Jo Hansford has been the crowning glory of Hollywood hair for more than two decades. Now celebrating the 20th anniversary of her luxury London salon, the hair colourist-to-the stars speaks exclusively to HELLO! Online about the challenges she faced as a female entrepreneur in the beauty sector, and some of her famous clients. When she first started out, Jo was told by many of her peers in the industry that she should "only expect to last three months in the business because [she] was a woman". With a double decade in hair styling to prove them wrong, she says it's been "both scary and a massive achievement to see our hard work paying off".
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The celebrity hairdresser celebrated the landmark anniversary in style, throwing a luxurious private party at Soho House for the people who have supported her along the way. "It's all about the staff," says the entrepreneur. "They're the ones who have made us what we are." Presenting Jo with a personalised Andy Warhol-inspired print was British actress Elizabeth Hurley, who has herself witnessed the salon grow in the 16 years she has visited Jo for colour. "Elizabeth's so sweet but I said to her, 'I don't want to stand next to you, thank you'," laughs Jo in a friendly manner. "Joking aside, she’s one of my best clients," she adds. "She came to me first from the States when her hair had been accidently dyed an awful orange-tinted colour, so I've been sorting it out ever since."Jo's star-studded list of clients also includes Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who has been going to Jo for over 25 years, and celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, who reportedly bought 34 bottles of Jo Hansford shampoo and conditioner during one visit to stock her bathrooms."I was the first woman ever to create a product for the shelf. Before me there was, of course, Charles [Worthington] and other male-lead brands so, when I branched out, it was quite big and brave because there was no other woman exploring that field at the time," Jo says.
Asked what the biggest beauty blunders women make at home are, Jo says problems often arise when women "look at the face on the box, rather than thinking about how the hair colour will work suit their own look".To get around this common hair colour dilemma, Jo advises to "only go two shades lighter or darker than your natural colouring", and to "think about the maintenance requirements of your new look".It's not just colour, it's also style; for example, not everyone is going to look good with Kate Middleton's hair, the entrepreneur explains. "Although it's too long, in my opinion," says Jo. "It's the full and glossy hairstyle which most women would die for. The only problem with thick hair like Kate's is that it can get terribly frizzy, so maintaining her sleek curls requires alot of time and attention." Discussing how colour trends have changed over the last couple of deacades, Jo reminisces about the days when Jennifer Aniston's sleek, Friends bob and Meg Ryan's short and choppy crop were in fashion. But who's Jo Hansford's ultimate hairstyle muse? "For me, Linda Evangalista has done so much for making hairstyles part of fashion," she says."She was a true hair colour chameleon and did it so cleverly because she always changed her make-up to suit her new look. Linda was an inspiration to our clients who, at that time, began asking for braver looks than they ever did before." Picking her most memorable moment from the last 20 years, Jo says that she was "blown away" when she received her MBE for services to the industry in 2010. "That was the point where I felt like I had really made a difference in my industry." she concludes. "I am so proud to be a woman in my field and achieve a title like that - it was a great honour, it still means a hell of a lot to me."
Interview by Christine Humphrey