Some people are lucky. They cultivate a passion in childhood and pursue that passion later in life. It’s commonly known as having a dream, and with perseverance and hard work, some can make their dream come true. Amber Fairlie is one of those lucky people who knew what they wanted very early on. Chief Stylist and Founder of The Manor, a boutique salon in Davisville in Midtown Toronto, Amber wanted to be a hairdresser as early as she can remember. One of her first childhood memories is of her cutting her one-year-old brother’s hair. As a little girl, she used to look at the covers of fashion and hairstyle magazines, and that alone would fuel her imagination to be the one featured in those magazines.
After high school, she went to study hairdressing, graduating with honours, got her first job at a glamorous Yorkville salon as an apprentice, then went on to open her own business in 2011. Her salon reflects Amber’s personality and positive outlook toward life and work.
In a recent interview, Amber talked about what it takes to make that dream come true and revealed her recipe for success. “Really there are no magic formulas to starting your own business” she said. However, she is a firm believer that in order to succeed in life, you need a great deal of education. She keeps up-to-date with hairstyle trends on a regular basis and she advises everyone who wants to start a career in this business to make the most out of their education.
I found her smart, disciplined, dedicated, and with the right dose of ambition—a woman who can inspire other female entrepreneurs who think of embarking on a journey that is challenging, but also rewarding, such as starting a business. As an entrepreneur, she states “You need to want to own a business as this involves a lot of work: attracting new staff; new clientele as well as ensuring that existing clients keep coming back.”
Her principal mentor is Ronnie Stan, Creative Director of Oribe, luxury hair care brand carried in her salon. “He is an international ambassador, travels the world, and encourages everyone to further their education, pushes to think outside the box, and be the best they can be.” She says that since the job itself is quite repetitive, it’s up to the individual’s ability to think differently and occasionally come up even with slight variations to their routine.
If Amber could go back in time, she would like to live in the 70s. She says that this era represents a pivotal point in hairstyling. Hair carried a strong political and social message, think of the Afro and punk styles. Also, Vidal Sassoon’s career as a hairstylist started in the 70s. He became famous for bringing back the famous geometric hair style called the Bob that became very popular among celebrities. Who can forget the iconic image of fashion designer Mary Quaint?
Hair is part of a person’s outward appearance, and as such has the potential to influence how one is perceived as well as how one feels about themselves. Amber knows that her work has a deep impact on the individual she shapes the hair of. She helps her clients feel beautiful and good about themselves and that alone makes her happy. She knows everyone is a gift to the world and with every shape she creates and every look she changes, she brings out that side of each individual. Amber knows that some clients are afraid of radical changes; therefore, although she likes to change the look, she is also mindful of her clients’ needs and customizes to those needs.”
Since she got into hairdressing, Amber has had numerous runways, photo shoots, fashion shows under her belt, and her portfolio keeps on growing. She is a very determined woman and nothing stands in the way between her and getting what she wants. She is a risk taker and always ready to take on a new challenge. Since she opened The Manor Salon, her goal is to inspire other hairdressers by making her salon a space where fellow stylists can develop their career.
If she had a superpower she would like to be a healer and help people feel better. But isn’t she already doing that?