I first had my hair coloured when I was about 15. Just a few highlights to ‘lift’ my dull mousy locks. My hairdresser was my big sister Sharon who also liked to chop off my hair every so often. I was never destined to be Rapunzel. Fast forward another 15 years or so and big sis, along with little sis Becky, who also developed a knack for cutting and colouring hair, are running their own salon The Chelsea Chair on West London’s Fulham Road. So how did it come about? I’ve never ‘interviewed’ my sister, but Sharon’s put down her scissors for a few minutes to talk about it.
Name: Sharon Joyce
Current title: Owner & Creative Director
Company: The Chelsea Chair – hair salon
Education: London-Trained Hair Stylist
So why did you decide to open your own salon and did you ever imagine yourself as a businesswoman?
After working in all sorts of environments in London to do with hair, beauty and fashion, I wasn’t always happy with the way others ran things and felt I could do it better with a solid team around me to create a warm, friendly environment that wasn’t pretentious but offered a top-end service. As a working mum of three I’ve been used to running around and juggling multiple tasks which I think has helped the transition into becoming a fully-fledged businesswoman. Funny enough, I recently read an article that even mentions a study about working mums performing particularly well in a business environment.
What was the most difficult thing about getting started and did you experience any learning curves along the way?
We wanted to set up in Chelsea but it’s not a cheap area so it was about finding the right premises for the best price in an easily accessible spot for potential clients. Huge learning curves too – a lot of planning, hard graft and determination to succeed was needed!
Describe a typical day for you.
It’s usually a mad rush in the morning to drop the kids to school, then a quick pit-stop to check in with our mum and have a cuppa before heading to the salon. First things first, I check out the client list for the day which can be anything from the typical Chelsea lady with her little fluffy dog or city slicker gentlemen to Made In Chelsea celebrities and Hollywood actresses. As well as looking after my own clients, I then normally have a few meetings scheduled in to keep across the business and develop ideas to move forward. Running your own salon isn’t a 9-5 job and I’ve been lucky enough to have a good team around me, and in particular our sister Becky, who has taken charge of much of the admin side of things including keeping on top of the accounts! She started out over ten years ago as a Saturday girl earning an extra bit of cash alongside her Performing Arts studies. Little did she know she’d go on to train to be a stylist and I’d be roping her in all of this; my wing-woman who I could not be without!
In your opinion, what makes a good employee?
Common sense! That’s a must, along with being willing to work well as part of a team, having a professional attitude, building relationships with clients and a drive to go that extra mile if necessary to offer the best service.
Do you consider yourself a good boss? And why?
I class myself as a very good people person, I’m fair and will always reward hard work. Something I soon discovered early on in leading a team was that it isn’t always easy keeping everyone happy, there’s a difficult balancing act you have to play in being good cop bad cop at times to keep the business running smoothly and us all in a job!
If you could start over, is there anything you’d do differently?
Not as such. Everything has been a learning curve in the past two years or so and sometimes you have to experience those hardships to go on to excel. We’ve grown into a solid successful business as a result of what we’ve done to date. Hopefully the experience we’ve gained so far will see that that continues.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your home/family life?
The first year was incredibly difficult, working 24/7 with a small team of five people. That’s now more than doubled but in those early days I relied heavily on the efforts of those founding members, including my daughter Holly who also happens to be our wellbeing and beauty therapist. I’ve also had a great supportive family around to help out with my two boys when things at the salon have needed attention.
If you had one piece of advice for someone starting out what would it be?
You need a realistic view of what lies ahead to ensure the survival in the first year or so of your business. People can be misguided, believing in what they do, having spoken to landlords etc, but so many businesses can fail in that first 18 months because it is so make or break; you need to prepare, look into all the potential costs and overheads, and then some! There are always extra costs you’ll incur as the business grows. You don’t always have to pay big PR companies to promote your brand. We’ve not spent money on advertising but have had good reviews in magazines such as Tatler and appeared in Vogue which endorses the quality of what we do.
What’s next for The Chelsea Chair?
In an area inundated with other hair salons there is a need to keep ahead of the game, and generate new, unique ideas to keep clients coming back and welcome new ones to our chairs. Many pop in for their appointments accompanied by their canine companions so to provide an even more welcoming environment for our dog-loving community we have teamed up with The Pet Spa, who were originally based at Harrods in Knightsbridge. The business will be moving in below us to the lower ground in the New Year so both client and pooch can enjoy pampering simultaneously. There will be a separate entrance via Henniker Mews (off Callow Street) so as not to disturb our clients.