I started honing my craft at 17, in the North. My dreams were always too big for Leeds, and the lure of fashion and general fabulousness took me to the capital. I studied at London College of Fashion. While I was a student and directly afterwards, I worked in central London salons, at the same time as building up a career as a freelance Hair and Make Up Artist.
I stopped working in salons when the music and fashion industry had as much work as I could handle. My clients still asked if I could do their hair, and I did, in my garage, between touring with bands such as Coldplay and Eurythmics. Sometimes my clients would come for their hi-lights with rock stars lounging on my sofa, between haircuts. That taught me a huge lesson. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, it’s the experience that counts. That was an intimate personal experience. One-to-one advice, with a good cup of tea and, on occasion, the best cheese on toast this side of the waters.
Once I had children, the garage became impractical: I was passionate about the one-to-one experience, and I needed premises. I started the search, finding an intimate space where I could develop this philosophy. It was a tiny shop in a sleepy part of Clapham Old Town, with a lot of work to be done on its aesthetic. I set about creating a space that felt like your favourite room in your own home, only better. With only four chairs, it was vital to give each area an individual space, surrounded by unique furniture, often sourced from salvage yards or made to measure. I created something unique.
Five years has passed, and we are bursting at the seams. I have added a glass roof to the garden and expanded into the basement, adding beauty to the services. Knowing that time is precious, I’ve created a place where you can get all your personal jobs done under one roof. The experience is crucial: I often reassure my clients, “it’s never a ‘no’.” I encourage them to bring in everything that’s bothering them: over the years, we’ve organised dinner dates, booked theatre tickets, looked after children, walked the dogs, taken deliveries and much much more. What goes on in the chair stays in the chair. This has created a wonderfully diverse and peerlessly loyal clientele. They utterly love me (a client added that without my consent).
But now, we need more space. How do we take that further, without feeling like “a chain”. That homogenised, mass-produced model is everything I hate about the industry. What do we have to create in the next space, that would solidify the big dream without losing the intimacy and ineffable humanness that the whole project is supposed to be all about?
The extension to our business, is for one, an exciting multi branded store, taking the concept from post war shopping – good, better, best. Each product we have sourced, hand-picked, tried, double-tried and chucked around. Placing each product against the other, we ensure that each individual brand sends out a different message.
This extends to our service, each one directed towards the persona needs of a very broad clientele. ‘The Kidz Bah’ includes mini tutorials for younger clients of boys and girls who have problem skin – something that can have an agonising long lasting consequences but can be solved very easily with professional help. The “bride on location” tutorial is a lesson we set up for the bride who’s planning to get spliced abroad and can’t take us with her (this is becoming ever more common).
While our services are as personal as we can make them, some things are universal – there is nobody who doesn’t like a fully licensed bar and a cinema. We already have bookings for hen parties and work nights out. Massage, manicure and a movie is a way for people to hang out, escape, have fun, dance because you can, without having to yell yourself hoarse in a bar or end up messy in the a nightclub.
On Monday mornings, we have “the big scream with fringe benefits”. Our two Ofsted nannies will care for the kids with a movie and milkshake while mums and dads can relax and spend time on themselves knowing that their most loved ones are having a ball.
There’s still more to do: with al our wonderful products, how do we give customers the confidence to know exactly what they need? I have had so many conversations with customers, comparing us to the likes of Space.N.K – we come out pretty well from this comparison. Elsewhere, clients just spend money without any real understanding of what they’ve bought and whether they need it, or it duplicates the work of some product they already have. We aim to tailor and curate a bit more: this stuff is expensive, and you want to know you’re getting it exactly right.
We want to create an online shop to take, with this highly personalised approach enshrined. With a minimum spend, the client can request an ‘at home’ service that compliments the store: we’d arrive with the product, do a 45-minute consultation, talk and work through the products, build trust. We’d start with a two mile radius, using Uber so that our stylists and therapists can travel to customers, stress free. We’ll build up services we can do in people’s houses as we go along.