Do not underestimate how tough the first year can be

Evelyn Woolf started cutting hair aged 13, working every night after school and on Saturdays. The day after she finished school she started her apprenticeship.

After spending more than 30 years working for other people, she opened the Alexander Lawrence Hair Studio in 2012 with her daughter who runs the beauty side of the business.

We invited her to share her thoughts on overcoming the initial hurdles of launching a salon.

How have you found the first year of running your own salon?

The first year has been a bit of an uphill struggle. At the beginning I thought I was going to pass out with the fear and the responsibility. I naïvely thought that as soon as I opened the doors to my salon, the customers would pour in. I was so upset when practically no one came in the first week!

Previously I had worked in a salon where practically all the clients pre-booked. But my salon attracts younger customers who are more instinctive and often just walk in when they feel like getting their hair done.

A local florist told me that the first year of running your own place can take you the brink of despair and you wonder how you will survive.

We’re learning from our mistakes, for example we spent thousands on advertising, but now realise that word of mouth is what really counts. 
We are growing, but would like to be more successful.

What are your goals for the future?

Our primary goal is to grow. We have started offering Princess and Diva parties for children where they can get their hair and make-up done. We have already done a couple and they were very successful.

How does NHF help you run your business?

I wouldn’t have opened my salon without being an NHF member. I have called them many times and find the team so helpful.

I use practically every aspect of the membership, such as the fact sheets, contracts, staff handbook and risk assessments.

I also use the NHF calendars and the salon stationery including the consultant cards, first hair cut certificate and gift vouchers. It looks more professional and saves us the hassle of making our own.

Whenever I’ve cross-quoted, I’ve found that the NHF deals save me money. The insurance I sourced via NHF was cheaper than my previous supplier and more comprehensive (my new policy includes a colour test clause). And I also take advantage of NHF’s member rate for music licenses.

It’s not enough to love hairdressing – to run a successful salon you also have to understand every aspect of running a business. I’m not a natural business woman and being able to rely on NHF makes things so much easier.