View related sites
Nikki Dunbavin is a career hairdresser who owns and manages a salon in Ely, Cambridgeshire.
How would you characterise your current work?
My job covers all aspects of hairdressing, using my experience and skills to style and colour my clients’ hair. I love my job very much as I get to chat to all sorts of different people and what I do can often make them feel better about themselves.
How do you feel about maths?
Maths was never my strong point at school, but I got a better result in my GCSE than I thought I would. I like to encourage my kids with maths and luckily they are all very good at it.
What is it about your work that is mathematical?
I definitely use maths more than I ever thought I would. To get just the right hair colour for a client I need to make it by mixing other base colours and I use ratios to get the colour exactly right. I use estimation and measurement – in either inches or centimetres – when talking to clients about how much they would like cutting off their hair, and angles as well as measurement when actually cutting and layering their hair to get the style they want.
As a salon owner I also have to calculate stock levels, measure product volumes as they are used, and do cash and payment handling.
How do you use maths, calculation or numeracy in your work? What tools do you use to help you?
I use volume measuring tools for colours and peroxide, and rely on my expertise when cutting hair to judge by eye the amount to cut off and the angles to use. I have accounting and payment software to help with cash handling.
Do you think maths is creative? If so, how?
My whole job is creative – fabulous colours with amazing new styles and textures – and maths helps me to do all of that.
Do you use or rely on any maths that you learnt in school?
Yes, I definitely use what I learned at school, especially measurement, ratios and angles.
How would you change the school curriculum, if you had the chance? Why?
I would make sure that students were more aware that they will use maths every day. When I was at school I thought, ‘Why do I need maths? I want to be a hairdresser.’ But now obviously I know I do need it – and use it. Maybe we should show students how maths can be more fun and creative and how we use it every day without even knowing it!
Join the conversation: You can tweet us @CambridgeMaths or comment below.