Jade gets ready for London Fashion Week

Jade Florence, apprentice, Bradford College

As an array of supermodels prepares to take to the runway at London Fashion Week, an apprentice at Bradford College will be helping to ensure not a hair is out of place.

Thornton’s Jade Florence will be among trainee hairdressers working behind the scenes at the prestigious event in the capital on Saturday 15 February. 

It will be in very different surroundings than Dawn Walsh Hair in Dean Clough, Halifax, where Jade works, but Jade said she was looking forward to the special event. “I’m so excited,” the 24-year-old said. “This is such a great opportunity.”

Jade is currently a level 2 hairdressing apprentice with Bradford College. In addition to working at the hairdressing salon, Jade is at the college for one day a week where she undertakes the classroom-based training she needs to pursue her career.

Before becoming a hairdresser, Jade had wanted to become a sports teacher and graduated from university with a physical education degree. In the following two years, she worked as a shift team leader at JD Wetherspoon. She said: “Four years ago, if you asked me what I would be doing at age 24, I would never have said hairdressing.”

But her interest in stylist hair came at a young age. She said: “I always loved doing my own hair, colouring, cutting and styling it. On girls’ holidays, friends had me French plaiting their hair. I loved doing my cousins’ hair too.”

She was offered the chance to work at a hairdressing salon by Dawn Walsh, who is her boyfriend’s mother. Jade said: “She gave me an opportunity and I loved it. I do a bit of everything at the salon; apply colours, blow drying, cutting and styling. Dawn said she wished I had started sooner.”

“I always thought if I’m going to do hairdressing, I’m going to do it properly and end up with a qualification, which is why I chose to come to Bradford College.”

Her tutor is Bradford College Hair and Barbering Trainer/Assessor and Lecturer Rachel Simpson, who said: “Jade is a natural.”

She believes apprenticeships have strong benefits for both students and employers. She said: “Apprentices who want to be hairdressers and barbers are already working in their job already and they are eager to learn. In my experience, when they’ve done their training at certain salons, they’ve been kept on to be employed.

“Once level 2 students have finished their course they can go on to level 3, again gaining more experience and entering more competitions. They can become involved in more creative work.”

Jade added: “You’re learning on the job and come to college one day a week, but in that one day you learn so much and you can take that back to your employment. You’re also getting paid while you’re learning.

“I think you grow up a lot faster while you’re doing an apprenticeship. You’re thrown into the deep end but I think that’s the best way to learn.”

Although Jade has only been on the course since September, she has already been involved in the salon’s busiest periods. She said: “I did around 60 hours a week over Christmas every week for four weeks. I really enjoyed my time and got stuck into the role. You have to be passionate about what you do.”

Hannah Wardman, who has worked with Dawn in the past and runs HW Hair Design in Thornton, has previously attended London Fashion Week as a session stylist. Jade said: “Hannah got in touch with Dawn and asked both of us to go to London to work as a team. Hannah said she wanted to take somebody she knew was going to do a good job.

“Dawn and Hannah are both going to work on the models and I will be in the team assisting them, working backstage, passing equipment over to them and curling hair ready for them to pin up. We’re going to make a weekend of it. We’ll be traveling down on Friday 14 February with the fashion shows taking place on Saturday 15 February. I’ll be working from 9am until 9pm. It’ll be a long day but I’m really looking forward to it.

“I think everything happens for a reason and I’ve had so many opportunities, they keep coming up. I want to go on to do a Level 3 and get as many qualifications as I can.

“I wish I’d done my apprenticeship sooner. I would say to others considering an apprenticeship, if you’re thinking about it, definitely go for it.”

Rachel added: “I just think that any experience like that is fabulous, especially at the beginning of a career. Seeing all this young talent develop is why I love this job.”