As part of a new series of interviews, Fuse talks to TIGI salons, finding out about their businesses and their teams.
Our first interview is with the owners of the recently renovated Albion House salon located in Chepstow, a market town on the borders of England and Wales.
Founded in 2004 by Helen Warren, Albion House has grown from a team of just three to the current team of 17 and, in 2019, Jade Thorpe, who has worked at the salon almost since its inception, became co-owner.
Originally the building was called Albion Chambers, but we changed it to ‘House’ as it seemed more appropriate.
Albion House is one of the most popular hair and beauty salons in Chepstow. I can honestly say we’ve worked really hard to gain our enviable reputation.
It’s a salon with a strong client base and thrives on repeat business, by providing the highest quality hair services and using the best products. We have a great team with a wealth of experience and knowledge, who have grown into a strong ‘family’ unit.
We introduced a beauty and treatment service, Beauty Basics, which has been very successful. It includes a dedicated room for services such as massage, facials, make-up, and waxing, and there’s also a nail bar on the salon floor.
We’ve also recently introduced a coffee-bar waiting area for clients, so they can enjoy an authentic barista coffee service during their visit.
Our philosophy is very simple: to be the best we can be. Be open-minded, but not be influenced. Our ethos is based on a belief in making relationships. By this we mean relationships with our team, with our suppliers and their creative teams, and most of all, with our clients.
Five years is a long time. We’ll continue to focus on building the Chepstow salon as our number one priority, aiming to encourage new staff and new clients to join us and continuing to make Albion House the best it can be. We will also focus on ‘Education’ and make the most of the strong links we have with Australia and how they do it ‘down under’.
With Jade becoming co-owner and a new focus in mind, we wanted to create a luxury space by simply adding our personal touch to show our understanding of our clients and encompass the dynamic of our busy, boutique salon.
The hair salon design was inspired by us! Together, we had spent months working out how we wanted the salon to feel, the ambience, the impression and also the quality of the client and staff experience, and how this translated into the layout, its functionality, the styling and colour schemes, and material selections.
The physical space and floorplan was designed by Helen’s partner, Simon, who is based in Australia. He worked with Helen and Jade’s vision and literally took the salon back to the drawing board to encompass all of its new elements. It required a lot of ongoing interaction with Jade’s partner Ed, who was providing all of the dimensions and photos of measurements of every part of the old salon, and relentlessly travelled between suppliers finding the right materials.
The majority of salon furniture and fittings came from Australia, however wherever possible, was sourced locally. In fact, all the building work was done by Chepstow tradesmen, with a little help from friends and family.
Preparation work, whilst the salon was still operating as normal, took two weeks, and then for a further two weeks we were closed for business for rebuild and fit- out. Everything was stripped back to bare plaster walls and all the services electrical and plumbing removed. It took eight days to rebuild the space and reintroduce the services, three days to paint and decorate, and three for the fit-out. And during this time we all worked 12 hour days, 7 days a week.
We removed every non-structural wall in the old layout and remodeled the space, and this is the first thing everyone noticed, as the salon floor has grown by a third. From the feedback we have had, clients love the material selections, the stone, the wood, the colours, and the furnishings.
We haven’t added any more stations however we have added a ‘colour-table’, a space for clients to move away from the cutting station and relax as they wish. This has been more successful than we anticipated.
We now have four backwashes; which include ottoman recliners and fully furnished seats for added comfort, concealed perfectly behind a light oak divider wall. And, of our 10 stations, we have two with reclining chairs to double as cutting and treatment stations.
We brought our ‘never seen before’ espresso machine onto the salon floor and incorporated it in a coffee bar waiting area, creating an enticing refreshments area. And finally, the reception is fronted by a feature piece of gold veined Calacatta marble, made locally, which creates an amazing first impression. We love it!
That’s easy! The clients love it, the staff love it! It was part of our vision to give something back to our team by creating a fantastic working environment as recognition for the continued hard work and support all our team members have given.
And, for all our wonderful, longstanding clients who have returned to Albion House over many years, and have supported us through our many transitions, we wanted to create a truly friendly and beautiful environment. We are so proud of what we’ve achieved.
Albion House is at 1 Library Place, Chepstow NP16 5HZ, UK. Find out more about their hair salon design at www.albionhousehairsalon.co.uk
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