Award winning, self-employed Rachelle Summerson-Wright was a force to be reckoned with having 11 years experience under her belt. Until it all came to a sudden halt. In March 2009, she was due to fly to Mexico with the TIGI creative hair team when she was involved in a serious car crash in Durham. She was left with injuries such as swelling on the brain, damaged hips and a broken collarbone in three places.
“I spent a month in hospital and doctors told me I would never be able to hair dress again as I was unable to move my arm at all.” Rachelle recalls: “It was absolutely devastating to hear because I loved my job so much. I love everything about hair.”
Rachelle thought if she couldn’t cut or style hair again, but she could at least teach it: “I watched a lot of tutorial DVDs to reinforce the styles I had learnt. It gave me a chance to understand them technically, but it was frustrating as I taught a group of students who didn’t appreciate the learning process at all. It just gave me more determination to continue hairdressing myself!”
Six months later, Rachelle began to make slow process working one day a week to build her strength back up. She went on to win ‘North East Young hairdresser of the Year’ award in 2011 and flew to Orlando for a TIGI ‘World Hairdressing Event’; a belated prize after her accident.
The 30-year-old said: “This gave me the confidence I needed as I didn’t think I was anything special. It taught me life skills such as public speaking, getting myself recognised and to be brave and don’t fear being different!”
Proving her dedicated and giving nature, she became an ambassador for Schwarzkopf in 2012. This involved travelling to Chennai, India, for six weeks to deliver salon training to the students of an orphanage.
“I thrived off the idea of giving something back and watching the students be creative and actually enjoy the learning experience”, she enthused. “I saw some distressing sights on the streets but it was all worth it when all 20 students got jobs at the end. I still keep in touch with some of the girls and one of them is now working for Schwarzkopf!”
Rachelle became unstoppable, pursuing her dream working backstage at New York and London Fashion Week back in September 2014, through applying to be part of the TIGI Session Team.
The stylist, originally from Newcastle, goes on to say: “In London, I did the Sophia Webster and Christopher Kane show, and at New York I worked at The Blonds show where they designed all the initial looks on Barbie dolls and the show began with a drag act piece. It was really cool! I was standing between Carmen Electra and Paris Hilton backstage, which was surreal. I was surprised how pretty Paris is in real life!”
Recently having worked with the footwear brand Dr. Martens, the stylist emerged from a client’s hair donning her own pair of shiny white Docs, a leather mini skirt and crop top with her electric short hair in a misty grey shade. Describing her unique style, Rachelle sums up: “It’s non-particular, just depends on how I’m feeling that day.”
Having a never-ending list of ambitions yet to achieve, the 30 year-old gushes: “I would love to work on a music video for the likes of Lady Gaga or Rita Ora, someone crazy. Or for a fashion magazine like W or i:D. My favourite A/W trends on the catwalk at the moment are hair-up’s like Mohawks and braids. The sky’s the limit!”