When did you decide to create your own business?
After a very acrimonious split from a business partner 28 years ago I thought it was now or never. I was fortunate that my husband, (David sadly died of Pancreatic Cancer 20 years ago) had huge belief in me and he was involved in property so he sourced the first location in Mayfair and we opened with a team of 8. We now have 75 staff in 2 locations which is hard to believe! It has not been an easy ride by any means but I don’t regret one part of it and it has been a huge adventure and an incredibly fulfilling journey!
Were you scared to take the leap and go it alone and if so, how did you get over that?
No I was too busy starting the business and getting it running to even think about whether I was scared or not! I had a very clear vision of what I wanted and what I felt was needed and had no choice once I made the decision. Those first few years were very tough but I had Lynne Franks on the payroll to do our PR and she was also the best in her profession at the time and was brilliant at attracting the right clientele and my husband was amazing at the business side of things. It took time but after a few years the word spread and we had a plethora of supermodels, celebrities and fashionistas coming through the doors. That was a particular era in the industry when hairdressers also became celebrities but that was never my aim and I have never wanted my name in lights, I have only ever wanted to be known for ‘what I do’ and not ‘who I do’.
Who inspires you?
It is hard to name one person but there have been some incredible women who have been instrumental in changing the face of fashion and beauty such as Estee Lauder, Coco Chanel and Mary Quant.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in the industry as a female entrepreneur?
Starting a business in a recession and being a woman in a predominantly male led industry was very challenging to start with and sadly still is but I have proved myself with my skillset and have not let it deter me. It makes me incredibly proud to think of what I have achieved despite that.
If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Believe in yourself and your ability, take a risk and stay focused.
What is your proudest achievement?
Being awarded my MBE for services to the industry in 2011 made me feel incredibly proud and opening our second salon in Harvey Nichols in November last year. It was not a decision we took lightly but we had the client demand and felt it was the right time to be able to have a presence in such premium locations on both sides of London.
What is your happy place?
When I am on the floor looking after my clients and achieving a fabulous result from correcting a new clients colour disaster. My other is being at home with my family and being able to look at my beautiful garden. Colour in every sphere is my passion so I have created a space that has changing tones all year around and is never dull whatever the season. I also love travelling and am delighted that Covid has now become endemic rather than a pandemic so I can start going on some lovely holidays again!
Your daughter Joanna is Managing Director. Does it make you proud to think she is following in your footsteps?
Yes, it does and I am so glad that she chose management over colouring hair as she runs the business side of things which can be very stressful. It means I do not need to get involved in that anymore and focus on what I love which is still doing hair colour.
You’ve said in the past that in business ‘you should never stop learning’. What have you learnt in the last week?
It’s a learning curve every day and doing what I do is like being a chemist. You are constantly creating new formulas and adapting other ones and technology keeps moving forward which means we can never sit on our laurels. I have worked with some new products this week which has been interesting and
exciting and its fabulous to be in an industry that currently cannot be taken over by robots and we still get to use our brains and skillset!
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve taken from your daughter?
Trying to be patient and see the grey area! Not everything is always black and white.