Renowned local hairdresser Keith Reeve is hanging up his scissors after almost 50 years cutting hair in Lincoln.
The pioneering businessman will remain at the helm of his Talking Heads salon but is retiring from front line styling. Instead, he plans to spend more time offering advice and consultancy to the industry.
The popular salon will remain open and will be run by Operations Manager Lorna McDonnell, who has been part of the Talking Heads team for 15 years.
After almost half a century of creativity and influence, Keith’s change in direction is a milestone for Lincoln and its wider fashion, music and culture scene.
Keith started his career in nearby Nottinghamshire in the mid-70s, but it was his love of live music that ultimately landed him in the city.
“My apprenticeship was at Martin’s, a barber’s in Retford, but back then, I was hairdressing in the day and singing in a band at night,” he said. “The band moved on to South London and while there, I got my first job working in ladies’ hair at a salon in Croydon.
“After a spell performing in Germany, where I was also schooled in the very specific art of blow drying, I moved back to England.”
Keith set about finding his next challenge and sought advice about which were the best salons in Lincoln. After lots of negotiations, he agreed to set up a new barbershop in St Mary’s Street called Upper Cuts.
“I took the opportunity really seriously and worked incredibly hard to establish and understand the importance of recognisable brand and a loyal customer base. It was fantastic.
“Having grown my presence in St Mary’s Street, I decided to transfer to Harlequin’s Hairdressers, an established ladies’ salon in the same area. Over time, the ladies side moved to above Cuts Galore and I retained the salon as a barber shop and it started to become known as ‘Keith Of Harlequin.’ and, once again, we grew in popularity and built a name for cutting-edge styles.
“As we headed into the 1980s, short hair styles became very fashionable for women. As a result, lots of ladies started calling on the skills of barbers to cut their hair and this was so much fun for us.”
By this point in his life, Keith was in his 30s, married and had two young daughters. Although he was proud of the work he was doing at Harlequin’s, he still felt like he wanted to be part of something bigger. He knew what he really wanted was to own his own salon.
“I remember the day that I went to see my solicitor and told him I wanted to open a ground floor salon in the city centre, inside the old John Justin’s men’s clothes shop,” he said.
“He told me I was crazy. At the time, salons on the main high street were always on the first floor, above shops or other businesses. The idea of a ground floor salon in Lincoln was unthinkable to him.
“But I just knew it was the right thing to do and that’s when Talking Heads was born.”
Named after the American rock band which was fronted by Dave Byrne, the salon was a nod to Keith’s passion for music and the arts. His creativity underpinned his business plan too, as he wanted Talking Heads to stand out from the crowd.
“The foundation of the business was to provide quality hairdressing and good customer service. Every detail was important – and still is,” he said.
“But we also needed to create a logo and an ethos for the business which was distinctive. I got a team together and we created a brand. We worked hard to make it recognisable.”
Over the next 36 years, Talking Heads’ original salon remained in the same location in Silver Street, shifting from a larger and smaller footprint, depending on the economy. In this time, Keith also had expanded to sites on Bunkers Hill and in Burton Waters (David Lloyd), these too became very successful and continue to do so under new ownership.
“We have seen lots of changes over the years,” added Keith. “I’ve worked with local business groups, education providers and held the position of Master of the Guild of Hairdressers from 2004-2007, which has allowed me to contribute to conversations around the local economy and our wider industry”.
“Perhaps one of the biggest changes we had to navigate was the advent of the self-employed stylists who rent chairs in salons. We quickly realised we needed to embrace this change but we also worked hard to ensure we didn’t lose the family feel or team spirit among our employees”.
“Clearly, coronavirus has also posed challenge’s but we’ve worked together to make the salon as safe as it can possibly be and we are confident that the changes we have incorporated will help us navigate these times too.”
Over the years, Keith continued to indulge his creativity outside of the salon. He is perhaps best known for fronting Lincoln’s 10-piece Soul band “Soul Time” for more than a decade. He also created along with his wife, Yots Bar & Bistro and the latterly know Marine Lounge at Burton Waters, which became known for good food and “live” Music and Comedy, hosting the likes of comedian, Sarah Millican.
“I’m very passionate about education and training” he said. “There are so many talented stylists around the city who started their career with Talking Heads.”
Keith plans to continue acting as an ambassador for the hairdressing industry and a supporter of those working in it.
“While I will no longer be hairdressing myself, there is still plenty to keep me busy. Hairdressing is a fantastic industry which attracts marvellous people and I’m not planning on stepping away from it completely just yet.”

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