After styling the hair of some of New Zealand’s top models and working alongside some of our top hairdressers, Ed Rapley now runs his own salon in Merivale, Christchurch.

Initially wanting to be a fireman because he “liked the big red trucks”, Ed switched to an interest in hairdressing when he reached the end of Year 11. “My mother was a hairdresser and I wasn’t good at school, so I went and did a hairdressing course,” he says.

Finding employment wasn’t difficult; he received three job offers straight after finishing his course.  There was no way he was going to be allowed straight in with the scissors though. “I was at the basin, shampooing, rinsing hair, rinsing colour off, rinsing perms – there were a lot of perms!”

Working for model agencies and competing in hairdressing competitions occupied his time throughout the following years. “I competed in hairdressing competitions for about six years. I won four national titles in that time. I also went to the Schwarzkopf Hairdresser of the Year competition and made it as a finalist.”

Many hairdressers coming into the industry want to do model agency, magazine and photographic work, Ed explains, and in that way “it’s a really great industry with many opportunities.”

Of course, travelling is another perk of the job. “You only need a small number of tools,” he says. “You can go anywhere in the world and all you need are scissors, combs, brushes, a few hair pins and some hair spray.”

It takes a lot of hard work to get to that point though. “You need to be a tactile person and be good at working with your hands,” says Ed. “Time-management skills and being able to communicate with people are very important.” Ed also recommends taking a hairdressing course “as it makes you valuable to a salon.”

As owner of Satchmo Hairdressing for the past 15 years, Ed has settled very comfortably into the hairdressing industry. A typical day for him involves cutting 10 to 12 customers’ hair, while his full-time colourist, Caitlin, colours it. Paperwork and administration tasks do take up time, but Ed insists: “I just love the people. A large percentage of my customers end up becoming really good friends of mine.”

The Canterbury earthquake resulted in the demolition and relocation of the salon, but that didn’t dampen Ed’s spirits. “It was a challenge and we lost over 26 per cent of our business but it’s slowly building back up. I think it’s almost better now because I think about the business a lot more – that’s definitely a positive.”

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