From her hometown in rural Ireland to her new home in Calgary, Alison’s unique perspective, backed by years of experience in various places, has not only helped her break open her shell but given the skills that she’s applied to her clients, including hair colour formulation and working on textured hair. “As I learned and gained experience, I started specializing in creating lived-in and dimensional colour that enhances each client’s hair regardless of their hair's colour and texture.” Get to know more about Alison in our latest feature.
GOAT: Hi Alison. We’re so excited to have you at GOAT. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Thanks so much, and I'm excited to join GOAT! I’m originally from Ireland, and that's where my hair journey began. During my school days, I was passionate about art and all things creative. From a young age, I knew my career had to be both imaginative and engaging. I absolutely love connecting with people, making meaningful relationships, and truly getting to know them beyond just their hair. The hair industry is a natural fit for me as I am constantly learning, keeping up with new trends, and helping people feel fabulous. I strive to make my clients feel comfortable in my chair and create an environment where they can openly express their style and vision. During the hair consultation with my client, I listen to what they are describing and ask questions, which helps me understand their vision and work together to make it happen. That’s the best feeling!
GOAT: What got you interested in hair?
I began working as a hairstylist at the age of 16. I grew up on a dairy farm in rural Ireland, which is a beautiful part of the world. However, from a young age, I had a strong passion for makeup, hair, and fashion, and I didn't want to live in the countryside. So, as soon as I could, I moved to the city and attended hair school.
GOAT: What was that transition like going from farm life to city life?
Even though I knew that farm life wasn't for me, it was both a little scary and exciting. Back then, I was quite shy. Becoming a hairstylist has helped me become more confident and outgoing. As a young stylist, I was fortunate to work with incredibly talented individuals who helped me grow and recognize my potential. Now, I love doing the same for others in the industry.
GOAT: You mentioned working as a hairdresser on a cruise ship. What are some things you learned during your time at sea?
I love a new adventure and being able to travel. I followed in my sister’s footsteps and worked on one of Royal Caribbean's ships. When I first saw the ship, I was amazed at its size. There were over 8,000 people on board. This experience allowed me to work with a much more diverse clientele. Initially, I was nervous about working with different hair types and ethnicities, but now I'm delighted to say that I'm comfortable working with all hair textures and have a good understanding of the different techniques for cutting and colouring all hair types.
GOAT: As a hairdresser, what are some things you specialize in?
As I learned and gained experience, I started specializing in creating lived-in and dimensional colour that enhances each client’s hair regardless of their hair's colour and texture. When I moved to Canada, I began working in a salon that used Redken products and took advantage of their amazing education. These classes gave me so much more confidence behind the chair. Understanding hair colour formulation was a game-changer for me. Today, I’m an educator for Redken, where I have the opportunity to help others grow in their profession. I find this incredibly rewarding.
Before moving to Calgary, I lived in Vancouver and Nova Scotia, where I worked with stylists who specialized in curly hair. This opened up a new path in my career. Having curly hair myself and straightening it for years, I know the struggle of not knowing what to do with my own natural texture. Now, I'm embracing it and helping my clients do the same, and it’s so much fun to see clients discovering the potential of their own natural hair. It can be life-changing for them.
GOAT: Tell us your personal approach to hair consultations.
The first time I meet with a client, I take about 10-15 minutes to sit down and get to know their lifestyle, needs, and what they're looking to achieve with their hair. It's essential to understand why they've come in and how I can assist them. I inquire about their preferences, what they like, what they don't like, and they show me some pictures. This first conversation helps me better understand the style and service they are looking for.
Then we talk about what we are going to do and what they can do at home to maintain their style and colour and keep their hair healthy. Sometimes, visiting a new hairdresser can be nerve-wracking. I aim to create a safe space where they can trust me and feel heard.
GOAT: Besides the work you do in hair, what do you enjoy doing for yourself?
Having recently moved to Calgary, I enjoy exploring new coffee shops, bars, and restaurants in the city. Calgary is an amazing place, and I'm looking forward to getting to know my community better and making it a home away from home. My husband, our dog Pancho, and I love going to the mountains, and after a trip to nature, I come back feeling recharged.
With most of my family in Ireland and my husband’s family in Mexico, we travel most years to see them, and I love exploring new places along the way whenever we can.
GOAT: What are you most looking forward to as you begin your time at GOAT?
I'm excited about getting to know all the people at GOAT. I love that everyone here has their unique style and that we're all open and eager to learn from one another. The atmosphere and the people are so welcoming, and it's a great feeling to be part of this team. I can't wait to see what the future holds.