Jenny McDermott

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Hairdressing was not my chosen route. I had never even considered it in terms of branding and marketing, but I saw Peter Mark featured in a Business & Finance article in the early 1980s, and two years later I met Mark (Peter Mark founder Mark Keaveney) in the Westbury for an interview. That conversation has lasted almost 30 years now. I love my job. Hairdressing is a combination of so many business sectors; it’s a creative service industry with a High Street retail ethos. Talk about cut and thrust.

My parents were mentors to my brothers, Peter and Robert, and me. My dad was a building contractor in London, and we moved back to Mullingar when I was 16. He and my mother taught all three of us the value of a work ethos, rather than a job ethic. He always said, “A good day’s work never killed anyone,” and it’s stuck with me.

I love working in the Irish market. Irish consumers are very discerning; there is no place on the High Street for a fake. Working in Ireland means you constantly deal with the same individuals, it’s a community. Burning your bridges is really unwise.

Delays and indecision are my business bête noire. I like to move projects along, finish the job, and then move on to the next. If you’re stuck, regroup and revisit the project – often, reworking the problem throws up the solution. My work means projects have different timelines and deadlines, and my son Willow often comments on my “homework”! But I try to limit it when I’m at home. I’m an Apple evangelist and their technology definitely makes my life easier.

Keeping a 53-year-old brand relevant is the challenge of my work. I’m always thinking three steps ahead, investing in training, updating our salon design, technology and equipment. It’s so important to keep Peter Mark feeling and looking fresh.

I believe “aha” moments come with experience. A career is really a big game of join the dots. The skill is to keep working towards your goal and to remember that setbacks are essential – they really do teach you a lot about yourself and where you need to focus your energy next.

I love working across a variety of cool projects. This year, we’ve worked again with Today FM on the Shave or Dye campaign, staged an international hair show in the Royal Albert Hall, and we’re running our third Petermarkathon. Seeing those events succeed is, for me, really my “pat on the back”. The day before a big event is always stressful,but the day after (all going well) is fantastic.

I am not a label slave, but … My work wardrobe can be anything from Cos to Hobbs or Marks & Spencer. I buy one really special piece each year, but I wear it to death. It’s always worth the investment. A Louise Kennedy suit lasts forever.

I’m a History geek. My downtime is spent reading history and biographies at home. Italy’s history is my favourite, so that’s my holiday destination – and it just so happens that they make great handbags, too! My husband Ian is a great cook, and we’re a foodie family with foodie friends, so that’s our social life. ■

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