Iconic creative stylist and colour guru Charles Junior Louw did a contract on board ship early in his career. He shared with Hairnews how this experience shaped him as a person and a professional.
Q: At what stage of your career did you decide to work on board cruise ships?
A: I was still a student, studying hair at Orbit FET College, Rustenburg. One of the Steiner recruiters came to talk about joining the ship life as a hairstylist. She showed us all these glamorous pictures of her experience with Steiner. I was sold then and there!
Q: Describe how you applied and what the training was like.
A: Applying was easy, and at the interview the recruiter went into detail about what I would be doing on board as a hairstylist. My skills were tested and I was then contacted to say I was successful and could go to Cape Town for training.
The training was awesome! We were extensively trained on blowdrying and upstyling as the clients we work with on board ship want styles that last! We had training in product knowledge and had to write a test.
Q: What ship were you on and where did you sail?
A: I worked on the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas. At that stage it was the biggest ship in the world. We sailed one week east as a 7 day cruise to the Bahamas – Nassau, St Thomas, St Martin. Then we sailed one week west to Labadee Haiti, Jamaica, and Cozumel Mexico.
Q: What did you love about cruise ship hairdressing, and were there any challenges?
A: You need to be a strong and committed person to make a success of this career. Being a “Steiner” gives you a preferred status on cruise ships – you are staff, rather than crew, so are more privileged and get to have more of the experiences that the passengers do. The places you get to see and the cultures you meet are amazing… it makes you realise how small the world is. And thirdly and most importantly… the crew bar and amazing parties!
The challenge for me is that your talent for stylists is only as important as your talent as a salesperson. As a salon owner today, I realise that selling retail is an essential – but it is even more so on board ship and definitely a skill you must be willing to work at and develop.
Q: How did the experience benefit you personally and professionally?
A: It made me a stronger person; I made awesome friends including two very special Filipino hairstylists who took me under their wing and helped when I needed help. I learned to better myself in my trade and I don’t think I would be where I am today without this. Once you have been a Steiner, you can do anything and work under extreme pressure, and not fail.
My advice to others considering doing this? You’d be an idiot not to do it!
Are you inspired to take on the challenge and embark on this amazing experience?
Sign up at www.theonboardspa.com and a recruitment consultant will contact you for a confidential interview and to answer any questions you may have!