Our 5 Year Story - Part 2
Pandemic, another award and a new view of life
In Part One of Our 5 Year Story I wrote about our first fantastic three years after opening the doors of Samantha Elizabeth. In years four and five, we faced some tough challenges as a business and as a team.
In our fourth year we welcomed Chelsea Jade onto the salon floor but also said farewell to Kate, who left us in February 2020.
Our Christmas party 2019 was at Ockenden Manor, Cuckfield, where we all had a spa day.
I am glad we had that fab day out because on 23 March 2020, the Prime Minister announced the first lockdown from midnight that evening, due to the spreading Covid 19 virus.
My mum and I went to the salon on the 24th March to call our clients to let them know we were unable to open for the foreseeable future.
It was a difficult time because no-one knew how long the lockdown would last. But the team all pulled together – we had regular video chats where we all caught up and checked in to say we were all okay. We also made a number of videos to keep in touch with our lovely clients and to help them deal with their hair while lockdown went on.
The uncertainty of this time I think made many of us reflect on our lives and re-evaluate what we wanted out of life itself. When we were able finally to re-open the salon on 4th July 2020 (after three-and-a-half months forced closure) sadly, Francesca decided she wasn’t going to return.
And in the August, Lois decided she wanted to try her hand at being self-employed – I’m pleased to say she’s really enjoying it in her new self-employed salon.
In August we also welcomed Chelsea Clark to the team, as a new advanced stylist and my mum came on board full time as our receptionist-come-general-helper, as she thought it was the time for a change from her previous career.
As a team we decided to raise money for St Peters and St James Hospice, as during the pandemic local charities found that their funding dropped off, and they had to close their shops too. We raised £775.85 through a raffle for clients, where we donated as a prize the Olaplex range of products in a beautifully displayed basket that we put together. We had to make the draw earlier than expected because, guess what, we went into lockdown again.
Lockdown 2 lasted for four weeks from 4th November to 4th of December. Unfortunately, this meant we were unable to celebrate our fourth birthday but we had some great news during this closure to say we had won Best Salon in Sussex at the Salon Awards. The whole awards evening was held virtually, and my partner and I watched the event from our sofa. Winning this third award (fourth, if you count my runners up award) was a real boost for the entire team.
We had hardly gone back to work and begun to see our lovely clients again when lockdown 3 happened and we were closed until 12th April 2021.
No Christmas party!
But we welcomed Louise onto the salon floor in May 2021, as we recruited a new apprentice Travis to take her place.
This year was a real turning point for me as a salon owner. While I am always careful with money and I knew how to run a profitable business, the pandemic was a shock to the system. Some other salons didn’t make it through the two years. Now I am even more sure that I know my numbers and I look ahead to what may happen.
I am also about giving my team life skills. In August 2021, we closed the salon for a day and we all attended a first-aid course. This is a qualification we all will have for three years and I believe this is a true life skill that everybody in the salon should have and something we should support.
In this year Chelsea-Jade, our graduate stylist, decided she wanted to see more of the world (what did I say about re-evaluating what we want from life?) and she went to work for a while on a cruise ship. It was an incredible thing for her. The entire team went out for a meal at the Fox and Hounds to wish her farewell. This was fantastic because we hadn’t gone out as a full team since the previous year.
In November 2021 we also had the great news that Esta had graduated as a salon master colour expert. She and I will be attending her graduation ceremony in June this year, where she will be wearing a cap and gown. I’m so delighted for her and to have this degree in our salon. I will be ensuring all of my team members go on this amazing course, to become master colour experts themselves.
We were also recognised for the third year for our client experience through the Phorest Client Experience Award, which is based on client ratings for our salon.
Our fifth birthday, on 29th November 2021, was on a Monday when only Esta, Ella and myself were working but we celebrated nonetheless and even got our photo and a story about us in the Mid Sussex Times. The Sunday before, most of the team – myself, Maureen, Esta, Ella, Louise, Travis, my dad and my partner – went out for a few drinks and pizza at the Hop Sun Taproom in Haywards Heath – a nice way to round off year five!
Life reflections and changes
Now we are into our sixth year. After reflecting some more on what I wanted the salon to be and what I wanted for my team in terms of being happy in their jobs, I decided to make some changes.
So, now the salon is open six days a week, Monday to Saturday, rather than seven days. This allows me as a salon owner to give all my team members one full weekend off a month if they wish. This also means on that one weekend of the month they will have three days off, giving them the opportunity to have long weekends away if they desire. This is something I’ve always wanted to do since opening my salon five years ago and I’m delighted I’ve come up with a way to do it.
Being part of an independent salon can be hard work and working weekends can be unsocial too, so if I can do little tweaks to get my staff a better work-life balance I believe this to be a win worth doing.
Also this year we will be closed over Easter, which includes Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Easter Monday. The salon will also be closed on the Jubilee weekend, which includes Thursday 2nd of June, Friday 3rd of June and Saturday 4th of June.
Other salon owners have said to me that I’m crazy doing it as these times when everyone will be off can be very profitable for salon businesses. But for me it is not just about that. I see it as time for staff members to be with their families.
I know these changes will not suit everyone and we will be sad to lose anyone along the way.
As a businesswoman I want to look after the wellbeing and happiness of my team, because a happy team means a better working environment and also better haircuts and all round experience for our clients.
For me, running my salon is about the long term, it’s about people not pennies.
So, that’s our first five years and a bit…. We’ve had an amazing start and come through what has been a torrid time for businesses everywhere, with a strong team, so many loyal and lovely clients and a new view on life and what we all want from it.
Let’s see what the next five years have in store!
Take care, keep smiling