Ashley Williams has been the owner of Fringe Benefits salon since 2005, but to him it might as well have been yesterday. Although he didn’t always plan to get into his line of work, the easy-going hairdresser is now an integral part of the Curtin community. Whether you want a trim, a restyle or just a chat, Ashley is the man for the job.
How can other men style their moustaches to be as awesome as yours?
Haha! It takes a bit of trimming, a good wax and, I suppose, practise. It takes a bit of time to get the hang of it and to grow it.
I had a beard for quite a while and then I noticed that everyone else had beards and I just got sick of it. I had a mate that actually had a pretty cool mo and I had been edging towards it for a while. I shaved the beard and the mo was there. That’s pretty much it.
As a hairdresser, I’ve had a lot of different styles. When I had hair, I had it in all sorts of colours; I had curls and flat-tops. I think the mo is just one of those things that everyone loves. Clients walk in and they’re like, ‘The moustache is looking great. Great moustache!’ People on campus, uni students and even high school students are like, ‘Oh, by the way, great moustache. I love that moustache!’ It just amazes me that so many people comment on it. It’s bizarre. I’ve never had anything that everyone has commented on so much before.
Why did you decide to become a hairdresser?
I didn’t want to go on with school. School didn’t want to keep me on. So it was best that I left. I didn’t really know a lot of options either and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do.
My mum was a hairdresser for a while before I was born and she said, ‘What about hairdressing?’ After thinking about hairdressing and what it entailed: working with people, being creative, going in so many different directions and exploring different options in deciding whether to work for someone or for yourself, it all sounded really appealing.
I finished year 10 on Friday and started in a salon on Monday, and I’ve been working as a hairdresser ever since. Over the 25 years that I’ve been doing it, I’ve had six months as a break where I haven’t been hairdressing. Working as a hairdresser, it doesn’t feel like I’ve been doing it for that long. I remember, when I was an apprentice, my manager said, ‘I’ve been hairdressing for six years’. She thought it was a bloody long time, but I think after 25 years, it still doesn’t feel like a long time… until you’re talking to a student who’s 19, which is when it does feel like it’s been a long time.
What do you love about your job?
I love that people come back and see me regularly. I suppose you become a big part of someone’s life. You get to change people’s looks and make them feel so much better about themselves. Something can be getting them down and, once they leave, they feel fantastic. It only takes one haircut; it only takes one smallish thing to change the way someone feels. It’s that chance to make someone feel so much better about themselves and give them a new look and a new outlook.
I’ve heard you’ve taken part in the World’s Greatest Shave. How did that come about?
I don’t know how long we’ve been doing it. I think it’s been about seven or eight years now. Mo (Student and community development coordinator Maureen Meredith) approached us and asked if she’d be able to borrow some clippers and we said, ‘Actually, we’ll do it’. I grab all my staff and we close the salon for that time – we’re not actually making money for the two and a half hours that we do the World’s Greatest Shave.
It helps raise money for leukaemia. We really need to find a cure because it’s a disease that affects so many different people. I think everyone should donate his or her time to a cause. I also used to volunteer for Telethon and man the phone rooms years ago. I think what I do helps – it’s my bit for the community.
With the World’s Greatest Shave, it is being part of the Curtin community: to get in there, help out and bring the Curtin community spirit back onto campus. As a business on campus, there’s a certain loyalty towards the students and the staff. It’s a community. It’s like a small town.
What are your hobbies?
I used to play bike polo. I don’t play it too much now. It’s three people a side, on bikes, obviously. It’s kind of like horse polo. The idea is to get the ball in the goal. That’s something I helped start up in Perth and it’s something I still play occasionally. It’s a good sport. It’s a good way of building up your bike skills. It’s awesome fun.
I also do a lot of mountain bike racing and cyclocross racing. Cyclocross is new to Australia, but it’s an old sport. Basically, you ride road bikes off-road on a short course with multiple laps through grass, sand, mud and pavement – all sorts of stuff. They put obstacles, like barriers, in there as well. It involves a bit of running and riding and, again, good bike skills. It’s great fun and a great spectator sport. We get a lot of people that watch. It’s a bit more rowdy than a mountain bike or road race.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I don’t know. It’s hard when I talk to people all day, every day and conversations go off in all different directions. A lot of people know a lot about me, I think. There’s not too much that I’m able to keep to myself!
You can find Ashley at Fringe Benefits Hair Salon in Building 106 on campus, or call 9458 1625.