AWARD WINNING EAST BOLDON HAIR STYLIST TALKS ABOUT HIS WORK WITH MYNEWHAIR AS CHARITY CELEBRATES ITS TENTH ANNIVERSARY
Darren Stuart, from East Boldon’s Tribeca Hair Design, Tyne and Wear, is proud of his work with mynewhair, a pioneering charity which offers a wig styling service for people suffering from cancer and medical hair loss.
The award winning hair stylist joined forces with celebrity hairdresser Trevor Sorbie back in 2006 to offer an affordable wig styling service to people suffering from hair loss. He was also honoured by the Fellowship for British Hairdressing for his work with the charity.
A decade on, Darren is still working with mynewhair and has styled wigs for thousands of clients at his salon. In May 2016, he was invited to the Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in recognition of his work as cofounder and Trustee of the charity. He is a lead educator in a training programme which presents seminars for hair professionals. As part of his work, he demonstrates and educates stylists in styling wigs. Communication skills training is also a core element of the seminar programme and is delivered by experienced cancer nurses. Once they’ve completed their training these professionals become part of a specialist salon network – Salons that Care.
Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, mynewhair is working with lead cancer centres to enable more patients to access the wig styling service. The charity is experiencing increasing demand and with an increase in referrals, Darren is helping around 20 mynewhair clients a week (80 a month) at his salon in East Boldon. Here, Darren speaks out why his work with mynewhair is so important to him.
He said: “I have been hairdressing now for 34 years. I did my initial training in the North East, and then I went to work and do further training in London. For a few years, I would go back and forth between London and the North East, until I finally opened Tribeca salon in East Boldon, which has now been running for 20 years.
“It’s been almost 10 years since I started specialising in styling wigs. I became involved with Trevor Sorbie in 2006 when he started the charity, and Tribeca was the 13th salon to join the mynewhair salon networks out of the 800 that work with them today!
“I first met Trevor when I was training at L’Oréal in London. At the time, my close friend Tracy was under-going treatment for leukaemia and asked for my help with finding a wig. She decided to get one through the NHS which she never wore due to the poor standard on offer at that time. That was why I chose to become part of the mynewhair network to enable me to offer a much better experience for patients and clients needing advice and guidance with wigs this was my first experience of supplying a wig styling service to someone suffering from hair loss.”
As mynewhair has grown and word of Darren’s expertise and experience has spread, together with his ability to put people at ease and instinctively know what will suit them, it’s no wonder that the recommendations have flooded in and that people ask for him by name. Darren has trained many of his staff at Tribeca Salon to become wig styling specialists, and the salon now caters for 20 people suffering with medical hair loss every week.
He explains: “We have many alopecia clients who come in quite regularly to have their human hair wigs blow dried. All of the staff get involved in doing this, giving me more time to concentrate on the people that are poorly.
Before working with mynewhair, Darren had done some charity work to help raise funds for leukaemia research, for a charity that was set up by his father-in-law in memory of Tracy. They managed to raise around £300,000 over a couple of years, and a lump sum of the money was also donated to mynewhair charity.
Darren also carries out wig styling for young children who are suffering from hair loss. Tribeca Salon works very closely with the Little Princess Trust through recommendations.
Asked about the impact his wig styling services has on his clients, Darren said: “The experience and services we provide them gives them a more positive outlook within a bad situation. We see the most positive difference from our female clients as they seem to be more affected when they lose their hair than men are.
“This is because nowadays it’s not unusual to see a man with no hair, whereas women often get stared at for having no hair. Though we sometimes have male clients, it’s a very rare occurrence. We only see about 5-6 men a year.”
Speaking about his experience working with mynewhair, Darren said: “Working with mynewhair has been amazing. It feels so good to be able to give back, and knowing that I am actually giving people the right advice that many of them are not getting from any other specialist.
“As I supply wigs for clients, I actually get them the right wigs for them as an individual and I cut and style them so that they look like they did before they lost their hair. That’s usually the look that most patients go for, though some do ask for a total transformation. There is just something rewarding about knowing that something as simple as a personalised wig is helping someone go through what might be the toughest time of their life.”
Through working with mynewhair, Darren has learnt a great deal on how to communicate well with hair loss sufferers. He said: “Hair loss is such a sensitive issue for both men and women, but more so for women, I believe. Some of the staff members I’ve trained to do wig styling find it so difficult to deal with the emotional side when working with hair loss patients, making it one of the most difficult aspects of this job. It’s not easy when you’re constantly seeing poorly people. That is why it is so important that the stylist are trained in communication skills.”
Asked if he would recommend mynewhair to those suffering from hair loss, Darren said: “I think every woman suffering from hair loss should be given access to a mynewhair salon via hospitals. The information should be readily available through hospitals for them to access the service. All the mynewhair salons just want to help hair loss sufferers feel as normal as possible.
“90% of the people who come to our training seminars at L’Oréal in London say they have all had some form of experience of seeing someone they know lose their hair, and feel that they need to do the training to help these people. The more people know about mynewhair, the better many hair loss sufferers will feel after get wig styling services from a mynewhair salon.”
Darren was the first ever recipient of the Fellowship for British Hairdressing award. He received the award in honour of the work he does with mynewhair.
He said: “This came as a surprise because I was invited to the event and didn’t even know I would be receiving an award. It felt weird sitting at the table and hearing someone on stage talking about me and what I do. I didn’t know what to say, but it was such a humbling experience!”
As mynewhair celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and has big ambitions, planning to go global next year, Darren is excited to be taking part in the next part of this journey.
He explains: “We are so lucky to have the backing of a global company such as L’Oréal. As our main sponsor, they let us use their facilities to do our training, and give us money to help support the charity. Hopefully this will help us with our international reach.”
To find out more about Tribeca Hair Design, please visit www.tribecahairdesign.com
To find out more about mynewhair, please visit www.mynewhair.org or follow the charity on Twitter @mynewhairorg or on LinkedIn.
You can donate to the charity by texting MYNH00 followed by the amount you wish to donate, to 70070.