Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Bru Amerlynck from An Garda Síochána to give some advice for people considering this job:

 

Bru Amerlynck

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  Bru Amerlynck
Go to college first, travel, see the world. If you can get a qualification in any field then do.
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Bronwyn Conroy Beauty School
The Bronwyn Conroy International Beauty School continues to lead the way in innovative and exclusive Beauty, Fitness and Health Training Courses. Train with us and receive guaranteed career opportunities.
At a Glance... header image

Fashion & Beauty

FashionBeauty, and Hairdressing form the three main divisions within the industry. Profitable businesses in the sector continue to develop as trends constantly change and new customer bases emerge, making it an exciting career area. Occupations range from stylist to tattoo artist and milliner to model.

careers in fashion and beauty

Globally, the fashion industry is worth over 1 Trillion Euro - 2% of the value of the entire world economy. Put in context, the global pharmaceutical industry (which supplies all the medicines in the world), is only valued at about €600 Billion, making it just over half the size of the fashion industry!


Fashion header image

Some 4 million people are employed in the fashion industry worldwide which includes far more than glossy magazines and fashion shows: careers in fashion design, sourcing materials, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, retailing, advertising, communications, publishing and consulting - are just some of what this industry sector is all about.

The wide range of products included in the fashion sector – clothes, bags, jewellery, shoes, cosmetics, hair accessories - means that somebody interested in working in this area could be employed anywhere from a high street fashion store selling leading brands, or a small boutique selling their own niche designs, to posing on the catwalk or working on the glossy pages of a style magazine. 



There are few statistics available for Ireland, but a detailed survey of the UK's fashion industry commissioned by the British Fashion Council (BFC) concluded that the UK fashion industry is worth £21 billion a year to the economy, and as much as £37 billion when related businesses are taken into account. These figures make the fashion business the 15th largest industry in the UK. The sector directly employs 816,000 people, making it the second biggest employer in the UK.
 [Full Report available in Online Resources area]

Modern fashion houses and high street chains offer many opportunities to designers and models alike, making a career in the industry a possibility for many different people. There varied opportunities for college graduates and school leavers, ranging from the highly creative to the more business-orientated roles. In fact, the fashion and beauty industry is rife with cool jobs in pretty much every sector. Some of these are outlined below.

Fashion Design
Fashion Designers understand that clothes are much more than protection from the elements. Clothes can make people feel confident or powerful, they can be comforting, or be an artistic expression - a projection of the image people want the world to see.

While good fashion design will probably never be equated with a cure for disease, or a solution for world hunger, fashion can make a person feel better. Some may say that fashion is purely superficial, but appearance can have a profound effect on us, both personally and to the world at large. Whether you think of royalty or rock stars, you visualize their appearance and presentation. What people wear projects who they are, or sometimes, who they want to be!

The elegant and often eccentric styles found on the runways of Paris and New York do not represent the full scope of a Fashion Designers' work. In reality, there are a multitude of opportunities in fashion design, from sportswear, to children's clothes, to haute couture. If you can wear it, someone has designed it.

Modelling

‘Imagine having an exciting high-paying job as a professional model. Imagine walking down a runway at a designer fashion show, or having your photo taken for Vogue or your favourite magazine.’ 

This is the wording of an advertisment taken from a modelling recruitment website. Unfortunately this is far from everyday reality. Modelling is hard work. 

Fashion designers set the trends that others follow. Those who make it in the industry are under constant pressure to stay ahead of the game. The fashion market is very fickle - a designer brand can be huge one day and forgotten the next. The same applies in the modelling world. Hundreds of hopeful young models spend years working for nothing in the hope of landing a good contract. However, the constant need for new models with different looks leads to a high turnover in the market.

The career of a model can be short lived, lasting only 2 to 3 years, as looks and trends are constantly changing and designers are consistently looking for new models or new faces to promote their goods. Few people will still be modelling past the age of 28 and the pressure to succeed in this short space of time is immense.  

Only a small number of models manage to work their way up in the modelling world and be in constant demand. Many models find that they need to supplement their income with other work, as modelling work is rarely in constant supply. Some models go on to careers in Retail Management, Fashion Journalism or Fashion Photography.  

