Master of Style – Headway NZ
A rare gift for inspiring others and a boundless passion for education
makes Tracey Hughes one of hairdressing’s true icons
A legend within the hairdressing industry, Tracey Hughes believes continuous learning s the key to a rewarding and progressive career. As founder of Austral ia’s Mieka Hairdressing and Tracey Hughes Education, she is the most recognized and awarded educator in our industry’s history globally. Tracey’s passion and commitment to education has been acknowledged through many awards, including Educator of the Year, Excellence in Education, Hairdresser of the Year, Colourist of the Year, SaIon of the Year and the coveted Honorary Australian Masters Award.
As a mentor, educator, keynote speaker, columnist, business owner, hair director and stylist, Tracey has left no stone unturned to bolster her own experience. It is chis experience which sees Tracey as one of the judges for chis year’s New Zeland L’Oreal style & Colour Trophy Awards. he shares her tips for success, style inspirations and love of teaching.
Where do you draw inspiration from and what’s inspiring you currently?
I find inspiration from lots of different avenues. As an educator, I am very self-inspired as I love to challenge my personal
limits. People inspire me. My team inspires me. Pe1fection inspires me. Motivation and energy inspires me the most. I am motivated by the desire to want to be the best version of myself and to assist ochers to be the best they can be.
My current passion is to train other educators to become confident in their delivery and facilitation skills since I have
taught and presented in every education environment, I’m sharing this experience with many others now. Th.is will have a ripple effect on the whole industry by having more confident trainers and is inspiring me to contribute to sustainability in our industry, which is my greatest motivation.
What’s a working week like for you?
I don’t have a regular working week; I have no routine at all since most of my time is spent travelling nationally or internationally conducting education events. I can spend a working week on any of the following tasks: performing a main stage show or delivering a conference keynote speech; facilitating a business seminar; prepping new content for presentations; teaching a hands-on workshop; personal coaching and mentoring; training with my tean1 members; prepping models; shooting a collection or editorial spread; conducting media interviews and writing media articles; marketing and brand promotion; general admin; and relationship building and client contact. I have a great deal of diversity in what I do which keeps me constantly stin1uJated and productive. Work/life balance is a concept I have yet to fathom. Work to me is life, as it is ultimately what I enjoy doing!
Who are your favourite fashion designers?
Alexander McQueen, Jean PauJ Gau.I tier, Vivienne Westwood and Yohji Yamamoto. However, I tend to favour unknown emerging designers that I find on my travels.
What has been your proudest career moment to date?
Every new experience can be considered a career hjghJight as it gives me an opportunity to grow and learn. However,
“It’s a privilege co be part of someone else’s journey, so the greatest highlights are when someone else I teach has a proud learning experience.”
I’ve also been blessed co receive numerous awards, including receiving an Honorary Australian Masters – a title which was very humbling – and Educator of the Year numerous times. The latter is the closest award to my heart as it acknowledged my transformation from hairdresser to educator. I still pinch myself when I walk on to a stage in front of thousands of people as I headline an international show or as a keynote speaker. I cherish every one of these experiences.
Which cities do you find most inspiring?
New York for the infectious energy; Taipei for the hospitality; Singapore for the diverse culture; Liverpool for the humor; London for the fashion; Malborne for the food; and Russia for the arcl1iteccure.
How would you describe y our hairdressing style?
I would describe my signature style as graphic and strong, while retaining classic beauty and simplicity. Meticulous precision and technique is 100% in my approach, yet creativity is 100% in my vision. I believe it’s in1portant to master the art of technique first and systemisation in your methods. Then set your imagination free to create your vision of a great outcome.
What’s your creative process when you start working on a collection?
Our lead-tin1e in planning a collection is usually three months. This allows sufficient time to build inspiration, organise
logistics and develop the team collaboration. Occasionally we do chis in less than one month if the need arises.
I begin by selecting the team and people with the expertise to be involved. Then we start with a pre-production
meeting to ensure we are all collaborating and contributing as a team. ext we design storyboards to create the synergy
and build the concept, then we some the models. Lastly we select cl1e hair looks as chat is always the final factor, not
the first, so we can ensure suitability to the model.
The creative process is the fun part as it builds a story. When it’s all finished it is rewarding to see the results from your vision.
Which hair looks do you love right now?
Hairdressing trends shift and change with each season’s fashion trends. Classic techniques are always crucial within
any trends and the industry is shifting back to fi rst-rate methodology. I’m loving chat as a result, re-invented, timeless classics are the key looks for the season. Fashion inspiration is borrowed from the ? Os, while the industrial mood of the 90s will influence lines and shapes. The renaissance era influences styling trends wicl1 vintage looks.
It’s the colour palette chat is the most exciting right now, as the bright rainbows and Ombre’s are starting to be replaced with more muted colour blending. Because of this, the distinctive tones and techniques for unique blends are the biggest statement for me right now.
What are your ‘can’t live without products and tools?
Our industry is full of so many amazing products, tools and resources and I have way too many favourites to list them all! Being a brand neutral organisation, I get to work with numerous manufacturers and suppliers of outstanding products. In saying that I do have a soft spot for the new L’OreaI Professional Pro Fiber. “It’s a privilege to be part of someone else’s journey so the greatest highlights are when someone else I teach has a proud learning~ perience.”
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started hairdressing?
I wish I had the maturity to understand that communication is the key to hairdressing, as I in itially focused purely on the skills. Due to having brilliant training my driving force in the early years was on the craftsmanship and quality of work, which of course it still is. As time progressed, relationships developed and I began travelling; this is when I learnt co understand hun1an behavior so much more. This greatly in1proved my pe1formance as a hair dresser, as an educator, as a team leader and as a business owner nothing can assist you more than life experience as long as you stay open-minded cowards each new opportunity.
You are one of the judges for NZ L’Oreal Style & Colour Trophy this year. What are you going to be looking/or and what advice can you give stylists and colourists who are entering?
Produce an image that is striking, that captures an emotion and is beautiful. When entering an award such as [Oreal tyle & Colour Trophy, you need to think like you are producing a front cover of Vogue. Personally I will be looking for the fuJl composition of the shot and a look that is sellable to the consumer. An avant-garde or super on-trend creative look does not have as much appeal; therefore produce an image that encapsulates beauty with some unique distinctiveness. Make sure the model is stunning and the look complements her features and suits her personally. Lastly, represent LOreal’s colour palette and the brand philosophy with beautiful, healthy hair.
What would you like to see more of from the hairdressing industry in future?
There is a shift cowards more live screaming, online tutorials and free education cl1at is easily accessible. However, we need to stay mindful that this ultimately can drop cl1e quality standards of work, as the engagement is lost so cl1e memory retention of the knowledge wont be as strong. No matter what education you choose, it needs to be real and relevant to every salon environment. I would like to see less quick fixes of inspiration chat don’t provide results and super creative looks that are non-wearable, which don’t translate into a commercial viability. Ultimately I would like to see salons and stylists investing more into education as chat is the driver for business development and personal growth. ocl1ing will ever replace real education no matter what new trends emerge. We are fortunate that our industry is one of the few remaining hands-on service industries char is still surviving. The industry needs to support each other and if you’re nor this way incl ined, it’s best to just focus on your own business and not gee consumed by what other people are doing or thinking.