Meet the Co-Founder of Lockonego Salon
Ben Cooke has wowed both the fashion and hair industries with his groundbreaking yet wearable styles, creating catwalk looks for the likes of PPQ and Jenny Packham and for celebrities like Audrina Partridge and Leona Lewis. Ben is responsible for some of the most influential styles of recent years, such as the “Pob,” which he created for Victoria Beckham and even more recently Leona Lewis’ fishtail plait as seen and emulated in the pages of numerous magazines and newspapers. Ben did his first haircut at aged 15 and had his first job at a salon on the fashionable King’s Road in London’s Chelsea. With a long and fruitful career in hair styling, Ben has established himself as a leading expert with a plethora of celeb clients and is a co-founder of one of the best A-list salons in London, Lockonego. In recent weeks, Ben Cooke’s skills were recognized and awarded at one of the industry’s most eagerly anticipated annual events – The Hair Awards.
What does it mean to you to have won Best Backstage Stylist at the 2010 Hair Awards?
I’m completely chuffed to have won Hair’s Backstage Stylist award. It was a real shock. It’s also very cool to be recognised in the industry, by your peers, and by the leading hair magazine. To be honest, you can never be sure if you might scoop the prize right up until the announcement is made, so the lead-up can be quite nerve-wracking.
I have proudly popped the award on the reception desk of my salon Lockonego and all my clients comment on it and are so pleased for me – it’s really quite touching.
What has been the proudest moment of your career as a top hair stylist so far?
I think one of the proudest moments of my career was when Jonathan Long and I opened our salon, Lockonego, on the Kings Road. It was something I’d never imagined doing and I’m massively proud of it. Lockonego was shortlisted for best London salon at the Hair Awards, which was another proud moment. London is such a competitive market but we have a great team of very talented colourists, stylists and cutters so I really don’t think there is anywhere in London that surpasses our skill and service. I am very proud of that.
What has been your biggest challenge to date?
My biggest challenge to date? Learning to teach hair styling has been a big challenge. It’s hard to teach something creative – there are no specific formulas to follow. I guess I offer guidance to students and try to encourage their creativity whilst also trying to ensure that the practical side of things is faultless and most importantly, fun. I’m really enjoying teaching session and backstage stylists of the future at The Session School in London. We get some really keen, raw talent at the Session School and it is such an honour to be involved to help shape their future careers.
I adore my job so much that in all honesty I love a good hair challenge. Be it pleasing a client in the salon or coming up with a crazy hairstyle on a photo shoot, it’s all fun. There is nothing else I would rather do.
How do you think the industry has changed since you started out?
The industry has grown and developed a lot since I started. Almost every day there are new products, appliances and techniques to consider – it’s one of the amazing things about this industry. By the time I have discovered the need for a new tool or product, it’s been launched and a kind PR has sent it to me for trial.
When I first started in the industry, I am not sure that celebrity culture was as much of an influence as it is now.
I suppose that what hasn’t changed, is that everyone is searching for the next BIG thing and it becomes increasingly difficult to wow people. With so much great talent around it is important to keep in touch with what people are wearing, how they are wearing their hair, who is doing their hair, and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t constantly thinking about what’s next. That could be the next trend in colour or the next impactful cut. Inspiration can come from anywhere, it really can. I am fortunate enough to travel with my work quite a bit so it’s important to always keep my eyes peeled.
The bar is constantly being raised and I’m pleased to be a part of that.
What advice would you give to budding session stylists, desperate to make it in the industry?
My advice to any budding stylists is to work hard, keep your eye out for inspiration everywhere and remember to have fun. You can never stop learning. If people take the time to show you a new skill or a different way of doing something – listen and learn. You should never underestimate the power of word of mouth and to maximise your network in the industry you have to get out of the salon from time to time and get to the right events because you never know who you may meet.
Also, your happy clients will spread the word like wildfire but so will unhappy clients, perhaps even faster. It’s imperative that everyone leaves your chair feeling happy for this precise reason. As they say, reputations take years to build and seconds to destroy.
What’s next for you?
What’s next for me? Well busy as always and I just celebrated a big birthday. I am enjoying where I am in my career for the moment. I keep myself very busy indeed and long may it continue.