This month, Simon Hill and his team celebrated our 17th year in business at SESH Hairdressing in Edinburgh. Simon gives us an insight into some of his many experiences as a salon owner since his business started up in 2004.
“Over the years we have created a brand that blends traditional principles with an innovative, directional edge,” explains Simon Hill. “At SESH we are an all-inclusive salon showing great compassion for the LGBT community. We are inclusive and welcoming everyone to the salon is at the forefront of what we do. Supporting those from all communities, and genders and age groups without judgement is something we pride ourselves on. These values have been part of who we are from the beginning, and that is important. Knowing who you are from the start helps you attract your ideal clients.
“We have taken our lead from our guests and made changes accordingly. That would be one of my biggest pieces of advice to any salon owner. Be sure to listen to what your guests say to you and about you. For example, during our recent refurbishment, we incorporated a private area off to the right of the main salon. This provides clients with a level of privacy and discretion, as we felt our clients would benefit from that.
We installed a bespoke consultation table with chic, comfortable stools. This provides clients with a more personal space to discuss their needs and requirements. This was important to us as we wanted to create an environment in which clients and stylists were face to face rather than in front of the mirror. We have just brought in a new ‘coffee station’ to give our guests a complete experience when visiting SESH. They can use the area at their own will, creating coffee exactly as they like it and donating to our chosen charity, MND at the same time too. We know our guests are passionate about giving back and we felt they would enjoy a new experience like our coffee station. Minor changes like this can have a significant impact.
“At the outset in 2004, I knew I wanted SESH to have a reputation for giving back. I wanted us to be known as the salon that really cares not only for our guests but for our community. We have continually supported MND Scotland throughout our journey and this year we brought in our own branded tote bags in aid of this amazing charity. Some of the proceeds will go towards MND Scotland and if I could give another piece of advice, it is that giving back should never be overlooked.
“From a business perspective, the last seventeen years have certainly been challenging. I started out as a passionate hairdresser who wanted to create a brand, and a space that represented me. I had knowledge and experience of hairdressing; however, the business aspect was a new arena for me. I realised that I needed some guidance and partnered up with a business mentor to help. This is one of the biggest lessons I have learned is that to seek advice and guidance where and when it’s needed it a sign of strength, not weakness. To succeed we need to collaborate and support each other.
“My top tip to any budding salon owners would be to find your niche. At SESH, we wanted to bring a cosmopolitan hair salon experience to our local area. The salon is around fifteen minutes’ drive from the city centre, so we took a risk with this. We positioned ourselves as an upmarket salon bringing that city feel to our local shore. Our clients now know us for this, and it sets us apart from other salons.”