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Long-serving Chapel stylist Lucy (formerly Maggie when you used to know her!) Ward touched down in London this month after travelling around New Zealand for the past two years. Following her brief intermission to join her partner on a Kiwi adventure, she’s now refreshed and ready to get back to work here with us at The Chapel Islington. We caught up with Lucy on the day she landed to learn more about her travels and her new plans for the future!
I’ve always had a creative streak. I studied fine art at university before channelling my creativity into hairdressing. When I got the opportunity to move to New Zealand, I was so excited to experience the native art and culture on offer. From my experience in painting and hairdressing, I’ve always been skilled with my hands. In New Zealand, they’re big on ceramics, so when I got there, I started up my own pottery brand. I had so much creative energy that I was putting into my hairdressing, that I needed to find an outlet for it while I was away. It was great to be inspired by the nature and art of the land, and channel that into my creations.
I’ve always thought I’d go on an adventure at some point for my work, and when I met my partner who is originally from New Zealand, the two sort of lined up. I got a two-year working holiday visa and worked while I travelled. It was amazing. For me, the best part was the way you can become anonymous. It took a while to get used to the fact of how little people there were around, you could travel for half a mile in a certain direction, and see nobody. But after a while, it’s comforting, and you become closer to nature. Being somewhere truly wild is not something you can experience in the UK. But in New Zealand, when you discover a new place, it so peaceful that it feels like you’re the first person that’s ever been there. The whole culture and history of the Pacific Island is like that, it's very calming and spiritual.
Before I got to New Zealand I had short hair so I never really needed many products before then. I’m a very simple person, so even when I began growing out my hair, I kept it really basic. For me, the ultimate hair essentials are a hair brush and a good shampoo. As long as I have these in my bag, my hair is ready for anything.
I’ve definitely been inspired by the colours in New Zealand. Although I trained as a technical cutter with Vidal Sassoon, it was great to pick up some new colouring techniques while I was there. In New Zealand, there’s a much more relaxed approach to hairdressing. You see a lot more freehand highlights and balayage to achieve that effortless, beachy look. The one downside to hairdressing over there is that they were a bit behind the UK when it comes to products, so I had to get a bit creative when treating clients.
One thing I discovered on my travels is that, in New Zealand, they’re big on sustainability. While I was out there, I found a job in an eco-friendly, ammonia-free salon. They were really conscious of reducing waste. 95% of the rubbish produced in the salon was reused or recycled: the foil from highlights was sold to raise money for a homeless charity, and cuts of hair were collected and made into natural sponges to mop up oil spills in the ocean. Finding a salon like this was great because they adopted the ‘less is more’ approach to hairdressing that I implement in my home life. So it was great to be able to practice these values at work. I’d really love to try to carry on some of these techniques at The Chapel now that I’m back.
While I loved my experiences in New Zealand, I was ready to come back to the UK. I knew that I wouldn’t work anywhere else but The Chapel. The ethos here is unlike anywhere I’ve worked. Bigger chain salons can make you feel like you’re a cog in a machine, but The Chapel is the only place I’ve ever felt I have the time to be able to do the best work I can. I think it’s really important to recognise hairdressers as artists, because our work is full of passion and creativity, and the end result is to make our clients feel happy. Even as an artist, you get a sense of fulfilment knowing you’ve taken the time to do a great job. That’s one thing I’ve come to appreciate about The Chapel after being away for so long. Although each salon is filled with so many stylists, each with a unique personality and style, we’re all brought together by the same philosophy on hairdressing.
Lucy will be back working at our Islington salon this month — why not pop in and say hi? For more insight like this from Lucy and our other Chapel stylists, feel free to visit our dedicated blog.