I work for ... Jo Hansford: Joanna Hansford is PA to her mother, Hair Colourist to the stars
Wednesday 27 May 1998
I first worked for Jo when I was 17 while saving up to go travelling. A year later I returned and, realising that I was at my happiest at the salon, I began running the reception and then PA'ing for Mum. We travel into work together, which gives me a chance to fill her in on the day's appointments and to draw up a list of all the things she wants done. There's little opportunity for communication between us during the rest of the day because she's engaged with the clients and I'm busy with the office work, but at the end of the day we both like to retreat together with a drink and a sigh of relief. The office used to be our quiet sanctuary, but when my Dad started working for the company as financial director he rather took it over.
At first I was very star-struck, but I quickly got used to the fact that meeting celebrities like Yasmin Le Bon, Tamara Beckwith, David Jason and Dudley Moore was just part of everyday life. A client like Camilla Parker Bowles is happy to sit with everyone else, in fact it's more likely to be the other customers who get nervous of being near a famous person. Some celebrities are a bit phobic about being seen with their foils on, others just leap into their cars with the dye still plastered on their hair. Some of Jo's clients have followed her for 30 years and she's become a health and beauty guru to many, for example she's just been on the phone to Yasmin Le Bon who rang for advice about dyeing her newly cropped hair.
Most of the stars are genuinely nice, but if any of them become temperamental we have stylists to suit every personality. I well remember the time a famous actor came in to have his hair dyed when he was rather the worse for wear after a very heavy night. I was told not to let him out of the salon before his car arrived, but he wandered off in a daze when I wasn't looking and I had to dash out and retrieve him.
I've noticed that our customers are getting younger; it's not unusual for mothers to bring their 13-year-old daughters to us when the girls want Geri Spice streaks because it avoids a home dyeing disaster. Over the years I have had every hair colour under the sun, but dyeing my hair as a means of rebellion would never have worked for me because the only person I trust to do the job well is Mum. She even dyed my brother's body hair when he was modelling for a baked bean advertisement and needed orange legs.
I live with my parents, which makes it difficult to separate work from home. If we've had a bad day we will go through it all over again in the evening. My poor boyfriend really had no choice but to learn about hair colouring otherwise he wouldn't have got a word in edgewise. I began training to be a hair colourist myself but it wasn't for me - I prefer being behind the scenes. Although Mum's my namesake I can't follow in her footsteps as a second Jo Hansford because we are so different from one another. But we have never had an argument and when she's not at the salon I miss her terribly and feel lost. She's always been a working mother so I've grown up appreciating the time we spend together.
Mum's just starting to pass the reins over to me and Dad is sending me off on a business course soon. In a way I feel maternal towards my mother because I feel she should be starting to sit back and relax a bit now rather than slogging her guts out. I still don't know how she manages to cope with her workload, which includes a full day of client appointments, overseeing the models who are having their hair tinted for fashion shoots and calming down the nervous ones. But Dad, my brother and I have always had absolute confidence in Mum's abilities.
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