Lightbulb Moment with Joanne Kelly

From hanging with the cast of Dallas to chatting with Maureen O’Hara, Joanne Kelly shares the perks of being a freelance hairstylist.

Joanne Kelly Hair

Sticking with it
I never thought hairstyling would be something that would stick but once I started
in a salon, the excitement of competitions and the passion of all the stylists for this super
creative industry just became so contagious and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Spice of life
The beauty of working freelance is everyday is different and I can choose jobs to suit my life. Mosts days I’m with my little boy trying to juggle tantrums and emails. Then I have weddings Thursdays through Saturday. A couple of days a month I might have a little editorial or campaign
work. When the mood takes me I do a spot of blogging. It’s the perfect mix and I love the variety.

At the helm
I wanted to be the person to decide what my style was and to choose to work with people and projects that I loved. I was also tired of the long salon hours and that I could only ever have four Saturdays off a year, it felt so restrictive. I don’t think I was ever really suited to a busy salon because I work at a much slower pace and I sometimes found it stressful trying to stick to small time slots. One thing I do miss is the staff room, the craic and the social side. I still miss
everyone 12 years later!

Online life
The hardest part about freelancing was uncertainty, not knowing when you would get your next job was a struggle for me. These days I find admin and emails the absolute hardest. I think creative people struggle with this side of it. The hair is the easy bit but the pressure of replying to emails and keeping my work up to date online is a constant battle and certainly doesn’t come naturally.

Social struggle
When I started there was no Facebook or Instagram and the word influencer had no meaning. I struggle with social media: I love it and hate it in equal measures. It has been great for work and it has really helped get my name out there but in some ways it has given people unrealistic expectations of what they can achieve with their hair. There are so many apps that you can use to
edit photos and make it look like a completely different head of hair, and clients sometimes think that it’s an option for real life but a lot of the time it’s not. I really dislike that side of it.

Speaking up
I wish I was more confident when it comes to public speaking, I’ve turned down some amazing opportunities because of my fear of standing in front of a crowd or talking on television. I’m going to try to work on it a little this year but to be honest I really do just prefer working behind the scenes.

In training
I have a goal this year to do some more courses. Hair changes on a daily basis and I love attending classes and learning new skills from the best in the business. I really feel that education is the key to keeping your work fresh and to keep your passion alive.

Young gun
At the time, winning Irish Hairstylist of the Year at just 21 was the most surreal experience. To be honest, I don’t think I even thought much about it at the time, but 13 years later and looking back now I realise how big it was and I’m so proud that I was and still am, the youngest person to ever win.

Star quality
Spending a few weekends with the cast of Dallas was incredible! Linda Gray and Larry Hagman were just two of my favourite people ever to work with. Just beautiful people inside and out! I also got to do Maureen O’Hara’s hair before she passed away and I feel so honoured that I got to meet such a phenomenal lady. My Granny made me promise that I’d tell
her that she should have married John Wayne. I did, and she laughed.