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‘I’m still loving it’: Armagh hairstylist Deirdre Black celebrates 45 years in industry

Few can say that after 45 years in the same profession that “the passion is still definitely there” but that’s the sentiment of well-known Armagh hairstylist, Deirdre Black.

Celebrating her 45-year professional anniversary this month, the Hairlines Salon owner took Armagh I on a look back across the years and provided an insight into how she continues to keep her valued customers looking and feeling their best.

Like many creatives, talent was in her blood. From a young age Deirdre was introduced to the world of work as an apprentice at her mother’s salon in Portadown. However, she wasn’t afforded any special privileges as a family member!

“I started with her on a Saturday. I would have got the bus down and I can remember it was for £3 a day and you paid your own bus out of that as well,” laughed Deirdre.

“It was fun and I loved it. I was just shampooing, cleaning and brushing and watching… learning.”

Deirdre explained that in those early days, training was completed in the form of an apprenticeship rather than school-based learning; totting up your years of experience.

Eager to make use of those formative years, Deirdre took off to a bustling London metropolis in the 1980s for a year of further training.

She said: “My year in London would have been like four years here. It was so intense, and I worked under a guy called Stephen. He was fabulous and what he taught me still stands today.”

And whilst she wouldn’t have minded an extended stay, she was all too happy to show off her new-found talents back home.

Deirdre said of her extensive career in Armagh city: “Whilst I’ve been in hairdressing for 45 years in total, I have been at my salon on Dobbin Street now for 14 years. Before that I also worked in Magenta on Thomas Street and Chocolate Orange by Sainsbury’s.

“I had my own business before on Railway Street too, but my very first venture into self-employment was at age 19. I had a salon upstairs above The Charlemont.”

These years in the heart of the city have helped Deirdre build a healthy client base – some for whom she could probably count every hair on their heads.

“I have had a lovely, loyal customer base. I have had people coming 30 to 35 years and my clients are like my family. It’s my social life,” she continued.

And they are never far from her thoughts. Deirdre builds her business around the needs of her customers, introducing new lifestyle-friendly opening hours and her own range of handmade natural soaps and body products, called Black’s Apothecary.

For the last year Hairlines has broken away from the hairdressing norm and opened on a Monday morning from 8am to 11am – a move which has proven very popular with clients. Deirdre is now also introducing late opening on Wednesday evenings until 7.30pm to further accommodate busy patrons.

Her bright, spacious premises also offers an element of privacy for more reserved clients with specific or sensitive needs.

From left to right: Sarah Hughes, Deirdre Black, Eva Hughes and Krista Basketfield

She has also built a team of multi-skilled specialists to help make Hairlines the ‘one stop shop’ for that head-to-toe makeover.

The team at Hairlines now consists of Deirdre as Senior Stylist, her daughter Eva Hughes – who specialises in lash lifts and eyebrow treatments – as Make-up Artist; L’Oreal Colour Technician, qualified barber and qualified extension technician Sarah Hughes and qualified L’Oreal Colour Technician Krista Basketfield who each have 23 years’ experience.

But, all the experience in the world wouldn’t stop Deirdre and her team from upskilling.

Said Deirdre: “I would say the passion is definitely there and I’m still loving it after all these years. That’s why I love it so much – It’s the constant change and you’re constantly learning.”

Find contact details for Hairlines Armagh via their Facebook page here.

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