a bit too late to be a junior you know, sort of the age of twenty two/twenty three and I desperately wanted her to be a colourist to follow me but I am so pleased now because she does all the business side. She just, when he passed, she went – we actually invested in a weekend course at Cranfield University for her for business management which was very expensive but it was definitely a worthwhile course. Gave her massive confidence and its brilliant because she does one side of the business, I do completely the other side. I don’t think we have ever had a fall out, I don’t think we have ever had an argument. In fact I gave up going to meetings when she told me to be quiet because I get so impatient. She said ‘no you’re not coming to meetings any more you are banned’.

Elliot Moss
You may have your name above the door…

Jo Hansford
Exactly.

Elliot Moss
…and on the pallet collection but I am sorry mum you’re not coming.

Jo Hansford
Yes exactly.

Elliot Moss
That’s the way it should be.

Jo Hansford
So they just wheel me in when they need me and wheel me out again which is great.

Elliot Moss
We will be having our final chat with Jo today plus be playing a track from Nina Simone. That’s coming up after the latest traffic and travel here on Jazz FM.

That was the wonderful Feeling Good, and I hope you are feeling good, from Nina Simone. I am sure you would be feeling good if you have been listening to Jo Hansford, a lovely story, a proper story of someone who started in a business at fifteen and is here, many decades later talking about the fact that you have almost fifty people working for you, there’s a colour care collection and wonderful business success, you were mentioning your daughter who is now in charge really.

Jo Hansford
Yes.

Elliot Moss
And you just occasionally make an appearance when you need to. I am joking of course.

Jo Hansford
I still work with clients three days a week.

Elliot Moss
But that you do – really yes I was going to say.

Jo Hansford
Yes.

Elliot Moss
They let you do that do they?

Jo Hansford
Yes they let me do that yes because I have had a lot of my clients for a long long time.

Elliot Moss
Of course and you probably enjoy that more now because you can relax.

Jo Hansford
I love it yes. I really do. I mean obviously I don’t have to work financially any more but I do because I really enjoy what I do and I like being part of the team and I think it is important for me to be there on the floor. I think a lot of people find it quite strange that I am there on the floor.

Elliot Moss
They must go ‘look she’s here’.

Jo Hansford
I know.

Elliot Moss
‘There she is’.

Jo Hansford
But I am and it is me, hello.

Elliot Moss
It’s you and it is very good. Now the other things that you have done which are of note I think and often the people I meet have – some people have very very strong values and they want to follow what they, you know, things that are important to them – you have a foundation in India.

Jo Hansford
For education.

Elliot Moss
For education for young budding hairdressers.

Jo Hansford
Yes.

Elliot Moss
And colourists as well or…

Jo Hansford
Colour.

Elliot Moss
Colour, all colour okay which I believe is a partnership with L’Oréal.

Jo Hansford
Yes it is.

Elliot Moss
And goes back probably about nine years or so.

Jo Hansford
Nine years yes.

Elliot Moss
When you embark on these things often, I always think, now where did that come from? Was it a chance meeting, was it a strategy you had? I mean what underpins it?

Jo Hansford
Well I have always judged colour trophies for L’Oréal all over the world from Australia, New Zealand, you name it, South Africa and I always judge the London one which is a very big part of their business – it is for aspiring hairdressers to enter to use their products etc., etc. So when I was asked to judge the first Indian colour trophy I went, your first day is actually watching them on the floor working and everything and I got so frustrated thinking ‘bless them they’, you know, I just wanted to interfere – oh if you just did it this way and if you just put that on and blah blah blah. So in the evening when we went for dinner with the man who organised the whole thing the more drunk I got the more passionate I became about the fact that they are running before they can walk and they need some form of foundation to get them grounded and it went from there really. Six months later they offered me this partnership with the foundation and said we really feel that you could help a lot and now my girls go out twice a year for a week at a time and they absolutely love it because, because they are like sponges. The people there are like sponges, they can’t, you know, they would keep them there all night if they could and it’s a very worthwhile thing to do and at least you feel you are doing something in life. It’s like giving blood. It doesn’t cost you anything but at least you are giving somebody something back.

