Named as a top stylist in Allure’s prestigious directory, Louise O’Connor’s signature styles are modern, edgy and sophisticated. Her definitive word on styling and trends have been quoted in Elle, InStyle, Fitness, Women’s Health, and Town and Country. Louise has worked on both sides of the camera, with appearances on The View, Extra!, Late Night with David Letterman, as well as her work on MTV, VH1, NBC, and Fox. Although she is proud of her accomplishments in fashion, television, and film, Louise is most satisfied when working with her regular clients to find each one’s individual style.
“I came to the US after I finished my hair and cosmetology training in London. I got a job as a horse groomer in Bedford, NY, but after visiting Manhattan, I knew it was the place for me. That was 26 years ago and I am currently the proud owner of Louise O’Connor Salon on the Upper East Side of New York City.”
“I have always loved the fashion, beauty and music industries. As a young girl, I can remember having a sense of style that was different from my peers. I wasn’t afraid to take risks or wear clothes in a way that others might deem too daring. I also loved how playful I could be with my hair and fashion. When I decided to become a hair stylist, I trained at San Rizz, near Knightsbridge in London. I was completely blown away by the work they did and the difference they made to their client’s lives. To watch how the stylists worked and sculpted their client’s hair solidified to me what I wanted to do with my life. Customer service, first and foremost, is vital in this business. You have to be a people-person, you have to be patient, be a good listener, have perseverance, and most importantly, dedication. To succeed in this business, creativity and vision are equally important. I find that most new clients look to me to tell them what styles will look good on them.
A typical day for me starts at 7am. I get up, get my daughter ready for school and after I drop her off, I hit the gym. I’m in the salon by 9am to make sure my team is prepared for the day before I check any emails and messages that I may have from clients or other business ventures. My first client arrives at 10.30am and my last is at 6.30pm. I go home to spend some time with my daughter and have dinner with her before she goes to bed. There is always something happening in New York. The expectations are extremely high. People want their services to be fast and on their time. This can be great as a business owner because it keeps me on my toes and challenges me to do more. However, that can also be one of the disadvantages. Sometimes I forget to take time for myself.
I take great pride in the fact that I still own and run my own business. I have worked in salons as a stylist, but owning a salon is a whole other dynamic. I am able to see what it’s like to be both a stylist and a salon owner. It gives me a new perspective. Not only do I have to make sure that I take care of my clients, I also have to motivate my team to perform at their best. Every successful business has a great team and I am so lucky and thankful for mine. The most enjoyable part of my job is cutting and styling because it’s like meditation to me. I enjoy making all of my clients, both men and women, look their best.
Always train with the best and be dedicated. Learn how to take criticism because it is how you will grow. We have education nights in the salon for our assistants to learn new techniques from our senior stylists and colourists. They never feel disheartened and appreciate the knowledge that we give them. I would also say learn how to find inspiration outside of the hair industry. Delve into other creative outlets such as music and art because they can positively influence your work. I love old Hollywood movies and I sometimes incorporate vintage fashion into some of my client’s looks, but with a modern twist.
I miss the quiet that living in Ireland has to offer. I also miss the culture and the sense of humour that Irish people have. It’s different in New York. Ireland, in its own way, can be equally as vibrant as New York City, but much more relaxed. I miss that.
I miss the smell of the Irish air and the beautiful landscapes. The only place that has luscious greenery near me is Central Park, but it’s not the same. I miss Coole Park, my mother’s cooking, and my family. I miss the way Irish people are so open and friendly. Everyone greeting each other and the laid back attitude of the people in my neighbourhood. That can get lost here in New York City because everyone is in such a hurry. On the plus side, my sister and two brothers also live over here. My brother has two boys and my sister has a daughter. We are all very close, so we see each other pretty often and get together for major holidays such as Christmas. I would love to move home part-time, even if it was only for a few months but for now, my heart firmly belongs to the Big Apple!”