In Ireland, models typically find work at venues to promote products, launch parties to advertise products and in print or TV. The public percepition of life as a model tends to be based on the success stories we see. We never get to see the hundreds struggling to succeed, trying to build up their portfolio and experience by doing the best work they can get, most of the time badly paid, and sometimes not paid at all.

If all this is not enough to put you off and if you believe you have the self discipline, determination and good lucks then begin your career search by contacting a modelling agency. 
[Read 'A Day in the Life of a Model' in our Featured Articles section]

Fashion Clothing Design
Fashion design is the product development activity of the commercial clothing, design, manufacturing and distribution industries. 

Fashion designers need to be creative, have an eye for detail and be willing to try something new. The fashion designers’ key function is to come up with new and unique ideas for a line of clothing. Designers are also responsible for developing patterns and overseeing production.

Fashion Designers typically work in-house for clothing manufacturers, on the company's design collection. Most work for small design companies. Their work involves producing the design, cutting the pattern and finishing the garment. They produce ready-to-wear collections that are sold through selected shops. 

Some designers work for large wholesale manufacturers and create designs suitable for large department chain stores. A professional fashion designer will need to posess specialised skills and an in-depth knowledge of their chosen field as well as a deep understanding of the fashion environment. 

Other designers choose to be self-employed and work on their own individual design collections. This is an intensely competitive area and to succeed, the designer needs to build up an impressive portfolio. 

 
Video interview with young Irish fashion designer Simone Rocha 

Dressmaker / Seamstress
As a seamstress, you are responsible for the creation of the designer’s ideas. Dressmaking is a very creative job and once you are known in your field you can work as a freelance dressmaker, working at fashion shows and getting to try your hand at creating a range of deigns and styles.

A fashion degree or fashion design course is the best way to start towards both jobs, as it is the perfect opportunity to learn the necessary techniques as well as getting advice from people in the industry. Work experience placements are often part of a fashion degree and are a good way of building up contacts that may be useful at the end of your course.

Fashion Technician/Technologist
Fashion technicians liaise with design and production staff to create products in response to the designer's brief and specification, which will include sizing, costing and manufacturing processes. This role requires specialist knowledge of industrial sowing techniques and machinery, as well as pattern cutting and associated processes. 

Fashion technicians typically work with clothing and textile manufacturing companies, to produce samples, amend designs where necessary, dying and printing textiles and problem solving to arrive at the required finished product.

Production Management
This is the front line of fashion. Production managers are responsible for the whole process of getting clothing made at the manufacturing level. They work at every stage of the process to ensure a quality product is made.

The field of Production Management has the potential to be exciting and challenging.  It brings together business systems and fashion. There is a growing movement towards “zero waste” in the area of production -a business concept where very little material goes unused, as a way of keeping costs down - It’s a design as well as a manufacturing challenge.

Clothing consumption worldwide has reached an all-time high. Everyone is interested in the magic formula of getting clothes produced cheaply, but with a certain level of quality at the same time. The sustainable fashion movement is growing, and adds another layer of challenge for Production Managers.  Mindful, more eco-friendly designs are the message, and the design industry has started to listen. Modules on sustainable design are slowly becoming part of many design courses.

Fashion Merchandising/Sales and Marketing
This is another area where design and business intersect. Designers ultimately need to get their product to the market. Merchandisers track and monitor fashion trends and consumer trends. Creativity combined with a good head for numbers and required in this area of work.

There are many options that fall under the merchandising umbrella. Retail management is one.  This is often an under-appreciated career path. You can make a good salary in retail management, alongside gaining first-hand knowledge of a multitude of brands, marketing strategies, and people management.

Retail Sales and Assistant/Manager
Fashion Retail workers keep the retail side of the fashion businesses going, developing relationships with customers and acting as a personal stylist for anyone who walks through the door. A Retail Marketing Assistant/Manager is responsible for how a brand is presented in the store through shop windows, the layout of the clothes within the shop and in company publications. It can be a creative role and if you are a good communicator with lots of ideas then this could be the job for you. 

Fashion Salesperson
A fashion Salesperson is responsible for selling a fashion brand to shops. You need to be confident, persuasive, very good with people and able to meet strict deadlines. The advantages of working in fashion sales is that will have the opportunity to travel a lot and meet a variety of people. It can also be lots of fun working as a team to meet your targets. 