Elliot Moss
Fantastic stuff. Just before I let you go and it has been a real pleasure talking to you. What is your song choice and why have you chosen it?

Jo Hansford
I am not really a very song person but Procol Harum by Shades of Pale because it was my husband’s favourite song and we actually played that at his funeral.

Elliot Moss
Well that’s a pretty good reason to play it. Okay well here it is. Thank you so much, this is your choice and it is Whiter Shade of Pale.

Jo Hansford
Okay.

Elliot Moss
That was the song choice of my business shaper, Jo Hansford. Talk about someone with the courage of their conviction, someone who just didn’t listen to the people that said she couldn’t do it. A total grafter on the shop floor to show that it really really mattered that you were working hard and someone also obviously at the top of their game. Fantastic stuff. Join me again, same time, same place; that’s 9.00am here on Jazz FM for another edition of Jazz Shapers next Saturday. In the meantime though stay with us because coming up next it’s Nigel Williams.

Jo Hansford

Described by Marie Claire as “the First Lady of Colour” and hailed by American Vogue as “the best tinter on the planet”, Jo Hansford MBE is quite simply an icon in the field of hair colouring. Jo is held in the highest regard by her peers in the industry and her celebrity clientele, who include Elizabeth Hurley,  HRH Duchess of Cornwall, Erin O’Connor and Sienna Miller.

Hairdresser turned entrepreneur, Jo’s Mayfair salon is game changing. She was the first woman to put colour in the front of the salon rather than behind the scenes and was instrumental in raising the profile of hair colouring throughout the industry. The Mount Street salon initially opened in 1993 with just eight staff in the middle of the recession. Business was incredibly tough, but in her second year of opening she succeeded in making a profit and she realised she had made the right decision. Fast forward 21 years and Jo has a team of over 50 highly skilled colourists, stylists and assistants, all personally trained by Jo herself.

Jo’s reputation as the leading authority in hair colour extends far and wide – she travels extensively with her team and participates in seminars and shows around the globe. She also judges awards including the high-profile L’Oreal Colour Trophy in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, France and the UK.

With the help of Joanna Hansford, her daughter and Managing Director of the company, Jo was recognised as one of the top three businesswomen in the Everywoman Business Awards in 2005. In November 2010, Jo was delighted to have recognition for her services to the Hairdressing Industry by being awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

In conjunction with L’Oreal Professionnel, Jo launched Foundation India to help the next generation of Indian hairdressers. After judging the L’Oreal Colour Trophy in India in 2005, Jo was bowled over by how dedicated the hairdressers were to their chosen career and their innately strong work ethic.

She is a proud supporter of Everywoman, one of the UK’s largest and most influential women in business networking communities, inspiring all generations, giving them a voice and highlighting their talents. Jo and Joanna are also delighted to be part of the group of 100 founding muses for the modern muse project. Modern Muse aims to inspire the next generation of female business leaders and entrepreneurs by showcasing and engaging successful women from all walks of business life. The Modern Muse project’s immediate goal is to reach out to one million girls over the next three years. The aim is to open their eyes to the potential of business as a way of leading a fun and fulfilling life, meeting exciting people, and being more in control of their destiny. The long-term goal is to accelerate the number of women running businesses by 100,000 in the next 10 years.

Follow Jo on Twitter @johansfordsalon and Facebook.

Listen live at 9am Saturday.

I absolutely loathed school. Hated it to death.

I left school at fifteen…I had nothing in my brain about hairdressing because I had never been to a hairdresser.

Working for Sassoon in the early sixties was just out of this world.

I never really wanted my own business, I never wanted the responsibility…

I had literally eight staff in two thousand square feet and we ended up having friends, family and anybody we could lay our hands on to come and sit in seats to make the place look busy.

I always believe in leading by example, because whatever you do, your staff have to know that you are capable of doing it.

…in those days everybody outside of hairdressing would say, well, if you are not a brainbox, if you can’t do anything else, then at least you can be a hairdresser – as if hairdressing was a non-career

…they just wheel me in when the need me and wheel me out again. Which is great.

I don’t have to work financially any more but I do because I really enjoy what I do and I like being part of the team. I think it is important for me to be there on the floor.

My daughter said no, you are not coming to meetings any more, you are banned.