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Michael Constantinou

Hairdressing Champion

Junior Men's British Champion.......(1986-1989). 4 times winner

Junior men's World Champion......(Rotterdam 1990). 2 Gold Medals

Senior men's World Championships........(Tokyo 1992). Silver & Bronze

Senior men's World Champion.......(London 1994). 2 Gold & 1 Bronze medals

Before the British Hairdressing Championships in Blackpool some time ago Estetica / The Cutting Edge, invited Michael Constantinou to give his advice on Getting started with competitions.

Why bother in the first place? You need to find a suitable model, work out which styles you wish to perform, then practice like crazy. Then you have other things to consider how are you going to dress the model what if the model lets you down at the last minute. These problems temporarily take priority over your life causing restless nights and frustration. Are you sure you want to enter this competition? may be you don't need to give it your best shot, but you will feel disappointed that you could have done better.

How we look at these points is important, are they problems or challenges? Do we lose energy by completing a task or does it motivate and propel us forward to the next. The process should be an enjoyable one regardless of the result. I would compete because I enjoyed it which included the late nights and practising at weekends. Every competition was successful regardless of whether or not I won. Winning is an added bonus not everyone can take first, second or third prizes. People hear of my success winning the British juniors 4 times and the World Championships 3 times what they don't hear is that I lost International & European competitions in Amsterdam, Nueronburg, Zurich and Paris. I also remember coming last in Swindon. Its all swings and roundabouts, persistence is important but also not being afraid of failing.

Competition helps us develop our skills to a greater level which reflects positively on our clients which can only benefit the salon. At the moment there is a great opportunity to become a member of the British Team. The training is free and you get to compete Internationally, all subsidised by sponsors, so if you are serious contact the National Hairdressing Federation to find out details. Remember Vidal Sassoon started in competitions and the more recent Mark Hill competed Internationally for many years.

Finding a Model can be a stressful task. Do you contact an agency, use one of your clients or pick someone up off the street or a club. I don't believe in paying large amounts of money for models as it can work out very expensive. Looks are important but there are other things to consider ie. hair type & texture that you can work with, head shape to show your style to the maximum , hair growth patterns that may cause problems and most important is the model cooperative. Will they allow you to fiddle with their follicles, cut their curls and repeatedly blow dry their bonnet. Its a tough job for a model they need to be almost as keen as you are.

How do you know what styles to perform?can your style be judged? does it have shape, movement and finish? We can all learn from the past. Seek out pictures, speak to competitors and try to work with some of the best competition workers around, they will be very willing to share their skills with you. Get yourself trained. This will shortcut the learning time considerably.

The amount of practise that you do before a competition is up to you. If it was a local event I would focus on 2 weeks before to work seriously. For the World Championships 6 months before with extra focus on the last 2 weeks. This meant you would give up the Salon, not do any clients but work solely on your model. If the style involved cutting at the competition within a short time limit, then other models were arranged each one cut & finished to the time allocated as if it were the real thing. In the last 4 days you would polish up your colouring, pluck any unwanted hairs from the hairline and check your cutting preparation. You are allowed to prepare your cut before so at the competition you take off only the amount required in the rules.

Remember practice gives you confidence. The more confident you are the better your work will be. The worlds greatest sports persons, actors and entrepreneurs would spend many hours practising. The difference between first and third in a hundred metre sprint may be as little as hundredths of a second. Its what happens in training that makes the difference. When your model is not available use your subconscious by continuously going over your work mentally. Create the competition in your mind and see it running smooth, feel the atmosphere and see your success. What the mind can see you can make real.

That's enough philosophy, here are some tips.

1. Get organised.

Send your entry forms in early.

Collect together all the tools and products you require well in advance.

Do not lend your tools out to anyone as you might be reaching for something at the competition that is not there.

2. As you sow you shall reap

Practice as hard as you can, the rewards will come if not this year then the next.

3. Help !

Show your work to other prospering hair artists to get their opinion. Do not leave this too late because in the last few days you need to set your mind on what you are doing and stick to it.

4. Get noticed

Colour needs to be stronger and bolder than in the salon. This will make your model stand out amongst the others. Use a dark colour with lighter areas to show off your movement. Don't be afraid to really go for it.

5. First impression

A judge walking on to a competition floor with anything between 10 and 100 models will have a difficult task finding the winners. Your model needs to visually jump up and smack the judge in the face. This is achieved by strong attention to detail in the hair work & the complete look i.e. clothes, makeup and props if necessary to create the theme.

I wish you the best of luck!