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Daniel Field is a man with a vision. Pioneer of the organic and mineral hairdressing philosophy, he literally turned his own bad hair problems into a booming business. Inventions are said to be solutions born out of problems that need solving. Follow this logic, add a canny business sense and hard work, and you begin to grasp how Daniel Field has built on his success in the haircare arena.
A dermatitis sufferer, Daniel battled with scalp irritations, but it was an incident at the age of 14 that prompted him to start creating natural haircare products. "I was wearing a black jacket and I realised the whole of my arm was covered in flakes," recalls Field. "I washed my hair again and realised that the shampoo which I always thought removed things was actually making it worse.
That's what gave me the idea to do something about it. "I took some flowers from the garden, boiled them up and mixed them 50/50 with a propritory shampoo. It was really good on my scalp leaving no flakiness. I also took it to the salon I worked in for my Saturday job and it solved the dermatitis that I got on my hands from washing hair."
It wasn't long before the financial benefits of such a brew became apparent. "After a few months, the owner of the salon offered me 10 guineas for a gallon of the shampoo," says Daniel. "It was back to the library. I took out books on herbal remedies and started researching. We ran out of flowers very quickly. I got my little sister involved picking them out of peoples' gardens on the way home from school until she got caught! By the age of sixteen I was selling shampoo properly and within six months I was making a really good profit."
Daniel eventually left school and began training as a hairdresser. His enthusiasm for a more natural approach to product formulation continued to flourish and a meeting with an organic chemist solidified his determination to follow the natural route. Daniel went to the lab every Friday for training in how to formulate products from natural sources.
"When I first started using the words 'organic' and 'mineral', I didn't have any clue about what was going to happen in terms of food," asserts Daniel. "My intention wasn't to be for the purists who just want a pesticide and fertiliser-free type of lifestyle - it didn't exist. It was about a form of chemistry in hairdressing cosmetics which hadn't yet been created. "I started to look at professional hairdressing to see if I could use the knowledge I had about active additives to modify the damage that existing products did. As I got better at the chemistry, I found out how to make peroxide harmless, in fact, good for your hair, and in 1989 I found a company who could make Natural Colours – Water Colour, which was the world's first non-ammonia, non-peroxide permanent colour for grey hair."
Nearly two decades later Water Colour is still growing in popularity. Water Colour was ahead of its time and the principles of organic and mineral hairdressing are being copied by the “big Boys” in the industry because they now understand the that people want something natural to use without damaging their hair or their health in order to enhance their beauty.
The potential for the Daniel Field brand is huge but Daniel is not happy to rest on his laurels. Although Daniel has cropped the likes of Paul McCartney, he is quick to reject the 'celebrity hairdresser' label. "I don't consider myself to be in that bracket. I am a Hairdresser with a vision and that's what makes me different from others," he says. "Research is my life. Every Friday is my day to revue the research going on at the Organic and Mineral Research Institute, where we're looking at things for the years ahead.
"I always think about the future, not the past. What we are doing is embryonic; it's just a tiny little foetus of what you are going to see. Fifteen years ago Toni & Guy was just a few salons in the West End, now they have hundreds around the world. They brought West End hairdressing to the high street. We have done the same thing with hair colour. It is a growing market with products that are less harmful and less expensive as people are using it more. My colouring system will be available everywhere," he asserts. "I would like to be known as the person that put the care into haircare. "Making a difference in peoples' lives is a fantastic thing... If my little function in the world is to help people look better for longer, then that's enough for me."
“I have set up a mail order service in the West Country with my business partner so that my loyal customers over the years can still get hold of my original products with original recipes – I like to call them Daniel Field’s Originals” We have a web site: www.danielfieldmailorder.co.uk. You can also order by telephone, fax, email and the old tradition Royal Mail postman will gladly bring your orders to us and deliver them back to your door withing a day or so.
Interviewer: Cara Whitehouse