From colouring classes to international hair expos
TAFE Queensland hairdressing graduate Lex Rabbett is a passionate advocate for lifelong learning, mentoring, living your truth and never giving up on your goals.
By Lex Rabbett, Hair Artist
Hi, my name is Lexie Rabbett, but you can call me Lex. I grew up in Innisfail and went from being a country town girl to having my name up in lights in London. I am @hairbylexieshay on Instagram and I graduated from TAFE Queensland in 2010. The opportunities that I have had since graduating all those years ago have been seriously out of this world!
For as long as I can remember, I've always wanted to do hair. My aunty, who is a mobile hairdresser, inspired me. When I was a kid, I used to watch her do all these ladies' hair and just seeing the dramatic change in their moods when she was finished with them was actually incredible. I remember thinking I want to be able to do that too. When I was old enough, I volunteered at a salon in Innisfail and then I got my school-based apprenticeship and enrolled at TAFE Queensland. I was trained by amazing teachers who nurtured me and when things got hard they gave me the tough love speech. To this day, I still thank those teachers who convinced me not to quit, because I wouldn't be who I am today without them.
When I completed my apprenticeship, I thought I knew everything. I had a great client base, I was incredibly busy and was booked out months in advance. I had always wanted to work overseas and I saved as much money as I could and moved to the UK. When I got there I soon realised that I was not a big fish — I was not even a tadpole! It was a real 'you need to stay humble' kind of moment and it took about a year and a half to build up my client base.
I was working in Leeds and one day I walked into the salon to find a box of colour from Pulp Riot. The owners had sent it to me after coming across my work on Instagram. The box of colour was an opportunity for me to show them what else I could do — challenge accepted! I got to work and started tagging Pulp Riot in my photos and they were impressed. The next thing I knew I was shifted off to London to meet Pulp Riot's owners and now I'm really good friends with them.
I went on to join the Pulp Riot Squad which is a group of artists spreading a riot in the hairdressing industry to break down the walls of standard hairdressing expectations. Being a part of the Riot Squad has been incredible. I was sent all over England to work on main stages at hair expo events in front of thousands of people. I still remember my first experience on stage — it felt like the longest 10 minutes of my entire life! There were thousands of people in the audience looking at me and I was like 'hey I'm Lex, a girl from Far North Queensland and this is how I do hair I hope you like it.' I was so nervous, but ever since then, it's just been a fun rollercoaster. I've been noticed by several organisations and I now have a number of contracts with brands and I've also been featured in magazines. I've met some seriously cool and seriously incredible artists who I can now call some of my closest friends. I met some of my biggest hair idols and even got to have dinner and drinks with some of them, it was so rad! It's just been unreal, I pinch myself every second!
I recently returned home to Australia and I've been busy focusing on my passion for sharing the knowledge that I have learned over the years. Knowledge is best shared, not kept locked away! The training you'll receive at TAFE Queensland is some of the best foundations that you will ever learn. I can say that without a doubt, because I have taught some young students in colleges in other parts of Australia and their education was nowhere near as good — so remember your training! Also, just because you have finished your training now, does not mean you have finished learning. No one in the history of humans knows everything. No matter your job, there is always new information to learn. Keep up or you will get left in the dark.
Please make sure you don't get stuck, because that's where passion dies and I really don't want that for you. Build a network of like-minded people and support each other. Whether it's people at your work, in nearby businesses, or people you connect with on social media who are a million miles away, you will grow just as fast as your network does. My other advice is to update your social media because it's a free portfolio. Social media has absolutely changed my life, because these badass companies I work with found me on Instagram!
My final piece of advice for you is that if you want more out of your career, you need to be brave. You are going to face setbacks and success. Remember, nothing is a failure, it is always a lesson. Believe me when I say that there have been some moments in recent years that I wanted to give up. When things get overwhelming, don't ever let doubt take control — just work hard because it's worth it! If you ever want to reach out, my inbox is always open for either a pat on the back, a shoulder to cry on, or me holding a lighter under your butt for motivation. Good luck, you've got this! I’ll see you out there.