Anna

I was a really creative child at school and I never quite fitted into the education system. From the age of 12 I decided to become a hairdresser and as soon as I left school, I moved to London from a small village in Sweden.

My mother said to me when I left school, “What if you become really successful hairdresser?” and I told her I didn’t want that, but I did have a really strong creative force inside of me. After a few years in London, I sneaked into the British Hairdressing Awards and I was standing at the back, with eyes wide open, watching the event and seeing my hairdressing heroes. They announced the categories and said, “London Hairdresser of the Year”, and as soon as they said this, there was an energy in my body, coming up my spine and I just knew that one day wanted to win that. I became so focussed, that everything else disappeared; I was a force without limitations. Most of the people who win these awards have big budgets and I worked for a company that had never entered before. I picked people off the street that I knew would photograph well and I had to buy all the clothes and return them after the shoot to make it happen. I focused so hard on it.

My boyfriend at the time, took me to the cinema. I had my Polaroids inside my jacket and I was staring at them, not watching the film. I was there to please my boyfriend, but my heart was in the intention to win, I was focussed on my work.

I won the award and became ‘British Hairdresser of the Year’ in 2000. I had mixed emotions; confidence and surprise, it was a bit overwhelming. It set a very high standard and high expectations for my working life. Success can be very addictive and feeds the ego. I worked as a hairdresser for another 10 years and had celebrity clients like Madonna and Kate Moss.

When I was 35, I was sitting with my assistants after a show and one of them said to me, “you have done all the shows, won awards, what’s next?” and I heard myself reply “I am going to go to Africa.”

Part of me was longing to do something for other people that was more real, something that would benefit people on a more basic level. Not all about fake eyelashes and the getting the perfect tone of red. I started to study anthropology and the concept of beauty in diverse cultures and transitioned away from hairdressing. Letting go of the success and not being part of the hairdressing world was very hard but now I’m happy helping local people in Morocco to escape poverty by developing their businesses, selling high quality interior design and beauty products in Europe.