Opening and running a successful salon is a journey filled with challenges, growth, and invaluable lessons. Christopher Laird and Emma-Louise Cantwell opened November Collective, a breathtaking 150-sqm destination salon just outside Edinburgh, aged just 23 and 24.
Almost two years on, the duo are on target to hit £1 million turnover. But it hasn’t all been plain sailing. We asked November Collective duo, Christopher and Emma-Louise, to share their first-hand experiences and the indispensable insights they’ve gained along the way, as well as the business advice they wish they had known before embarking on their salon venture…
Timing is Everything
Allow for a substantial gap between leaving your previous role and opening the salon. Christopher also emphasises the importance of having breathing space -a well-planned transition ensure s a smoother start.
Work on the Business, Not Just in It
Emma-Louise stresses the need to allocate time specifically to work on the business rather than getting absorbed in the day to day. Setting aside regular slots to strategize and plan is vital to ensure business success.
Elevate Your Team
Both Christopher and Emma-Louise underscore the significance of nurturing your team’s growth. Focus on making every stylist in your salon desirable and busy. This way, stepping away from hands-on work becomes easier.
Preparation is Key
The duo highlights the crucial role of preparation in salon ownership, emphasising the necessity of comprehensive understanding in areas like tax, employment law, and HR. Don’t underestimate how much there is to know – continuous learning and investing in your leadership skills is invaluable.
Determine your worth and calculate prices based on a thorough breakdown of costs, as well as a reasonable profit margin. Avoid pricing based on competitors, ensuring a clear reflection of your value and expertise.
Clear processes and policies are essential. Define and communicate policies for cancellations, stock management, annual leave, dress code, and more from the outset to maintain a harmonious as well as an organised salon environment.
Be Wary of Burnout
Both owners emphasise the importance of self-care. Recognise the signs of burnout and prioritise your well-being – a healthy you is essential for a healthy business.
Be open to adapting and evolving. Don’t be afraid to tweak strategies that aren’t working. Trial and error can lead to refined processes and better outcomes.
Always allocate extra funds beyond your initial budget. Christopher and Emma-Louise highlight that building and opening a salon often incur unforeseen costs. Having a safety net ensures you can navigate these financial challenges without undue stress. Opening a salon is a labour of love but so worth it.
Christopher and Emma-Louise’s journey with November Collective exemplifies the resilience and learning required to thrive in the salon industry. Their candid advice serves as a guiding light for aspiring salon owners, providing insights to help them create successful and sustainable businesses.