Hong Kongers can now get some history with their haircuts by booking an appointment at Era, the new concept salon by hairdresser extraordinaire Paul Gerrard.
Behind the funky red façade on Pottinger Street, Central, sits Era, a stylish salon straight out of the 70s, complete with psychedelic wallpaper, art deco trimmings and retro wash chairs. But despite its launch theme, this is not a salon necessarily stuck in the past, as the Era is set to merge into a different age with each passing year.
Speaking exclusively to Localiiz from his flagship salon right across the street from Era, Paul Gerrard explained the inspiration behind his new creation.
“I came up with the idea for Era because I felt like I was moving into a new era myself. I love a project and I love interiors, so I had the idea that we would change the salon to a different era each year. We’re opening in the 70s, but it might change to the 30s or even Space Age next year. It doesn’t mean everyone’s going to come out with 70s dos in 2013; we’re just using it for inspiration.”
As well as giving Paul a place to nurture his inner interior designer, the Era salon will also be a creative outlet for his non-Western hairdressers.
“Because Paul Gerrard is known as a Western salon, most of my customers expect a Western stylist,” said Paul. “It was getting to the point where it was quite frustrating, as I was confident in my local team but I couldn’t get them on the floor. When across the road came open I just thought I can have somewhere that’s not so expat focused so I can give my local stylists an avenue to progress their careers.”
And Paul can no doubt sympathise with his newest recruits, having learnt first-hand the challenges of starting out in the Hong Kong hairdresser world after coming to the city as a broke backpacker 20 years ago.
“I was on my way around the world but I’d run out of money,” Paul said. “Hong Kong was still a British colony at the time so I thought I would be able to get here, find a job, get some money and go to Australia. I tried to get into the hairdressing game but it was too difficult as there were only local salons at the time.”
Despite his training, Paul was forced to take a stop-gap job as a waiter, but it wasn’t long before word got round about his skills with the scissors. He started out cutting hair in people’s homes and receiving clients in his studio flat, before eventually reaching a place where he was able to open his first salon and employ his first member of staff. And although Paul has never looked back, he admits that dominating the Hong Kong hairdressing world was something he just fell into.
“Growing up, I’d never been in a hairdressers in my life because my mum used to cut my hair. All I knew is that I wanted to travel, and someone told me to train as a chef, a hairdresser or a translator,” said Paul. “I applied for courses in all three and ended up in hairdressing first. I was the only male in the class, so it was a bit petrifying at first, but I instantly fell in love with working with people, listening to people and making people happy.”
And now embarking on his new venture for making Hong Kongers happy through the medium of hair, Paul explained that Era will be focussing on creating beauty the natural way by exclusively using salon products from Evo, a pioneering Australian brand taking “sweet revenge against an industry of over-inflated truths”.
“The Evo lot got tired of brands making fake claims about organic and natural products, so instead of making label claims, they just don’t include any nasties,” explained Paul. “They see themselves as a clean and honest brand, and being Australian they also have lots of personality, so it seemed a great fit for Era.”