As a hair stylist, it can feel like we’re taking care of everyone EXCEPT ourselves. From day one of our apprenticeship, many of us are thrown in head-first into the industry, and it feels like we never get the chance to just slow down.

Our HSA ambassador, Nicole, has been the industry for over thirty years, and what she experienced as a young apprentice wouldn’t be out of place in a salon today. She’s written an open letter about the toll the industry took on her body.

Nicole wished she had Hair Stylists Australia’s support when she needed it most, and is sharing her story in the hopes others in a similar situation will reach out to HSA for guidance.

If you are struggling with your work-life balance, and find it hard to get through the day, don’t wait until it’s too late. HSA is here with support, information, tools and advice to help you get through.


Being a hairdresser’s apprentice was a huge responsibility, but sometimes it felt like more than I’d bargained for.

Long hours on my feet, appreciating being able to go to the bathroom just so I could sit down for a few minutes – although never for too long, as my boss or another senior would always come looking within seconds of me going!

I was 14, super keen, willing to please and do whatever was needed. Little did I know it would push me to a new limit I’d never known. I loved my job and the industry – I was passionate and work always came first no matter what. I’d have to be almost dying to even consider a day off.

The first two salons I worked in were tough, but I thought that’s what made me a better hairdresser, and talking to other apprentices, it seemed to be more normal than not.

Don’t get me wrong, not all salons worked their apprentices hard, but it was the nature of the industry – and for many, still is.

It is emotionally, physically and mentally draining, not to mention the strain on the body. A lot of this I was not prepared for, or aware of, and as I aged it became more apparent that many of us in the profession needed more support than we were given or had access to.

I completed my apprenticeship and still love hairdressing after 35 years.

I had a break in-between, to allow my body to rebuild itself and re-learn how to work without it being at the expense of my health or personal life.

Having HSA around now, offering support for both apprentices, seniors, employees and employers is absolutely priceless.

To be able to access the award information and support, to make the changes that are needed to keep the industry alive, to share our stories of the relationships we build with our clients and other staff members is invaluable.

The ups and the downs, the good and the bad – it’s all one in the same if you have a level of love and care for yourself as well as everyone else.

Nicole.