Annie Wong speaks to Kim Robinson, the Australian-born, Clearwater Bay-based hairstylist who has tamed the tresses of the rich and famous.
I live a very public life. I wanted to have my privacy back and was very lucky to find a location in Clearwater Bay and love it. I was born in Australia and I’ve lived all over Hong Kong Island and enjoyed living in Shek O for nearly 18 years.
I worked part time at a salon when I was 14, working Saturdays to earn pocket money. I didn’t have any family in the beauty industry, most of my relatives were farmers. I was the black sheep in the family, and chose the road less travelled.
You think you know all the answers when you’re young, but you don’t. I won Australia’s Apprentice of the Year Award in my first year of the apprenticeship. Some days you get tired and bored and you question what you’re doing. I love the creative part of it, but it does take years of study and practice to get any success.
It was difficult in the 70s in Australia to make a career in hairdressing. I faced many challenges. I was the only male in class and would get whistles from the guys in the woodworking class. To be honest, I thought I was the lucky one.
I get a chance to see and transform women. I want them to feel beautiful. It’s the empowerment that women feel that gives me pleasure. This is what we do and it’s a part of our philosophy.
Once you get the right haircut, it’s priceless. If it’s not a haircut that you can manage and a style that isn’t achievable at home, then I won’t do it.
Le Salon, on Hankow Road, was my first salon I opened in1980. At the time, there were only Shanghainese barbers and a few chains of mass market salons. I now own three Kim Robinson salons across Hong Kong and we’re fortunate to own the premier market even after 40 years.
Some people in the artistic industry are fickle, come and go, and aren’t as successful. There are only a few hair stylists in the world that can charge the prices we do, and have the client base that we have.
I’ve done all the big shots and worked with the most amazing people in the world, including Princess Diana, Audrey Hepburn, Anita Mui and Leslie Cheung. Farm boys don’t do this kind of thing.
I love painting, gardening and going to all the nurseries around Sai Kung. I’ve got a puppy Jack Russell, Luca. Playing with him in the garden is my way to relax. He was born in a litter from Clearwater Bay.
I’m also involved with charity work. We do a lot of work with the elderly, cancer patients and Hong Kong Adventist Hospital Foundation. I believe in giving back to the community that supports you and has given you success.
I’m enjoying what I’m doing, and I’m living a beautiful life. If you choose a job you love, you will excel in it.