Our Most Wanted 2023 Business Thinker winners have taken Nashwhite from strength to strength, but what is their secret to success? Lee Nash-Jones and Rob White share all
“Nashwhite is not what it used to be – in the best way possible. Starting out as a hair salon was our initial plan, but becoming a space where anybody and everybody is welcome quickly became our goal. From the day we opened, we have constantly and consistently made changes, the most recent and biggest one being The Heist House, to achieve this.
The evolution of Nashwhite reflects a shift in mindset driven by both of us, breaking free from routine, undergoing self-reflection, and embracing the opportunity for change.
Re-evaluating the business model
Because we have (and had) clients most days, having the time to pave the way to where we are now was a struggle. There were early mornings, late nights and sacrificed weekends, but eventually, we got a much-needed forced break during the pandemic. While it hindered our revenue as much as anyone else’s, the pandemic’s enforced pause was the catalyst for our transformative thinking and made us ask some important questions. While the salon may have appeared successful from the outside, it was clear that changes were needed.
Becoming a lifestyle brand
It all began with a fundamental question: What did we want our business to be? A hair salon, or something more? This period of reflection allowed us to contemplate the essence of Nashwhite and the experience we offered to those both inside and outside of our walls. From this, we decided that we wanted to become a lifestyle brand focused on our community. We aimed to give back to the High Street as much as we took from it, nurturing a sustainable relationship that might go unappreciated but can be incredibly rewarding. The pinnacle of this evolution in thinking was the introduction of The Heist House, a significant achievement that fully realised our goals.
Flexibility for staff + convenience for clients = A space for everyone
In an industry where it’s easy to adopt a ‘what’s in it for me?’ mindset, we thought ‘what can we do for others?’. This was a mental shift that unlocked limitless rewards and opportunities.
To embody this commitment to community and inclusivity, we restructured our operations. We offer flexible hours for our team, allowing hairstylists to manage their diaries and work schedules according to their preferences. Some opt for three or four long days; some prefer five normal length days. Others prefer to work Tuesday to Thursday, allowing a long weekend every week, with others working the tail end of the week for help with childcare. This approach promotes autonomy, reducing the need for micromanagement and allowing us to concentrate on other vital aspects of the business.
When it comes to new staff, it’s crucial to show that we are capable of not only accommodating but growing. As leaders in the industry, we have an unwritten duty to mentor the up-and-coming talent of today. Showing them that the way we think can offer the support they need, as well as the space they need to feel supported, is always going to be a part of our thought process.
For clients, we have extended opening hours during the week, making it convenient for them to visit when it suits their schedules. The Heist House operates from 8am to 8pm almost every day, providing a full Nashwhite experience, complete with a barista, yoga classes, wellness studios operated by Elixir (which is open seven days a week), and, of course, exceptional hair services.
Reimagining the salon into a lifestyle brand has opened so many opportunities for us, but also our clients and the communities around us.
Meeting expectations in a changing world
In today’s world, you must deliver more to both staff and clients to secure their loyalty. Expectations are soaring, and the bar has been raised time and again across the hospitality sector. We recognise the need not only to meet but to exceed these expectations consistently to retain and attract both staff and clients.
Being in a ‘cost of living crisis’ also means our guests will be thinking about the value for their money, so we focus on under selling and over delivering to blow them away.
A never-ending evolution
We don’t plan too far in advance. However, our commitment to continuous evolution will always be at the core of what we do. After 13 years of transformation, we understand the importance of staying true to our values, especially as we embrace the change that comes with the future. Our dedication extends not only to our staff and clients, but to ourselves as well.
Our journey from a hair salon to a dynamic lifestyle destination is a testament to the power of reflection, adaptability, and a commitment to community. It serves as a reminder that in a world of constant change, those willing to evolve can create a lasting impact.
One thing is certain: Nashwhite’s story of transformation is far from over.”