As the owner of Not Another Salon, Sophia Hilton’s values run through the brand extensively; “Be really great at your job and be really, really nice”. Winner of the prestigious L’Oreal Colour trophy in 2013, Sophie Hilton is a full time Balayage specialist, saying “True freehand colour is an art and master Balayage specialists are hard to find. Don’t confuse it with dip dye, true Balayage can be applied all the way from the roots which is a much softer, more natural looking highlight. Clients love it because it lasts for so long!”
Take a second to look past the bright colours. They. Give. A. Damn. The decor in Not Another Salon is not about just being loud, it’s about taking the intimidation out of going to the salon. It’s about regressing back to your childhood, a time where you didn’t feel the social pressure you feel today. It’s about getting you out of the production line mentality and creating a comfortable environment. “We are all a bunch of misfits”, they say, “who came together to one place to be accepted for who we are and our aim is to make you feel as ‘you’ as we feel every day. Our purpose in life goes much deeper than great hair, it’s about change. Spreading the idea that it is in face ‘cool’ to be kind. We operate a strict no judgement policy and our clients are from every walk of life”. Sophia Hilton spoke to us so we could dig a little deeper and discover what gender equality should mean.
SO HOW AND WHY DID NOT ANOTHER SALON BEGIN?
The reality is, I just wanted to walk into work every morning in a place that makes me happy. I created a bubble, my very own ‘safe place’. I guess I didn’t realist it at the time that the vision was to let people live in my reality. At the risk of getting a bit ‘X Factor’ on you, I was bullied pretty badly as a teenage and into my adult life. When I came to London I slowly started to create my own world. I surrounded myself with people who wouldn’t judge me for being myself. Not Another Salon allowed me to create a safe environment for all the other ‘misfits’ that are perhaps not as lucky as I am to live in that bubble.
THE CORE VALUE OF NOT ANOTHER SALON IS HAVING A NO JUDGEMENT POLICY, YET IT’S SAD TO THINK WE NEED THAT IN 2017. CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR THOUGHT PROCESS BEHIND THE ETHOS?
Our ‘no judgement policy’ is by far the most important part of the brand. Yes, of course it’s our ‘aesthetics’ that grab attention but it’s our values that hold our audience and followers. The emphasis is put on being accepting and kind. Although you may initially think our clients are the ‘cool kids’ that’s absolutely not true. What the hell does ‘cool’ mean anyway?!
WHY DO YOU FEEL SALONS STILL CHARGE BASED ON GENDER? IS IT EXPLOITIVE AND OUTDATED?
Oh no, it’s not intentional; it’s just something we don’t question. While the world is spinning around us it’s important to question the things that we just ‘follow’. I don’t think salons are doing anything wrong, but I would hope that by bringing it to the front of people’s minds we can inspire change. I’ve had several salons contact me already saying they are going to do it.
WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE FOR OTHERS TO FOLLOW SUIT THEN?
It’s a simple as changing the words on their price list. As easy as that. It’s just words, but words can be powerful.
HOW HAVE YOUR CLIENTS RESPONDED TO YOUR NO JUDGEMENT POLICY?
Oh it’s wonderful, more than we could ever of dreamed of. We actually get letters from people every day saying how happy they are that we exist; how we have given them faith in the world, it’s pretty full on. We get letters, pages and pages long, telling us about why they feel judged and why they want to be part of our movement.
HOW DO YOU CREATE AN ADULT DISNEYLAND EXPERIENCE? HOW WILL WE BE TAKEN BACK TO OUR CHILDHOOD IF WE VISIT?
Firstly you are greeted by Joel who is a glittery transvestite. It’s hilarious because he only found that out this week! I love the fact he never ‘looked it up’ as such, he was just doing his thing. Then one day I came into work and he said ‘so I’ve been looking up this whole ‘trans’ thing and turns out that I’m a Transvestite’ and burst out laughing. No one questions Joel, not even Joel himself. How awesome is that.
Apart from that we really do make you feel a child again, from Coke floats and popcorn to Wagon Wheels and Jammy Dodgers. We’ve got Game Boys, Play Doh and colouring books. Everything you can imagine to get you off your iPhone.
HAVE YOU EVER RECEIVED DISCRIMINATION BECAUSE OF YOUR GENDER IN YOUR CRAFT, OR HAVE YOU EVER WITNESSED IT?
To be honest no, the only time I think about my sex is when I get asked in interviews. I have had questions like ‘how do you feel about being a woman in business’ and I find it hard to comprehend. In finance and other industries I see this to be clearly apparent, but hairdressing is generally an incredibly forward thinking and liberal industry. I feel really lucky to not have that as part of my life.
OUR LATEST ISSUE EXPLORES GENDER AND YOU MENTION YOU HAVE GIRLS WITH SKINHEADS AND BOYS WITH HAIR DOWN TO THEIR BACKSIDES COMING IN TO YOU. DO YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS ON SOCIETY’S MIXED OPINIONS TO GENDER STEREOTYPES AND THE WAY IT HANDLES THIS?
Maybe it’s because I live life in a bubble, but I really think things are getting better. I think society feels that everything is slow, but it’s not. If it takes a hundred years for the West to recognise gender as equal, then yes, it is long in the grand scheme of a persons life, but in the timeline of human kind it’s a relatively short period. Don’t forget man once wore long wigs at the height of fashion in the 1700’s.
IF THERE WAS ONE THING YOU COULD TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF, WHAT WOULD THAT BE?
I’ve always had strong beliefs on self expression but struggled so hard to find support for being unique outside my family when I was a teenager. I’d love to tell little Sophia that one day it will be all worthwhile and you won’t live in the hellish reality you do now.
IF YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS NOW, WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD BE DOING? WHAT CHILDHOOD DREAMS DID YOU HAVE?
Childhood dream? Hmm… I just wanted to leave a mark on the world I guess, I think I was more excited about being famous then, but I don’t care for that now. I wanted to do something in art and business, and as it happens that’s what I’m doing.
For the future I’m doing a big charity project to help Madagascar, which is where I’ve helped before. 10% of my profits of my company are going to fund a hairdressing school to create opportunities for people there. I’m currently saving and I’m hoping to start on about £40,000. That is a really exciting part of my life I can’t wait for!
Photos courtesy of Not Another Salon.