'Dreams can come true' says the man now taking Royston Blythe into a new era
We all had those same grandiose career ambitions as very young children – astronaut, professional footballer, ballerina and all.
As time progresses through school, for some, future job plans can become clouded, a blank expression appearing when talking with a career adviser.
But there are also those who have a clear plan in mind early on in life and, demonstrating passion and determination, never deviate from their dream.
Chatting to Charles Douek, as his enthusiasm and fervour for the hairdressing industry oozes through, it’s clear he fell into the second camp.
“There was always a plan, when leaving school and education, that hairdressing was something I wanted to do,” he reflects, recalling how he used to be a big fan of reality show The Salon, on Channel 4.
“I always loved fashion and style, so it all went hand in hand. And, at the same time, I thought of myself as a people person so I think that helped me as well.”
Creativity, flair, personality – Charles and hairdressing soon became a perfect match and an apprenticeship followed, learning on the shop floor.
By 21, he had joined the award-winning Royston Blythe hair salon – and 14 years later he is leading the business into a new era as its new owner.
The hugely successful business, with salons in Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, is synonymous with style and stars, earning a stellar reputation over 34 years.
Now Charles, 35, from Lawley, Telford, has taken over the business following the retirement of Nick Malenko and Royston Blythe earlier this year.
“I have been incredibly lucky,” he says. “To take over here, it’s amazing, a real privilege. I am thrilled and I really am grateful for the trust placed in me."
“The clients and the team have been very supportive, and plans are being set in place to move the business forward into its next exciting chapter.
“We have a clear vision that has given us goals and challenges to achieve.”
His predecessors, Nick and Royston, are, he says, very much an inspiration and a reason for his own success.
“I remember how I’d seen them in magazines,” he remembers. “They always featured in Hairdressers Journal and it was a salon that everyone looked at.
“They seemed the go-to people so when I got the chance to meet them, it was great really.
“They took me under their wings and showed me everything they know.
“I learned how to be a hairdresser but they showed me their way of doing it.
“They instil the Royston Blythe way into everyone – everything has this beautiful finish. You have this gorgeous hair and it’s got to look that extra five-star quality.
"Thanks to meeting them I got involved in lots of competitions and got to the finals of the British Hair Awards five times.”
Charles has never looked back from his first introduction to the pair, and now his journey has taken him to the pinnacle.
Taking over ownership has ensured a seamless transition and a safe pair of hands to ensure the preservation of the salon’s friendly and personalised service, along with their consistent ability to create fabulous hair for every client.
Charles says that the core values and key elements that have been the backbone of the company – its outstanding team of professionals with a passion for hairdressing, inspirational education, and five-star customer service – will always be at the heart of what makes it special.
“People have always put their trust in us,” he says.”Carrying it into the future, it’s time to lead the next generation of Royston Blythe but clients can rest assured that their favourite hairdressing professionals will continue to provide top-tier service, expert advice and the latest industry trends.
“I also want to take care of the team, excelling everyone and investing in them, making sure they have the qualities we want them to have so they can be great stylists, colourists, hairdressers.
“We want them to have that same nurturing we have always had.
“It’s about sustainability as well,” Charles adds. “I am looking at the impact the salon has on the environment.
“The other big thing I want is for us to give back our time and do more charitable things.
“That is something I feel is very important. We will keep the fun events and parties that Royston Blythe is famous for, but we want to give back more to the community that supports small businesses like us."
He added: “The Royston Blythe team are like a family, we share the same values, so over the next year we are looking to take part in more charity events. After the success of National Hair Sunday for the NHS, everyone was more than happy to give a little back.”
These are clearly exciting times as Charles looks to a bright future while being hugely respectful of the past and ensuring the reputation and quality of Royston Blythe holds firm.
The drive, passion and determination to get into the industry, which he had as a teenager, remains key to success and it’s something he hasn’t lost.
“I love the job,” he adds. “It’s all about the people, seeing the clients and getting to know everyone.
“You meet someone new, sit them in that chair and work on a transformation to change them.
“And then there are also those people you see on a week-to-week basis, who become part of your family. They know about your life and you know about their lives. I just love it.”
And Charles has a message for anyone now at school, thinking about their career options and considering hairdressing.
“Go in with your mind clear and your eyes open and absorb everything that you can,” he says.
“You need to take on board all the knowledge and opportunities that are available. The hairdressing world is huge and there are opportunities out there – you just have to give things a go.”
Charles was once that young hairdressing hopeful and he’s testament to the fact that dreams can come true.