From Jetsetter To Online Educator: Adapting In The Pandemic
After leaving New Zealand for the UK thirty-four years ago, Patrick Cameron has grown his career travelling the globe as a top hairdressing trainer. Known as the expert for dressing long hair, he has presented at some of the most prestigious hairdressing events around the globe. Patrick has created a popular brand, sharing everything from books to hair accessories. After a lifetime of jet setting, he tells us how he has adapted during the worldwide pandemic.
What does your career mean to you?
It means everything. I was a low achiever at school, I was very social and good at all sorts of things, but really good at nothing. I left school with no qualifications whatsoever and when I started looking at hairdressing, what excited me was the concept of having a trade. Having a trade was something that was quite palpable for me. It felt like I could achieve something for myself.
What are some of your career highlights?
I have had the most blessed life. I’ve done shows in Mauritius and Guadeloupe and flown on private jets to do events with models. I’ve had audiences of over 6,000 people and have had standing ovations in New York. I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am of all of that, but I’m also a proud Kiwi, I never forget my roots.
You have a reputation for dressing long hair. How did this start?
It started when I was at the Clothes Show Live which was a huge event at the Birmingham NEC. I had an audience of about 5,000 or 6,000 people, they weren’t hairdressers, this was a big commercial event that was televised. I just thought, ‘I want to do long hair’. So, I did, and after the show the audience went wild. After I did the show, someone who I respected hugely in the industry said to me, “Patrick, I was watching you and I have never seen anybody do that with long hair. That’s your gift. That’s what you should do.”
From that point onwards, I started thinking about that. I started looking at the way Sassoon taught. I loved the step-by-step element that they put into everything.
Life throws you opportunities and one of the key things you have to learn is to see those opportunities when they happen.
How has your work been affected during this pandemic?
For twenty-eight years I travelled the world continuously, especially in the very beginning of my career. I was on a plane almost every week. Every year I go back to New Zealand for two months. Early this year, when we were flying back to England through Thailand, I said to my husband, “Gosh, things are starting to look a little bit serious here.”
A few days after landing in London, the first job that was on the roster was cancelled. I was supposed to host a huge multi-international show for 64 countries around the world. So the first one was cancelled, and then the next one cancelled, then the next one. They went over like dominoes.
How has the pandemic affected you personally?
Like all of us, my wheels fell off. I had to really pick myself up and try to figure out where to go from here, because my earning capacity had gone. It was quite an emotional, palpable thing.
I had to reach out to the hairdressers, the ones that know me and watched my early shows. I would end up almost crying on camera. I felt such a connection to my industry and such a connection to people around the world. That was my impetus to get going, to reach out. And that’s how Education in Isolation was born.
How did you adapt to working online?
I started my Facebook LIVE’s and during the height of the pandemic we had a reach of over 300,000 people. Even last night, we had 12,000 people viewing us, and a reach of 84,000 and 19,000 comments from around the world.
We’ve been able to provide education by shooting videos since about mid-march, if not a little bit earlier. I have a whole lighting rig and a studio, so I have an amazing setup. I’ve got Mannequin heads everywhere!
Can you tell us about Education in Isolation?
The title Education in Isolation was actually born a month or so before we even knew about the pandemic. The reason I came up with the idea was because more and more of our industry are going freelance. Solo work means isolation and creativity is harder to maintain when you’re in isolation. When the pandemic hit, it was the perfect fit for me to be able to reach out.
Every Monday morning at ten thirty UK time, I go live. On that live show, I’ll give you a beautiful head of hair step-by-step. It’s a lot of fun. It’s about forty-five minutes, and we also leave it up for twenty-four hours for international people.
On a Tuesday I talk about my merchandise and what I’m doing, and I do some more hair. On a Wednesday night I do A Conversation with Patrick where I interview hairdressers like Beverly Cobella, Jordanna Cobella and Andrew Collinge.
How have hair trends changed since lockdown?
I think for a lot of people it’s about first of all trying to maintain what they had. A lot of people are either embracing the gray, or they may have been one color and since they’ve had so much regrowth, they’ve gone into a whole new color system.
As far as the cutting goes, people are wanting hair that has freedom in it, so in the instance that there is another lockdown, it can still be maintained.
How do you feel the industry has been affected?
Our industry is fracturing. The high street is becoming more expensive to be on. It’s harder for younger hairdressers to get a foothold in the business market, so they are starting to say they will go out on their own. Consequently, those hairdressers find it hard to give up a day to go and get further education, so they’re looking into social media more and more.
What is your advice for someone starting out as an online educator?
It’s really important that the educator understands the format of digital, and how to present to the camera. How to bring to life what you’re talking about. So many educators at the moment are trying desperately to figure out what the difference is between standing on a stage or working in front of a live camera. There’s some really big learning curves going on at the moment.
Backgrounds and content are important, but the most important thing is looking in the camera, as whoever is watching then feels they are a part of something special.
What is your message to the industry?
My message to the industry is simple. Believe in your craft. Believe in yourself. You are special, you are talented. Nothing can replace you and you have to make sure you stay connected, motivated and inspired.
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