Moving from a salon chair to a luxury personal parlour: The Hairboutique by Nabeelah
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Moving from a salon chair to a luxury personal parlour: The Hairboutique by Nabeelah

Nabeelah Almulad had been working for years in bigger salons before she took the plunge to start off on her own. A bit terrified in the beginning; today comfortably settled in. This is her story.

– In here, I can take the business and do what I want with it. Fully make my own decisions – that’s why I’m here. Renting a chair in a salon is totally different – it’s a place where someone else sets the rules …

Nabeelah looks at me. It’s all silent and very peaceful, the kind of atmosphere she had in mind when she decided to launch her own little boutique hair salon offering glamorous styling experiences. Her personal touch is hard to miss  – the color scheme is in purple and I count at least five faces of Marilyn.

Why Marilyn Monroe?
– It’s just me! But outside there’s the real world …

By having my own little salon, I can offer my clients a much more relaxing environment than any bigger salon.

Selecting a room in a building meant that Nabeelah cut a serious chunk of overhead costs.

Support from loyal customers

Even though Nabeelah had been working as a hairdresser for 20 years – she doesn’t hide the fact that it was a big step to start out on her own.

– I actually made the decision while on a sunbed in Gran Canaria in November 2015, and only four weeks later I opened my own salon. You should strike while the iron’s hot!

Nabeelah admits that the first months were quite a scary time – but also exciting and very different from renting a chair in a salon. All of her old clients followed her.

80% of my customers are regulars.

Nabeelah Almulad of The Hairboutique by Nabeelah. Photographed in March 2017.

You weren’t sure about that?
– I wasn’t and I knew that they wouldn’t travel too far – so that’s why I picked a location where most of them live close by. Wythall is also only a ten minute drive from Birmingham, it’s easy for them to park here and they can make an experience out of the visit, starting the day with breakfast at Beckett’s Farm before their treatment.

What else was challenging?
– It was the costs that were the toughest part – I mean what you see today was only an empty room when I came here.

Selecting a room in a building was an active choice, not having to deal with the overhead costs of a shop.

Are you an aspiring salon owner? Don’t forget to …

  • Be aware of the costs. Well, the startup costs to be specific – for salons they range somewhere between £3,000 to £40,000. Nabeelah confirms that covering these costs were the hardest part of launching her own salon.
  • Follow rules and regulations. In the UK, you don’t need any qualifications to work as a hairdresser or barber. But remember that if you’re doing colouring, you have to follow the regulations set up by Control of Substances Hazardous to Health.
  • Differentiate. Yep, what trends can you play on? You probably know exactly why you would stand out from the crows –  well build your brand and communication on that message! For Nabeelah it was about creating a luxurious and personal experience, in a calm and relaxing atmosphere.
  • Evaluate the location. At Zettle we continuously speak to hairdressers – and everyone keeps emphasising the importance of the location. Do thorough research before signing the lease for your future salon.
  • Price it right. It’s everything but easy, but absolutely key. Look at your overhead costs and estimate how many treatments you have to do on a monthly basis. Do you hate figures and spreadsheets? Find a friend or person in your network who doesn’t – and can help you crunch some numbers. Basic forecasting of revenues is absolutely crucial for any viable type of business.

What she would have done differently

– If I would launch a business again I would try to not put too much time into the business, it’s easy to do that the beginning and forget your personal life.  I literally accepted all my customer requests. It’s also easy to go crazy and buy too much stock.

When Nabeelah gradually realised that she had a pretty stable customer base, she also realised that her customers fully understood that she also had a private life.
– Now I’m kind of stable, I have a balanced life – ‘cause I’m confident with my business. I have time to practise my passion outside work, dancing.

Dancing, cool!
– I’m really into salsa, something I found out later in life.

Whatever you put into the business – you get out. It’s definitely more rewarding than working in someone else’s salon.

Offering something bigger salons can’t

– One and half years of running my business I still love what I do, I simply love making people happy. Because getting your hair done inevitably makes you feel so much happier. And by having my own cute little salon, I can offer my clients a much more relaxing environment than any bigger salon – a place where they tend to open up and talk. Not only with me, but with each other.. And I’m like WOW, that’s brilliant …