John Harnett from Bellissimo Hair Salon pictured above in action. Picture: Elise Ahern/ilovelimerick
John Harnett from Bellissimo Hair Salon, Why I Love my Job
By I Love Limerick correspondent Mary Caroline McCarthy
John Harnett is a hairdressing stylist working at Bellissimo, Limerick. Bellissimo, one of Ireland’s largest hair salons, opened in Limerick in 1999 and has continued to evolve and grow over the years. John is originally from a small village in Limerick called Tournafulla.
John has been working in Limerick for the past six and a half years. John’s work never really feels like work for him as he calls hairdressing his hobby and has a real love for the art of hairdressing.
He was trained in Bellissimo three and a half years ago and now he continues to be supported by Bellissimo as he has a full-time job working there with the very people who trained with him. John would count Belissimo as his family as he has grown as a person with the business and his fellow colleagues.
John has a great relationship with his clients, and they all love him there. He is well loved within Bellissimo by both the clients and his fellow colleagues. We at I Love Limerick sat down with John and had a conversation with him to ask him about his job and why he loves what he does.
What makes you a proud Limerick man?
I am originally from Tournafulla. It’s a small village in south west county Limerick. I am very proud to say I’m from there. Mainly because of the people and the community spirit that is at the heart and keeps the community itself alive. The people, my friends and of course my family that all have a place in the heart of that community and in my heart is what makes me extremely proud.
Likewise, the people, friends and community I have lived among and worked in for over 6 and half years here in the city makes me proud to say I’m a limerick man. Limerick has a unique and special quality, as do the people of this city. It’s a beautiful city full of culture, arts, sports, amazing businesses and it’s because of the amazing people behind all these things that we have. So really the question is how could I not be a proud Limerick man?
— #LimerickTilliDie (@ilovelimerick) December 10, 2020
Tell me about your job and what you love most about it?
Well my job to me isn’t just a job. It’s a hobby! Creating amazing hair, cutting different styles, producing beautiful colours it’s all part of ‘the Art’ of hairdressing. And I love my art. I love creating and recreating. I love what I create and or recreate for a client and how it makes them feel. How it gives them a lift and makes them feel happy and beautiful and able to take on the world. Whether it be just a blow-dry to start off the week or a complete transformation. That feeling I get from seeing how they feel is a real bonus and another factor as to why I love my job. Another major factor to me is not just loving my job but loving where I work. I started out in Bellissimo over six and a half years ago. I was trained there by the amazing colleagues and friends I worked/work beside. I qualified after three and a half years and another three years on still working beside those amazing colleagues and friends. Over the years I have had the pleasure of seeing them work and learning from so many of them. Some who no longer work there and of course some new faces and talents who have joined our team since.
The great relationship that we as a team of colleagues and friends have, from us in hair, to the girls in Beauty, the wonderful Erika and her students in the academy, to our front of house receptionists without whom there would be utter chaos. And not forgetting the boss himself. That relationship and comradery doesn’t stop there. It’s projected on to our clients and right back at us. Our clients and us have a great relationship. Because they are, when sitting in our chairs and otherwise, friends! They can talk about everything and anything and vice versa, and all in such respect, fun and confidence and we can just have the craic.! This part of my job is the icing on the cake whereby the simplest thing of listening can make someone feel almost as good as how they feel after seeing their gorgeous hair. To take a weight off anyone’s shoulders by any means, to me is an achievement, and this is an achievement I can say I have the pleasure of completing every day and just simply make people happy.
What have been the greatest challenges in your career?
Thankfully in my career I haven’t come across too many challenges. The first challenge for me and I think I can say for many hairdressers is qualifying. Getting moved up and taking clients. Being, as we call it in our salon, a Junior is probably one of the most difficult times as all you want to do is hair and all you want to be is qualified and all you want to know is everything there is to know to get there. It’s the time and patience it takes is the hardest part. And for me that was a big challenge. But it was all worth it in the end.
Another challenge I suppose has been this year as a result of the pandemic. Being away from work for four months. Being away from the people I work with and the clients I see. That was a challenge, being away from all those friends and not being able to do the job and Hobby that I love.
