Ich Bin Kentishtowner: Gemma Kilby, hairdresser

‘What has my career taught me? That everyone has a good story’

‘Karma exists. How someone treats you is theirs, how you react is yours.’ Pic: Gemma Kilby
Gemma Kilby is creative director, manager and soon to be owner of the Oskar Pink salon in Mornington Crescent. Originally from Cheshire, she has lived and worked in Camden for four years, and now calls Kentish Town home. She’s been in the hair industry for over 15 years and says she “still enjoys every minute of it.”

When were you happiest?
Alma Street Fair in 2012. The sun was beaming down, music was playing and everyone was full of K-Town love.

Where would you like to live?
Definitely Kelly Street. It’s so colourful, you could never be unhappy there.

What is your favourite sound or smell?
Heading up to the top of Parliament Hill: from the moment you go through the entrance to the Heath its overwhelming with the smell of cut grass, fresh air and sun tan lotion. All the signals that summer has arrived.

What is your greatest life achievement?
Moving to London, discovering Oskar Pink and meeting the owner, Stavros, four years ago. It’s been a journey ever since. I’ve learnt all the way, as we’ve expanded from Chalk Farm to Kentish Town and then Mornington Crescent too, where I became manager. Now, I’m about to take over the place as my own.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Karma exists. How someone treats you is theirs, how you react is yours.

What is your earliest K-Town memory?
Getting off the tube and being blown away coming up the escalator.

What makes you unhappy?
The seagulls that have terrorised me since I moved to Kentish Town. They nested on our roof and squawked from 4am every morning for months. I used to like that sound, but now it just reminds me of being sleep deprived.

What simple thing would improve your quality of life?
More coffee shops doing almond milk. Take that as a hint, local outlets.

Who or what do you hate and why?
Seagulls! It got so bad – the constant noise that went right through any ear plugs I bought – that I went a bit crazy with lack of sleep. My friends, family and clients all heard a lot about it.

What is your most unappealing habit?
Looking at the ends of my hair and finding split ends. Naughty hairdresser.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Shebeen cocktails. They are too good.

What’s the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
Probably not the worst, but the most memorable was a friend saying I reminded them of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, because of my short arms. Thanks friend, you know who you are.

Tell us a secret.
My cat has three Christmas jumpers and a bow tie. Eek, crazy cat lady.

What has your career taught you?
Everyone has a good story.

What is your favourite dish and why?
Anything from Insprial Lounge on Camden Lock bridge. With my recent vegan lifestyle, it’s all so tasty and wonderful. Especially their raw passionfruit tart.

Describe yourself as an animal.
A cat. I would like to be my cat Larry’s real mum. Plus it looks like a great life.

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