PHOTO (Left) CREDIT: DISABILITYHORIZONS.COM
PHOTO (Centre) CREDIT: ASHLEY THOMSON/TWITTER
PHOTO (Right) CREDIT: HAIR TRIBE TV
“People are always going to have preconceptions about what I can and can’t do. I’ve learnt that it doesn’t matter what they think – I know what I can do and so do my clients. I’m going to carry on creating styles and pushing boundaries, and hopefully end up styling some amazing hair on the TV.”
When one has a disability, such as only having one hand, there are certain jobs some might think one is incapable of doing. But that’s where people are wrong, as proven by most persons with disabilities, sheer determination, perseverance and some adaptation are all you need.
We are all used to the notion that it takes both hands for a hairstylist to get the job done. Meet Ashley Thomson, who had always wanted to be a hairstylist. Quite ordinary, except that he is born with one hand.
Unfortunately, no one was able to impart skills to him as there was no way to demonstrate a suitable technique. Undeterred he set about learning how to style hair based on his abilities and in his own ways. He would practise on his friends during the weekends, and worked on doing their desired cuts, which were often not like the basic types of styles.
Having no proper qualifications in hair styling meant that Ashley had to start from the bottom. He worked in a salon during the weekends when he was 16 and learnt by watching the hairstylists. From there, he would figure out ways to create the same hairstyle, blow dries, colour techniques by using one hand and an elbow. “When I started cutting hair, I did it with a comb attached to my arm by a peace of elastic – I looked a bit like Edward Scissorshands, but it did the job!”
When he started out as a professional hairdresser, Ashley had problems gaining clients because people had preconceptions about what he could and couldn’t do but he now has a small and regular customer base. His persistence paid off when he was accepted at the TLT Hairdressing Academy in London and in 2016, he was subsequently picked as Akito’s brand ambassador, to assist in the creative direction of the brand.