“We will make it work!”
This was the plucky text received from Tracey Hughes when a series of highly inconvenient events prevented our meeting. Travel is a messy business. You can plan all you like, but at the end of the day, there are simply too many factors involved to stick to a hard and fast plan. So when a flight delay pre-empted our best-laid plans, adjustments needed to be made.
Luckily, Tracey is a woman very used to travelling and making said adjustments. We were determined to feature this accomplished artist and educator as our first ever Industrie Artist in Residence, a series that we devised to really get to know artists’ whose work we truly admire, in a real and in-depth way. We will spend this whole month learning all about Tracey through her work, four distinct collections—Chucoteur, Optique, Kooky & Qualia—and her story.
People of Industrie, meet Tracey Hughes, Acclaimed Educator & World Renowned Artist.
What’s your story?
I grew up in the north of England, in a typical working class situation in a good family environment. Like many of those who end up in Australia, I went down under backpacking. I quit my job, packed up my worldly possessions, waved goodbye to my mum and got on a plane! I fell in love with Australia; the sunshine, the lifestyle and the passion. I discovered the hairdressing industry and decided to make my home there. Now I reside in the USA in California and Australia on the Gold Coast.
I have the most supportive husband who is my rock and my hero. He is an accomplished chef so when I’m home I get spoilt with great meals. My mum is my biggest fan and while she thinks I’m crazy working so much, she still looks after me and does my washing and ironing after every trip. My best friend is very down to earth, stable and loving. My two dogs provide me unconditional love. So my personal life is very grounded.
The professional network I have chosen to have around me are other very self-motivated driven individuals who inspire each other. I love these qualities and the contribution we provide each other to become successful in our own field of expertise. I believe you acquire characteristics from those closest to you so I try to choose wisely whom I surround myself with.
What makes you…you?
We all like to believe we have our own uniqueness. My character has become who it is due to the independence I developed by traveling on my own at a young age. The experience of setting up a solo new life in another country is challenging emotionally when you haven’t developed life’s maturity yet. However, my traits of determination and resilience have made me embrace change and take risks. So who am I? Well, I’m just a naive infant in many ways yet brimming with a lot of confidence that loves to push herself beyond even her own expectations.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Patience. It is totally overrated. Why wait? Life is about NOW!
What are your side gigs and hobbies?
Hobbies? Mmmm…hairdressing, speaking, teaching, working! I don’t have any side gigs due to a manic schedule, however, I’m a huge animal lover so any excuse to play with my dogs and visit farm animals rock my world.
Let’s talk about how you have actively supported your community and why that’s important to you?
I believe that education is an ongoing journey of self-discovery so my philosophy is based upon continuous education and personal development.
As human beings, our behaviour patterns show that we all have the same needs and desires in life. A sense of community is part of our DNA that we need to feel secure and want to belong. Building a network of connections globally and teaching so many stylists creates a sense of certainty and significance.
Why I do this is to provide myself with a sense of service and a focus on contribution. I simply love our industry and I love the opportunity to work with so many others as I grow from this experience too.
I thrive on new ideas and projects that push me to develop my mind further. I appreciate the act of giving to others and I love to travel the world whilst doing so. Plus, I have bundles of natural energy so I need to channel this wisely somehow so that’s what makes me go out and do it!
What is your favorite quote?
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.”
Where do you shop? What are you listening to? What are you reading/watching?
I love to shop in different cities around the world on my travels. There are favourite designers I like, however, I like anything a little distinctive and trendy.
I have a diverse taste in music but always love listening to the sounds from the 60’s era. I read trashy novels to switch me off from reality or I read business and motivational books that I can learn from.
TV doesn’t really interest me much, however, I’m a sucker for a great movie. On long haul flights, I just watch movie after movie all the way.
What did you have for breakfast today?
Granola, fruit and yogurt.
How do you keep your personal life and your work life balanced?
An even work/life balance is a concept I have yet to fathom! Work to me is life as it is ultimately what I enjoy doing. When I am not hopping on and off planes, I like to spend as much time at home with my husband and our two gorgeous dogs.
You mentioned a farm. Tell us more.
I used to have a farm, however, we moved about a year ago as it was in an area that was prone to floods occasionally and there were a few times we got flooded in and couldn’t get out of our property.
