Opening this month November Collective is a state-of-the-art hair and beauty destination in buzzy Livingston, a short distance from Edinburgh. It’s the brainchild of founders Christopher Laird and Emma-Louise Cantwell; the space follows the duo’s exact specifications and spans an impressive 150 square metres over two floors.
The salon was named November Collective after the pair’s month of birth (they were born a year and a day apart). They plan to provide an inclusive salon experience, offering services from ‘a hand-picked collective of creatives.’
Having worked together for the last six years, Christopher and Emma recognised a potential in their relationship to start a business together. ‘We are on the same wavelength and have a natural way of working together. We balance out the other’s strengths and weaknesses.’
The duo fought off competition for the new building from brand giants Starbucks and Tesco; Emma convinced the landlord to take a chance on their vision. ‘We had looked at so many units and even started the process with one, but something wasn’t right…We didn’t think building our own salon would ever be an option. But the landlord listened to our ideas and gave us the go ahead – he really believes in us.’
Christopher and Emma had full creative control over the project
They have worked on designing a functional salon space with a natural flow. Glass fronted over three floors, the salon bathes in natural light. It has 32 Crittall-style windows acting as ‘picture frames’ to the views outside; the main section looks out on a river and stunning woodland which changes beautifully through the seasons.
While the generous space allows for up to ten styling stations, Christopher is keen to avoid a traditional salon layout. ‘I don’t want colour clients having to sit in the same position while their colour develops. Therefore, we’ve added in different zones. There’s nothing more intimidating than staring back at yourself in the mirror for 45 minutes!’
The neutral, unisex interior is gimmick-free and to provide a ‘blank canvas’ in which to work. Luxurious materials – think oak floor, taupe leather chairs and green velvet beauty stools – create a feeling of calm. There are accents of lush botanicals and cleverly created ‘zones’, each with their own scent. Christopher and Emma took inspiration from places they had visited; five-star hotels, local bars and Ibiza spas – to ensure their salon would appeal to a diverse clientele. ‘I’ve never been in a salon like it’ says Emma.
‘We only wanted to do it once – and right.’
Upstairs, the glass-fronted beauty mezzanine has space for six make-up artists, while an oversized wooden dining table provides a multi-functional workspace. ‘Lockdown has changed the way we live and work as well as showing us that clients want a versatile salon experience. We wanted to create a space that allows the customer to take their time – they can come in and use this area to take calls, have a cocktail, send emails.’
The lighting in particular has been given careful consideration; Emma also worked closely with the electricians to ensure it would create the right ambience, without throwing off the accuracy of hair colours. The effect can be adjusted to suit the occasion. The pair plan on hosting events and seminars to make full use of the salon’s clever layout.
November Collective offers a bespoke service to a diverse clientele. Both Christopher and Emma want the salon to provide ‘a sensory experience’ that adjusts to each client’s individual needs. ‘Everyone at this level can do Balayage, or make-up, but it’s also about giving the client a reason to come to you’ says Christopher. ‘I hate the idea that a customer might feel that they don’t belong in your salon, so we’ve worked hard to create somewhere inclusive and honest. Our clients want to look like the best version of themselves – it’s about taking the ‘best bits’ and amplifying them.’