The journey of becoming Bespoke Hairdressing Rugby

I remember Stephen & I were standing outside “Pineapple” in Rugby. It was January 2000 and we were looking at premises to open our first salon. We had looked at other sites, but we loved the location of this shop as it was opposite the Clock Tower in Rugby Town Centre. The square footage of the site was huge, and we wondered if we would ever be able to fill the site. There is no way that we could have imagined how valuable that extra space would be during a pandemic twenty years into the future!

We had never owned a business before. Life had thrown us a curved ball. We had saved three years prior to this date for a maternity break and sadly our son did not make it. We made two decisions that would be life changing for us. The first was that we decided to adopt. The second was that we both felt that we needed to do something special with the money that we had saved to cover a maternity break. I was such a planner that loved a tick list and always took the safe and sensible route. After the experience of a losing a child, I wanted to do something that would take us on a totally different journey. I had always envied Stephen for the passion that he held for being a hair stylist. He loved working in a hair salon and he also loved teaching. The only way that he could truly do both was to open his own salon. I had planned to carry on my career in the Insurance industry. We would open our salon and then two or three years after that we would adopt. That was the plan, however life never works like that. We had our daughter on 24th July 2000 and opened our salon on 13th September 2000. When I look back, I don’t know how we fitted it all in! My aim had been to take more risks and we certainly met that challenge.

I am incredibly proud to say that we still have the core team that we opened with:

Jamie Sinclair

Nicki Sinclair-Smith

Kerry Jacklin

Jamie had been taught by Stephen at college. I remember Stephen coming home from Heart Of England telling me about this great student that was a natural, but he was a nightmare at doing his written work on health and safety. Twenty years on that still hasn’t changed! Anything creative and he is brilliant, but I know when I have to do a formal briefing on any topic, I need to keep it brief (and preferably supply sweets for motivation).

Nicki was there at the start as an Apprentice and still holds the record for the fastest qualifying apprentice and returned with a distinction from the Academy. Never one to be held back, in addition to being Head Technician for many years, Nicki then kept on top of all of the advances in learning and currently heads all of our digital media marketing and manages Bespoke Hairdressing Education development with Stephen.

Kerry had worked with Stephen at his previous salon and came to our salon as soon as a position became available. In addition to being Creative Director within the salon, Kerry also has great leadership skills and from day one was a mentor to each young future professional that came to join us.

Over 20 years we have had some great memories. When we first opened, we used to write in chalk on the walls each time a client came in and loved seeing those numbers grow. The wall wouldn’t be big enough to do that now. We grew from a team of 4 to a team of 18 today. Each of our stylists had to qualify to foundation degree level in cutting and then foundation degree level in colouring. Each time they completed the degree it cost us £5,000. I am proud to say that our small business has paid out for 29 degrees for our team. That means we have invested at least £145,000 in degree costs alone. On top of that we invest in our team to complete NVQ’s in Beauty, Nails, Customer Service, Business Management, Team Leadership, IT & Business Admin, Digital Media and Marketing. Our long-standing partnership with Heart of England Training is something that we are incredibly proud of and continues to evolve further. Education and personal development have always been at the heart of what we do, which is why it was a huge personal dream to rebrand in August 2019 and open our own education Academy. The current pandemic provides its own challenges in this area, but we were never one to shy from a challenge, we will adapt and evolve the education company for the online market. It will run alongside our existing Bespoke Courses. The skills that people learnt with us have allowed world-wide travel, two people have successfully emigrated to Australia, two educators for major companies and two have gone on to open successful salons of their own. It is really rewarding to be part of someone’s journey.

We provide a workplace environment that adapts as life changes. I personally believe that if my team write their own hour’s they create a work life balance that makes them flourish. I wanted a business that could look after the whole person’s needs, not just from the perspective of being a stylist. We have enjoyed seeing each team member evolve their own families as the years move on and we look forward to two salon weddings in 2021. 

Until last year, I would have said that the best highlight was seeing some of the critical acclaim that we achieved. When we part of a larger group, they created a Hall of Fame as there were no other awards we could win! We did hair at comic relief for the BBC. I became a gushing teenager when Stephen did London Fashion week and Dermot O’Leary rang me to say “Hello” whilst Stephen was cutting his hair. It was an amazing achievement for Stephen to a regional finalist at the British Hairdressing Awards for three years in a row. It is something that we will do again as a team. Until last year, I would have said that they were the best moments. However, I can say honestly and with the biggest grin on my face, that the best moment was a year ago when we went independent and became Bespoke Hairdressing with our own education company. That was the full dream finally recognised.

Our clients are at the centre of our story. You make us what we are today, proud to say we have the best job in the world. We worry so much at the moment about being able to stay open, look after you, keep you safe and also enjoy the experience as much as possible. We work openly with the local agencies and trade advisory bodies to ensure that we are doing as much as we possibly can. Who knew at the start of 2020 that an early salon birthday present for our 20th would be to own our own fogging machine!

For me this next phase is the most exciting part of our journey. It’s totally ours and we can truly evolve out of the box thinking. We have our next set of future professionals to grow to foundation degree level.

We have the opportunity to work creatively with some of the best companies in the marketplace, with Redken and Kevin Murphy being our lead providers. 

We designed our own Rugby Football for our 20th anniversary as a gift to our team and a permanent reminder of how proud we are not just to have been open for 20 years, but to have done it in our hometown of Rugby, which we love.

Looking forward to the next twenty years.


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