The Generation Game

Running a business through kith and kin

A big part of what makes our Russell Eaton salons so special is the history and heritage they are steeped in. This year we are celebrating an incredible 40 years in business and my dad Russell is marking 50 years as a hairdresser. Running two salons takes a lot of time and it is often tricky to get the work life balance correct. But being part of a family business is more of a way of life than just a job, and I truly believe it’s what has made the Russell Eaton brand so successful. There are two main reasons why I feel it works so well.

The first is communication. Running a family business means that we all spend a lot of time together and we are always talking about work. I think this communication is key to our success. We are always sharing our ideas for the business, what direction we are heading in and the plans we have. My dad and I have a conference call before and after work every single day. During these daily car phone calls, we discuss everything that is happening in the salon, in the industry and in our local areas. Through this constant communication we all have a unified view of what the plans and our aims are for the salons. Everyone is in sync and it helps things run smoothly.

Secondly, it’s amazing working as a family because even after a lifetime spent with them they can still be surprising and incredibly inspiring, not to mention motivating. My dad is a huge inspiration for me; seeing all his work from when he was working with Vidal Sassoon and watching him working and creating in the salon even to this day. I started my career as an apprentice in our Barnsley salon when I was 16 years old and dad has taught me more than I could ever imagine.

I’m also very blessed to work alongside my sister Isobel, who has also been a wonderful source of inspiration and learning for me. Back in my early years I used to use Isobel as a hair model to practice my cutting skills. The results were always a lot shorter than she ever expected and an important lesson we both learned was not to practice on family members! However, the point is that even though the cuts may not have been of her choosing, Isobel would continue to support me in this way, helping me improve my skills. These days I still have her support when we work on shoots together and create collections.

Of course, it’s not just my creativity that has benefitted from being part of a family business, it is also my business skills. My mum and dad are both very astute and their guidance when I became creative director of the Leeds salon has been invaluable.