“People have a newfound love for hairdressers since lockdown. We realised, “Wow! People actually really do appreciate us. They need us!“
I met Natalee when I left school at 15 and started working with her as a trainee – she was my boss! I’d been working from home for several years and I wanted to move the business out. Natalie wanted to open a salon in Howick. It made sense to go in to business together. We wanted to be able to laugh every day. We wanted to get away from being 100% serious – it had to be fun too!
In August 2018 we took over Saxon by Design but the salon just wasn’t ‘us’. We spent 18 months working out what the salon was going to be like, and we needed everyone to get to know us. The rebrand was a fun process, but we’d only relaunched for five weeks and then lockdown happened. We were in denial – it had been our dream. Suddenly we were walking around not knowing what to do with ourselves. Then we had to sort out the practical stuff – how to pay people, what we were going to do about the lease etc.
It was a good day when we reopened. As soon as we got the opening date we called everyone who previously had an appointment. Clients were saying “We can’t believe you’ve rung us!” It took us a day and a half of solid phone calls to rebook our clients. We were blown away by their concern; “We’re so worried about you – you’d just opened your salon!” It was so lovely they’d been worrying about us.
Our phone hardly rung on the day we opened, because we’d already rung everybody. Can you imagine what the phone would have been like if we hadn’t done that? We had a plan and it worked.
We’re really proud of this place. We’ve make it a place that’s not intimidating, but still really stylish and warm. Our older clients feel happy coming here, but we’re attracting lots of new, younger clients too. Both groups love the new name as it was something from some of their childhoods and also a great play on words. We kept the concept for the new name to ourselves for a while – the staff thought we were going to be called “Franalee’s”. We had lots of fun with that!
We tell clients our life story when they come in. All clients have had different experiences – they tell us theirs. Some have been massively affected by the crisis – some have lost their jobs, but others are doing really well and tell us how busy they are. The community spirit and support in Howick has been really cool; people are looking after each other.
We used to work in shopping malls, but the sense of community is so much greater in our village; it’s only got better since we had it all taken away from us. We love Howick even more now than we did before. You can walk up and down the street and bump into 10 people you know – we love that.
We try not to sweat the small stuff – or the big stuff haha! Every day comes and every day goes. It’s not always easy but you get through it.”