Celebrity colourist Sam Kerswell has opened up about his experiences of being bullied in the workplace – and calls on young hairdressers to speak out and get help if they feel they’re being targeted.
Plymouth-based Sam, who has worked with stars such as Alexandra Burke and Cheryl Hole from RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, has revealed how he was ‘made to feel so down’ by a former boss and colleagues after finding out he was being mocked behind his back.
He is calling on hairdressers – particularly those who are young or new to the industry – to speak out and talk to someone if they feel they uncomfortable about something.
Sam said: “My bullying experience started off with a stylist wrongly saying I was mocking other members of staff off behind their backs.
“When I found out, I was really upset as none of it was true.
“Weeks went by and other things happened which I wasn’t aware of. I expressed my concern to the salon owner but they told another stylist ‘that I was doing her head in.’
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“I was then on a work trip to Europe and I was sent photos of messages between the owner and a stylist saying they wished I would leave, that my work is pointless or ‘who on earth would want that?’, complaining they would have to watch it on Instagram for weeks to come and that ‘Sam is doing me in’.
“Upon my return I was called by the owner, saying they hoped I had an amazing time away and wanted reassurance from me that I was still happy in the salon. I won’t go into detail of my reply.
“I had to spend a whole week creating hair in Europe at an event whilst inside all I thought about was, ‘What have I done wrong? Everyone always seemed so happy for me?’
“I felt absolutely terrible and it affected how I worked whilst away. After I told them I wouldn’t be returning I was sent a message stating they were glad they made me feel bullied, that I am a rubbish hairdresser who will amount to nothing, and I need to remember I am just a council estate boy from Plymouth.
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“I was made to feel so down, sad and didn’t want to go to work for weeks because of these things.
“I am 31 years old, and this kind of stuff happens to people of all ages, but more so of our younger members of the industry.
“If you feel even the slightest uncomfortable at work or feel something isn’t quite right, please speak to your manager first if you are able to do so, speak to your parents, friends, speak to your college. Things can get worse very quickly and it is not okay!
“Bullying in our industry must stop, you must speak out and get help. It is scary but I promise you, you will feel so much better after.
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“There are plenty of salons and teams around that will welcome you with open arms, support you and want nothing but the absolute best for you and your career.”