If I owned a hairdressing studio in America, I would live in fear of Tabatha Coffey taking over. I mean the woman is shear genius (see what I did there?) but absolutely terrifying.
I’ve been ever so slightly addicted to her reality TV show, Tabatha’s Salon Takeover, for several years now. And when I say I’m addicted, there’s good reason. This is reality TV at its most engrossing (OK equal most engrossing as I also love Project Runway) as she takes on struggling salons, turns them and their staff upside down, and puts them back on the road to success.
But what gives her the right and the gumption to do it? I had to learn more about her background. And I’m glad I did as she’s just as fascinating off screen as on.
The biggest surprise came from something I already knew, which is that she is Australian. With all the black she wears I had her pegged as a Melburnian, but she actually hails from beach country – Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast.
It’s the land of sun, surf and sea, but clearly this held no real appeal or interest as career inspiration. Instead, it seems she was always destined to work in hair, as she details in this anecdote from Pink News.
“I can honestly never remember a time not doing hair,” she says. “I was the quintessential kid, playing with and chopping off dolls’ hair. I would play with the hair of anyone who would let me. My parents ran transsexual strip clubs in Australia, and I spent a lot of time in the back with the girls when they were getting ready. At a young age they put me to work setting their wigs for them, which I loved. I learned not only how to set wigs, but also how hair could transform someone. I would sit there and watch the drag queens get dressed and the last thing they did was put their wig on. They’d put on their make-up and costume, but it was only when they put on their wig that everything came together. That’s how I fell in love with hairdressing.”
Heading to London at an early age, Tabatha worked with the likes of Vidal Sassoon and Toni and Guy before America beckoned. She then ran her own salon in New Jersey, but her career really took off like a shot when she entered the reality TV show Shear Genius. Although not the winner of season one, she proved a fan favourite and was soon asked to headline her own show, the aforementioned Tabatha’s Salon Takeover.
It’s now had a slight tweak to Tabatha Takes Over, where she puts her skills to use helping a range of small businesses turn themselves around. Then, of course, there’s associated projects such as her book, The Honest Truth About Life, Love and the Business of Beauty, which reveals, among other things, how breast implants nearly killed her. It’s fascinating stuff. And for the record, she says she’s a natural blonde.
Check out some of her best moments from the show below…