Fashion Buyer
Buying is another route in the fashion business. This job requires some years of experience on the retail shop floor and as a buyer’s assistant. Most buyers start out selling in a particular department of a store, and eventually become buyer for them. 

The Fashion Buyer is responsible for bulk orders of the clothes and merchandise you see in high street shops. You need to have an eye for what looks good, be confident, and be good with people as there as this job involves lots of meetings with suppliers. Fashion Buyers generally get to travel a lot and have the advantage of knowing what is going to be big next season, before anyone else gets to know. 

A fashion course is a good way to find out more about current fashion trends. Once you have graduated, a fashion buyer role typically starts in a junior position and is trained up to become a buyer. Work experience is also a good way to get in to this sector.  
[Read 'A Day in the Life of a Buyer' in our Featured Articles on this page]

Fashion Marketing and PR
Do you have an arty, creative, mind? Advertising might be for you. This is the age of quick media consumption. You can work at corporate level - think of all the different brands that you already know! or you can work at the retail level. How does a big department store actually sell all those perfumes, cosmetics, accessories etc.? 

A PR Assistant/Manager is responsible for representing a fashion brand to the public. You have to be a confident person to work in this area, as there is lots of public contact. You also need to be able to work both independently, and as part of a team, as you will be working closely with the marketing department, and working independently to answer press enquiries, for example. 

Branding is another huge area of fashion - all those cheeky names that perfectly describe a new nail polish or lipstick, or that perfect scent that captures just the right blend of alluring notes? It's actually somebody's job to come up with those names. Working in marketing and PR has its advantages - not only are there lots of freebies up for grabs, but if you are working for a popular brand you may also be able to meet the current face of the brand you are representing.

No specific degree is necessary to work in this area, but it is a good starting point. You will typically be trained up on the job, but a proven interest in fashion and good communication skills will definitely help.

Fashion Journalist
Do you love to write and love fashion? The opportunities to report on what’s happening in the world of fashion have never been greater. Magazines are expanding into online presence and hiring bloggers to report up-to-the minute news. As well as magazines, there are opportunities to write for e-commerce sites, PR firms and trade publications.

First and foremost, you need to be a good writer. Consider writing courses - a journalism degree or a creative writing programme as a stepping stone into this career area.


Getting into the Fashion and Design Industry
Fashion design is a highly competitive job market, so education level can make a significant difference between candidates who are otherwise equally qualified. In fact, education makes you a more appealing job candidate in any field. However, no matter what fashion design college you attend, or which kind of degree you get, you should expect to start in an entry-level fashion design position. As you gain experience in the field, your position and salary will increase. Find a niche you love and learn everything about it.

Apart from modelling and the design aspect of the fashion industry, career opportunities include:

  • TV and film -stylists are constantly required for productions and can offer the opportunity to work in a range of settings
  • Image consultants
  • Fashion boutiques
  • The international fashion market

Fashion Sector Outlook
Reduced sales have been a major factor for the fashion industry over the recession years, with price a major issue for consumers. The net effect was a reduced demand across the sector, resulting in the cancellation of significant fashion and trade shows. Consumer spending has been showing signs on being on the increase in recent months, which can only be good news for the sector.

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Beauty header image

The beauty industry is in demand. It may surprise you to explore the wide and diverse range of career opportunities within it.  From small, locally owned beauty salons, nail bars and tanning salons, to high end spa resorts and cruise ships - career opportunities are wide and varied.

Beauty Salons

From professional beauty salons and department stores all around Ireland to exotic international locations, there are thousands of beauty salons offering a wide range of treatments – from facials & microdermabrasion to massage, makeup, waxing and body treatments, which are all covered in your training as a Beauty Therapist. Some beauty therapists move into related areas in the sector such as marketing, sales and retail roles with the big names such as L'Oreal, .

Makeup Artistry

Makeup is an exciting industry. Your skills in skincare, colour therapy and personal style will equip you to work as a make-up artist for catwalk, bridal, fantasy, remedial camouflage and other areas. Make-up artists create makeup and prosthetics for theatre, television and film. 






