Interview with Mark Leeson at Front Row 2022
With more than 35 years of experience behind him, Mr. Leeson, Revlon Professional Global Ambassador, arrived at the Front Row Summit, held on May 15 in Madrid, to once again give us a lesson in fashion and hairdressing and the future of our industry. Revlon Professional had the opportunity to interview this talented hairdresser, who has won multiple awards such as the best British colorist of the year or Grand Master of the AIPP. Leeson delighted all of us at the Front Row Summit with an impactful, rock ‘n’ roll inspired catwalk.
To get to know a little more about our Revlon Professional Global Ambassador, we asked him how he prepares his collections, what he thinks of the new Revlonissimo Colorsmetique™ color, and what he can tell us about his British Helix Runway show. Keep reading on!
Mark Leeson, an Outstanding Career as a Professional Hairdresser
Revlon Professional: Welcome to Front Row 2022, Mark! It’s a pleasure to have you with us today. What was your starting point in the world of hairdressing and what has changed for you between then and now? What does this Front Row event have that others don’t? How do you keep innovating while staying true to yourself?
Mark: Thank you very much for having me. I have been working in the hairdressing world for 30 years. When I was 16 years old, I worked for a hairdresser in my city. Ten years later I managed to open my own business and then I started entering hairdressing competitions, starting with hair styling jobs for shoots. I worked my way up over the years, winning awards, getting more opportunities and greater responsibilities. It can be hard not to repeat myself after so many years. I want to create new images that make an impact, with new looks and colors. You have to change constantly and evolve your work.
Revlon Professional: You have won a multitude of hairdressing awards and participated in many runways. Do you still feel nervous before your work hits the catwalk? How do you prepare for that?
Mark: Definitely, yes! It’s passion mixed with a lot of nerves. You always want the audience to like your work. When you’ve been working for so long, you know your colleagues, the models, etc. so it takes a little bit of pressure off because they know what they have to do. To prepare for a show, I start with pen and paper. I draw the shapes of the hair, the outfits for the girls but everything evolves and changes in the process so the final looks tell a story.
Revlon Professional: What was your inspiration for tonight’s catwalk? What did Revlon Professional and its team bring?
Mark: I was inspired by color and the history of color, so I chose shades from the new Revlonissimo Colorsmetique™ portfolio. I also used Nutricolor Filters™ color filters, which I mixed to create new combinations of tones. I wanted to bring the ‘London feel’ to the show with the rock and roll, the music, and the flag.
Revlon Professional has the most beautiful color in the world and it doesn’t damage the hair. I continue to use it on clients in the salon. In addition, I go to seminars and feel like I am part of this great family. It’s wonderful to be able to work together and it encourages you to keep creating. The models know that when I finish their hair it will look spectacular.
Revlon Professional: We follow your Instagram and we can see an evolution over time. What have been your favorite moments on the catwalk? And what can you tell us about your team of stylists and assistants, or even about the models who wear your creations?
Mark: In the UK, I won the award for best hairdresser 2014. It was spectacular to work that day with the models. I have encapsulated that moment because it was so magical. My team is very important. From the models to the photographers, these people are with you throughout the creative process. You get to the runway working side by side, contributing ideas and collaborating. In my team there are 5 people who are in the Hall of Fame of Hairdressing, so there is a lot of talent. It’s very important to listen to your team.
Revlon Professional: Is Front Row an important event in the hairdressing world?
Mark: Yes, it’s great to do an event of this magnitude annually. It brings together so many hairdressing professionals, you get to meet new people, and see their creations. In our day to day life it can be hard to talk to other competing salons and to exchange ideas and grow. This is also a great event to forecast the future, so I’d love to attend again next year!
Revlon Professional: Any secrets about the preparation for this runway that you can share with us?
Mark: No, everything went perfectly (laughs). No, what usually happens on runways is that the models don’t fit into the heels, but this time everything went well. They all had their looks correctly on, etc. Everything must be under control. The secret is just to be prepared and organized.
Revlon Professional: Your passion for coloring is always present in your creations. What did you think about the new Revlonissimo Colorsmetique™?
Mark: These new colors are more intense. They deposit more tone, which is great for copper shades because they have more intensity. Regarding using this line in the salon, we are able to create beautiful looks that the clients love. In our salon, we have screens with the new colors so that the clients can look through them. It’s wonderful to be able to tell them that the color they see on the screen is the color they are going to get with the new Revlonissimo Colorsmetique™. Clients are demanding more and more information and it’s important to give it to them.
Revlon Professional: Can you describe the Front Row Awards in 3 words?
Mark: Electric, colorful, and exciting!
Revlon Professional: What are 3 pieces of advice you would give to future hairdressers who are reading this now?
Mark: Don’t be afraid to experiment. Even if something doesn’t turn out well, we can learn from our mistakes. If you enter a competition, read the rules well, know exactly what they expect from you. Also, networking is so important. Sign up for as many competitions as you can, meet a lot of people, introduce yourself. Hairdressing is about collaboration and helping those around us.
Revlon Professional: Finally, after the shock of the pandemic, what strategies have you followed to revive your salon and what advice would you give to other salon owners to strengthen their businesses?
Mark: The pandemic has changed many aspects of the way we work. It was a little scary to start over, but we had to slow down, see what we could do and allow ourselves to make some changes. Before, we were successful so we didn’t want to change anything but now I realize that the changes have been for the better. We have made many changes in the way we work in the salon, even in the design of the salon itself. For instance, before there were two areas, one for color and one for finishing work. Now we work in all areas with spaces between chairs, which has actually improved our work. I think these have been positive changes. It is important to create a great environment for both the hairdressers and the clients.
Revlon Professional: It has been a great pleasure to interview you and you have inspired us so much! We wish you even more success so that Revlon Professional, clients, and colleagues can continue to enjoy your creations for a long time to come.
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