We’re excited to introduce a new ‘Small Business Scoop’ series interviewing, celebrating and getting to know small business owners around the world.
This month we’re speaking to Loren Bond, a hairdresser who has been in the industry for 10 years and recently opened her own salon – Lori Lori in the UK. From her choice not to have a website, to her concerns about online bookings – discover Loren’s story.
10 years have passed since Loren began hairdressing, and now she can’t remember a time when it wasn’t her passion. She started training just before her 16th birthday, and since that first experience of hairdressing, the thought of getting back behind the salon chair has motivated her to get out of bed each morning.
Loren amassed a load of experience – in that first salon and in Australia, and then started working towards a long-held dream. “I wanted to start building my own clientele,” she says. “So I went self-employed, rented a chair in a salon, and before long I’d built up a solid client base.”
From the chair to the salon
“A lot of people had a bit of a reality check when the pandemic hit, and it hit me pretty hard. I was asking myself the same questions over and over again: Do I love my job? What can I do if I fell out of love with hairdressing? Do I love the salon I’m working at? What can I do to push myself?”
Loren realised that what mattered to her most was giving people the best experience possible. She began to feel that the best way to achieve this was to work on her own, to be her own manager and to make her own rules.
“I came to the conclusion that I absolutely love my job. Doing hair is my thing. But I wouldn’t just rent a chair from someone else. I was ready to start building my brand and my business – so I took the leap and opened my own salon.”
A natural fit and a flood of clients
It’s often small business owners who set new trends for sustainability – and Loren is a prime example. All Lori Lori hair care products come from the B-corp certified Davines, and no waste from the salon ends up in landfill. Loren is also part of an Italian sustainable hair product club, an exclusive group that only admits salons that can prove they are highly sustainably conscious.
“My aim was always to have my own salon, my own space,” Loren says. “I am a very motivated person, and I am always looking for the next challenge! I wish I had opened my salon sooner, but this was definitely the right time for me in my career.”
“I have been in the hair industry a long time – I know it like the back of my hand. So falling into my own space for me was pretty simple.”
“I brought my clientele with me when I opened, and I thought I would pick up a handful of new clients. People love it when a new shop opens on the highstreet and I am finding people love to support small businesses which is amazing. But honestly the response has been insane!”
Word of mouth is also a massive thing for Loren. She’s had many new clients say how they were recommended by a sister or friend, and many rebook their next slot 6-8 weeks after each appointment.
“It’s amazing,” says Loren. “I’m overwhelmed by the support I’ve received, I must say.”
Keeping on top of the flood
Loren loved being her own boss. The flexibility it gave her was a big part of that, but she quickly found that it was a double edged sword – she had never worked so much in her life! But she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Finding work-life balance is definitely my biggest challenge at the moment,” she says. “I have tried to be accommodating as much as I can and I have been finding myself squeezing people in, booking people in later than my opening hours, even working my days off to get people in.
“Then I’m going home and replying to messages until 11pm, creating instagram posts and trying to catch up with my day. So I am finding the balance tricky at the moment. I’m hoping I can gain some sort of understanding on how to solve this, but I’m still waiting!”
Where does digital fit?
With everything that is on Loren’s plate, creating a website is one of those things that she simply says she hasn’t got round to yet. Right now, she’s testing to see whether she can get by without one – and she certainly seems to be succeeding.
“A website brings in a different clientele, and I am aiming for a slightly younger one at the moment,” says Loren. “Instead, Instagram and Facebook are important to keep my business going. I try to keep up with a flow of stories on Instagram to keep people engaged, and I try to do at least 1 post a day.”
Loren says her partner would usually call her a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to tech, but she took a significant step by moving from a paper diary to a digital one. But she’s still trialling to see whether she can keep going without an online booking system.
“Leaving people to book their own appointments scares me if I’m honest,” she says. “I like to be in control because two people could book in for a one-hour haircut appointment, and one of them could take me an hour and half, the other could take me 30 minutes. So I am either wasting half an hour or I am running behind.”
What the future holds
“I absolutely love my new salon space and it is perfect for just me, but it is small. My dream would be to open a bigger salon full of passionate stylists. I don’t think I like the idea of having lots of salons, but a big independent salon definitely appeals to me. One day!”
The idea of managing her business with a digital bookings system certainly appeals to Loren to give her back more time. However, the option to better predict appointment slot timings is a must have to be the right fit for her business.
For more insights into the lives of small business owners, check out our interview with the founder of Trophy Tails, and see how they benefited from BaseKit software via our partner Fasthosts.