"My work has now branched out into working for a charity called Beauty for a Better Life. That’s why I travel to Vietnam a lot. Basically, if you're in extreme hardship you can apply to L'Oreal and they will pay for you to go to this beauty school called Beauty for a Better Life. It's such a cool concept, and I personally like it because it disconnects me from this white privilege bubble that we have here in New Zealand. I hate stereotypes but let's face it, it’s true. We are really lucky but we don't realise just how lucky.
You go to Beauty for a Better Life and these kids have just as much skill, and just as many dreams, but don’t have the opportunities we do. I judge the equivalent of their Colour Trophy and the girl that won, actually the top 10, I would bring back here to work at Willis York if I could, because they were all great. I asked the girl who won, 'what are you going to do with your prize money?', which is around $500 NZD, which is a heap of money for them, and she said 'probably give it to my family'. Fuck that's cool.
I'm also a massive fan of women in business, young women in business especially, so I use my own platform - Willis York - to help make a difference for them. It's been tough out there for a lot of girls, and so I have a place where they can come. That's why I have all my fashion shows at the salon. I don't charge them for the venue, I don't charge them for my hair services, I don't charge them for products, all that kind of stuff. And it really helps them with exposure, and it helps give them confidence, and it helps get them that first experience of a fashion show under their belt.
I feel like you can't be the change you want to see in the world unless you have a platform, and L’Oreal and Willis York are two platforms I can use to help make a difference."
(Conversation with award-winning hairstylist and owner of Willis York, Bex Brent.)