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"How I made it" - Carol Hayes


Carol Hayes Management is a leading London agency for hair, makeup, fashion and styling artists, tv presenters and locations.

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									How I made it: Carol Hayes, founder of Carol Hayes Management

Carol Hayes’ first brush with a successful entrepreneur came when she shampooed Philip Green’s
hair at a salon in Hampstead Garden Suburb. She was 15 and the salon’s Saturday girl. He had yet to
build his Arcadia retail empire, which includes Topshop, and be honoured with a knighthood. “He
never used to tip me,” Hayes said, admitting she was not very good at her job.

Yet perhaps some of Green’s magic rubbed off. Hayes now runs a hair, make-up and styling agency
that has 10 staff and turns over £4m a year. One of four sisters, she was born and bought up in the
north London suburb of Southgate. Her father traded second-hand jewellery in Hatton Garden. The
family had little money to spare so Hayes had to be resourceful. She mucked out stables in return for
riding lessons and became a babysitter at the age of 13 by padding her bra to look older. At school
she was bullied for being Jewish and found it hard to concentrate. “I used to daydream and the
teachers would scream at me. I spent a lot of time being summoned to the headmaster’s office.”

She left at 16 to go to secretarial college, then worked in a clothes shop for two years before joining
the Dance Centre in Covent Garden in 1976, spending six years there as a receptionist and sales
assistant. When the dance studio closed, Hayes decided to try her hand at public relations,
representing one of its teachers, Arlene Phillips, whose Hot Gossip troupe was a steamy success on
the Kenny Everett Television Show and had a Top 10 hit with I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper,
sung by Sarah Brightman. Another client was Trevor Sorbie, today a leading hairdresser, who agreed
to pay Hayes £40 a week to promote his fledgling salon, which he had opened after working for Vidal
Sassoon. She called her PR firm Schmaltz. “God knows why,” she said. “I just wanted something that
people would remember.”

Unable to make enough money, Hayes also worked in the evenings at a jazz club in Chelsea, the
Main Squeeze, taking money on the door and manning the cloakroom. She met Steve Strange,
flamboyant figurehead of the New Romantic movement, and Rusty Egan, his bandmate in the hit
group Visage. In 1982 they asked her to promote their new nightclub, the Camden Palace. “It was all
about relationships,” said Hayes. “And building relationships was the one thing I was very good at
doing.” After a year amid the wild hairstyles and extravagant make-up of the New Romantics, she
asked Egan and Strange to help her start an agency representing hair and make-up artists. Each of
them put in £250 to get Creative Workforce off the ground.

It was difficult to establish the agency, especially as Hayes was still running her PR Company.
“Through the six years of building it up, people kept saying you’re mad, give it up, you are never
going to make any money, but I just kept going.” Egan and Strange did little of the hard work,
however, and so, after two years, she gave them their investment back. Her work did, though, take a
toll on her personal life. “I got married a couple of times but my focus was always on work.”
Her big break came in 2000 when Gok Wan, then unknown, walked into her office asking to be
represented. “He had such an amazing personality that I thought, okay, let’s give it a go. “He went
for 13 castings for various television shows and the last one was for Channel 4’s How to Look Good
Naked. But could I have told you he would be like a national treasure today? No,” said Hayes.

Three years later she decided to focus on the hair and make-up business rather than PR. Her
Camden-based agency, now called Carol Hayes Management, represents 50 hair, make-up and
fashion stylists. She made her share of mistakes — a television commercial for Lee Jeans in the late
1990s sticks in her mind: “I got all arty and said, let’s show the commercial on 35mm film. We had a
room full of people, and then the bloody projector wouldn’t work. I hid in the toilet and just thought,
let the earth open up.” Now 52 and still sole owner of the agency, Hayes believes the secret of her
success has been her single-mindedness. “I am very driven. Inside me there is always that voice from
school, constantly criticising me and telling me I will never do anything with my life. It stays with

She offered this encouragement for other entrepreneurs: “If you are prepared to work hard, then
anything is achievable.”

Having raised two children, and with two divorces behind her, Hayes admitted that there can be a
price to pay. “If you want to have your own business and bring up children, something has to give,”
she said. “For me it was always the relationship. I could manage two things but found that the third
sent me over the edge.”

About Carol Hayes Management:

Carol Hayes is one of London's leading hair stylist agency representing best hair stylists, makeup
artists, nail artists and interior & fashion stylists in the industry.

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