POSTED IN Education ON 17 July, 2019
17 Jul Meet the FGEducation Trailblazers!
At Francesco Group training is the basic principle we build everything around; great training creates great hairdressers, which results in happy clients.
Hairdressing Education is something that has been the company’s priority since its conception; Francesco himself was left dissatisfied with the training he received early on in his career and promised himself that if he was ever in the position to improve the way hairdressing was taught – he would.
Education is something that has been the company’s priority since its conception
Francesco stayed true to his promise and during the company’s 50-year history we have opened multiple training academies and partnered with numerous colleges to implement a steadfast training structure for hairdressing students.
More recently, the driving force behind FGEducation has been Gemma Hart, Head of FGEducation and Abbie Davies, Quality Assurance Manager and Gemma’s Second in Command. Talented hairdressers in their own right, Gemma and Abbie are passionate about ensuring that the next generation of FG graduates have the ability to become truly brilliant hairdressers, whilst also providing them with the tools to run their own salon business or become a creative force within the industry.
We sat down to talk to Gemma and Abbie about their love of hairdressing, training the next generation of hairdressing talent and to find out what makes FG’s Education a cut above the rest.
When did you decide you wanted to become a hairdresser?
Abbie – I love being around people and that was what made me want to go into hairdressing. When I was 14, I had a Saturday job in a salon, I did that for two years and then I moved on to another salon to train as an Apprentice and I absolutely loved every part of it. I loved sweeping the floors, making the coffee, shampooing!
Gemma – I never originally wanted to be a hairdresser, but when I was 14, a few jobs were advertised at my school. I got a job as a Saturday Girl and I had an epiphany of ‘Oh My God, this is actually what I really want to do!’ I realised that I wanted to look after people and make them feel good about themselves.
I realised that I wanted to look after people and make them feel good about themselves
What do your roles entail on a day-to-day basis?
Gemma – I ensure that hairdressing standards are raised and reached throughout the three academies, ensuring that there is consistency in how and what we teach, establishing an outstanding methodology and level of hairdressing. I also make sure that everything we do as a training provider meets Government guidelines; because we get Government funding, we have to adhere to all of the policies they put into place. I have to make sure that we’re providing training to the level that is required by Ofsted and by the ESFA; but at the same time, I make sure that everything we’re doing meets employers and industry needs as well – the two never meet and it’s all about finding the balance that makes everybody happy. I blend those things together and ensure this standard is implemented across all of our training academies and salons.
Abbie – I do more hands-on things with quality; so, making sure that all of the standards that we implement are executed across the company and all of the assessment methods that we use are adhered to.
I make sure that everything we’re doing meets employers and industry needs. It’s all about finding the balance that makes everybody happy
Tell us about your own time as a trainee hairdresser?
Abbie – I loved it! The reason I went into education was purely down to how much I loved my Apprenticeship! I loved learning, but I’d get incredibly frustrated when I couldn’t do something right straight away. I got so discouraged when I was learning how to perm that my assessor spent a whole day with me at the salon until I could understand the technique perfectly and it had such an impact on me, I thought ‘I want to be you!’ When I finished my Level 3 qualification, I spent time on the salon floor and then aged 20 I did my assessors qualification.
Gemma – I was trained at a college full time and when I left college, I was actually unable to cut hair; I had to be retrained and start again from the bottom and that took another three years. I realised that college had failed me and I decided that I wanted to go into a college and teach, so that when my students leave, they leave as a confident hairdresser with the skills they need to meet the demands of the industry. I went back to the college I was trained at and got myself a job as a lecturer and worked there for 13 years. When the job at Francesco Group was advertised, I had to go for it. They are a company that are all about hairdressing quality and that’s where I found my fit. I realised I could have more of an impact on the industry by working for a company that’s passionate about hairdressing education.
I realised I could have more of an impact on the industry by working for a company that’s passionate about hairdressing education
ABBIE DAVIES & GEMMA HART
What are your career highlights so far?
Abbie – Getting a position at Francesco Group was a dream opportunity for me because I always wanted to work somewhere where the quality of hairdressing comes first and everything else falls into place with it. Being promoted last year was the icing on the cake – becoming a Manager before turning 30 was an amazing achievement, especially when 4 months later I helped to represent the company during a successful Ofsted inspection.
In 2015 we were invited to speak at a conference for Black Board, a massive E-Learning company; people from all over the world came to hear us speak about how we developed our Moodle platform to make it interactive. Finally, I hate writing and being sat at a computer, so I am so proud that I managed to get a university qualification and graduate with a Post-Compulsory Education qualification. I didn’t think I would ever go to university, ever!
Gemma – I had success earlier in my career, entering industry competitions and getting to the L’Oréal Colour Trophy Grand Finals was a career highlight. I started teaching at University aged 21, which was such a massive achievement as it was unheard of then to be so young and be an educator. I then did my Certificate of Education when I was 22, followed by a First-Class Honours Degree in Business; all of this whilst having two children, raising them and working full time. Getting my position as Head of Francesco Group Education was a huge moment in my career. In the last two years we’ve created the Business Enterprise programme to improve how Maths, English & ICT is delivered to Apprentices, in a relevant commercial context. This course is now being packaged and sold to other training providers and industries, something we are really proud of. I’m also just finishing off my Masters in Education, another great tool that I can’t wait to use to improve our own Education facilities within the Group.
I always wanted to work somewhere where the quality of hairdressing comes first and everything else falls into place with it
What do you love most about being an Educator?
Abbie – Building a rapport with the learners and seeing them transform from who they are when they start, to who they are when they leave us. When they come to us, they are so quiet and young, but when they leave, they have matured, and they have gained so much knowledge on both the business side and the creative side. To take these Apprentices from no hairdressing skills whatsoever, to being capable of running a column is such a great journey to be on with them.
Gemma – I love motivating my team, making sure that they are the best that they can be; pushing them to strive further in their career and seeing them grow. I do my job so others can achieve their full potential and that’s what I love.
To take these Apprentices from no hairdressing skills whatsoever, to being capable of running a column is such a great journey to be on with them
What makes a good hairdresser?
Abbie – Personality and passion; if you’ve got those two things, you’ll be alright! You can teach a skill and you can develop a skill, but if you haven’t got the right passion and personality behind it then you are only ever going to get so far.
Gemma – I think also, tenacity, you’ve always got to want to keep going and learning.
You can teach a skill and you can develop a skill, but if you haven’t got the right passion and personality behind it then you are only ever going to get so far
What is your favourite part of hairdressing?
Abbie – Cutting! I love it because it’s like a maths equation; you can break it down and it makes perfect sense.
Gemma – Colour! I love colouring and colour correction and how you can fix anything, it’s just so creative.
What makes FG’s training a ‘cut’ above the rest?
Abbie – Having standardisation, having a methodology that everyone uses across the board and being able to give every Apprentice access to the same journey.
Gemma – I think passion above everything else; everyone who works within the FGEducation Team is passionate about what they do and that isn’t the same everywhere. We don’t concentrate on the qualification; we concentrate on the hairdressing and if they are a good hairdresser, they will naturally get their qualification. Everything we do goes towards improving the quality of hairdressing – we jump through hoops to ensure that our standards are met, and our Apprentices leave with all the tools required to become incredible hairdressers.
Abbie – It’s also having so much talent to pull on to educate our Apprentices; there are so many talented people within FG and they are always so happy to spend time with our Apprentices and work with them. That’s so unique.
Everyone who works within the FG Education Team is passionate about what they do
We are sure that with Gemma & Abbie at the helm, our Apprentices will continue to thrive and go on to become the next generation of hairdressing superstars.