Q&A: Owner of Spargo hairdressings and founder of charity Spargoland Ian Marshall
PUBLISHED: 12:00 19 October 2018
Having set up his own salon followed by a charity dedicated to cutting the hair of children and adults with additional needs, Ian Marshall has come a long way since he was a builder!
He speaks to Enjoy Brentwood More about his blossoming career.
Can you tell me about Spargo and Spargoland?
Spargo was started 15 years ago and we moved into our current premises in Weald Road in 2013.
We have 20 members of staff, an education academy and offer appointments from Tuesday to Saturday.
We have a wonderfully loyal client base and pride ourselves on delivering exceptional customer care.
Spargoland was launched two years ago and caters for children and adults who have additional needs like autism or cerebral palsy, and for a number of reasons find it very difficult or distressing to visit a high street salon.
Spargoland offers one-to-one appointments where the client has exclusive use of the room.
We cut their hair however the client would like – standing up, in a chair or even while they’re playing on the floor.
We have sensory lighting to ensure the clients feel as relaxed as possible and if its takes several appointments to finish the cut, this is absolutely fine – their needs always come first.
What gave you the idea to set Spargoland up?
Five years ago my nephew Oscar was born.
Actually on the day we were due to move into our current premises!
He was born with cerebral palsy and brain damage and despite the doctor’s prognosis he fought and survived.
He is an amazing little boy that has inspired me so much.
However, having watched him grow and develop, I quickly realised there were no places that catered for him and his parents in terms of getting his hair cut.
He deserves to have his hair cut, to be made to feel important.
Like all children who visit hair salons, he wants to leave feeling his absolute best. It is because of Oscar, that Spargoland exists.
Have you always loved hairdressing?
Funnily enough, before hairdressing I was a builder.
I left school with no real direction and took a job as a builder.
I was there for three years before seeing a position for an apprenticeship hairdresser.
I applied and from my first day absolutely loved it and never looked back!
There are similarities between the two professions – using your hands, being creative and being part of team.
But instead of building houses, I’m now building people’s confidence by giving them great hair.
Who was your inspiration growing up and why?
Definitely my mum. From the age of 11 it was just the two of us and her strength and support knows no limits.
We speak everyday and her advice is always spot on.
Not a hairdresser, but an office worker and so her admin skills have definitely helped me out in the past too!
Professionally, it has to be Trevor Sorbie.
He has shown that you can combine a fabulous career cutting hair with a personal passion.
He launched his own charity, My New Hair, and has inspired me with Spargoland (also a registered charity).
What has been your biggest achievement/highlight so far in your career?
Winning the British Hairdressing Business Awards earlier this year for Innovation and Spargoland.
This is the biggest business awards within our industry and is judged by the very best. People I have looked up to and been inspired by.
Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to get into hairdressing?
Hands-on learning is everything. Get yourself some work experience or an apprenticeship and be paid to learn.
Colleges will teach you the basics but its nothing compared to working in a salon where you’ll learn how to be a team player, how to offer exceptional customer care and what makes a great hairdresser, alongside how to cut and style with perfection.
We offer opportunities and I know most hairdresser do to.
So pick up the phone, send an email or just stop by your favourite salon – the personal touch always goes a long way.
In five years’ time, where would you like to see Spargo and Spargoland?
So many exciting plans! For Spargo we’re planning on developing the salon to its full potential and we really want to create our own line of hair care products.
In terms of Spargoland, the charity will continue to fundraise to ensure we can offer the appointments and support to the children and adults who need our services.
But ideally I want to see the message of Spargoland spread to other hairdressers – I want more salons to realise that there is a huge section of society who cannot access them, but would love to and need to.
I want to see more hairdressers trained in being able to cut the hair of children with learning and physical needs and I want to see the industry working together to make this happen.