Building on hair and make-up experience

How Karen Montgomery identified and filled a gap in the hair and beauty market in Qatar

19 April 2012

Medals for Excellence 2012 winner

Qualification: Level 2 IVQ Diploma in Hairdressing (Women’s)
Centre: Qatar International Beauty Academy Tajmeel - Qatar

In 2001 Karen began her studies in hair and make-up for the TV & film industry; gaining two media make-up diplomas from London-based specialist colleges. Karen threw herself into the industry doing unpaid work in London to gain experience and meet influential people to develop her career, before landing some impressive jobs on well-known TV programs and UK films. A highlight for Karen was working on Shaun of the Dead, a 2004 zombie film, as she loved the special FX and got to work with one of her favourite stars, Simon Pegg.

In 2006 Karen’s interest in the Arabic culture and a job at El Jazeera English, a 24-hour news network, brought her to the Middle East. She found that arriving in Doha, Qatar their TV and film production was still in its infancy and it’s been a really exciting time to play her part in a rapidly growing industry. As well as her shift work with El Jazeera Karen free-lances for commercials, fashion shoots and independent film work, meeting other artists and sharing her 10 years of expertise in TV and film.

Karen began her City & Guilds Level 2 IVQ Diploma in Hairdressing while working her full time role for El Jazeera and freelancing, after she recognised a gap in the hair and beauty market in Doha. There were no western style salons and with a growing number of expatriates moving to Doha, there was a demand for western style hair and beauty services.

Karen started her own mobile hair dressing and spray tanning business. She was concerned about the effects of the harsh Middle Eastern summer on women’s skin. She faced many challenges juggling her work, studies and developing her own business. One of the largest challenges was reaching out to the local women who she found very private, but her highlights have been meeting the most amazing women (Arabic and expatriates) who she would never have had the chance to meet otherwise, and being told on her birthday that she had won a Medal for Excellence recognising all her hard work.

Karen believes gaining her City & Guilds qualification has enabled her to build on her experience, it’s given her the chance to develop and grow, increase her confidence and she feels she is taken seriously by employers, colleagues, customers. Karen is planning to continue her studies with the Level 3 IVQ Diploma in (Women’s) Hairdressing, and would like to do the Level 2 & 3 Men’s Hairdressing if this becomes available in Qatar, to expand her repertoire and get formal recognition for her work.


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