As a child I used to loathe the hairdressers. Could it be because my dad insisted on me having a short bob and my mum insisting that I had a fringe? You see, my hair just does not work in that style. Frizz and waves do not bode well with a short bob on my head. I will never forget the day I walked into school to laughter from my friends after the hairdresser had hacked my fringe to no longer than 2cm long. The shame.
I was around 16 when I decided to colour my hair for the first time. I went for peroxide blonde – I was a little indie kid and that almost white blonde colour was terribly fashionable at the time and I loved it. I had a few mishaps when I attempted to do it myself. My friend and I thought it would be a good idea to use the same pack of hair dye for both of us. Big mistake. We ran out half way through, which ensured that my hair was patchy blonde, not too dissimilar to a blonde leopard.
I stayed blonde for many years until I saw an image of Karen Gillan in the paper two years ago. Her glowing red locks gleamed on the page. I studied her skin colour tone – pale and similar to mine so in a split second I decided to book an appointment at the hairdresser. Once I was in the chair and that orange gloop was brushed onto my hair, there was no looking back. I walked out of the hairdressers that day a new woman. I loved it and I haven’t looked back since. But having been to the same hairdresser for a couple of years, I decided that I wanted a change. I am no longer content with the rushed job, wonkey massage chair and thick Essex accents. I wanted something lovely, luxurious, personal. Enter Mark Alexander, owner of Suedey in King’s Cross.
On the day of the London 2012 opening ceremony, Jack and I were invited to be interviewed by Robert Elms at the Olympic Park to talk about our Eat the Olympics project. Our supper clubs started that evening and the morning was the last chance I had to perfect my locks before three weeks of donning my apron and serving food in my new flat to total strangers.
As I entered the tiny and utterly adorable corner building salon, Mark was sat in the chair with a cup of tea awaiting my arrival. He warmly greeted me and offered me a seat. I was able to choose my own gown (grey or blue? I opted for blue) and I was swiftly seated by the window.
Mark fetched two colour books, opened them up and asked me what colour my eye was drawn to. I pointed out two colours and Mark nodded in agreement. He analysed my skin tone and provided me with reasons why the red suits me – something my old hairdresser would never have done.
Mark then got down to work, but not without providing me with a herbal tea and a bonne maman cake first. As he pasted on the colour, we chatted like we had known each other for years and it even turned out we had a mutual acquaintance. I learned that he arrived in London 20 odd years ago aiming to stay for a year but never left, bar for three years when he moved to Barcelona and commuted to London (yes, that’s right), never missing an appointment. Pretty impressive.
During my hair colour, I felt relaxed, pampered and like Mark actually cared about what I had to say. It’s hard not to compare the experience to my old hairdresser – had I told her half of what I told Mark, she would have nodded her head without a proper answer, a sure sign of listening but not taking it in.
Mark washed my hair and even asked me how I wanted it blow dried. Having never been asked before, I stuttered and eventually asked him to tell me what he thought was best. He dried it with a barrel brush to create soft waves and body, which lasted for two days after!
Regrowth and blow dry with Mark costs £90 (£120 with a trim)
Food For Think was a guest at Suedey.