POSTED IN Afro & Curly ON 24 October, 2018
24 Oct Meet Michelle Thompson; FG’s Afro & Curl Wonder Woman
Meet Michelle Thompson
FG’s Afro and Curl Wonder Woman
Based at Francesco Group Birmingham Salon and Academy, Michelle Thompson is one of FG’s many shining stars. She has won the prestigious British Hairdressing Award for Afro Hairdresser of the Year twice and presented on stage for Wella Trend Vision, Salon International and The Fellowship for British Hairdressers.
She has won many titles and accolades, including Northern Stylist of the Year at the Black Beauty Sensationnel Hair Awards and has been the winner of the Golden Scissors Award for Afro Stylist of the Year. In addition, she is a worldwide ambassador for popular Afro & Curl hair product brand, Avlon; Michelle recently worked with Avlon in Brazil, where she produced one of her biggest collections to date.
For Michelle, there is always room for further improvement and success; it is this attitude that has built her remarkable career. Not content with her many awards and achievements; for the 5th time, Michelle is in the running for British Hairdressing Awards Afro Hairdresser of the Year 2018. We spoke to Michelle about her unfinished business with the BHAs and what inspired the beautiful collection that has seen her through to the finals.
What is your first memory of appreciating really great hair?
Michelle – I kind of fell into hairdressing and started as a Saturday Girl when I was a teenager. I loved watching my boss at the time doing hair, he could do all hair types and I was just mesmerised watching him work with Afro and curly hair especially. I also loved looking through magazines and seeing how impactful hair could be. I’ve always had an interest in hair, so I wouldn’t say there was a defining moment; it was just a constant interest of mine.
I enjoy looking to other hairdressers and seeing how they adapt to change.
Why did you decide to apply for the BHA’s this year?
Michelle – It feels like I have unfinished business with the awards. I’ve entered it since 2009 and I’ve won the award twice but I enjoy the challenge. I spend a lot of my time teaching and I love passing on my knowledge, but I don’t get a lot of feedback from that, so I love to put myself out there against all these other talented people within the industry. I also find that by being based in the Midlands, I’m not in the hub of the industry so I like to see what everyone else is doing and if I am heading in the right direction. I enjoy pushing myself and proving that I’ve still got it!
Michelle winning Black Beauty/Sensationnel Hair Awards 2015
Who inspires you?
Michelle – It changes as trends do; I enjoy looking to other hairdressers and seeing how they adapt to change. When I used to do a lot of cutting it was Akin Konizi and Vidal Sassoon, because their precision cutting was just so spot on. But at the moment there aren’t many shorter haircuts or precision cuts, it’s more about dressing hair, longer hair and colour at the moment so various people who are doing that well inspire me. Someone who I absolutely adore, his work is absolutely beautiful, is Cos Sakkas; whether it’s long hair or a gents cut he’s just spot on. He’s definitely someone I look to currently because he just gets it every time, I’m so glad he’s been nominated from British Hairdresser of the Year this year.
I enjoy pushing myself and proving that I’ve still got it!
What is your favourite part of your job?
Michelle – Creating. I’ve never been a desk person; I’m all about thinking of an idea and making it come to life. I love putting all the pieces together, I think it’s what I do best. I thrive off creative high pressure. Ideas are always going around in my head and when they come to fruition and they work well, it’s just so rewarding.
Michelle working behind-the-scenes at an FG Awards Show
What was the main inspiration behind your collection?
Michelle – I’ve called the collection Translucent and it was all about creating something that you could see through. If you look at my images for this collection, they don’t just fit into an Afro category and that’s what I wanted to showcase. I wanted anyone to be able to wear the styles and I wanted them to work wherever they may go. My way of working has changed quite a lot, I am on the salon floor a lot more now, listening to client’s needs and wants; the collection was very much inspired by my clients. It’s wearable, trend-led hair and beautiful.
I thrive off creative high pressure. Ideas are always going around in my head and when they come to fruition and they work well, it’s just so rewarding.
What did you enjoy most about creating this shoot?
Michelle – I had a vision of how I wanted my girls to look. I knew I was only going to do head and shoulder shots so each model had to be strong in their own way. I knew that I wanted it to be really clean and fresh, almost breath-taking with certain images. I wanted it to be all about hair, hence why I went for the white background, white clothing. A white background on a darker skin tone is bound to cause contrast and that’s what I wanted, but I didn’t want it to be a harsh contrast, it still had to be very, very soft. I wanted models that were individual, with unique features, not always what you would call a classical beauty. There is more acceptance of darker skinned models within the fashion industry now and I wanted to work with all different skin tones and celebrate them. I wanted each model to scream ‘This Is Me’.
What is your favourite product & tool?
Michelle – At the moment I’m doing a lot of natural, curly hair and that doesn’t require a lot of tools. It requires the right products and knowing the correct techniques to get the best out of the curl. If I was to say a tool, I just like working with my hands! You can just create so many different looks just by using your hands. No one really wants poker straight hair at the moment; they want texture and movement. Product-wise, I’m really in love with the Natural Textures range by Avlon. It compliments so well what I’m doing at the moment, embracing natural curls.
The collection was very much inspired by my clients. It’s wearable, trend-led hair and beautiful.
If you could cut or style anyone’s hair who would it be?
Michelle – It would have to be Meghan Markle, I’d love to find out what it’s like being the first black woman in the Royal Family and I’d also like to be the person that gets her to embrace her afro hair!
There is more acceptance of darker skinned models within the fashion industry now and I wanted to work with all different skin tones and celebrate them. I wanted each model to scream ‘This Is Me’!
What would be your primary piece of advice for someone wanting to enter the BHA’s next year?
Michelle – Always have a strong idea that you can work with and develop upon. Pick one concept and build on it, don’t try and do too many different things. It’s also important to be comfortable with what you’re doing from a hairdressing perspective, try not to create anything that you aren’t confident with. Showcase your strengths and make sure what you produce is you through and through. My vision with my shoots is to ensure that at least one image, if not all, is good enough to be on the front cover of a magazine; whether that be trade or fashion and if you look at them, a front cover is never busy. A front cover is always simple and beautiful.
We wish Michelle the best of luck with her BHA entry; it is clear from her previous work that she will always keep pushing herself and continue to be one of the most talented people within the hair industry.