Should we open a second salon?

Images: STIL salon

 

 Christel and Alex Barron-Hough are behind STIL salon in London’s Notting Hill… but are now embarking on salon number two. Follow that journey exclusively with the couple… First up? The decision to double down

“Having a second salon has always been a goal of ours, but for the first couple of years, that dream seemed almost impossible. We were working 24/7 trying to build a new salon, brand, team, clientele (as I had zero clients) along with networking and creating local business partnerships.

Just as the goal seemed more achievable the first lockdown happened. I was only focused on survival. In July 2020 we had to make a quick decision as our lease was coming up for renewal at the end of the year and the landlord was pushing us. We renewed for another couple of years as the salon was so busy, but my gut was telling me that now was the time to open a new salon and grow.


Christel Barron-Hough

Finding the dream shop

In December we had to close our doors again and this time my mindset was very different. I had often walked past the Stella McCartney shop in Brompton Cross and wished that it could be our salon. Just before Christmas Alex phoned: “You’ll never guess what? The shop is up for rent!” 

My first thought was “don’t be silly, it’s too big and expensive”. But Alex said how do you know? We had to find out, and we had a viewing in early January. When the agent found out we had a hairdressing business he said: “The rent is huge, are you sure?”. We said: “Yes, we’d love to see it!” while thinking: “Ouch, that’s a bit out of our budget!”

We had only one option: grow or die, and the Notting Hill shop doesn’t allow us to grow any more. Christel Barron-Hough

Alex was convinced this would be the perfect new shop; I was slightly concerned about all the work it needed – we’d have to lower the basement floor to operate as a salon. We saw it again with our architect Max, who was just as excited. We felt it was the right decision to put in an offer. It wasn’t easy, we were in the middle of lockdown and had no idea when we would be opening for business again!

Images: STIL salon

Grow or die

Would this be the worst decision we have ever made? Could we really make this work financially? But we were both so sure that this opportunity would never come around again. We had only one option: grow or die, and the Notting Hill shop doesn’t allow us to grow any more. 

Some of the beautiful work from the team at STIL 

As we were a hair salon the agent suggested we build a business case to the council, which owned the property. We had to make it appealing as the council really wanted high end luxury fashion brands in the unit! Our case outlined all the things we could contribute to benefit the area, how our clientele could generate money for the shops in the area, how we were just what they needed! 

It must have been convincing because the offer was accepted – fantastic! We’ll be able to get in and start work by March, we thought. Oh, if only we knew the truth…”

COMING NEXT: The red tape nightmare that followed – and what YOU can learn from it!

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