However, we did have nine goats, eight chickens, three donkeys and our two dogs. Sitting in the paddock with all the animals was my downtime. I loved having the kid goats jump all over me, the donkeys nuzzle their heads in and the chicks pecking away at me. Goats are my favourite as when you hand raise them they are very affectionate and are lots of fun. The farm animals all have new loving homes where we can still visit them regularly.
Tell us about your career path.
I went to school in Birkenhead, England and began my hairdressing career in 1986 as an apprentice at Christopher Boyton in the UK at 16 years old and became a qualified hairdresser in 1989. I initially had visions of becoming a barrister after my school studies finished and was planning on going to university to study law. However, I was naturally artistic so I listened to my instincts and had a change of heart, which took me down the creative career path of hairdressing.
The day I started hairdressing I knew this was what I was meant to do.
As an international educator and speaker, I have been very fortunate to have experienced a vast array of opportunities since becoming a hairdresser. Every new experience, to me, can be considered a career highlight, as it gives me a new opportunity to grow and learn.
These days I no longer care for clients. However, I love the diversity of my job the most as no two days are ever the same. Whether I’m teaching a workshop, presenting a seminar, producing a show, doing a photoshoot, writing media articles or doing business logistics, it’s the people connections that make it special.
How do you define success?
Success is simply happiness. Whatever makes you happy, where you feel you are making a difference to your life and to others, then that’s success to me.
What made you decide to go the educator route?
At the age of 19, I had just qualified as a hairdresser and I soon did my first presentation, and quickly realized that I was naturally pretty confident at speaking.
However, I understood that it takes gaining experience first to be able to then share the knowledge you’ve learned with others. This is when my passion for education became evident.
I am motivated by the desire to want to be the best version of myself and to assist others to be the best they can be. This is ultimately why I focused on the educator route as it has made me become the type of person I want to be.
Describe your business as if it were a person.
A distinctive character with strong principles and a person of integrity. Nurturing, supportive and challenging towards others. Attention to detail with quality craftsmanship in the skills set, self-motivated and driven in the attitude. A unique image whilst maintaining classic beauty.
What is it about you that makes you well suited to be a platform artist?
Since I have taught and presented in every education environment globally I now have vast experience as a platform artist. I believe I’m well suited mainly because I’m a confident and articulate speaker that has an empowering stage presence. I simply have no fear of public speaking so that certainly helps! And I kind off do great hair too.
What is about you that makes you well suited to be an educator?
It’s a privilege to be part of someone else’s journey so what makes me suited to being an educator is that I love witnessing someone else that I teach have a proud learning experience. I’m diligent, skillful and nurturing so good qualities that an educator needs.
Name a staff member who you think could fill your shoes and tell us why you have selected this person.
My Lead Educator, Bernadette Beswick has great qualities that make her a brilliant educator. She is extremely driven and self-motivated with great technical skills. She is a powerful communicator and she believes in the brand’s philosophy. That’s why she would be the ideal team member to fill my shoes. However, her admin skills would need a bit of work!!
What is the best advice you can give to someone who wants to go into education?
Focus all your energy on developing really strong fundamental skills first. Your initial training can set you up for future success. It’s important to master the classic foundation techniques as all creative techniques are derived from them. Assist other renowned educators on events and keep an open mind at all times to allow your experience and creativity to flourish from many experiences.
A good educator needs to be selfless and have a genuine desire to want to give to others. Strong skill set in your specialist field or area you teach in is crucial. A good educator needs to become an expert in their knowledge so they know their content of what they are teaching. Also, a great educator knows how to engage their students or audience to give them the best learning experience. Make the student the hero and bring out the best in them and they will flourish from the guidance.
How about someone who is looking to make a big life change or find a new direction?
Don’t hesitate – just do it!
Life changes and new directions are what make life so exciting. You are only given one shot at this life so make the most of it. There’s nothing to lose from change just lots of growth to gain.
What’s one of your favorite quotes or stories from a client or model?
I had a celebrity client many years ago who was one of the biggest supermodels globally back in the 60’s and she was such an inspirational lady. I remember many of her stories about fashion, photography, stardom and travel as it certainly opened my eyes as a young stylist at the time.
Tracey’s Bragging Rights/Street Cred:
4x Educator of the Year Winner
4x Winner: Excellence in Education
10x Salon of the Year Winner (Meika Salon)
2x Colorist of the Year
Australian Masters Winner
You can visit Tracey’s site for educational materials and some really gorgeous shears, HERE.