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Adam Reed hairdresser and hair care entrepreneur



Adam Reed on his first solo venture after Percy & Reed | London Evening  Standard | Evening Standard

Adam, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

My career in hairdressing started almost 38 years ago. I grew up and started working in Somerset, and later moved to London, where I am now.
I have built my career around being creative, as I love the creative side of doing hair. 

When did your desire to become a hairstylist start?

It has always been there! It has been in my blood for as long as I can remember. From going to the salon with my Grandmother, to doing my sisters and friends hair as a kid myself. I love the ability to change how people feel about themselves – I have always loved the transformative element of what I do. I still love it as much now, as I did then. Had I not of been a hairdresser – my second favourite love is perfume, so perhaps a career in fragrance.

Not only are you a hairstylist but a hair care entrepreneur, why did you step into this market?

I started my London part of my career with Charles Worthington when they were launching their haircare range back in ’95. I have always loved product and always been somewhat of a product junkie. I used to love going into my local Boots, then coming up to London and going to Selfridges and Liberty’s. I loved seeing what new launches were coming out, which then lead into me collecting products, prior to even starting my hair career. When I left Charles Worthington, to set up Percy & Reed and then onto Arkive, it has always been about setting up a brand that represents me, my beliefs and what I do, and I love it. I still love discovering and investing in brands and new brands.

However, I must say, getting to see Arkive launch in Boots, Selfridges and Mecca in Australia is incredible - I’d always admired what Mecca do and to see my brand launch there is totally amazing.

Adam | Adam Reed

You have attended to the hair needs of some of London’s A-lists from a young age. What lessons did you learn from this time?

When I first started up in London, we of course didn’t have any social media, so socially networking was key and so important, and ways of communicating was through press and celebrity. It has always been so important for me to have people in my chair and meeting new faces when working. It was also vital for me that people got to know me as a person, and not as a social entity.

Have you anything you can (or are allowed to) share about some of the famous heads you’ve attended to?

I was fortunate to be stylist for Diane Kreuger of Inglorious Basterds, which started in Cannes and toured the rest of the world. The looks that we were doing on this tour, I then started to see them translate into editorial shoots, on mannequins in shop windows – which was totally amazing to see people recreating the looks that we were doing. I still massively appreciate that opportunity to this day, it was the most incredible trip and still finding it mind-blowing.

You were co-founder of another haircare brand and now Arkive Headcare. Can you share anything about your experience expanding from stylist into a product-based brand?

I got to learn that working with the right people and understanding what I do well is so important, along with managing myself and learning not to take everything personally which is really difficult for me, as I was actually only diagnosed with ADHD last year.  I also suffer from paranoia, depression and anxiety, so when you know about those things they are difficult but when you don’t have a clue, it is so hard. My thing is being led by passion and learning not to bring emotion into things. Having good people around you that understand the complexities that come with mental health is such an important thing, that allows everyone to work better.

'Headcare' is at the heart of your brand, Arkive. Where did this concept come from?

That was born from my husband and I adopting our child. He was an older child, so we had to manage our way through behavioural issues and trauma. There are things that I do on a daily basis, from bathing to my fragrance – and even in the salon, from touch to feel, these are things that we do as hairdressers on the daily, but these are also some techniques we were taught to use with our son, he also is a massive fragrance fan, he loves bathing, having natural bath salts and at home we burn all natural candles. All of these things we were doing as a general, and he took on board.

When the pandemic hit, I had a break down and he started to return those learnings to me, so he would run me a bath, and put bath foam in for me. When he first came to us, we used the Diptyque Tam Dao, we would spray ourselves and give him a hug, and tell him if he was struggling during the day to remember that hug, smell his jumper and he’ll remember it. That all resonated when he did those things for me, and I had had an idea about a fragrance range. I worked very closely with Nicola Molten on the concepts of the ideas, and one day we talked about head care looking after your head. We realised that head care is about looking after your head, its something that we do, and during the pandemic we noticed was missing. Its what people want when they come to a salon, they want to have a chat and feel part of a community – which is all about hair care. I am continuously looking for things to help my head and will try absolutely everything, which is all about taking care of your head, so all the other things then fall into place.
I believe selfcare is so important, of which I have many ‘headcare’ rituals, some include washing my hair, I love the feeling of a clean head and brushing my teeth – there’s something amazingly therapeutic about that, and finally spraying a fragrance. We launched with haircare, because this is my area of expertise, but its going to be an expanding offerings and all around looking after your head.

