x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Day in the life: Dubai hair stylist Maria Dowling

A typical day with Maria Dowling, a Dubai-based hair colourist, hair stylist and the creative director of hair salon mariadowling.

Maria Dowling has lived in the UAE for 19 years. Jaime Puebla / The National
Maria Dowling has lived in the UAE for 19 years. Jaime Puebla / The National

Maria Dowling is a Dubai-based hair colourist, hair stylist and the creative director of mariadowling.com. Over the past 12 years, her eponymous Dubai salon has grown into a luxury hair colour brand. Ms Dowling, 44, from Ireland, has lived in the UAE for 19 years.


I’m always up early to walk my two dogs, Maxine and Oscar. It helps me clear my head and get some morning exercise before the busy day ahead.


I arrive at the salon a little early to make sure we’re all set up and that my team is ready for the day. We are fully booked with clients so the salon is always busy and full of chatter; just how I like it.


Inbetween clients, I add images and magazine articles to our trends boards, which help to keep the team focused on all aspects of exciting international trends. In hairdressing it’s important we constantly think and talk about hair and hair colour; this energy and enthusiasm carries through to the salon floor. We create two collections a year, so these boards are also what inspire us. We study the trend predictions and international street styles to come up with a theme and an idea for what our collection will be like. Our trends’ images have appeared in lots of regional and international hair and fashion magazines, particularly in the UK. Our latest images have just appeared on the cover of an American hair magazine that is distributed worldwide. As a Dubai-based salon, this is a major achievement as it puts us firmly on the global stage.


Over lunch, we have a quick team meeting. I’m naturally a very hands-on person when it comes to the business, but I believe it’s important to have strong people around me who allow me to focus on other areas of my business, other than my regular clients. Rebecca Guye, assistant manager on the floor, makes sure the day-to-day running of the salon goes smoothly. And Nicola Day is in charge of training, a really important side of my business. On the first Monday of every month I close the salon for a day of in-house training. I brainstorm with the team to see what we should be concentrating on: new cutting and colouring techniques or just brushing up on old ones. Nicola and I ensure we have a full day of training scheduled as closing the salon for a full day is a big commitment time-wise and financially.


Maxine Townsend, one of my stylists, and I sit down and discuss updates in the media and celebrity world. Maxine keeps us all updated with changes in the media, which campaigns are new, which model/celeb is wearing what style. It’s important for us to know who has changed her hair and what styles are appearing on the red carpet as this influences our clients. If Beyoncé cuts her hair short or Kim Kardashian changes her hair colour that is what our clients will ask for.


I chat with my public relations consultant, Fiona Falconer, who keeps me busy on the PR side of the business (thank goodness). I involve all of the staff in putting together ideas and the technical information we need for write-ups in magazines and online. Due to magazine deadlines, we have to plan so far in advance; often Fiona is writing about summer hair when we’re still in February. The most important thing is to keep the communication consistent so I also update the salon’s Facebook page with a quick tip, a comment about a celebrity’s hairstyle or something new going on in the salon.


I lock up at the salon and meet my husband, Peter Dowling. We have two other related businesses, which Peter is responsible for. I act as a consultant for these too, although I try to remain primarily involved in what happens on the salon floor. House of Maria Dowling is the distribution arm of our business for the UAE, and Puri Middle East is the regional office and partnership with Puri Alchemy Bangkok – developers of natural aromatherapy products for hotels, airlines, spas and resorts. We discuss a new product concept for my mariadowling hair range and Peter shows me samples of the proposed new packaging for our mariadowling hair detox clay, which we plan to launch next month.


I go to a salsa class, which I do twice a week. I go equally for the social aspect as much as the exercise. On other work nights I tend to go for a quiet meal with friends or I’m quite happy relaxing at home with my cats and dogs. On my days off I’m a lot more social and you will find me hitting the beach and going out more. But weekdays are devoted to work, which I love.


I head to bed.