One main challenge that as a hairdresser you learn from and learn very early on in this career, is a positive and rewarding challenge. It is taking on other people’s burdens. Your clients and sometimes, colleagues’ stories. Their problems. Their losses. Their troubles. It’s hard to see anyone not happy. But unfortunately, that’s life and part of the job. But it’s one of the things I’m most proud of that we as hairdressers develop that skill of being able to listen and talk and help people when they need it most. and see them leave your chair with a massive weight off their shoulders. Knowing that I made a difference and helped them makes me very proud and it’s a challenge I am happy to take on any day and meet headfirst and fight, along with the people that bring those challenges to me.
What work achievements are you most proud of?
I got through to the Irish final of Trendvision in 2018 which I was absolutely delighted with. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any further that year but always had time to try again in the future.
But a bigger achievement for me is being in the position I am in in Bellissimo so far with a full column everyday looking after my clients who are 90% regulars and requests of mine. It’s an achievement to have those loyal clients who for some reason or another love coming back to me.
Who are your greatest inspirations both in work and life?
I am inspired by a lot of people both in work and in life. There are a lot of people I look up to in our industry. And with the help of social media it’s hard not to come by new people to be in utter awe of every day. I’m also inspired each day by the people that I work alongside. I learn so much in terms of work and just in terms of life from them every single day. There are also of course other people in our industry and in businesses in general in our own city that can inspire anyone.
I know I’m reverting to what I touched on previously but my inspirations in life are mostly my family and friends. I learn and look to them for everything. And so far, what I’ve learned and how they have inspired me hasn’t steered me too far wrong. And I am always going to be grateful for those inspirations.
Because I meet so many different people every day from all walks of life and all different situations it’s hard not to be inspired by these amazing individuals in some way shape or form. Clients do help us and inspire our work and our personal lives on a regular basis. John Harnett
What trends are happening regarding hair right now? John Harnett
I think for this autumn season in terms of style Boho hair is still very popular. Shaggy hair, layers, messy natural hair, natural curly hair as well as fringes of all sorts, are all ‘a thing’ this season and I love the idea of that. Unfortunately, this year has been hard for the upkeep of hair and this low maintenance hair is a key trend this autumn. Messy natural undone styles with easy low maintenance colours such as balayage’s etc. are a go to.
Another big trend in general with hair is education. Us as professionals educating our clients and sharing our knowledge to give them the power and put them in control of making themselves look and feel amazing. In case of lockdowns or isolation or whatever it may be. (Stay away from the box colours and the kitchen scissors ladies and gents!!) John Harnett
What advice would you give to people wanting to pursue a career in hairdressing?
I would say if you really want it and really have an interest and a passion for hair GO FOR IT! It’s not easy to get to where you want. And even after qualifying you may not be there. Ambition continues with your career. You will never know everything nor should you want to. A great thing about hairdressing is it’s a career which entails continuous learning, continuous up-skilling and always grabbing those opportunities to learn. Don’t ever walk away from education it’s only going to make you better. John Harnett
Yes it will be tedious and hard work but it’s also work that you’re going to be ok with doing when you stop and think ‘I don’t mind doing this because I want to be somewhere else, I want to be in the position that one of my more senior colleagues are in or I want to be where that famous hairdresser on Instagram is.’ if you have that passion, keep thinking about that and the job itself and what you have to do to get where you want will be easy. Don’t give up!!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time? John Harnett
In five years, I see myself still doing hair. I can’t ever see myself not doing my hobby. Now and with the uncertainty in our world it’s hard to say or see what the next five years will bring. But as I said I’ll be doing the trade I love more than likely in the salon that I love. I’ll be still surrounded by the people I love and care about and I’ll be happy! I think that’s a main goal and hope of mine in life, like for anyone else, is just to be happy!
What’s your favourite thing about Limerick? John Harnett
My favourite thing about Limerick must be its Spirit. In good and bad times Limerick unites. We mourn losses, we celebrate victories and everything in between. We do so with pride, respect and love for the place we call home!
For more about Bellissimo, go HERE
For more Why I Love My Job stories, go HERE