Make-up artistry jobs can be extremely well-paying too, especially in the modeling and photography world. If you have the skills and ability to display a face to its full potential, as well as establish a working relationship with the actor or person being worked on, you can build a very successful career in this area.

Meet Rachel O’Riordan

Rachel is a freelance makeup artist, beauty writer and college tutor who is currently rolling out the MASA Makeup artist course with Bronwyn Conroy Beauty School.

Read her Career Profile here.

Television and film are constantly looking for the cream of the beauty industry. The subject will vary a lot and the type of make-up application will change - you could be doing a seventeenth century period drama or a contemporary piece, meaning the work undertaken will differ greatly. Film and TV  often offers stylists and designers the opportunity to go wild and perform diverse tasks, testing themselves to the limit.

There are also enormous international trade shows and conventions that show off the latest makeup and skin care products to those who are in the business. Makeup artists who are interested in specialty makeup and design can find opportunities with clients who want help to give their presentations a little extra flare.

Massage

Massage is a rewarding skill, highly regarded by future employers as well as your friends and family! Treatments range from basic relaxation massage to reflexology, aromatherapy and more. You will have the option to diversify within the electives that are offered as part of your training programme.


Day Spas & Health Spas 

Health spas have become increasingly common and this area of the industry continues to do well. It offers many chances of employment for those who are qualified beauticians, personal trainers and holistic treatment specialists, who can provide a valued service to spa patrons. 

If you want to work in a spa environment close to home, day spas are a rapidly growing area. Therapists use natural products to promote relaxation. Treatments include vichy showers, hot stone therapy, even ancient ayurvedic health massages.

Management and training

If you enjoy managing people, you can work your way from spa coordinator to assistant manager, salon manager, even director of spa. There are also great opportunities in treatment development and in-house training in both product and spa brands.

Cruise ships

For the adventurous, there are Day Spas on board luxury cruise liners. You’ll see the world in style and be paid to do what you love. With hundreds of cruise ships travelling the globe, there is no shortage of jobs.

Steiner recruit over 3,000 people every year to work on their cruise ships, including Massage therapists, Beauty Therapists, Nail Technicians and Hairstylists. 2016 interviews for Ireland take place in February 2016 - Details here.

Your own business 

You might one day opt to run your own beauty business. The possibilities are endless - working from home, managing a beauty salon or even operating a beauty training institute. 

The sector also offers many franchise opportunities, either in store locations, or for home based businesses. Frequently producers of beauty industry products will have a franchising distribution system, providing the opportunity for self-employment.

Image Consultancy 

Image consultants are specialists who combine all aspects of fashion, beauty and haircare into a single profession. They provide advice and expertise on all aspects of the way a person (or corporation) manages their public image. Image consultants and Make-up artists are mainly self-employed, but they may also be represented by an agency, or employed by a production company.

Sales & Marketing 

Sales Reps travel on behalf of their brand or company to visit salons and educate their fellow colleagues on how to properly use the products supplied by the company. The job of the sales rep is to know everything there is to know about the product line and be passionate enough get other people excited about it. 

Video: Hear from marketing graduate James Wilkinson about his time on L'Oreal's graduate management trainee scheme [More]

Training for a Career the Beauty Industry

Careers in the beauty industry start with training. Some will require an undergraduate degree - these are often in the business-end of the industry and include accounts, regional sales, marketing and product management.

Most people train by taking a full-time course at a further education college or a private beauty school. Entrants can be anything from seventeen years old upwards. It takes about two years of training and study to complete the three main areas of Beautician, Body Therapy and Electrolysis. Courses and Colleges may specialise in various aspects of beauty. 

There are a number of Post Leaving Cert (PLC) courses on offer that provide good professional starting points into this sector. You can search the PLC course database here.

Numerous courses are also offered by private beauty training schools throughout Ireland, such as the Bronwyn Conroy Beauty School.

There is no single examining body, so it is important that students ensure that the training course you take leads to examinations approved by one of the following professional bodies:

  • CIDESCO (Comite International d'Esthetiques et de Cosmetologie). This is a world-wide organization, and the qualification is accepted in 35 countries. All recognised schools work to the same syllabus worldwide.
  • CIBTAC (Confederation of International Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology), which is the examining body of the British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (BABTAC). All schools work to the same syllabus.
  • ITEC (International Therapy Examination Council)
  • IHBC (International Health & Beauty Council)
  • VTCT (Vocational Training Charitable Trust )
  • Edexcel BTEC and Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)

The growing interest in feeling fit and looking good has created a growth in opportunities for well-trained professionals. Employment growth within the industry may have been in decline with the recession, but it has certainly picked-up again. 

