Women’s history month is coming to an end – and what a celebration it’s been! Over the course of the past month, we’ve seen the glorious achievements that women have made; the constant strive forward in the march for equality and the recognition of our prowess across a number of fields. It’s been a shining example of true girl power.
As the celebrations draw to a close and the month comes to its end, we thought we should do something extra special, to show that women really can overcome all obstacles. We wanted to focus the lens on the real women of hairdressing – ladies who have fought their way through adversity to make their business a success. Women who have taught us that nothing is out of our reach if we only want it enough. We spoke to a variety of women in the industry, listening to their stories, until we finally settled on one business whose story we really wanted to tell.
Enter to the spotlight, Jackie Dixon and Elaine Benson, from Jax’s in Shirley, Croydon.
The lovely ladies of Jax’s are a true example of how women can overcome any obstacle in their path. Established for over 10 years, Jackie and her sister, Elaine, have been through their share of hardship, but they’ve continued to persevere and their salon has become bigger and better than ever, winning the independent salon awards in 2013. We caught up with them on a typical day in the salon to find out more about how they started out, how they got to where they are, what obstacles they overcame and what advice they had for others looking to start up their own salon:
So, why hairdressing? How did you get into that?
J: “Well, I loved art at school and I loved making things. I was inspired by one of my sister’s friends – she worked at Vidal Sassoon. She did a haircut for me that you could swish both sides, and I fell in love with it. So, when I started at a salon, one of the stylists noticed it and she said, ‘Oh my God, this is an amazing haircut!’ and I’m thinking, ‘Wow! Just one haircut can make such a difference. Right, this is what I want to do.’”
How did you start up your salon? How did Jaxs come about?
J: “I’ve had a lot of experience working as a team in salons – working in the art team, in the teaching team and I thought, ‘You know what, I’ve done all of that. I’ve done all the show session stylist stuff. Let’s get our own salon.’ And my sister said, ‘Yeah, come on, let’s do it!’, so we did! My sister was more the business side and I was more the salon side; we got together, and my sister’s creativity started to come out.”
E: “I was in corporate banking when we first started and Jackie was running the salon. I would come and help out weekends and after work. I was then made redundant, and thought, ‘Well, we’ve got a shop. Let’s put my skills to use now.’ So, I decided to train at the London Hair Academy. Jackie trained me here on the job too, and then I went to do training for hair extensions at the London Hair Academy. I joined up with Easilocks hair extensions three years ago; we’re now an ambassador salon for a worldwide brand, with a cutting specialist, a colour specialist and an Easilocks ambassador in house. My experience has taught me that you’re never too old to train.”
What would you say, to this date, was your biggest hurdle?
E: “I would say it was the recession. During the big crash in 2008, we’d just started the business, and it was very worrying times. But we persevered; we had to cut our prices, so for two years we didn’t really turn a profit, but we kept our clientele happy.”
J: “That’s the main thing, I think. Making sure your clients are happy. And bringing in new clients as well.”
E: “We used plenty of advertising too. And we looked at different ways of advertising too, whether it was leaflets or advertising on a board.”
J: “I think the internet is the future.”
E: “Instagram and social media have been good for us; especially when Easilocks retweets one of the looks we’ve done as a team, and it gets retweeted to 150,000 followers. All of a sudden our salon in Shirley goes global.”
What advice would you give to somebody thinking of starting up their own salon?
E: “I would say, look at the area first. See how many salons there are there. If you feel you’re going to be different to what’s there, then do it. But do some research into the area first, like the parking etc. and then go for it. And, as I said, you’re never too old to train!”
J: “It’s lovely if you’re already got a bit of a fanbase – if you’ve got some clients that you can bring to the salon. We were booked up six weeks in advance when we started out, which is really good for a salon that’s just opened. Client retention is number one, but the area can really make or break your success. And make sure to get a great team together too!”
You can also check out Jax’s social media pages below: