Occupy Me


This article was written on 14 Mar 2015, and is filled under Beauty, Business, Fashion.

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Nina Butkovich-Budden: Hair artist and founder of Nina’s Hair Parlour


Nina Butkovich-Budden is credited with founding the UK’s first Vintage Makeup and Hair Salon in 2005-  Nina’s Hair Parlour offers authentic hairstyles from all bygone eras, whether you want an Ancient Greek up-do, pre-Raphaelite waves, 1940s victory rolls or a bobs from the swinging 60s. 

As well as being an authority on vintage styles, Nina is also an accomplished contemporary artist in her own right, creating stunning, high-fashion looks for events like the Life Ball in Vienna, one of the biggest Aids charity events in the world. She’s also styled hair for editorials in publications like Vogue and Elle, working with internationally renowned photographers and stylists as well as companies like Agent Provocateur, Diane von Fürstenberg and Calvin Klein.

Her celebrity clientele include Pamela Anderson, Paloma Faith and Neneh Cherry, to name just a few. She has appeared on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour along side Nicky Clarke and on segments in The Richard and Judy Show, This Morning and Lorraine.

OM: Can you describe an average day at work?

NBB: The good thing about doing what you love is that there is no average day! Every day is a new and exciting adventure. Either I am doing a radical makeover on a private client, styling a wig in my studio in Hackney Wick, filming a TV commercial in Prague, a movie in Belgium or shooting an editorial in Morocco for a fashion magazine. I love it all!

OM: Have you always wanted to be a hair artist?

NBB: No, I desperately wanted to become a vet! It was Sigourney Weavers fault; Watching “Gorillas in the Mist” made me want to save every primate on the planet. Unfortunately, the war broke out in Croatia, I never finished the studies and never made it to Rwanda. It just wasn’t meant to be and I am somewhat glad it turned out this way as hairdressing was my passion too. I’ll definitely make it to Rwanda someday though!

OM: What was the hardest part about becoming an hair artist ?

NBB: Having grown up in Croatia, when I came to the UK I had to find, meet and introduce myself to the “right” people in the industry. I had to create my own networks which is slightly harder and takes more time than when you have a history of connections you made growing up here. One has no point of reference and no friends or colleagues to make the introductions. Proving to everyone that I could do it, making them see that I was motivated enough, creative enough, unique enough and worth giving a chance to provide exceptional work took a lot of time and effort.
I did it and am very grateful to all that helped me along the way.

OM: And what’s the best part of the job?

NBB: The best part is being approached with an extremely difficult and demanding task- when a client is under the impression that all hope is gone, but then I’ll make it my personal crusade to make it happen. I like a good challenge!
Also, researching particular hairstyles, especially when the job requires them to be historically accurate. Nearly 10 years ago I pioneered the idea of “Nina’s Hair Parlour”. It was UK’s first Vintage Hair Salon where only authentic hairstyles of eras gone by were recreated. It seamed like a utopia; nobody took me seriously. Nevertheless I managed to open the salon, joined forces with Issidora, the fabulous make up artist and subsequently started a huge trend. Vintage Salons are now popping up everywhere like mushrooms!
My craft is my art. I challenge myself all the time. I am pushing my own boundaries, evolving as a person and as an artist. I love the unpredictability, spontaneity and excitement that comes with this job. Most of all, the collaborations with creative people from all walks of life that expand one’s horizons, and the friendships that stem from those collaborations that keep on inspiring for years to come.


OM: Do you feel you’re treated differently in your industry because you’re a woman?

NBB: I do feel women are less visible in this industry as its predominantly run by men. What I find disappointing is that women in general do not support other women but make the market even more competitive and cut throat. We need to stick together if we want things to change.

The industry nowadays is treating its creatives very badly. Hair and make up artists in Britain are being faced with the fast-growing trend of being taken for granted, their occupations being treated as a hobby and not being sufficiently compensated for the job done. I am talking not being paid at all and expected to work for free- that is a huge issue.

OM: What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given? And what other advice would you give to anyone looking to become an hair artist ? What qualifications and experience do you need?

NBB: The best piece of advice I was given was: Never stop learning, no matter how long you have been in the industry, you never know it all!

I believe a hands-on approach is best. Whether assisting an artist whose work you love or seeking apprenticeship in a salon; those are great ways to start.

It is absolutely essential that you have basic hairdressing knowledge so get your NVQ’s, invest in your career, the rest depends on you, your talent and a willingness to work and learn.

OM: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made in the workplace or in your career?

NBB: Doing too many favours earlier in my career, believing that people who booked me would be fair and return the favour when money comes their way, not standing my ground when approached to work for “exposure” or no budget. You don’t go to the shop with no budget and expect people to just hand you over a pair of shoes… for the exposure…do you?

OM: What does success mean to you?

NBB: It’s a stimulant to achieve even more. It is also a confirmation that you are doing something right, especially when the praise comes from people in the industry who you look up to.

For me, success is when the hair looks just as I imagined it, when I surprise myself by creating something that was almost impossible to create.

Success also means that I have an opportunity to meet and work along creatives that I respect and admire.

OM: What’s your feminist wish for the future?

NBB: My wish is for women to take care of women. To stand together united, help push forward, support and encourage each other. In my opinion this is the only way we can make our mark, express ourselves and succeed in today’s society and our chosen professions.

Tweet Nina and her team here.

Black and white image by The FogHouse Photography.

One Comment

  1. Sunita
    2nd April 2015

    Congratulations Nina! Great story!

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