Trevor Sorbie. A "Bespoke" Lifeby Elena Negreskul
In Sorbie's native Britain, tailors and dressmakers still consider a bespoke suit, made to order, the essence of civilized dressing. This sense of individualism also defines Sorbie, who began his career more than three decades ago as a barbershop boy in Buckingham Palace, then went on to pioneer the iconic "Wedge" cut, made famous around the world by America's sweetheart and Olympic gold medalist figure-skater Dorothy Hamill in the late 1970s.
Vidal Sassoon, who for many years employed Sorbie as Artistic Director, describes Sorbie's winning formula as "original thinking with superb technical ability." But for all of the accolades and accomplishments, including three award-winning salon locations in the UK, Sorbie is self-effacing. After a lifetime of stellar achievement, he now craves bohemian simplicity - or so he says.
Trev on the current economy: positively Darwinian
"They did a survey in the last recession in the UK, and the survey said that the food and the beauty businesses are the two businesses that suffer the least. It's not that they don't suffer, but they suffer the least. We all have to eat, and we all have to self-respect. Even if you're out of work, you still need a haircut. So, we're fortunate that we've chosen an industry that can absorb a financial blow. But even if we were making bread, my philosophy would still be same: just make the best bread."
"I like recessions, I do. Everyone has to raise their game. Better customer service, better quality, and it gets rid of people that I think shouldn't be there in the first place. It's the natural way of clearing out some of the rubbish that exists today, and only the strongest will survive. The law of the jungle. I believe that's a good thing."
"It's all about value for money. It's as simple as that. To pay a lot of money and get bad service, you lose your business. Give good service, good value for money, good attitude, good customer service, you'll live forever as a business."
Trev on the art of theteam: build on strengths
"The great thing about being old is you have a lot of experience. And to pass that experience on to younger people with wisdom and knowledge and loving care, you can grow people. Developing people is a very important part of being in the business - not to take everything for yourself, but to share and to watch people grow and to pick out star qualities, and to let those stars shine brightly."
"Different people have different qualities, different strengths. You can hand pick them and then you can build a team. Some of them are scorers, some are goalkeepers, and you put them into positions where as team-players, they keep reaching for their strengths. Today, my team brings together people that are good in certain areas, ho synergize to make a good show, hopefully."
Trev on teachers: draw from many sources of greatness
"My father was a hairdresser, and he was my first teacher. Likewise, his teacher was his father, so it's in the family. Originally, I had wanted to be an artist, but I was bullied in school, so my father suggested that I come and work with him. So I learned to apply my creativity to hair instead of painting."
"Then, the best teacher I had, and he's my absolute hero, is Vidal Sassoon. He didn't teach me personally, but his team taught me, and they taught me discipline. It wasn't one haircut they taught me; it was a mentality they taught me, and I'm forever in Vidal Sassoon's debt for that education."
Sassoon praised his
"original thinking with superb
"After my time with Sassoon, who emphasized cutting, I felt that there could be more to hairdressing than just the scissors, so I went to work for Toni & Guy. They taught me more about dressing and finishing hair. From there, I went to a hairdresser called John Freida, who has a great product line, and he taught me what I call 'soft' hairdressing with the round brush. So what I've done through the years is learned different bits from different teachers, a little bit from here, a little bit from there, I put it all into my mentality."
Trev on success: it's all about the passion
"As hairdressers, we're not trying to impress the outside world. We're trying to impress the industry, the hairdresser, and to do that you have to produce work that's inspirational, something that makes you go "Wow!" If you can make hairdressers go "Wow!", then that to me is what it is all about."
"When I was doing shows, yes, I showed new techniques, yes, I would educate people, but more importantly than showing a technique is to inspire. I know that if you're inspired, you actually go to work the next day and do better hair, because you're excited, and when you're excited and inspired, you cut from the heart, not just from the head."
"The work has to thrill you, yourself, as well as others. I mean, I eat, sleep and breathe hairdressing, it cost
me two marriages, but hairdressing was never a job, it was my life and it still is. And, you know when you live something, it's who you are. Take that away from me and I'm nothing."
Trev on hairdresser ego: no room for divas/divos
"I believe in leadership by example. I still sweep the floor myself, I shampoo clients myself, and I make coffee for my clients. If I can do it, my team-members can do it. What I'm trying to teach is good habits, and not to have an outsized ego, because that's one of the biggest problems in hairdressing. As far as my own ego, I like to think that mine is controlled, and that I use it in the right way."
Trev on the need to give back: what goes around...
"I decided to stop doing shows five years ago, at the same time my sister-in-law Jackie got cancer, and she asked if I would get her a wig and I said, of course. I put the wig on her, and I said I told her it was a bit too much hair. Then I cut it, and she got up, looked in the mirror and burst out crying. Tears of joy."
"Sadly, Jackie lost her battle and died, but something happened to me that to this day I am doing. I stopped cutting client's hair in the salon a month ago, and all I'm doing now is cutting wigs for cancer patients. In our country, if you have chemotherapy, the hospital will give you money for a wig, but it's like 50 pounds, a very small amount of money, so you get a very bad quality wig. The money is there for me to help buy wigs for clients that can't afford an expensive wig and it's there to provide for those people."
"Your work has to thrill you,
yourself as well as others."
"I created a charity called "My New Hair" (mynewhair.org), and I've trained 120hairdressers in the UK to do this important work. The idea is to train 400 hairdressers throughout the UK, so that that this is a service that everyone in the UK knows about. Perhaps the idea will be embraced in America as well."
"If you lose your hair to chemo, or you simply get alopecia and you lose your hair and you buy a wig, a skilled hairdresser can customize it to make it look realistic. It's a very important thing for women who suffer hair-loss, because they lose their confidence, their femininity, and self-esteem when they lose their hair. So, to help restore that well-being, when they are ill, recovering, and even if they are not recovering, is a very important thing for hairdressers to be able to do. It's a healing act. That's where I'm at today, and it gives me more pleasure than anything else I've ever done in hairdressing."
Trev on his impending old age: life becomes art
"A few years ago, my daughter asked me why I didn't have a hobby. At that time, I did nothing but hairdressing. She asked me why I didn't try painting again, and I told her too many years had gone by. Painting is like anything else, you have to practice to be good. That particular Christmas, she went out and bought me paints and pencils and things, and I remember I sat down one night and I saw this vase and decided to try it. It was absolute rubbish; it was terrible. But, the type of person I am, I thought I could do better than that. Every night for a year, I did a drawing of some sort. "
"Now I've got this fairytale dream of going somewhere quiet, as so many artists have, maybe to Paris or the south of France. At the end of my life, I would love to live in a little attic painting away, having bread and wine for lunch. Live very simply in an idyllic setting. Somewhere very basic."