Hayley Xenophontos

Extreme Challenges
Mental Health
Young People

A hairdresser is a position of trust

December 15, 2022

Trigger warning: Sexual Abuse 

“A hairdresser is a position of trust”

My name is Hayley and I live in the Stockport area. I run a hair and wellbeing centre, where I specialise in hair loss solutions for women. I’m also an advocate for mental health. I do workshops including mindfulness, confidence and meditation.

I was the 3rd child, and I loved attention. I would sing and dance. I’d do anything, anywhere that I could to express myself.  I did hip hop, street dance and I was part of the steel orchestra.

My mum did the best for us despite us not having everything we wanted. And my dad was a Greek Cypriot so he would come back and forth from Cyprus.

When I was in school, I was in all the productions. I wanted to be on the stage when I was older. But after doing work experience at school at a friend’s hairdressers, I fell into that. When I left school, I did a hairdressing apprenticeship.

When I was a young teenager, I was bullied at school and went through 2 years of sexual abuse that went on within the household without anyone knowing about it.

During secondary school, I felt that because I was no longer a virgin, I didn’t need to hold out for anyone special anymore. So, in secondary school I slept with lots of different guys, some that were older than me.

When you’re a teenager you feel as if it is your fault, so there is guilt there and you begin to hide the secret more.

It was my sister’s partner. He would send me text messages and told me that my sister would be really upset if she found out. I felt a lot of guilt about what was happening and felt that I had to keep it a secret.

I met my son’s dad when I was 16 and had my son, Marley at 19. I went through some postnatal depression and his dad and I ended up breaking up.

At the same time, I opened my own salon in Didsbury with my friend Nicola, she was a beautician, and I was a hairdresser. We had a falling out because I felt at the time that I was putting more work into it than her. In hindsight, I realise this wasn’t the case.

So, I lost my house, relationship and my work in the space of one month and I had to move back in with my mum.

It was pretty much my breakdown and the start of my healing journey. I was severely depressed; I remember waking up in the mornings and feeling like my body was weighed down against the bed. My mum helped a lot to support Marley while I built my confidence back up again.

My son saw a lot of my depression growing up.

I went through a process of taking antidepressants and doing what the doctor recommended. I felt this made things worse because numbing my emotions didn’t make me feel happy. So, I decided to start doing natural therapies to help me to get better.

I’ve had 28 different therapies over my time, the first was at the women’s centre in Stockport. I remember being in a state: teary and anxious. They took me in straight away and did some EFT (emotional freedom technique) with me to help bring me down from an irrational to a rational state. Then they gave me 6 months’ worth of counselling.

My son was and is amazing. Every morning, he would come up into my room and play music. When I was starting to get better, I’d take him to school, using the moments in the car to listen to affirmations, which we did together.

Being able to go to the park with him or make him his tea made me understand what gratitude is.

I began to think about renting a shop in order to open a salon again.

When I was out with my sister, volunteering at a café, we visited a shop next door. The owner told me that the shop was about to be closed and that the space was available to rent soon and that there was a two bed flat upstairs.

I applied for a loan, and it was declined. I was sitting talking to the enterprise I was volunteering at, and they ended up finding me someone who could loan me the money I needed to start up the salon.

Within a month, I turned next door into a big salon and moved myself and my son upstairs.

I remember feeling nervous but when I had the keys for the place and the money I was the most grateful I had been in my entire life.

I had a list of clients from my time working in the salon previously and I started from there.

I love the connection that you can build with a client, I can lift them up and change their perspective slightly. I want my salon to be a place where you can be yourself, zone out, listen to a little meditation and leave feeling better.

My business is 6 years in the making and is still  located at the same place.

I created a wellbeing garden outside the salon, and in the summertime, we teach mindfulness and meditation.

I realised as a business owner we must work on the business not just in the business, so that the business can continue to grow. So, I’ve had to slowly find a team of people that I trust and transfer them to my clients.

Now I help people with hair loss from alopecia, cancer or hormones working in private rooms to focus on feeling safe, feeling confident and therefore we focus more on women’s wellbeing.

Wellbeing can sometimes be about the physical. Getting ready and feeling beautiful is an important part of it.

Eventually I want to focus on mental and physical wellbeing in my salon. Where clients can come in to be pampered but also an opportunity to try meditation or counselling.

A hairdresser is in a position of trust so if I suggest something like this, people may be more inclined to give it a try. All people need is a bit of love and connection and a sense of belonging.

Loneliness is one of the worst things that can exist for a human.

I now try to put myself first. I have a coach, nutritionist and someone to hold me accountable.  I also have included the things that made me happy in childhood into my adult life. I am in the steel band which plays at events around Manchester, for example. My number one goal now is to find somewhere stable for Marley and I to live where we both feel settled. Then I can start to give from a place of stability. 

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