Work experience

Work experience in a beauty salon, or working as a Sales Assistant in a pharmacy or retail store can provide experience which may be an advantage to those ultimately wishing to work in this industry. It provides experience in dealing with the public and the opportunity to meet others in the industry, as well as a broad familiarity with beauty products.

Tattooing
No one is entirely sure where, when or why tattooing began, but it is believed to have existed for at least 5,000 years, making it one of the few Stone Age practices to remain popular. Indigenous tribes in remote areas still adorn their bodies with tattoos that indicate their religious belief or social status, in the same way their ancestors did thousands of years ago. The ancient Celts once tattooed themselves with blue woad to protect their bodies in battle and many Burmese people even today continue to believe that a tattoo over the heart can stop a bullet.

In the modern world, getting a tattoo is more of a lifestyle choice than an expression of religious faith, or belief systems. Thomas Lockhart, a Canadian psychologist who also works as a tattoo artist, says the reasons why people tattoo their bodies are unique and extremely personal. "Though the tattoo may be only skin deep, its significance can run as deep as the soul", he explains.

So how do you become a tattoo artist? 
Practical experience is the main thing. There is no formal training required to become a tattoo artist in Ireland. There is also no legislation regulating body piercing and tattooing. It's a visual and creative medium, so it helps to be artistic. 

Artists in the trade recommend getting a portfolio of design work together that will impress, and to think about what you can offer the tattoo industry. A Degree in illustration or graphic Design might give you the edge over other candidates. Apprenticeships or internships are feasible, but there are lots of people chasing a few places, so you have to be able to impress. The apprentice will typically receive formal/informal training in the areas of: proper studio hygiene, cleaning equipment, learning how  tattoo equipment works, and the many techniques of tattooing human skin. 


Science & Innovation

The critical skills and fundamental understanding which STEM training (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) provides, you will be highly sought after in whatever career you choose, including the beauty industry.

Science and innovation are key drivers in the beauty industry. Manufacturers and cosmetics companies employ thousands of scientists to identify new, more effective ingredients, test formulations and develop products with unique properties that will fulfill consumer desires.

Innovation is crucial because most cosmetics products have a lifespan of under five years and manufacturers reformulate a quarter of their products every year. 

They need to improve products constantly in order to stay ahead in a highly competitive market where the consumer expects more choice and ever greater efficacy. Scientific research and development is essential to the cosmetics industry. Chemistry is particualry valuable. Thousands of chemists work in the cosmetic industry developing formulations for keeping our hair or skin healthy. They can extract useful compounds from rare plants, and then discover the principles behind what makes the compound so effective. 

It can take several years to bring a product to market and safety is built in at every stage in the process.

Pursuing a degree in  (STEM) will open a world of career paths to you in the beauty industry. A STEM degree is your opportunity to be a part of the major breakthroughs and revolutions of our time.

Training in STEM will also be valuable in the business world, where survival often depends on capacity to innovate within a rapidly-changing technological world.
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Hairdressing header image

Hairdressing is much more than just a great way to earn a living - it can be a hugely rewarding career path.


For contemporary hair stylists, the hair trade is becoming more and more fashion and beauty focused. Large chain hairdressing companies have taken hairdressing to a new level, into a glamorous, glitzy, modern world.

Today, getting your haircut means a funky modern salon, with widescreen televisions and the latest music filling the air and modern hairdressing has excellent earning potential for the talented stylist.

Hairdressers may be employed either in unisex salons, or in women only, men only salons or Barber Shops.

A Hairdresser spends most of the day on their feet and are usually required to work flexible hours to fit in with salon hours of business.


Hairdressers have a high level of contact with the public and so need to be well-presented and outgoing, with good communication skills.

A hairdresser's job will include tasks such as shampooing and conditioning hair; cutting hair using clippers, scissors or razors; styling hair using brushes, hairdryers, curling tongs, straighteners and any number of other tools.

