Friday, 12 August 2011

5 mins with Celebrity Hair Stylist Sinéad Kelly

We quickly caught up with hairdresser to the stars Sinead Kelly who will be heading the hair backstage at our Fashion Week Shows this coming season, read on...
What inspired you to embark on a career in hairdressing? 
At 15 years of age I was going through a tough time in school and wanted to leave but my mum wouldn't allow it unless I found a job with career potential. I remember that stage in my life clearly, I was so down, and so my mum saved up some money to bring me to a hair salon for my first professional haircut. I remember being in that salon and thinking WOW everybody seemed so glamorous and chatty and happy. It was right then that I realised that I was going to become a hairdresser. Everything about the job felt right, I loved fashion, loved chatting to be people and not long after I started I realised I had a flair for hair!

How did you cope with the daunting prospect of starting your own salon in London? 
I had amazing support from my clients that I had built up over the years in London, I have always said without the support and loyalty of your clients there is no business. Also one of the major factors that helped was my partner Andy's support and investment. We were saving for our first home together when in early 2009 we had a conversation which lead us to take the plunge and set up our own business. This was a massive risk for Andy as he is not in the industry, and without his support and faith in me, we wouldn't have the ever growing business we have today. We are an Amazing team.

How would you describe your salon?
I'd very much describe my salon as being a hub of my values and beliefs. I have very high standards and except nothing but the best when it comes to performance, customer service and friendliness from my team. Through the journey of opening the salon I created what I called 'the Secret to performance". This is a book that has policies and procedures based on how i want my salon to run and look. And each time a new member of staff starts I retrain them personally and give them a copy of this. So no matter who you see in my salon, you will get nothing but the best. 

What makes Sinead Kelly London (aka The Velvet Room) unique from other London salons?
I respect and admire so many top salons in London and am constantly inspired by other industry leader's high standards. At Sinead Kelly Hairdressing however, you find the brilliance of London's most desirable salons in terms of the quality of our service, but without the pretentiousness that can sometimes accompany salons with that reputation. I and my team are purely about making each individual customer look and feel the very best version of themselves, and I treat our celebrities and regular clients in exactly the same VIP manner.       

Did you have any particular vision for Sinead Kelly London aka The Velvet Room when you decided to start your business?
My vision was to create something a bit special and somewhere people would look forward to visiting. I also wanted to create a good working environment for my employees so i could build a strong loyal team around me. Staffs are the core to any business.

How does it feel to have achieved so much at such a young age?
This is quite challenging to answer, as I feel I am still on a journey to fulfilling my ambitions. However, I will know I have come along way when my I hear my name being mentioned as an inspiration to other female entrepreneurs!  

Are there any popular looks or colours that people are asking for at the moment?
One of the most popular colouring techniques has to be "Balayage". This is a very individual highlighting technique as no two people will turn out the same. You can go as natural as you want as crazy as you want. Celebrities are big fans of this at the moment. One of the most popular looks that our clients are asking for at the moment is the Boho blow dry and the Double knot braid. 

Are there any celebrities whose style you really admire?
Beyonce. I absolutely admire her on so many levels. She is always reinventing her look and isn't afraid of mixing different styles for a more individual approach. I also love this woman because she makes women feel so empowered and confident. If I could have a fraction of this effect on women in my industry then I would be very happy! I know I am probably being very bias as she's a client and friend, but I love the naturalness of actress Ali Bastian. What I love about Ali's style is her pure effortlessness. No matter what hairstyle she seems to wear she just carries it off with such grace and elegance, she has amazing commercial looks that clients are always asking me for.

Do you have any plans for expansion?
I have always believed that I would like to grow my first salon to full capacity with space then move onto the next. This is why at the moment we are in the middle of doing our first expansion. This will bring the salon from a 7 seated salon to a 15 seated salon with two amazing private ritual areas. With the new extended part we also will have a VIP area which can be hired out for special occasions like weddings parties etc where you and your friends will have your own dedicated personal hairstylist, nail technician and makeup artist. Regarding long term, I have my eye in the flat that is above our salon. After getting the opportunity early this year to buy our lease/freehold of business we decided that our next step naturally would be to buy the flat upstairs in a few years and convert it into an extra part of the salon. Then afterwards I would eventually love a salon in Notting Hill or somewhere close to that part of town.

Owning a salon seems to be a very male-dominated business; is there any advice that you would give to women that aspire to start up their own salon?
I would say believe in yourself and remember we can have it all Family/business with a little hard work! Try viewing the obstacles as challenges which need to be overcome. You must be strong and thick skinned as its not easy being your own boss, but the benefits are tremendous. 

You’re going to be involved with London Fashion Week this coming September, what can we expect? Without giving too much away you can expect me and the designers to combine our visions to achieve some trend setting looks. Hair over the recent years has become very much inspired by the catwalks so I am looking forward to having some of that influence in how it goes this year. I am really excited for myself and my team to be involved in such a wonderful event and look forward to seeing the end results!

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