The high street may be facing some tough challenges in the year ahead, but what has emerged from the retail squeeze are some dazzling examples of business brains. Old masters and young entrepreneurs are approaching consumer-facing ventures with ingenuity, originality and a genuine point of difference.
We’re increasingly aware that modern audiences, particularly younger guests, are searching for standout experiences, ones they can share with their communities, and it’s shaping what kind of businesses we see succeeding.
Those burning brightly once again are the Outliers. As our definition at the top of this page illustrates, these are people who stand out from the crowd, who think differently and deliver something special. They understand they need to deliver an experience unlike their local competitors, whether that’s in the salon or through today’s shop window of social media. Whether they’re just starting out or have been busy on the salon floor for a couple of decades, the salons included here are the ones that illustrate how it can be done in a meaningful, exciting and business boosting way.
As you browse these web pages – stuffed with personality, wit, charm and colour – we hope you’ll find lashings of inspiration from the stylists, colourists, educators, business gurus and backstage stars that embrace life that little bit differently, and all find the perfect partner in Redken.
It’s not easy to span multiple generations and attract clients of all ages, but these thoroughly modern salons are doing things differently. From salon design to services, they have each developed a winning formula…
Sugar Cubed, Dublin
The team at Sugar Cubed aim to give clients their most individual cuts ever. Led by Mark O’Keeffe, the Cubed crew stays on its toes with constantly evolving styles.
The retro chairs and warehouse-style space are all paired together with a dark palette and bold splashes of colour that makes it look classic yet cutting-edge. There’s yet more contrast at the backwash, with futuristic sci-fi washers facing classical stained-glass windows.
This is the edgy little sister of Brown Sugar’s more traditional take on hairdressing, but Sugar Cubed’s concept centres around being able to deliver the same high standard of hairdressing.
With the slogan ‘Our Culture, Our Way’, Sugar Cubed is a siren call to former punks and new romantics of the ’80s as much as it is for the individualistic Insta-crowd. Not everyone wants a classic salon experience, and Sugar Cubed’s relaxed, urban vibe offers something with a little more edge.
That’s why Redken is a good fit, says Mark: “Like us, Redken is edgy, it’s street and constantly pushing the boundaries of colour and styling.” He also argues that quality is at the heart of both Redken and Sugar Cubed’s brand offerings. You’ll see that through the cuts, colours or its esoteric gin offering at the bar area.
“We try to stay ahead of the game, utilising creative partnerships and adapting ourselves to growing trends in technology,” Mark adds. “As one of the first boutique salons to launch in Ireland, we had a lot of USPs. But what really sets us apart from other salons is our client focus and our dynamic and fresh team.”
The Lion & The Fox, London
Cool and conceptual, this laid-back salon space combines a rotating gallery of art with local touches and trend-leading cutting work. Director Tim Pateman explains how every decision counts when building a salon with a difference: “Since we opened, we have always been conscious of creating an environment that’s comfortable and inviting for all, and this is undoubtedly why we have such a diverse age range of clientele.
“We wanted to use materials that got better with age, like a good pair of jeans, meaning that if you spill something it doesn’t ruin the salon environment. The salon is not over-styled but develops with natural wear and tear, to immediately make staff and customers feel comfortable.”
An imposing reception desk was replaced with a workable table and window seating. The design is sparse but colourful, and using local suppliers for everything from their coffee beans to their flowers gives a more thought-out, personal appeal.
“The major part of the success of the salon is giving clients a space they feel comfortable enough in to hang out,” he adds. “To feel comfortable enough to help themselves to another drink, to feel like this is a home from home.”
When choosing a brand to pair with, the message and efficacy of the products were equally important. “We chose Redken as a brand because its products work and its philosophy is something we feel works with us,” says Tim, who has converted the salon fully to the brand now. “We were previously with brands that didn’t quite hit the mark, but Redken has a product and colour to fit everyone.”
Colour is life for Amy Bowden and the team at Candy in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire. The zingy, pop-art inspired salon décor shows her team are all about mixing cool with classic. “We really focus on promoting self-worth,” Amy says. “No matter what walk of life clients are from, if they want more of a natural look or a vivid colour, we will always listen, support and educate to help them achieve their hair goals.”
You can’t help but be inspired by the space, with the quirky paint pots spilling colour down the walls and a 3D comb art installation hanging from the ceiling. The design was something that Amy spent plenty of time getting right. She explains: “It’s really important that we have a fun, creative environment to work in and that our clients enjoy the space and have something interesting to look at while their colour is cooking!”
When your salon is so obviously a reflection of your specialty, it’s important to be able to back it up with the goods so that everyone, no matter their age, can have the beautiful hair they want. “Redken has made our lives so much easier! The quality of the products is stunning,” adds Amy.
“The product that seems to have taken off most in our salon is Shades EQ. We market it as a gloss; most people who book for a blow-dry or cut are likely to book for a gloss, too. We love to make customised toners, mixing them together to create Candy cocktails.”