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The secret of my success: Nicky Clarke

Hairdresser to the stars and royalty, Nicky Clarke has become a household name.

FROM THE age of about 14, I was dabbling in hairdressing, and knew I wanted to be involved in it. I started off working in a salon called Leonards in London. After that, I was pretty much with John Frieda in some form or another up until 1990. That was when I set about launching my own business. The Nicky Clarke salon was officially launched in December 1991. At that time every other salon was black, white and chrome and we opened looking like Ralph Lauren on Madison Avenue. We began with just two floors and now we're on five. When I first started in hairdressing, I really didn't know a damn thing. I didn't even have the advantage of most girls, who do at least know what a roller is, but I'm a quick learner. I went into it at full steam - I rarely left before midnight. I loved it, and still do. There are very few professions where you get to meet all sorts of people from all walks of life. In the Eighties, I mainly worked with magazines and clients. I wanted to bring that studio side of my work into the salon. I have a very free way of working - I'm not really interested in doing something that you'd only see in a hairdressing magazine. I'm also very fortunate in that I have my wife, Lesley, running the business - she's very visionary. As a company, we are unique because we straddle so many different areas. That's probably more to do with our success than anything else, knowing how to lock into the person that you're dealing with and what they're aspiring to. It's definitely a case of the harder you try the luckier you get.