Wise up! Words of wisdom from Barcelona’s best loved celebrity hairdresser Anthony Llobet
I was so happy to leave the UK in 1992.
I grew up in west London and it was getting pretty scary. Every 6 months I’d be in a fight with local gangs. Always losing and getting black eyes, ending up in hospital unconscious or something pretty bad. I never started a fight but they always seemed to find me in London.
I was expelled from secondary school at 14 and I was sent to a centre for “problem kids”.
But then something happened that changed my life. Me and my friend were walking past a hair salon one day and on the window it said that help was needed. It was wall-to-wall of good looking girls and I couldn’t help going inside for a joke and saying that I had come to help. I was very surprised when they asked me to stay that very day! This was my start in the hairdressing world. I had found something I was passionate about – to be able to make ladies feel good about themselves.
One day in January 1992 I was working in the salon and a group of guys came in to beat me up.
It was because of some trouble that my friend had got into. The salon owner (my boss) got them out and said “come back when he finishes his shift!”. I left early that day, quit my job, went to my friend in Dublin and then straight to Spain. Since then I have never been in a fight (except in my kick boxing gym) or ever even seen one in the street. That’s something I really love about Spain!
I came to Catalunya when I was 20.
I was so excited. It was all my idea. Mum, dad and my brother decided they wanted to come too so they sold the house in London and we went to live in Blanes (in Catalunya). We bought an English pub. It was the time of the Olympics. We covered costs, the pub had customers and we seemed to be living the expat dream. My dad was so happy to be living in Catalunya again.
In March 1993 my dad told us that all the life savings had gone.
There was zero income and no drinks to serve to the customers. I had found a job in Sant Cugat and was travelling from Blanes there every day. I worked 6 days per week and 12 hours a day. I left the house at 6am and got home at 11pm. It was so tough but I was happy to have a job. I couldn’t speak a word of Spanish so got paid less than the rest. My dad tried and tried to find a job but there was a recession then too. In the end the pub closed down in the spring of 1993. Dark times followed. My mum was an alcoholic and my brother mentally ill so I couldn’t work.
I used my time on the train everyday to study Spanish and how to make money, make goals and change my life.
I read every book that was going at the time. The magic of thinking big. I wrote it all out. I knew what I wanted and started visualising. This put me in a different place and kept me moving forward. I dreamt of success in the hairdressing world and opening a salon.
I managed to achieve my goals. It wasn’t easy but it was an amazing lesson.
I managed to make enough money to support my family. Unfortunately mum died and my brother has ended up homeless and living on the streets of Barcelona with severe addiction problems. I have tried to save him so many times but I can’t anymore. Its a “lose-lose” situation. The flat I bought for them was burnt to the ground in a fire due to him putting a lit cigarette in the kitchen bin. The insurance didn’t want to pay and I knew that eventually I would have to stop trying to save him.
Dad is living his dream.
He wanted an olive grove. I managed to buy that for him and he is very happy with his retirement.
I own a chain of salons throughout the city now and this year we will open an academy too.
I am also the ambassador and lead stylist for TRESemmé Spain. I work at the fashion weeks of Madrid and New York, style hair for the prestigious Elite model look and also write for the most important fashion magazines in Spain.
These were just goals. Goals pushed by tough breaks in life.
But if you want them enough or if you need them enough like I did you can surely achieve them. All I needed was to visualise them daily and “feel” like I had already achieved them.
Would I change my past for an easier one? No.
I believe it has made me stronger and has taught me some priceless lessons in life. Maybe I wouldn’t have what I have today if I hadn’t “needed” to provide for my family.
Anthony’s favourite haunts in Barcelona:
For special occasions I love the Botafumeiro in Gran de Gracia. But I only eat at the bar. A lot of the staff are clients of mine so they treat me very well.
For just local honest local food you can’t beat La Llesca on C/Terrol. I have been going there for over 20 years.
My favourite bar has to be Raim on C/Progrés. Over 100 years old this Cuban bar looks untouched. Luckily it’s on my street too!
I love Ocata beach and don’t do Barcelona beaches. Its so quick to get there on the train. Sitges too is one of my favourite places.
I may be getting too old for it but Plaza del Sol still does it for me. A great vibe and a nice way to people watch.
Anthony Llobet salons are English-speaking and can be found across Barcelona in the following locations:
C/Ros de Olano 19
C/Almirall Churruca 8
C/Sant Pau 122