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International Ambassadors Hooker & Young

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Biography

There are fewer known duos in the professional hair industry than Gary Hooker and Michael Young. With 25 years in the industry, four leading salons and a reputation for nothing but the best, the duo are paving the way in style and success. It is fair to say that Gary and Michael are certainly markers of quality when it comes to delivering elite service.

With an eye for perfection and precision in their work Gary and Michael are in no doubt as to which scissor brand helps them achieve those award-winning looks every time. Buying their first pair of Matakki Scissors in 2015, they have remained loyal to the brand throughout the years. As returning customers, Gary and Michael have developed a mutual respect and friendship with Matakki Directors James and Emma, further cemented by their mutual love of their dear friend and Matakki Ambassador the late Allan Stone.

Matakki are proud to announce that it is time to take this partnership to new and exciting levels with their collaboration, in announcing the iconic pair as their first international Hairdressing Ambassadors. We sat down with Gary and Michael to talk all things Hair, style, Matakki and much more…

Tell us a little bit about what attracted you to the hair industry

Michael: I always wanted to do something creative or expressive and if I’m honest I was leaning more towards “the arts” – my plan was to enrol in performance art, but hairdressing came along before that happened and became my passion. I very quickly realised that the hair industry had everything I was looking for within a career.

Gary: My beginning into hairdressing is a little different! I started at the salon in Fenwick Newcastle at the age of 21 having tried a few different things first - I had been a baker for a short time and sheet metal worker! Very different I know! It was actually through a couple of girlfriends that I was introduced into hairdressing and like Michael, never looked back. I loved the creativity, the buzz in the salon was incredible.

What attracted you to the Matakki brand?

Michael: Amazing scissors are a massive part of what allows us to be creative and expressive through our work. You have to feel comfortable with the scissors you choose – they become an extension of your hand, so the fit has to be prefect. We reach a wide audience through our work and it’s important to use a scissor brand that you believe and trust in – we get asked a lot (especially internationally) which scissors we use and we are proud to say Matakki.

Gary: We both picked up our first Matakki scissors six year ago and have never faltered from the brand, the quality and craftsmanship are second to none and more importantly they deliver great results.

You’ve won multiple awards… Tell us about those. Which was the best? Which took you by surprise?

Michael: The British Hairdressing Awards have always been a huge part of who we are as a salon group - winning multiple awards over the years has helped elevate not only H&Y but individuals within the group to award winning success.

Gary: Being nominated for British Hairdresser of The Year has got to be hard to beat! Especially as we are recognised as creative couple. Our first nomination was in 2008 which was a pretty euphoric moment – but, I’ve got to say that every nomination since has felt just as special. Hopefully 2021 will be our year!

Tell us about your relationship with Matakki and the team?

Gary: Hairdressing is all about building strong relationships – whether it’s with your clients or manufacturers, a great relationship is worth its weight in gold. Matakki have a great team headed up by James and Emma who are all wonderful to deal with.

Michael: James & Emma are genuinely great people – you know when you first meet someone, it’s either there or it’s not! There’s a great synergy there between us and so many similarities as couples! James & I definitely share a lot of character traits – it’s scary!

Where do you see the hair industry going in the next year?

Gary: Hairdressing has been through a tough time over the past 18 months – the lockdowns were incredibly challenging and very trying times for salons up and down the country. Now that life is starting to return to normal – it’s all about strengthening your business which in turn will help to rebuild the industry. It’s important that we come back from this bigger and stronger than ever.

Michael: I agree – I do think we have re-emerged as a stronger more recognised profession and to be honest I feel that clients have a new found love and respect for their hairdresser. Often, it’s not until you’ve had something taken away that realise how much you miss it.

What have you got planned for the future?

Gary: Where to start! We are planning to relocate one of our salons which is a huge undertaking as it’s a very established business and must be handled like a military operation. The new site will ultimately become our flagship salon with a wider offering of services including hair, beauty and aesthetics – it’s all very exciting!

Michael: Over the past six years – my work as a hair photographer has grown massively, taking up a lot of my time now. It’s great to collaborate with other hair artists in helping bring someone else’s vision to life. I’m excited to see what 2022 brings and hopefully will be working with some amazing people.

How does it feel to be the first international hairdressing ambassadors for Matakki?

Michael: We’re both thrilled to be working with James & Emma in elevating the Matakki brand to new heights through an international audience – when you believe in a brand you want to shout about it, so the international ambassador role is the perfect fit for us.

What is your favourite memory from over the years?

Michael: That is a tough question to answer! There are so many great memories – it’s hard to have a favourite! I guess, having the opportunity to travel around the world doing what we love is an amazing thing. We’ve been to some incredible places doing hair that we wouldn’t ordinarily visit.

Gary: Headlining the main stage show at the Russian Hairdressing Awards in Moscow has got to be up there as a high point for sure!

What’s your go-to pair of Matakki Scissors and why?

Michael: I’ve used a few over the years – I’ve been using ‘The Assassin’ for a while which I love! But my new favourites are ‘The Hazuki’ scissors and texturisers which are pretty awesome! You wanna just keep cutting hair – they feel so good!

Gary: I like to mix things up a little – I’m using ‘The Kinju’ scissors which I love! My go-to texturisers are ‘The Dragon’ which are my second pair – they’re amazing and look great too!

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