Liam Hopper is owner of Oh My Hair Salons. He gives us an exclusive interview about his fascinating career journey from leaving school at 16 without any qualifications, to running the hugely successful business he has today.
Liam Hopper, tell us a bit about yourself and your salon.
Despite owning two hair salons now, my journey wasn’t always clearly leading me down this road. I am an entrepreneur, who left school at 16 without any qualifications and went to enrol and study at London Metropolitan university, leaving at 18 with an HND. I went on to start what became The Kitchen Group Retail Co in 2008 and ran this as a successful business until 2021.
My journey in the hairdressing industry began in 2019 as I founded my hair salon, OHMY. Following great success in the kitchen industry I realied that money didn’t necessarily equate to happiness. The salon was designed with the ethos, ‘’BE YOU’’, a place to get creative, a salon which puts it’s team first, and I invested in my employees and decided to back what isn’t a traditional concept of a salon.
The salon will now in 2023 provide 5% shares to some of the employees who will help me, build, grow and take control of day to day running of the company. They will enrol on a salon share scheme and be part of the board that make key decisions such as the salon employment, subcontracting rooms, suppliers, and major key making decisions.
Consequently, this then provides me a management structure with like-minded employees.
You have been in the hairdressing industry in 2000 & then 2019, what has been the biggest change throughout this time as a salon owner?
The change has come from the end consumer looking to go to more local & live salons. This also includes staying away from larger chains and going where they most feel the vibe & energy. They want a connection, plus a space where they can unwind. This usually means opting for an independent salon. Starting a salon from scratch is hard, and opening in new towns isn’t as easy as it used to be. I believe this is the case because the competition is overrun with independents who have got great and loyal clientele base, as well as great employees and the hardest part in running salons is keeping and attracting the right talent.
The pandemic changed people’s mindsets, it also gave birth to new entrepreneurs that decided to screw the traditional constitutional working system, place and time.
Liam Hopper, what sets your salon apart?
The salon is run, and majority owned by a non-hairdresser, a sometimes taboo subject. I employ people better than myself in everything, I don’t need to cut hair to know how to run a salon. I use my skills in accounting, data analytics, statistics, as well as using customer feedback and employees to build & scale a brand.
The marketing activities we do using the iSalon Click Me Widget are vital to how we get online bookings, grow and reach new customers and scaling the company’s differed orderbook. This comes via a simple creative solution to make the online user booking experience super-fast, no-sign up, better and more user friendly than others, we push this out via paid-marketing.
When did you open the second salon and do you have plans for the future?
The second acquisition (2 in 5 yrs) came in April 2023, this was via a new lease and acquisition of trading assets from a brilliant salon in Reading. My background is scaling companies via acquisition, merger and liquidation and I aim to now to use my method to grow several more chains! I will now only open in cities and where cities have universities as part of my growth plan.
What encouraged you to get into the hairdressing industry?
My first job was hairdressing at TONI&GUY at 15 and that holds a special place. I worked in the industry for 4+ years and I loved everything about it from, the passion, creative, atmosphere and freedom it gave. I was looking to diversify into an industry that wasn’t run from an accruals accounting basis. It needed to be a service/product industry with repeating custom which I can gain from loyalty and trust. The hairdressing industry was the only choice, something I was passionate and enthusiastic about, and that shows when I acquire sites, employ people and drive the team.
Liam Hopper, what helps you run your salon smoothly?
Let me set the record, as a start-up- without iSalon and the Click Me Widget I wouldn’t have survived pandemic. The reason I’m here was gut,s balls and the best salon CRM solution for bookings this attracts the customer when the GOV opened salon dates, this software which books, creates the diary, payment info, reminders and I now have a business.
The employees love the software we use. iSalon Command Centre is a brilliant add-on to control the company remotely. This is great in snow days, or sick days where access of information is so readily available from this system in real-time.
iSalon ‘’Click Me Widget’’ provides a better user booking experience that’s faster than the traditional model and it increased our bookings by 80%!