Homes of the Brave

Focus north and you can’t help but notice how Scotland is emerging as a hub for some of the most progressive salons in the industry. Could it be the home of the new next-level beauty destination? Meet the bravehearts disrupting the image of the high street salon


Mesart, Glasgow

The most successful salons offer much more than just cuts and colour, and Mesart in Glasgow is no exception. With two salons already under his belt, owner Stuart Whitelaw is opening what he calls the first Glasgow ‘super salon’.

This space will offer a lifestyle-orientated antidote to the traditional salon, which clients can treat as a home away from home. “We want our clients to be able to enjoy that small bit of time they get to themselves when they have their hair done and not feel like they have to travel to different locations for different services,” explains Stuart. “We are bringing local brands into our space as pop-ups, offering nails and brows to go alongside all things hair. We have an amazing communal space for people to chill out during their visit and we have designed our mirrors on a pulley system, which allows us to take them away.”

The super salon will grow even further over the coming months, with Stuart planning to expand the space and work with like-minded businesses. “We have a lower level to the salon that we will focus on developing next year as well as discussing opportunities to work with local brands,” he explains. “Until we are ready to do that we will be offering the space to rent for local events to encourage local businesses to collaborate and help each other.”

Photography by Cian Mackenzie @TAKT Media

Chapter One Hair Spa, Edinburgh 

Pushing forward is the natural state for owners of Chapter One Hair Spa, Paul Bertram and Natalie Hamilton. With two salons in Edinburgh already and no plans to slow down, the duo recently decided to take the plunge and open a third.

“After taking on new team members and extending the Eskbank salon opening times to 12 hours a day, it felt right that the next step should be to open our next salon – number three,” says Paul. “This way we could keep up with client demand but also ensure team members have opportunities for growth.”

This team has been key to making the salon expansion a success, as team members’ flexibility and drive enabled Paul and Natalie to replicate the Chapter One salon culture at the new location in Haddington. “We knew from the start that in order to keep the Chapter One Hair Spa brand as strong and as authentic as possible, we would initially need to relocate some team members from our previous salons into our new one. Those who decided to make the move would be able to build clientele quickly and demonstrate all the values we hold to new team members.”

Photography by Connor Mulligan

Baxter South, Glasgow 

For Jack Baxter, who unveiled Baxter South in 2019, the main appeal of opening his own salon was the freedom. From the hours he works to the flexibility of combining the salon with session work, everything he does is on his own terms.

“The environment you work in has a massive impact on creativity and happiness,” he explains. “I wanted to create a place where I felt comfortable to do my best work with my clients, whose schedules are not necessarily nine to five. The opportunity for the space came up and everything seemed to fall into place. It felt liberating.”

This modern space is filled with plants and plenty of natural wood, giving it a calm, snug vibe. “When it came to the interiors, I had a lot of help along the way from friends in the know – being a smaller space I didn’t want it to feel tightly packed. It’s a comfortable place to spend time. We tried to keep all the lighting balanced throughout so it was better for taking pictures – which is great for influencers.”

The fashion-forward Redken spirit was perfect for Baxter South, where Jack creates hair that would look as at home on the runway as the streets of Glasgow. “The past two years I’ve worked with Redken and the support and network has been unfathomable. I mean a shoot with Rankin – does it get any better than that?”

Another important relationship for Jack is with influencer and make-up artist Jamie Genevieve. They’ve worked together for a number of years, creating looks and growing their social media followings in the process. “Both coming from Glasgow we have a similar sense of humour and get on well as friends,” Jack says. “It has been incredible to watch her journey and I’m grateful to her for taking me along with her. It is so great that she loves to push the boundaries with style and loves to transform her hair.”

Photography by Cian Mackenzie @TAKT Media

A New View

Whether opening a second location or revamping your original space, getting a salon’s look and design concept on-brand is essential, to ensure clients want to spend their time there… and share it on social media. This is how two of the UK’s leading hair stars made their salons irresistible

Larry King Salon 

Over in West London, there’s a fresh buzz around Notting Hill. There, in a stunning mews location, is a new salon from Larry King – UK Redken brand ambassador and favourite of beauty editors everywhere.

It’s his second venture, just a couple of years after he unveiled his South Kensington bolthole, one of the most-talked about openings in recent memory. “The salon’s really busy. Like really, really busy,” explains Larry of his first space. “It was a case of looking at my assistants and seeing them wonder: ‘Where is there a place for me?’”

What happened next was fate. Larry was approached by an existing salon in Notting Hill, wanting to know if he was interested in taking over its lease. “It was just perfect,” he smiles, citing his A-List neighbours (the Westbourne Grove set of Sandro, Daylesford Organic, even Gary Barlow’s recording studio is next door).

Once again, Larry’s wife Laura took on the design concept (she’s the driving force behind much of the aesthetic). “We always look for it to be quite cool and relaxed, to live our ethos of ‘social life for your hair’ and to improve the business.” That social side is something Larry does so well – his original salon is a beacon for ’grammable looks – and with his second outpost there’s a key focal point that the influencers (and regular clients) just can’t get enough of: the hood dryers. “We’re hashtagging ‘you in the hood’,” laughs Larry. “And they work!”

Leo Bancroft

Since opening its doors 15 years ago, the Leo Bancroft salon has strived to offer an exclusive service in a unique salon environment set across a townhouse. “I want to prove you can have a Londonesque salon anywhere in the country” says founder Leo, who first made the offer on the Weybridge space the day his son was born. “Over the years it’s doubled in size. I like that it has been done bit by bit – it’s important for clients to see that things are changing.”

With the client experience always at the forefront of Leo’s mind, he opted for a space that includes a greenery wall that tips a hat to that organic, natural interest, and spacious styling pods to relax and unwind in. “The pod is the ultimate styling section. It’s double the size of an average styling station, they’re basically like dressing tables,” Leo explains.

As well as considering client needs, the space has also been created for hairdressers. “I love it all but it’s all about the people at the end of the day.” And it’s with all this in mind that he chose a brand to support him. “Redken has been so supportive of my business and has really helped with the build and growth. This salon represents everything I’ve learnt about hairdressing in the past 15 years,” he adds.