You have spoken openly in the past about your own mental health struggles. My own brand was born out of my own story of overcoming trauma, I tell MY story through my fragrances in the hope that others would connect with their own story, past, present, and future. I am a great believer that our voices are one of the most powerful tools and can really help others.Can you share a bit about this and how you have overcome?

I have my whole life, struggled with ill mental health, I am a recovering addict, I gave up alcohol 13 years ago and as I mentioned before, I have suffered with paranoia, extreme anxiety and depression – and have intense ADHD. A lot of my initial research into my mental health, was me finding out myself. I was scared because of social interpretation of mental health, I remember being told that if I went to a doctor, and spoke openly about it, I wouldn’t get a mortgage, I wouldn’t be taken seriously, and that it was better to keep it quiet. So this, mixed with the social pressure, along with my own feelings, I kept it quiet and tried to deal with it, which was probably the worst thing I have ever done. I was so badly bullied at school, and the effects of that was tough and stuck with me. Going cold turkey 13 years ago, I had tried things like AA, but I wasn’t in the right space, and knew I needed to do this for me. As I started to have clarity, it then help me understand my own mental health. I used my own voice, to speak about my own mental health and didn’t care what anyone else thought. I have not overcome my mental health issues, but learning how to deal with it, and live with it for the better good of myself and for other people who are suffering.

An Interview With Adam Reed | LOOKFANTASTIC Blog

We are both lovers of scent; You have created two comforting and evocative signature scents for Arkive, can you share with us the scent stories behind your scents?

FUTURE BLOOM contains sweet top notes of mandarin, rhubarb & currant that lie delicately over a confident heart of white florals, whilst the warm base of vanilla, tea rose and white musk creeps through to envelop you in a grounding hug. This clean and fresh floral scent mimics that of a sun-soaked summer that feels liberating, luminous and full of potential.

NO ONE ELSIE is a fresh scent with captivating top notes of tomato leaf and rhubarb that effortlessly entwine with the warmer and headier honeysuckle and redcurrant. A serene starting point that romantically overlays an intoxicating, velvety base of palo santo and vetiver. NO ONE ELSIE smells how catching up with an old friend feels: uplifting, unparalleled and good for the soul. It’s compelling embrace cocoons you and delivers an everyday, hedonistic escape.

Do you have a regime to help with positivity and supporting your
mental health?

Talking for me is key, I still struggle with talking openly, I still struggle to feel like I am going to be judged, or things will be perceived as negative. I also love forest bathing, cold water swimming, eating the right food, I try to sleep. I do love the idea of a regime, however, my mind is so active and pre occupied that I find it difficult to switch off.


As this month is all about men’s mental health, what are your tips on how we can support men (and women) in their struggles?

Talk, talk, talk. Open up, head care is all about getting things out of your head, and when things are out its much easier to understand and prioritise those feelings and regulate everything. If you talk, everything else will fall into place. When something is in your head, it can be very dangerous, when it’s out, its much easier to understand and deal with.

Would you have a message to anyone out there reading this, who feels unheard and is struggling?

Finding the right person to talk to. When I first gave up alcohol, people were recommending therapy, AA and talking groups, however, a lot of this didn’t work  for me – but when I did find my own technique, which took a little while, which  was being open and honest with my inner circle of people around me. When I didn’t talk about it, its like mould that grows and is difficult to get rid of.

 Arkive Head Care

Stories make up who we are, and we think that life is richer the more you have to tell, so thank you to Adam for chatting with us and sharing YOUR story! Tonya Kidd-Beggs

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