Backstage at the glitz and glamor of Brisbane Fashion Week 2022 (BFW22), Ben Wright will be far from the dusty, red streets of his rural Queensland hometown.
It was there, in the corner of a quaint little news agency in Mount Isa, that he first opened the pages of a Vogue magazine and fell instantly in love.
“I think I was the only 14-year-old boy from Mount Isa to buy Vogue,” he laughed.
“I loved looking at the amazing hairstyles in these pages and dreamed of one day creating looks like this and being part of this industry.”
Since then, the 24-year-old has found success, working at an award-winning salon in Brisbane and backstage at fashion shows and shoots across the country, including Melbourne Fashion Week and Australian Fashion Week.
As he prepares for his new role as hair director for BFW22, Mr. Wright recalls the moment he realized this was the world for him.
“It was my Nan who got me into hairdressing,” he said.
“I was always with her during school holidays and she was always one of those perfectly dressed chicks. I accompanied her when she was in the salon for a perm, a cut, a color or even just a blow-dry.
“I could never take my eyes off what the hairdresser was doing – I was captivated.”
“The passion was contagious”
From an early age, he brazenly began to tell his mother about the clothes she bought him.
“As a kid, I always loved fashion and always cared about what I wore and stuff.
“I’m pretty sure mom stopped buying me clothes for Christmas when I was about nine or ten because I just refused to wear anything she bought me.”
As soon as he could, Mr Wright walked into his favorite salon – the Capricorn Hair Studio in Mount Isa – and asked for a job.
Owner Michelle Donald still remembers that day.
“He said, ‘I want to be a hairdresser, that’s all I want to be and that’s where I want to work, I’m happy to work for free if you take me,'” she said.
“I said, ‘You don’t have to work for free’ and that was it.
“He started working that Saturday. He was perfect and we bonded immediately. His enthusiasm and passion were contagious.”
From the living room to the backstage
Whether on set or in the store, Mr. Wright’s greatest motivation comes from the people he works with.
“When you’re in the living room, you get this sense of gratification from the small act of making someone feel and look beautiful, changing the way people feel about themselves,” he said. .
“To see people so happy when they leave the living room that that feeling stays with you.
“Behind the scenes and on set, you get this feeling of adrenaline and excitement. It’s fast-paced, you work with so many different creatives in such a pumped-up atmosphere.
“It’s a feeling I’ve loved since I started dancing competitively at Mount Isa and has stuck with me to this day and is a big part of why I love what I do.”
As his career soars into its next phase, the 24-year-old has encouraged others to join the industry.
“If you feel a bit lost or intrigued by what the industry might be like, if you have a passion for hair, you have a natural creative flair, if you enjoy high energy people and environments, and what is happening in the world right now, this is an industry for you,” he said.
“Walk into a local salon and ask questions, get your hands dirty, even if you’re only doing a day’s work experience – give it a try. Not only is it the best job, it’s the better world to be a part of.”
For his very first employer, his accomplishments come as no shock.
“Reading and hearing about Ben’s success never surprises me,” Ms Donald said.
“He was destined for greatness and it makes me super proud to know that as a bush boy with a big dream, he let nothing hold him back.”
Mr. Wright’s hair creations will be showcased on the BFW22 catwalk from August 22-26.