This week we meet Hong Kong’s most rock n’ roll styling duo… Rennie Fensham and Yentl Snyman of Duddell Street’s take on tinseltown – Hollywood Hair! This mother-and-daughter team share the inside scoop on their unique working relationship, their love of animals and even a hidden corner of Macau that doubles for Cape Town… we’re intrigued!
How do you save time? What are your organisational tricks and tips?
I don’t sleep! I suffer from insomnia, so I get most of my work and emails done while burning the midnight oil.
I wish I had more time for…
Getting more done in my already-25-hour day! But definitely more time for my friends, and a few holidays would be nice!
I always feel saner after…
I clear my inbox after a month of being behind on emails! Failing that, dinner, a massage and watching a good movie does the trick.
Favourite activity with your family in Hong Kong?
Dinner, movies and plenty of chat in my own language with my fellow South Africans!
Favourite family restaurant in Hong Kong?
Linguini Fini (where the fab photo of Rennie above was shot!) La Pampa Argentine Steakhouse or Café Siam. With grown kids I thankfully don’t need to worry about high chairs and plastic cutlery.
Favourite holiday spot in Asia?
I don’t often have much time for travel as I’ve been working around the clock recently, but when I do have a weekend off, I love the trip over to Macau and the peace of Pousada de Coloane Hotel. Their private beach reminds me a little of Cape Town… oops, now the secret is out!
Activity that I do not love to do but do it anyway because my family loves it…
Shopping. Whereas I go, get what I need and leave, Yentl can never decide immediately, so a quick look turns into a whole afternoon… luckily for me she’s a big girl now and can go on her own! The exception to this is makeup shopping. I am unable to leave the MAC counter until I’ve overspent on tons of products I don’t really need.
Can you talk us through your career pre and post children? How did you get back into the swing of things after having your kids?
To be totally honest, I never really stopped. I had great help in South Africa and went back to work after one month, bringing baby and helper with me. The show must go on and my industry doesn’t wait around for those who choose to take time out. It is all about availability, and how passionate you are… and of course how good you are! My kids had the best of both worlds as they traveled everywhere with me and had the fun of staying in hotels for “mommy’s work events”. I do firmly believe in quality of time with kids, rather than quantity, and I think I managed to hit that balance.
How did having kids change the way you defined work?
It didn’t. I look at motherhood as a great thing, but never let it stop me from being me, or affect my dreams. There is no reason not to achieve everything you want from a career – with or without children.
Do you have any tips for aspiring “mamapreneurs” and other working mamas in Hong Kong?
Never think your dreams can’t be turned into reality… set a goal and work at it! You just need stamina and the right motivators in your life and anything is possible. Live your passion. Believe in yourself. It may be a cliché, but where there’s a will, there’s a way!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
My mom told me to allow children to develop their own personalities. Yentl was dressing herself at age 4 and it was not always a pretty picture! Most days people would ask me, “Why is she dressed like that?”. My answer was always, “She is discovering herself and her personality” and today I know it was true… she still won’t take my advice when it comes to clothing!
As a mama I wish I were better at…
Nothing. I did the best I could with what I had to do it with. I live with no regrets!
My most humbling mama moment was…
Oh, I have a few! But the standout is probably the days that both Yentl, and her younger brother Nichail were born. I looked at them in my arms and realised “This is what being a mother feels like and I am honoured to be one”.
What’s your favourite family ritual?
DVDs and food! In my mind I’m always in Hollywood, so Yentl often has to remind me that I am actually in Hong Kong – she is my reality check!
I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about….
People, money, new projects, shop fitting designs for Hollywood Hair’s salon redesign and budgets.
Even though my children are older, I still…
Feel in my twenties… I’ll never grow up! I have a great friendship with my children, and we are really close and they know that I will be there if they need me, but they also know they have to be their own people now at this age.
One thing I won’t sacrifice as a mama is…
There’s nothing I won’t sacrifice if needed. Although my daughter tells me to be a bit more selfish and do more things for myself, when a child is born your mindset changes forever.
My favourite moment of the day is…
Can I have three?! Firstly, when I wake up to my beautiful cat, Dettol! I saved her from Hong Kong Alleycat Watch. I was very lucky to grow up in The Kruger National Park as a young girl, playing with lion cubs, baby elephants… this was so long ago that they didn’t even have fencing around the park, so lions and elephants would play on the airport runway! There is nothing like the love of an animal.
Secondly, I’d say when I get home and have a catch up with Yentl about our day.
Thirdly, it’s meeting new clients who eventually turn into old friends. I strongly believe that everybody in my chair is meant to be part of my life, and I listen to every word they say. I am also busy writing a book about how all woman have so much in common under the surface… we all have the same fears, sadness, happiness and love. Some just know how to show or hide it better than others. This is where a great hairstyle can turn a bad day into a good one. I am absolutely passionate about my work and love every client in my chair. I feel honoured to have the opportunity to make them look, and feel great.
Describe how you feel about working alongside your mum each day.
As we live and work together it’s hard to find the balance sometimes, but once we get started its like we’re transported to another place and the creative juices just start flowing – then there’s no stopping us!
Do you find it easy to leave work at the door at the end of the day, or do you discuss the ‘day job’ with your mother after hours?
For me it’s its super easy – I don’t usually bring work home with me and I leave my day job at the door. That said, since we opened Hollywood Hair, there are always areas that need extra attention. While we’re at work there’s never enough time without other immediate things that needs to be solved, so some things we do discuss and figure out at night.
What has your mama achieved that you feel most proud of?
Having raised me, and now this new baby of ours… Hollywood Hair! My mom is a big dreamer, and with the right people on her team she always achieves her dreams. I’m so proud of her because I’ve never met anybody that works harder then her at reaching their goals.
Do you feel there are more differences, or similarities between you and your mum when it comes to working styles?
I’ve worked with so many inspirational stylists over the years that I’ve learned something from each one and incorporated it into my own style. That’s probably about 50%, and the other 50% comes from my mom. Although she takes a lot more risks then me, our styles are very similar and as such, we share most of our clients.
Has the fact that you are now colleagues, as well as mother and daughter changed your relationship at all?
Not really. My mom’s strategy is basically “Throw Yentl into the deep end! I know she can swim… she’s my daughter after all!”. The older I get, the more I’ve realised that the small things don’t matter. Life is too short, and at the end of the day we know we have each other’s backs, no matter what life throws at us. We’re actually a pretty good team!
Did your mother inspire you to work in the beauty industry?
She told me if I ever considered becoming a hairdresser that she’d break my arms and legs! But unfortunately for her, the passion runs through both of our veins… there’s no stopping the urge. Now, after so many years, she’ll finally admit that she loves me following in her footsteps.
If you weren’t in this profession, what would you be doing instead?
Probably a game warden, working at a zoo, or anything to do with animals. Looking after them, teaching them and feeding them. And when no one’s looking… kissing and cuddling them!
What is the number one beauty tip that any woman can benefit from knowing?
When it comes to beauty, put yourself first. Buy that eye cream, have that facial. Teach your kids to take care of their skin by leading by example. You only get one face!
What are your favourite things about Hong Kong?
The safety, the different cultures and the fact that I can choose to eat any cuisine I can think of, any time.
Other than Hollywood Hair, where do you go to be pampered?
I get my facials with Jay from Glow with Ceri Silk, and also love Hollywood Massage on Hollywood Road.