“I’ve met some wonderful people during the last 18 months, that I can definitely now call my friends. Its like a world of people having each others back, a massive hype-squad.” Hollie Parsons, Glow Occasion Hair
I’ve personally had the pleasure of watching Hollie of Glow Occasion Hair wield her creative magic when it comes to bridal hair on multiple occasions (we’ve worked across some editorial shoots together) and I can confirm that it’s quite something to behold. Known for her cool, contemporary vibe (you won’t be seeing any traditionally curled locks and tiaras here) brides flock to Glow Occasion Hair for her edgier take on bridal hair. We’re talking laid-back updos (à la Hailey Bieber), gram-worthy beachy waves (think Made With Love) and slick pony’s tied with a silk ribbon. Creating something different with a relaxed vibe is her thing, and we can’t get enough. I managed to catch up with Hollie herself, to talk about her business journey so far and her version of Taking The Plunge, including the highs, the lows, the first jobs, the worst jobs and the tech she can’t live without…
Name: Hollie Parsons
Business: Glow – Occasion Hair
Date you took the plunge: June 2021
#1 In a nutshell, describe your business/brand – what do you offer?
“I offer bridal hair styles for the fashion forward modern bride! My vibe is laid back, with a soft luxury feel. I basically get to make brides feel amazing on their wedding day by making their hair the best it can be! Working with brides to create a look that they have always dreamed of!”
#2 What’s your career background? Has it always been in the wedding industry?
“I’ve been in the hairdressing game for 23 years, starting as a Saturday girl in the 90’s right up to opening my own salon in 2017, I dipped into bridal styling for my salon clients and friends but being a colour and cutting specialist was my thing…”
#3 What planted the seed of your business idea? Did it strike you suddenly?
“One if my clients was hitting the wedding scene by storm with her photography, during lockdown she begged and pleaded for me to help a couple of her clients out by doing their hair for them for the big day, knowing full well that I had vowed never to go near a bride again (I didn’t feel like I could do the crispy perfected curls that I thought brides wanted). She got me good and the brides I met were amazing, the work I did made me happy and the whole morning gave me a buzz!!”
#4 Describe the moment you decided to TAKE THE PLUNGE (what did this involve? Handing in your notice?)
“After getting a great response from the handful of brides I had met I realised I had fallen in love with all things wedding: the dresses, the venues and excitement in the brides. I became obsessed! In a matter of months I was addicted to looking at bridal hair, from looking through bridal magazine (rather than fashion ones) and reading blogs on brides and amazing wedding days.
I realised I could completely be myself when styling hair, brides liked the styles I was creating for them, they knew the vibe I was about and they loved it! With a few of the wedding suppliers I had met pushing me to do more weddings and family seeing me enjoying myself I decide to take this aspect of hairdressing more seriously. I wanted to do it every weekend, I wanted to feel that sense of love more often and I realised that you didn’t need to be the same as everyone else in your industry to do well. There is a bridal relationship for everyone.
After nearly six years of owning my salon it had become established, my children were no longer needing me on the weekends as much, I had some time to give my attention to the bridal world.”
#5 Describe how the first day of building your own business felt:
“I didn’t spend the first bit of money I got from those first few weddings I’d done. I planned on buying myself something nice, but instead I went to the wholesalers. I got myself all the tools and products I wanted, having the hairdressing experience gave me a great head start because I had already tried and tested so much. I invested in specialised luggage to carry it all in and spent hours proudly placing it all together. Then I knew I had to set up Instagram, I researched social media content from bridal hair stylists around the world. I did my homework on the dos and don’ts of social media (turns out its not as easy as telling people you’re good) you need to engage your audience with beautiful photography and shout about your craft to your niched clientele. It was done, Instagram account created… now I needed to spread this around to future brides.. I was out there ready to be judged.. waiting to get those likes in.. it was nerve wracking and exciting all at the same time.”
#6 The highs – what have they been so far?
“Getting wedding enquiries, every single time I get butterflies, As well as every morning spent with amazing brides and their closest friends and family.
Being asked to collaborate on photo shoots with other wedding suppliers is an amazing achievement, and there have been some real fan girl moments, working alongside your peers, knowing that someone thinks your work is on par with some other wedding suppliers makes you feel very proud… to then get them featured on blogs just tops it all off!!
The ‘thank you’s’ you get from brides after the wedding day always get me too.. knowing that you did exactly what they wanted and you enjoyed every minute of doing so gives me a massive high! To a lot of brides this is the most important day to look good, so they have to think it’s perfect, they need their nerves calmed, they need their dresses done up and shoes tied and by being with them all morning I am available to offer all the hands I have no matter what it is I’m helping with (and yes, I have applied boob tape to many members of various bridal parties)!
I’ve met some wonderful people during the last 18 months, that I can definitely now call my friends. Its like a world of people having each others back, a massive hype-squad. A whole new world for me that I didn’t realise existed. These people have been through it all too, some have celebrated the highs too and some have unfortunately experienced the lows and provided a great shoulder to cry on.”
