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Home / News and Insights / Insights / Josh Wood – Josh Wood Colour

In this month’s article, Mireille, beauty lead at top UK law firm BDB Pitmans, speaks with the world-leading hair colour expert Josh Wood.

Josh explains how, after a self-inflicted short stint on an art foundation course, he ended up in the hair industry, and a journey from breaking the mould of 90s cookie-cutter salons to the digitisation of hair colour.

Perhaps his time in the art world was well-spent, because it emerged from our interview that Josh has a skill for big-picture thinking. Having maintained an incredible client base and developed and scaled several successful product ranges, all whilst running salons, I’m particularly excited to see where Josh is leading the industry next…

How did you get into what you do?

I fell into the industry. I left education and followed a friend to a local salon in Yorkshire – it became apparent that it was an environment in which I could thrive. After some time, I left Yorkshire for Vidal Sassoon in Leeds which ended up taking me on to London and New York.

By 1999, I had co-founded Real Hair in Chelsea with my incredible client base that I had worked tirelessly to develop. Real Hair salon was different and not another cookie-cutter salon.

Alongside running the salon, I worked with Procter & Gamble to promote a range for Vidal Sasoon and then went on to create my own Real Hair range which launched in Harvey Nichols. After that, I went on to develop my Atelier range.

Fast forward to today with my ‘Josh Wood’ salon in London and John Wood hair colour range. I’m creating something new with this one; customers get to personalise and manage their own colour and not be confined to the limited number of options currently available. I’m planning to take this all digital!

What advice would you give to founders at the beginning of their career?

No matter how menial the job, learn as much as you can, soak it up. There is nothing that I ask my team to do that I haven’t done myself.

You absolutely have to understand your business top to bottom and from the inside out. I’ve become comfortable with being uncomfortable; if I’m in a board meeting and I don’t understand something I put my hand up – I want to understand it.

What do you wish you had known whilst growing your business?

Without any hesitation, I wish I’d learnt to read management accounts and understand and navigate spread sheets a lot sooner than I did. If you’re running a business, you need to track, track, track – if there’s no growth, there’s no job. To develop your business you have to understand this; even if you’re the creative mind, you have a vested interest in it. A lot of people in hair and beauty are not business minded – they’re creative – but it’s not an excuse for burying your head in the sand; you need to know exactly what you are doing.

Just as important as reading figures is hiring the right people. I have made mistakes and it has been expensive. Despite that, it’s been a learning curve and each time I have learnt something invaluable. Even with hires that have been successful and they’ve later gone on to leave – you can’t take things personally, there is just so much choice and opportunity these days.

What made the biggest impact in scaling your business?

You can’t scale a business without a talented team. Over the years it became clear that to get the best out of my staff, I needed to create a culture where my staff could thrive – they were part of the ‘Josh Wood Family’ and I was invested in them. Each time I ask myself: what is each person’s strength? How can I help them to understand this strength and help them to continue to develop it?

Without my staff, I have no business – it’s a human being that is doing the job and treating them well and creating the right culture pays dividends, in every single aspect, both for the Josh Wood Family and our customers.

If you have your own business and would be interested in legal advice in connection with establishing or scaling your own brand, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Mireille, who will be pleased to have an initial conversation to see where we can help.

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