Iles Formula Hair Talk is pleased to introduce you to Michael Strugnell and his recently opened “one on one” sumptuous Salon space set amongst a leafy residential street in Middle Park.
Michael, the maestro of hair cutting in Melbourne, inspired for several years Australian hairdressers with his stage work for Redken. Former head stylist at Shibui and co-founder of StrugnellCOLE, Michael occurred a vast client following. We welcome Michael and his new Salon as one of our latest Iles Formula Melbourne Salon ambassadors.
Find him at:
88 Park Rd,
Ph 03 9534 8868
IF : Tell us what you think is the biggest challenge in a hairdressing career today?
MS : One of the key challenges of our industry is being connected to the places where clients can draw inspiration from – especially social media. At this time in our history, we’ve never been so connected and we’ve never had access to so much inspiration and information. The challenge is in filtering this & ensuring your skills are constantly adapted to deliver on these new trends. This may not be new but clients know a lot more about what they want, which challenges us to be the best versions of ourselves. Our industry is surprising, exciting and rewarding and I love watching where the latest trends come from – especially when they come from alternative sources.
IF : What’s the most enjoyable part of your current job?
MS : I LOVE my new space. I’ve recently relocated my business into a new beautiful boutique space in Middle Park, in the heart of cosmopolitan Melbourne. The bonus is: it is located a mere two streets back from the beach and a delicious tree-lined street. I love being able to share this space with my clients. It has a warmth and charm, with small Parisian nods, which invites people into the space and delivers a “wow” experience for them. It’s a space which facilitates conversation and I love being in it.
IF : Why did you choose the path of hairdressing?
MS : In all honesty – I needed a job. No seriously… In my family if you were not at school, you needed to find a trade. I grew up in – what was then, sleepy Tasmania. I saw an advert in a local newspaper for a junior “male” apprentice and I thought that will keep Dad happy. That Salon owner happened to be Wendy Iles. I always wanted to do something creative with my hands and I was looking for an apprenticeship that could harness this. I made the decision to follow a path that was creative and where the outcome of your work made people feel better about themselves.
IF : If you had not made the decision to be a hairdresser, what would you have been?
MS : I genuinely considered being a chef. This was a trade which I felt I could be creative in and use my hands. But, it was client contact that I craved – I would not have got that from working isolated in a kitchen.
IF : What is your greatest strength?
MS : My empathy for other human beings – I love to satisfy and make their day a better day. I’m lucky enough to utilise my creative skills and give my clients something that makes them feel good about themselves. And I enjoy listening and talking to each person that comes through my Salon door – understanding where they’ve come from to better deliver something special for them. I also pride myself in being able to deliver amazing cuts for women with short or shorter hair. I do the best I can to whoever walks through my Salon door.
IF : Your favourite hairdressing tools?
MS : Scissors. I just LOVE, love, love cutting hair. The feel in my hands and the ability to sculpt, create and deliver a really beautiful cut. I treat my scissors with respect – they’re the key to my trade.
IF : Tell us about your relationship with Iles Formula. How you discovered us and which formula is your favourite?
MS : My history with Wendy Iles goes back a long way… To July 1980, when I was a plucky youngster and I waltzed into Wendy Iles’ living room, where I sat down in front of her for my apprenticeship interview. My memory of that interview was that it was LONG – very long. And I walked out of Wendy’s home and I went from being “I want a job” to thinking “I found a home”. I was overwhelmed by the energy, the opportunity and I remember thinking “Oh my God – I need to be a part of this”.
Wendy and I have remained in contact during the years and I’ve watched her career with both admiration and a tinge of envy. When she released her product range, I again knew that I needed to be a part of it. I knew that this range would be industry breaking and put something onto the market which was unrivaled and could deliver Salon results for those using it at home… And it just happened that the Australian release of Iles Formula coincided with the opening of my new Salon (1st day). Amazingly, Wendy was there for opening day.
IF : New Hair Trends ; Is there something happening with hair right now that is exciting you?
MS : I believe in natural hair – beautiful, natural hair that brings out a client’s features. An amazing hair cut should highlight the entire person not just their hair. I don’t tend to follow fads, as these styles can often look like they’ve been forced onto a client. Nothing should – everyone can achieve effortless, natural beauty.
IF : What was your worst hair moment and why… privately or on set or in the Salon?
MS : OK – this was bad and I was a 1st year apprentice (I’m sure we all have these stories), so forgive me in advance. I’d been asked to cut a child’s hair whilst his mother was being attended to. I was so excited and created this amazing cut of short layers for this young lad. Proudly, I returned him to his mother who looked in horror and shock and a little more horror. The mother turned to me and said “What have you done to my daughter?”. All the colour drained from my face… I honestly thought this child was a little boy. Whoops! The lesson I learnt was ALWAYS ask for a client’s name regardless of their age.
IF : If you could cut and colour anyone’s hair, who would it be and why?
MS : Easy – Kate Middleton. Her hair needs to be shorter – it’s just too long on her. She’s an amazing woman – flawlessly beautiful with a great sense of style. I feel like her hair sometimes tips into “little girl’s hair” and she should be sporting a shorter look. She’s a stunning woman with superb fashion at her finger tips and I’d love to enhance her cred by delivering her an amazing cut.
IF : Where do you pull hair inspiration from?
MS : Everyday life – magazines, social media, what I see on the street, art, fashion and architecture. Inspiration is everywhere. Another challenge in this is tempering trends to match the Australian climate.
IF : Your 3 favourite Instagram feeds?
@salonbabyhair (of course)
IF : Your advice to young hairdressers starting out?
MS : Stick with it – it pays off. Hairdressing is one of the best jobs in the world. It’s the kind of career where you can use your creative skills, whilst connecting with people from all walks of life. My clients bring me perspective. They enrich me and they inspire me. It’s a career where you can chat about life all day & help make people the best versions of themselves.