#7 The lows – how did you move past them? What did you learn?
“You’re not for everyone and sometimes that is gut wrenching.. sending out your bridal brochure to potential brides to then never hear anything back is not the best feeling. I’m getting used to this in the wedding industry – realising that you’re not everyones cup of tea. But, I’ve had to remind myself lots of times that I need to stay true to myself, if somebody doesn’t like my work then that’s fine, I should not alter my style because then I would start disliking the art I’m creating.
I’ve had to let go of my salon, this is the toughest low for me, working as a lone ranger in the wedding business made me also realise that being a boss was not the role for me.. I enjoyed the freedom of not having to worry about staff, so I hung up my salon owner apron and continued to work freelance as a hairstylist in all aspects of hairdressing. It was bitter sweet, the love I have for the salon is massive but now the respect I have for the current owner is huge, being able to offer advice without the pressure is a much better match for me.”
#8 If you could tell yourself three things when you first started the business – what would they be?
No.1 “You can’t make everyone happy – you’re not pizza.”
No.2 “Don’t take on every job you’re offered- you found your niche for a reason, do not agree to do something you won’t enjoy.”
No.3 “Never stop learning – education, education, education!”
#9 Your tips for those dreaded lying-awake-at-3am times? (Counting sheep? Glass of water? Get up? Meditate? Read?)
“LEAVE YOUR PHONE DOWNSTAIRS! It’s too easy to over stimulate your mind by looking at your phone when you can’t sleep. No work message, email or DM is worth looking at in the middle of the night.”
#10 Your top organisational tip?
“You need a paper copy, I write everything in a diary! Every booking, every coffee date, every admin day and take that diary everywhere (except bed).”
#11 Who inspired you? Or inspires you in business?
“Every single hairdresser or bridal hairdresser in the business inspires me, I love every aspect of hairdressing from the products used to the last moment my scissors touch a clients hair. Other stylists’ work inspires me everyday, I could sit and watch these artists work all day – it fascinates me. This includes my mum, I’ve spent the whole of my life watching my mum’s style of hairdressing (being dragged around with her whilst she did her at home clients really did pay off)!”
#12 An app/piece of tech you now couldn’t live without for your business:
“Instagram. Oh I definitely generate a lot of my work form this App. Although the algorithm is not helping me right now. It’s a love/hate relationship, it helps me to reach potential clients but it’s becoming a full time job.”
#13 Your first ever job was…
“A Saturday girl in a hair salon, I think I was rubbish at it!”
#14 Your top social media tip?
“The best inspiration is from people you don’t know. I use the random inspiration section on Instagram to see work by people I don’t follow already, and Pinterest too to get fresh ideas.”
#15 The brand you’d love to collaborate with and why…
“Sassi Holford holds a place in my heart, I love her wedding gown designs and wore one of her dresses for my own wedding…my wedding dress crush!”
#16 Name a business/social media account(s) – that have helped/inspired you with your business?
“I love @morganhairco I’ve followed them on social media from the beginning, starting from their cutting and colour styles to now swooning over their occasion hair designs. Josie the founder is sensational at what she does and is my vibe twin!
Social media accounts personal to me are also @sharon.cudworth (she has given me a massive push to achieve my goals), @emilychantal_mua has literally been my hype girl and shoulder to cry on and @hairsoboho for asking me to assist her on jobs and giving me a chance to grow…how good is it to have a person in your field backing you!!”
#17 Your fav social media tool: (Pinterest? Instagram? LinkTree? Etc.) “Instagram – for all the reasons stated before, it’s a huge platform for any business!”
#18 Your advice to those looking to TAKE THE PLUNGE:
“Do it, life is not for what ifs. If you are passionate and committed to your craft then you really cannot lose. Have faith in yourself, as hard as that may be.”
Rapid Fire Questions | Glow Occasion Hair
#1 Most inspirational book you’ve read:
“Style Sisters: Helping you live an organised & stylish life by Charlotte Reddington. It’s not the most intellectual book ever written but it helps you get your s@^t together at home!”
#2 You’re in Starbucks, what do you order?
“Large mocha – extra shot of coffee with oak milk and regular cream. Bring me the caffeine!”
#3 Instagram feed crush:
“@morganhairco just gives me the feels.”
#4 Your worst job was…
“Oh no.. I worked in a bank as a cashier, I was really bad at it. I didn’t love any part of it and not being able to talk to the customers about everyday life was too hard for me.. I need to know everything! Asking people what they are having for dinner is apparently not very professional?? Also the uniform was vile!”
#5 If you didn’t do what you do…what would you do?
“So tricky… I love babies, I’d probably be a nanny, being able to hand them back sounds appealing sometimes!”
#6 Work day pick-me-up:
“Dancing in the kitchen with my family to loud music.. (not just on work days or at the end of the day, all the blinking time!)”