'I'm ambitious, and a perfectionist'

Lisa Shepherd, a hair-colour specialist, has won British Colourist of the Year three times. She is the hair-colour expert on Channel 4's makeover series 10 Years Younger.

What did you want to be as a child?

A show jumper! I rode horses from the age of three. Hairdressing never even entered my mind; I was a real pony-club girl.

What did you realistically think you'd end up doing?

Showjumping, that was it. I thought I'd do eventing or teaching; it was my dream. But by 16, I'd fallen off horses so many times, and broken every bone, that I thought perhaps I should do something else instead.

Why hairdressing?

I quite fancied a guy who happened to be at hairdressing college in Kidderminster, which is where I am from, and I followed him there. Then, the first time I picked up a tint brush, I absolutely loved it. I did a three-year course in two years.

Then what happened?

I was on my way to London to work with one of the big guys when I met the hairdresser Umberto Giannini. He was a friend of the guy I fancied, and he was opening a salon in Kidderminster. I thought, there's no way I'm going to live and work in Kidderminster, I'm off to the big city! But we got on really well. I worked with him for 17 years, starting as a junior colourist and ending up as technical director of the Giannini group.

How did you work your way up?

I'm super-ambitious, and a perfectionist.

In 2002, you opened your own salon in Kidderminster. Why go it alone?

It was a natural progression. Umberto passed away suddenly, and it was time to stand on my own two feet. I was quite well known in the area and I thought I'd get funding, but 10 banks said no. I had to do my research and find out which banks supported big hairdressing brands, and finally one said yes.

Do you consider yourself successful?

Yes, I do. I've done really, really well. When I stand in my salon and see every chair is full, then I know I'm a success.

What are your tips for job interviews?

Research the company. Find out its background, the team involved, and the awards it has won. Personally, it's someone's attitude that gets me, not their CV. I can teach someone to cut hair, but I can't teach the right attitude.

And your CV tips?

It should be short and sharp; tell it as it is.

Who are your heroes?

John Frieda and Charles Worthington. I admire them for their product ranges, their training ethics and because they are true to what they sell.

How do I get to be where you are?

Get in the right business. There are salons that are happy just to make a turnover, and there are salons that want awards and a franchise. Find the right one, stick with them, and work hard.

What's the best perk of your job?

The number of people I meet in my work. I can be so exhausted that I can't even pick up a tint brush or a pair of scissors – and then I meet the most amazing person and it all becomes so easy.