[Featured on Toggle] Sham Adam - A look at the lives of hot male hairstylists
Words and photos by Toggle SG
Sham Adam, Leading Stylist at Salon Vim Bugis
Sham Adam is a busy man. In addition to serving clients at Salon Vim, he trains others, trains himself, and gets involved in marketing.
Turns out that he’s a bit of a therapist too: At the opening of Salon Vim in Wisma Atria last month, he told us that he has to be adept at switching from topic to topic, as he usually serves more than one client at a time. One day, he received a text from a client who had observed him running around the salon. “It’s not just about haircuts, you need to encourage them a bit,” he said. “My client texted me to say that I did a good job encouraging other people, that even though they think their life sucks, I still listened to them.”
Far from being harried, he’s chatty, upbeat, and considerate: after our interview, we spotted him buying pastries at Paris Baguette for his colleagues in another branch of the salon. Awww.
Tell us about your journey getting to where you are today In hairdressing, it’s pretty tough. At first you need to go for a fundamental training, and that’s only the ticket into the hairdressing line. That doesn’t mean you can be a hairdresser. You still need to work as a technician or an assistant in your apprenticeship.
Did your parents support your decision to go into hairstyling? At first, not really. My mum always wanted me to become an accountant. I studied it for half a year, and I think that was not really wanted to do. I got a good result, but I feel that I am more of a hands-on person, that there’s an artsy person in me. I used to like music and drawing. I believed that if I could be hands-on, it would be much better.
What is the toughest part about being a hairstylist? Insecurity. When you first step into the line, you are not sure whether you can do it, and you just keep working. When you work with any occupation, it’s not just about working hard but working smart, you must know every detail and be in momentum with how the world is changing. Every three or four months, things will change and you need to keep up, otherwise you will be out, and that’s very challenging.
I thought of changing my job last time – about 10 years ago, the flying thing was quite hot. I went for the [flight attendant] interview, I got in, I went for the second interview, and then it struck me: why did I go into hairdressing? Because I love it. I can’t just give up on that. If I want to succeed, I needed to really focus on it. So I changed my track back to it and never looked back. No pain, no gain, right?
Why are you so passionate about hairstyling? I don’t see myself as just a hair-cutter or just dyeing hair, I think we are creating an image for people. I think hair is something that is very important and so difficult to handle. Where we can beautify them, so that they do less maintenance on a daily basis, that is something I feel very satisfied about.
On meaningful experiences in his line of work: There was a customer who came to me before, when she came to me she was 17, who had a really, really bad injury on her head, with a huge scar. She was introduced to me by a friend, and when I looked at her, she started crying because she didn’t know anyone who could cut her hair. She told me she had a car accident and a very deep cut, and had an operation on her head, so she was begging me to tell her what she should do. She had really long hair because she didn’t know what to do and it got kind of stuck [together] because she couldn’t really wash it. And we both ended up satisfied. I did a short cut but I was able to cover the scar so she was really happy. She still comes to me, actually! That was the best experience.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about being a hairstylist? They think we are always flirty, but we have to be friendly to our clients so sometimes it gets misinterpreted as flirting! (Editor’s note: Sorry ladies, he’s happily taken!) Do you cut your girlfriend’s hair? Of course I do! And she’s also been my model at events. She’s quite adventurous because she’s a designer. She allowed me to do whatever, she trusts me.
How did you two meet? Friends introduced. Not in a hair salon!
Have clients ever asked you out? I’m quite serious about my job, I don’t really go out with my clients unless we’ve known each other for more than 10 years. That we already have a relationship, we’re more than a client and a hairdresser and we know what to expect from each other. This is a real, pure friendship though and I try not to cross over the line. I do have to reject a lot though, I say “I’m really busy” or even better, “My girlfriend is waiting for me.” But some people are very persistent and keep trying to get attention from you.
Maybe they think they’ll wear you down. Nah, I don’t think so. (laughs)
Salon Vim is located at:
313 Somerset #04-25/28 T: 6884 7757
Wisma Atria #02-01B T: 6734 6404
Bugis, 235 Victoria Street T: 6837 0073