We’re a busy bunch, but we’ve always got time to sit down and have a chat with Elle Tumelty, our salon owner and total babe of a boss (it’s true, and we’re aren’t just sayin’ that cos she pays us), who provided us with more of an insight into what she loves/dislikes about her job and what message she has to other fellow hairdressers and the general public.
Elle, you’ve been a hairdresser for over 13 years now and are known as one of the most experienced in the area. You’re the owner of a successful salon and have been for the past 3 of your 13 year career, and more recently, the salon, Scissor + Stone, has been dubbed one of Perth’s best hair studios, according to beauty hub Gritty Pretty – certainly a huge recognition and achievement in such a short period of time. With straight-A grades and a creative flare, you could’ve had a career in practically any industry. So, why hairdressing all those years ago?
Believe it or not, hairdressing was always a dream of mine -I have always found myself migrating towards anything creative. I was an above average student and always did well at school and probably could have done anything I really put my mind to, however, hairdressing was it for me. When I initially made the decision of this career path, I received so much criticism and was told many a time, ‘you could become so much more than just a hairdresser!’ This statement, for a long time, definitely weighed down on my shoulders. I knew I loved this industry but I would say to people, ‘oh I’m just a hairdresser.’ I truly think at that time that’s probably what majority of hairdressers said to people when they were asked about their profession.
You must be having the last laugh now then, right?
Well, fast forward 13 years, and let me tell you now, I’m f*cking proud of being a hairdresser, and I’m proud of what I’ve been able to achieve! But most importantly, I still love my job after all this time, day in and day out, which is most important to me.
What do you love about it?
This industry is incredible. I love the people, I love my craft. Every day is different and I love that my job allows me to work with some incredibly inspiring people, and it allows me to meet so many new people and to help make them feel great about themselves.
What have been some of the challenges?
It definitely hasn’t been all smooth sailing. There’s been loads of ups and downs, especially since opening the salon, as any business owner can relate to. Plus, after 13 years, I now resemble a version of Quasimodo with all my back pain, my feet constantly hurt and I have limited time with my husband, family and friends because I work every weekend. But, would I change it? No! I’m very passionate about my career and the salon is my baby. It’s all worth it.
What message do you have to say to other hairdressers currently working in the industry, and young females and males who want to pursue a career in this industry?
Well, the message I’d like to say to fellow hairdressers and people of the industry is to please stop bastardising (excuse my French) this industry! Stop undervaluing your work and undercharging. We are so fortunate to be a part of an industry that is forever changing and evolving, and now more than ever, we have every resource and everything we need at our fingertips. I hope none of my team ever feel like they are just a hairdresser, because they are so much more than that! We get to travel, create, build relationships and make people smile everyday. How incredibly lucky are we? To young people who want to pursue a career in this industry, do it. I encourage you to be creative and put yourself out there. It’s challenging, it’s hard work, but you won’t look back.
We’re lucky to work in an industry that’s ever-changing. But, with this change comes frustration, too. Quite often, customers overlook the reasons why we charge what we do for our work as it’s sometimes hard to show the value/time/cost that goes into producing the end result of a great haircut, colour or style. What is your opinion on this issue?
It’s extremely frustrating and hurtful. We spend thousands of dollars a year on our tools (to put into perspective, scissors are $800 a pop), and education alone, and are still one of the lowest paid industries in Australia, yet I, and others in this profession, will continuously hear the phrase, ‘oh, that’s too expensive,I wouldn’t pay that.’ after they receive a quote or price on hair. Not to mention, the years of experience under a hairdressers belt, which has allowed them to also justify their pricing. My advice to the general public is to think twice about knocking back a quote a hairdresser provides you with. After all, It’s not just a figure plucked out of thin air: so much more has been taken into account to provide that bottom-line number.