Exclusive – Interview with Tabatha Coffey, Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Tabatha Coffey
Tabatha 1
Photo courtesy of Tabatha Coffey.

Beauty extraordinaire and tough love guru, Tabatha Coffey is a legend. She is the epitome of a smart and successful business woman—which is one of the reasons why she is receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award during this week’s Southwest Hairstyling Awards. Coffey has devoted her life to making the beauty world a better place by whipping salons and businesses into shape. From Australia to Great Britain and the United States, she has become a leader in her industry. See what she has to say about her achievements just days before she accepts her award, then RSVP to the event to experience it live.

 303: You are receiving the Lifetime Achievement award at the Southwest Styling awards. What do you attribute to your success? 
 Tabatha Coffey: I am and truly honored. I have been in the beauty industry since I was 14 years old, and I love and respect it more today than I did back then. I guess my success like many other professionals comes from loving what I do, working hard and not settling for mediocrity.

 303: What do you think makes a successful hairdresser?

TC: Passion, commitment, perseverance, skill, consistency and being a good listener.
 You need to be passionate about this industry. It isn’t easy, and a lot of talented people get discouraged and sadly, very early. You have to be committed to honing your craft continuing, your education to be on top of your game, and putting the work into building a successful career. It takes time. As hairdressers, we sometimes don’t “hear ” what our clients say, so listening to them speaking to them asking them questions helps set us up for success and exceed their expectations. And, when we can consistently give them the results they want and made them feel great about themselves we have been successful.

 “You need to be passionate about this industry… You have to be committed to honing your craft… It takes time.”

303: Do you think that the world has accepted the art of hair?
TC: I believe the world has always appreciated the art of hair but maybe not respected it the way it deserves. Many people still think hairdressing isn’t a “real” career or something that people do because they can’t go to college because they don’t recognize the work, commitment, training and education that goes into making people not only look better but feel better about themselves. Our profession involves so much knowledge to not only use the chemicals we use but to hone the skills that we have.

“When you expect a lot of yourself and are constantly looking at ways of improving yourself, your business and your life you don’t have a lot of time to spend on fluff and hand holding,  it isn’t productive.” 

Photo courtesy of Tabatha Coffey
Photo courtesy of Tabatha Coffey

303: Was there a specific moment that you adopted the “tough love” mantra or have you always lived that way?

TC: I have always been that way. Part of it was my upbringing and having a “tough love” mother that always told you the truth even if you didn’t want to hear it, and the other part is having high expectations for myself. When you expect a lot of yourself and are constantly looking at ways of improving yourself, your business and your life you don’t have a lot of time to spend on fluff and hand holding,  it isn’t productive.

303: What advice would you give to an up and coming beauty professional?
TC: As I said above, there is a lot that goes into building a successful career and sadly a lot of younger people to the industry want it overnight. It takes time to build a clientele, have a successful business hone your skills, and gain the respect of your peers. The hard work you put in, you will receive back tenfold.  Look for a mentor or someone to help you grow, and keep learning and practicing as the beauty industry is forever evolving.

303: Can you list three occurrences that have shaped your career?
TC: Wow, only three that is hard! When I was 14, I worked for a year for free in a salon as a shampoo girl, and it changed my life. It totally solidified the fact that hairdressing was the career I wanted to pursue and that I loved it even if there wasn’t a paycheque involved. Being lucky enough of not only moving to the UK from Australia and then to the US but traveling around the world teaching and speaking to other hairdressers. It has taught me not only the differences of cultures and our industries perceptions of aesthetic and beauty, it showed me no matter what language we speak, we all speak hairdresser and have many of the same issues all over the world. And, having my show on Bravo has obviously been a huge career change. Not only because of being on TV with a successful show for five seasons but for being able to help and touch so many people. I love how much the show resonated with people from all backgrounds and I am so grateful for all the support I have received from my industry. It’s great when hairdressers tell me their husbands, friends, family finally get what they do and how hard they work from watching.

303: What’s next from Tabatha Coffey?
TC: A lot!  I am working on my third book, filming a new series for Bravo and doing a lot of business workshops for hairdressers. I have also been doing a lot more editorial work and hair, which is my first love. 

Go here to RSVP your spot for the Southwest Hairstyling Awards this Wednesday, April 6.

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