In this busy age, multi tasking is the key to survival, and if you don’t have time to practise your English and get a haircut; then Jorge de Sancho may have the answer for you; a haircut in English! Finalist for the last two years in the Club Figaro awards and the Wella Trendvision awards, and in 2013 coming a close second in the whole of Spain for the Revlon Style Master Competition.
Although he is from the Campanar neighbourhood of Valencia, and went to the IES Conselleria secondary school, Jorge trained as a hairdresser in London. Perhaps it is for this reason that about 15% of his clients today in his salon in central Valencia are English speakers from the various British schools in and around the city, as well as at least one Ryan Air pilot. In fact, while I was in there an Austrian family was in there getting their daughter’s hair cut and happily chatting away to Jorge in English.
Like so many young people, when he finished school Jorge was tired of studying, and like so many parents, his father told him to either study or work. Jorge chose the latter and, as a friend’s father was a barber, he started working for him, with about as much enthusiasm as the clients of those barbers who in the good old days used to supplement their income with some tooth pulling, using a bottle of whisky (to be drunk by the barber) as anesthetic.
After getting through a quartet plus two barbershops in Valencia, Jorge grabbed an Easyjet flight to London, and with a little bit of help from his friend Pablo from Picassent, managed to get his first job at a salon called Hair by Fairy in Covent Garden.
It took him three visits to convince the owner, in what can only be called a pre-basic English, that Jorge would be an asset; and in fact at first he had an Italian colleague translating for him in what would undoubtedly have been an ideal place for a UN translator to get a trim.
Nevertheless, as Jorge says, it was an ideal place to learn English, and to deal with a different accent every half hour or so.
Jorge progressed fast and began at first working and later teaching for a world famous name (or two names to be exact) academy and chain of salons in the world of hairdressing.
With spells in Kingston on Thames and Wimbledon, he eventually graduated to exclusive Mayfair, the area with the highest concentration of embassies in London, cutting the hair of celebrities such as comedian Jimmy Tarbuck.
One day Jorge made it onto the pages of The Independent newspaper when one of his clients, Thaksin Shinawatra, who claimed to be the Ambassador of Thailand, and always came in a Rolls Royce full of bodyguards, gave a lengthy interview entitled “It’s so hard to get a decent haircut in London” in which he praised Jorge’s talents while fending off awkward questions about the corrupt practices that had caused him to flee his native land (and not precisely as the Ambassador, although he had in fact been the 23rd Prime Minister) for London, where he promptly bought Manchester City Football Club in June 2007 for £81.6 million, and signed Sven-Göran Eriksson, who had previously managed the English national team.
Returning to Valencia in 2008, Jorge at first found a partner and set up a hairdressing academy, although they went their separate ways following artistic differences, until he finally established his own salon in Avenida Regne de Valencia 7, where he caters to a wide range of demanding customers, including ex-Valencia FC goalkeeper Santiago Cañizares.
The salon has a pleasantly hi-tech feel, with individual TV screens embedded in each full length mirror, so that when you get fed up watching your hair being transformed into surf, you can drift away into TV fantasy land and dream of waking up completely bald or with purple hair.
Jorge likes to face up to new challenges too, and twice or three times a year organises hair fashion shows, where he sets up a catwalk with models who parade new hairstyles for his clients to see as well as building up a collection of photographs of all the latest trends in head plumage for his more adventurous clients.
He’s also been busy in the prize winning department, being a finalist for the last two years in the Club Figaro awards and the Wella Trendvision awards, and in 2013 coming a close second in the whole of Spain for the Revlon Style Master Competition.
Above all else, Jorge considers his salon to be a centre for personalised hairdressing, which means listening to the client and giving them what they want, which currently seems to consist of shorter cuts for the girls and a more serious concern among the boys for their ‘look’.
Now that Jorge has returned home to Valencia, the world comes looking for him, and the Italian hairdressing product company Mash Up are trying to convince him to help train their clients in Austria, Miami and Taiwan in the use of their products, and all about the software, training and marketing that go with them.
For those of you, like me, who like the US Marine look (which also allows my wife some rabid theraputic pleasure as she attacks my receding hairline with a blunt shaver once a year) Jorge has a machine that he claims is a hairdrier, although its true purpose is clearly that of sucking all of the neurons out of the brain of anyone who doesn’t approve of the haircut they get.
More info www.desancho.com