What a beautiful day….to go shopping?!! Ok so any day is good when it comes to retail therapy. But my shopping experience yesterday has got me thinking about the experience of buying products and the psychology behind why and what we buy as consumers.

My birthday is on the horizon and my wonderful boyfriend offered to take me shopping for early birthday presents, ‘yipeeeeeee!!’ I cried like a five year old as I skipped around Cabot Circus. Thankfully he is a patient soul so indulged me by looking in ALL the shops

We found ourselves in Harvey Nicks and I was drawn in by the fumes of Jo Malone. A very smiley young sales assistant readily spritzed all of the various fragrances on little sticks while I deliberated. I was struck by her knowledge and found her to be very helpful and engaging whilst avoiding my pet peeve ‘the HARD sell’. Both her and her colleague were personable and uber professional not to mention the environment around us, which of course was divine and conducive to one parting with their hard earned cash! As it happens, a little upsell and suggestion to cocktail/blend two fragrances resulted in a tidy commission for said sales assistant, as I couldn’t decide and got both perfumes! Happy days pour moi!

Purchasing is to me an emotional transaction.  When we feel good about the people, the integrity of the brand, and the environment we want to buy and when we leave with our ribbon wrapped shiny new products, we feel excited and full of promise as to how they will make us look and feel. I am the Queen of retail therapy and have good experiences and very bad!! One particular incident that left a foul aftertaste was at the hands of a large department store….I won’t mention names!!

…..I had nipped into the shopping centre to get a top for a night out and decided as had limited time to go to a department store for an easy one stop shop. On perusing the rails I selected a metallic number and headed to the tills to check out. I was greeted at the counter by three chavvy twenty somethings chewing gum and discussing their plans for ‘going dewn tewn’ later that night. I waited patiently for a good 60 seconds while they finished and then… Oh yes there it is, some eye contact and acknowledgement hurrah! So Chav one volunteers her hand for my garment (whilst still chatting away) and in front of me removes the security tag but inflicts a tear in my top! She then places the garment in a bag and puts her clammy mit out for my card……AND breathe Ella……the following convo went a little like this “EXCUSE ME Chavlaa,  do you think for one minute I am buying the top you just tore a hole in?” “Er
Wot?” “Please can you kindly get another one as I have just seen you wrench a chunk from it” So she waddles off whilst her friends stand gawping in disbelief that I have interrupted their chat….”Was it a LAAAARGE?!” The Chav bellows across the shop floor so that other customers all look up.. “Yes thank you” I reply. Chav comes back shoves new top in bag, snatches card from my hand and continues ‘tewn’ discussions with Chavs 2 and 3. I then watch my receipts rollout of the PDQ terminal which she promptly ignores.

I wish I could tell you it ended well. Unfortunately my boyfriend reappeared just as I was tearing strips off team Chav on their appalling customer service and giving them a lecture on how it was no wonder the stores revenue had publicly been announced as suffering when there were incompetent, indifferent plebs at the helm. I have never set foot in the establishment again. Not because I was banned… No no, because I refuse to give my money to companies that operate with no regard for their punters.

The polar opposite experience I suppose was when I was taken to an incredible Michelin starred restaurant in Mayfair called Murano. I’m not going to lie, this was a lumpy fine dining experience but it was for my 30th and it literally changed my life! Not only were the surroundings lavish and the food mind blowing. The service was just faultless. A gorgeous French Sommelier chose a different glass of wine for every course of the tasting menu for us. He asked our taste in wine first and then on every course discreetly wafted in for a brief education on the choice and asked our opinion on the first sip. The combination of one woody truffle and artichoke dish with a dry Rose he had recommended quite simply blew my mind. The simplicity but quality of the ingredients and the application of his knowledge were exemplary. I also had the unexpected pleasure of meeting the chef Angela Hartnett after our dinner. My partner has worked with her so she sat down with us briefly and what an inspiration she is. No airs or graces, really down to earth but a genius chef and passionate about her craft.

In my industry much like with cooking, the quality of the products we use are directly associated with the finished style. I could not create the looks, textures, colours I do without the best product lines at my disposal.

Many clients and friends ask me about shampoo most frequently, whether it really matters what they use? I speak as a consumer and as a stylist when I say, you get what you pay for. In my mind if you have spent a significant sum on your highlights for example, it would seem ludicrous to then use Alberto Balsam thereafter to maintain it?! Expensive price tag does not always equal quality, I will give you that. But professional products by and large will be of a higher concentration firstly and have better quality ingredients secondly.

Of late I have been banging on about Label M products, quite simply because they rock. I was involved with testing some of the products back when they were formulated when I worked for T&G. They are made from a ‘cold distillation’ process which helps retain the benefits of all ingredients by extracting then minus heat. It is much the same theory as over boiling vegetables. This results in them looking grey and possessing low volumes of vitamin and mineral content, which leaves potential munchers bereft of goodness!! Retaining as much of the essence of say a Barbados Cherry who’s benefit is shine, will mean your hair receives a higher dose of the shine supplement. Kapish?

There are many products endorsed by celebrity stylists and huge multinationals who can throw money at add campaigns. It hard to decipher the truth about these brands. The fact that Label M was designed by Toni & Guy’s award winning Artistic Team means every product has been properly put through its paces. AND Label M are now branded official sponsors of London Fashion Week. They deliver, they smell great and they are affordable compared to many competitors. So I would like to extend to you an offer….

I will give a complimentary Label M Goody bag of products to one lucky winner from my blog followers. All I would like in exchange is a paragraph from you,  on what would make your perfect hairdressing experience.

Please email your insight to me at elahawkey@yahoo.com. Be honest and really think about what you want as a client. Entries will remain anonymous but are research for a little project I am working on…..I will choose the best entry and contact the winner via my Facebook page @Ella Hawkey Hairstylist Bristol

As always thank you for taking the time to read the blog. Please share if you enjoyed reading and good luck for the competition!