// Michael Kelly, regarded as one of Australia’s leading colour experts and exports. Working in the high-end editorial industry he currently bases himself in London and is the Colour Director at Taylor and Taylor, creating his signature natural sun kissed looks. He is also a Colour Ambassador for Redken.
// How did you get your start in the industry?
I started when I was 15 working for a high end salon in Sydney’s CBD John Azzi, I met Sheree Knobel an amazing Australian hair colourist who had a fire burning inside of her. Immediately we hit it off, even though there was over 10 years age difference between us we found a common ground of having a true passion for people. She took me under her wing and a few short months after when she moved to Australia's leading editorial salon, Valonz Haircutters, I moved with her and became her full time assistant. From then on I was exposed to some stellar talent, some high profile clients & some incredible opportunity.
// Do you have a signature look or style that you are known for?
Over my years I have honed in on my skill to create sun kissed seamless & authentic hair colour. I’ve built up a international reputation as a go to for beachy blondes and balayage. My work is ageless, bespoke and never contrived. Often my clients leave in awe as they say it's like the hair colour they had as a child or a teenager. A big compliment as I believe children's hair is angelic and divine and the hardest to create as its naturally sun bleached.
// What was one of your biggest career challenges and how did you overcome it?
One of my biggest.. haha, wow, that’s a hard one. There has been so many and still, daily I am faced with challenges. But, I think one of the standout moments was when I recognised the importance of backing myself. So easily do we rely on the belief other people have of our capabilities that we forget how important it is to believe that what we have to offer and who we are as artists is enough. That our talents & our personalities are unique to us & can’t be replicated. When I got my head around that, the world opened up to me. I worked across amazing brands, with amazing mentors & never regretted any moves I made on the chessboard that is life.
// Must have tool or products for your kit?
Oh man, I have sourced the world for the best tools for my kit. For me, Y.S Park anything is incomparable to competitors. I have a full kit from the mech diffuser to the tail comb to the brushes. I’m obsessed. Apart from Y.S Park, I always have on hand - Framar Tint Brushes, a Wella Professional Balayage Paddle & at current I am in LOVE with Clairol’s Shimmer Lights shampoo. The best purple shampoo I’ve ever used!
I derive a lot of my inspiration from the sun, the way it changes the light in the sky from dusk to dawn.
// Who are the role models who have inspired you?
I have role models on so many levels. Creatively I am inspired by my long time friend & biggest supporter Sheree Knobel of Bixie Colour in Sydney, Australia. We just love each other, we support each others work, share clients across the world & never stop hair obsessing between us. Professionally I have found a mentor in the ever inspiring Ann-Maree Mason of Oscar Oscar Salons, Australia. She is a formidable woman. She has taught me so much about people over the years, when I work with her I feel fearless, her energy is contagious and we just bounce off each other. In business I aspire to be like my best bud Paloma Rose Garcia of Oscar Oscar Salons in Sydney, Australia. Paloma possesses a passion that is deeper than just hair. She is an adoring mum of two beautiful boys, she co-own & operates a thriving salon with a stellar team who she invests into daily & she is one of the funniest humans I know. She’s my hype girl – when we work together, magic happens – she keeps me real & I try to do the same to her!
// When working with a celebrity how much creative input do you have?
Celebrity work is busy. Often it’s a collaboration of many minds. You have their agent & their agency, the stylist or image consultant, there is you, maybe a haircutter and then there’s them.. haha. Everyone has an opinion. Ultimately for me I try and make everyone happy, but at the end of the day it's me and them. I hear what they want, I give them my insight, we discuss, game plan and then action. I’m pretty forward, if something is not going to work, I am honest & I say so.
// What's the next big trend you're starting to see sneak in?
For me at the moment I’m loving raw textures in colour – moving away from over toned & dense colour. Bringing back the boho vibes. Colour should be specific, placing tone is areas to create the dimension you want to see. Its targeted & on purpose whilst maintaining a soft & natural feel. Lived-In colour is going to come through stronger than ever in 2017, never a slave to a regrowth, hair colour will look better and better in the months that follow on from the initial appointment.
// Top 3 Instagram accounts?
Ahhhhhh I can’t choose three, can I please have 4?
@shereeknobelcolour– hair bestie & ultimate blonde queen!
@biancacolour – this LA based pocket rocket knows how to balayage like nobody’s business, she’s also a mega sweetheart.
@amyhuson_color – Amy is another colourist who just gets sun kissed. She is LA based & has an amazing eye for freehand techniques. We share clients between us & chat hair over Instagram all the time.
@vivalablonde – West Coast (of Australia) Hair legends. Chantelle (Viva La Blonde Owner) is a down right legend and the team she carries is one of the best in Australia! I love that this team still love highlighting as much as they love balayage. So special.
// What do you enjoy to do when the brushes are down?
Currently I am based in London, so travel and exploring the world is on the top of my list, but what I truly love is quality time spent. Whether its with my partner, friends, family or on my own I love ‘in the moment’ bliss. Great food & wine. Yoga for mental & physical health & of course continuing to build my brand!
// What advice would you give artists starting out?
Know your truth and never stop learning, because when you are at the top you have the capacity to grow in ways you never knew possible. Be open to criticism, it will be your biggest strength. Never give up and work hard. Stay focused, have fun, back yourself, enjoy the process, and don’t take it all too seriously. At the end of the day we are just playing with hair. It’s a brilliant thing, so enjoy it!
// Ultimate dinner party Guests?
Oh, this is easy. Definitely Adele, No explanation needed, right? Oprah, she Is just beyond inspiring, and REAL, I read her books and admire her honesty. And, Meryl Streep, she is so smart, so talented and I find actors and actresses extra quirky types, I think she would be a good laugh! If any of them couldn’t make it id call Ellen DeGeneres and get her to come over.
If you enjoyed this chat with Michael we're pleased to announce he'll be a regular contributor with BLT and stay posted as we'll posting some shoots with him.... very soon.