London’s Lure I started honing my craft aged 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 the London College of Fashion. As a student there and straight afterwards I worked in central London salons, while at the same time building up a career as a freelance Hair and Make-Up Artist.
Garage rocks I stopped working in salons when the music and fashion industry had brought me 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. I relished simultaneously offering one-to-one advice with a good cup of tea and, on occasion, the best cheese on toast this side of the waters. 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 became the core of my philosophy.
Clapham calls When my children came along, the garage became impractical: I was passionate about the one-to-one experience, and needed the privacy that my own premises would offer. I found 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 required on its aesthetic. I set about creating a space that felt like your favourite room at 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 was proud to create something unique.
Six years on, and we are bursting at the seams. I have expanded into the basement with a full beauty service offering, and brought the garden into the salon by adding a new glass roof.
Knowing that time is precious, I believe I have created a unique place where clients get so much more than just their beauty needs attended to. The experience is crucial: conversations in the chair stay in the chair, no subject is off limits and emotional unloading is positively encouraged. Over the years we have helped with everything from organising dinner dates, booking theatre tickets, looking after children, walking the dogs, taking deliveries and much much more. This has created a wonderfully diverse and peerlessly loyal clientele. They utterly love me (a client added that without my consent).
New ideas We are now in expansive mood and looking for more space. The challenge though is how we do this without feeling like a chain, that homogenised, mass-produced model which represents everything I hate about the industry. The goal in our next space is to continue realising our dream without losing the intimacy and ineffable humanness that the whole project is supposed to be all about.
Brands store The major extension to our business is our exciting multi-branded store, which works on a rigorous good, better, best strategy. Each product is sourced, hand-picked, tried, double-tried and fully tested. The products are all directly compared to each other to ensure that each individual brand clearly projects its own very clear message.
This very focused approach extends to our services, with each one directed towards the personal needs of a very broad clientele. ‘The Kidz Bah’ includes mini tutorials for younger clients of both boys and girls who have problem skin – something that can have 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).
Movies and more While our services are as personal as we can make them, some things are universal – like a fully licensed bar and a cinema. Massage, manicure and a movie is a fail-safe way for people to fully relax, hang out, escape, have fun, dance because you can, without having to yell yourself hoarse in a bar or end up messy in a nightclub. Whatever the occasion, we cover any event from hen parties to work nights out.
On Monday mornings, we turn our attention to ‘the big scream with fringe benefits’. Our two Ofsted nannies take care of the kids with a movie and a milkshake while mums and dads relax and spend well deserved time on themselves knowing that their beloveds are having a ball.
To your home There’s still more to do: with all of our wonderful products, how do we give our clients the confidence to know exactly what they need? Customers often compare us to the likes of Space.N.K – and 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.
To take this even further, we are launching an online shop that enshrines this wholly personalised approach. With a minimum spend, the client can choose an ‘at home’ service that complements the store: we arrive with the product, share with you a 45-minute consultation, talk and work through the products, and build that essential element of trust. Working initially within a two mile radius, our stylists and therapists will be driven to customers so they arrive completely stress free. We envisage continuing to build on these services that we can offer at home as this new and exciting branch of our business develops.