As well as cutting and styling, general hairdressers also provide services such as bleaching, conditioning, permanent waving, straightening and tinting, and advising clients on hair care products. In the larger salons, some staff specialise either in styling or colouring, and the annual sector competitions and awards in these areas are huge events on the hairdressing calendar. 

Hair care products have become a significant area of the hairdressing industry in recent years, and account for a high percentage of salon turnover.In many of the large salon chains, commission on retail sales, as well as on weekly turnover generates a significant amount of weekly earnings, over and above basic pay.

Progression in this sector is based on talent and building up a client base. Many stylists eventually open their own business. Some progress to work in the world of Fashion or TV and film.

Wigmaker

Wigmaking is currently a major growth area for the hairdressing sector. Wigmakers typically work in either the theatrical, or cosmetic field. Work in the theatrical industry may include making wigs for actors and actresses performing in plays, films or television.  

Cosmetic wigmaking can involve making hairpieces for private individuals, hair salons, hair loss treatment centres or other distributors.

Besides the world of theatre and film, there are two forms of wig wearers: the Necessity Wearer - people who may be suffering from alopaecia or undergoing chemotherapy or other medical treatment, and also the Fashion Wearer - people who like to change style from day to day to suit their mood.

The ready availability of high quality wigs in recent years, has been a major support, for the necessity wearer, and for women in particular. Demand by fashion wearers has resulted in the appearance of many fashion wig outlets across the country, supplying wigs and hair extensions fashioned from a wide range of natural hair and artificial fibres. 

Some hairdressers go on to specialise in the cutting and styling of wigs and this area too has become a feature of the hairdressing business.

Getting into Hairdressing

Hairdressing is a 'trade' qualification. Like all trades, your ability to do a job and do it well will depend on a combination of certification, practical skills, and an understanding of the theory or science behind the work. 

This means that there are formal requirements you must meet to become a qualified hairdresser. However, there is currently no single certification in Ireland that recognises you as a professional hairdresser. 

When applying for work at a hairdressing salon, you will generally be asked to do a trade test (trial period). This will typically be for 1 – 5 days so that the salon owner /manager and the rest of the team can get to know you and decide whether your skill set matches their requirements. You get the chance to prove your ability and demonstrate how good you are at time keeping, working as part of a team, understanding customer needs and your love of hairdressing.

Training Options

There is no single certification in Ireland that recognises you a qualified hairdresser. Some salons will take on trainees for a 3 or 4 year apprenticeship*, teaching them all the skills involved. 

You can also start work as a trainee in a salon and learn on the job while going to college part-time.

Further education centres offer numerous PLC hairdressing courses at level 5 and 6 that tend to combine hairdressing with beauty therapy. Those who have a course of training done will need to spend less time working as apprentices on the job. 

Some salons also run private schools of hairdressing offering fee-paying courses that run for 12-18 months. The schools may offer some students employment in the salon at the end of the training period. Private hairdressing schools offer standalone qualifications which can often be combined with related courses in beauty, make-up and nails.

Whichever route you choose, qualification awarding bodies include: FETAC; City and Guilds; World Federation of Hair and Beauty; State Examination Commission Junior and Senior Trade Certificates; Organisation Mondial Coiffure (OMC).

*The Hairdressing Apprenticship System in Ireland may be a little confusing. It currently does not have any statutory footing, although this position is under review. If you wish to take up an opportunity to work in a hairsalon and do not attend any recognised training centre or college aswell, you should find out how the salon owner plans to certify your apprenticeship.

As a Hairdresser, you can continue to do further  training in the use of more advanced techniques in areas such as colour, bridal styling, hair extensions and creative hair design.

There are many opportunities in the industry and good Hairdressers are always in demand. The majority of Hairdressers are employed in hairdressing salons with most salons employing between four and six people, with some of the larger chains of salons employing much larger numbers of Hairdressers.

Hairdressers often set up their own business after getting a few years of experince under their belt, or enter into a partnership.

Teaching hairdressing is another possible route for experienced stylists who have been working in the industry for a number of years. 

Opportunities for creative Hairdressers can also be found in TV, film, theatre, fashion houses and advertising agencies. 
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