Meet Derek 'Decutter' Clement: The First Black Man to be Nominated for the BRITISH AFRO HAIRDRESSER OF THE YEAR AWARD
Formally known for his dedication to black hair which started in the early 80's, we caught up with renowned hair stylist Derek 'De Cutter' Clement to discuss all things hair, re-branding yourself, coming up in the 80’s and more.
After working with the legendary Splinters' (one of the 1st Afro Hair Salons in the West End) owner, Winston Issacs, then becoming his artistic director for the salon, Derek was trained with the best. There he was able to work with big names including, Billy Ocean, Patti Labelle, The Three Degrees and much more. Derek managed P Diddy's personal barber shop where he styled several US celebrities from the urban scene.
Now, Derek continues to rescue heads of hair in Bella and Bello Hair and Beauty Salon, in West London. His common focus is teaching, providing the 'Hair Surgery Sessions' in colleges within the UK & Caribbean; with a mission to save and replenish heads of hair through education of the scalp & targeted regimes.
Most recently, the DeCutter hair care range was created to further promote the luxury lifestyle that his brand exudes, as well as helping men & women retain their hairstyles out of the salon. The DeCutter brand also includes clothing merchandise, nutritional books & short stories.
Down below, Derek discusses his hairdressing background, key business lessons, his greatest accomplishments and his hairstyle icons:
1) When did you know you had the talent for hairdressing & barbering?
Interesting question...I didn’t choose hairdressing, hairdressing chose me...matter of fact I visited my local barber as a teenager asking him to train me to become a barber. This was as a result of experiencing racism at school, I had the presence of mind even then to realise that since the school system practiced covert or institutional racism naturally working in the cooperate world meant I’d only be kept from realising my true potential. The summer of that year my girlfriend asked me to drop her at the hairdressers it was Splinters International Salon In Mayfair while seating in the reception all I saw was my people above all celebrities I immediately asked the owner Winston Issacs weather a job was available his reply was yes can you start tomorrow.
2) What business lessons have you learnt that you wished you knew earlier in your career?
One of the biggest lessons I learnt was the importance of “BUILDING CAPITAL” that one must save save save...in other-wards until your cups overflowing don’t make moves prematurely..I did and it cost me darely.
3) What has been your greatest accomplishment whilst doing hair?
My greatest accomplishment was being the first Afro hairstylist/ Black guy to be nominated for the prestigious BRITISH AFRO HAIRDRESSER OF THE YEAR AWARD. It was a watershed moment since Afro hair in the UK was not big news but due to Winston Issacs genius Afro hair was gaining recognition on the big stage.
4) If you could do hair for any celebrity, male or female, who would it be?
Good question... (a) all our BRITISH female News presenters since none of them have what I call a signature cut, (B) Naomi Campbell time to remove that bone straight wig or weave...if it’s the USAit’s gotta be Serena Williams never seen her own hair.
5) Being the legendary Winston Issac's, head apprentice, what advice have you kept with you till this day?
Winston Issacs, may he rest in peace, I could hear him saying to me right now...Derek please don’t overbook nor undertook either... in other words never operate an empty salon
6) You're in the midst of a rebrand, what great things can we expect to see?
I have founded SALON SURGERY & MINISTRY OF HAIR concepts designed to empower educate and emancipate hairdressers and the consumers alike. I've also formed an alliance with Rudi Page who founded AHB (Afro Hair & Beauty in1983) along with HAIR Ex short for Excellence in Creativity. We are partners and CEO of the latter, so wherever you see Rudi you’ll see Derek DeCutter .AHB is also responsible for paying homage to the Legends Pioneers and veterans past and present of the Afro hair and beauty industry in the UK.
7) Who's your hairstyle icon?
My hairstyle icon was PIERRE TOUSSAINT 1766 to 1853 he was a slave who became stylists of presidents in the United States in his day
8) What advice can you give to an upcoming hairstylist who wants to run a salon?
Find yourself a dedicated all rounded team, hire the best PR and create your own line of hair care products..