New Traders: Zero One hair salon
Not yet 30, Sara Reynolds has opened her second premises, this one on Dublin’s Wicklow Street
Sara Reynolds outside her new Wicklow Street salon: “It’s been stressful but it’s working out. We’re offering a luxury service – tea in Wedgewood china cups, homemade biscuits, fresh flowers, ribbons for children who get their hair done, loyalty cards.” Photograph: Dave Meehan
Sara Reynolds is confident her new Zero One hair salon has the best shopfront on Wicklow Street. Actually, Reynolds is confident about most things, a quality she allies to business acumen and makes work for her.
Though not yet 30, the salon is Reynolds's second Zero One outlet; the first is on Main Street in Greystones, Co Wicklow. This time, for her flagship salon, Reynolds had the one-time Joseph Kramer premises remade to her business’ and heart’s desires.
On three floors, the new-look premises has chandeliers, polished wood flooring, walls of panelled wood, separate areas for hair washing with starlit ceilings. “Head massages will be part of every blow-dry, to make it a relaxing experience," she says. "Our mission is to encourage clients to be themselves, the best they can be. We offer a number one experience.”
The place buzzes with young energy, not the least of it coming from Bespoke Homes, the fledgling company that did the fit-up. Finding the right people to gut and refit 25 Wicklow Street wasn’t easy, but Reynolds searched until she found Ian Dutton and Nathan Cassidy’s company, just six months old, its owners just 25 and 27 respectively. “Their standards are so good,’’ she says, “and they finished in the time frame.’’
She applies the same ferocious single-mindedness to all aspects of the business. None of it has been easy but hers is a story of the triumph of inexperience.
By the time she’d finished her business studies course at Griffith College, Dublin, Reynolds was the mother of two girls (Leila and Yasmine, now four and five). She moved back to live with her parents, did an internship with hair-extension company Great Lengths, looking at how a small business in Ireland was run. “I decided to go into the beauty/hair salon business myself,” she says. “The girls depended on me; I wanted to provide for them.”
Reynolds drew up a business plan. “A good one. The beginning was hard. I’d no experience and no one was willing to listen when I went looking for premises.” But they say luck comes to the prepared, and so it happened: she found the Greystones premises by chance and pursued it with remarkable perseverance. “What I did have was a very good business plan.”
The gamble worked – she got both funding and premises and opened in Greystones on December 4th, 2014.
Trials and errors
“I had no idea it was going to be so hard at the beginning,” she acknowledges. “I’d never worked in a salon, staff were hard to get in Greystones . . . ” She details a litany of trials and errors during which she “just kept going, started marketing, blogging”.
Everything changed when talented, reliable staff came on board. First Julie, then Sharon and, through Sharon’s contacts, other stylists and, eventually, senior stylist Neville and Stephen McCann in marketing. From an initial three, the Greystones salon now employs 26 people. Manager Suzy Pollock was a Sharon contact.
“Suzy’s amazing. She will manage both shops with me; I have one side of the business sorted, she has the other. She can do hair and manage.”
Greystones is a success, nominated two years in a row for Image magazine’s beauty awards. “They almost didn’t need me, so I decided to open a second salon,” Reynolds says. “I spent three months on another business plan, then came into town looking for premises. It was the same as before; no one wanted to know, everyone wanted big brands.”
She persevered, naturally. Wicklow Street was an almost accidental online spotting, with key money required. “I rang anyway, met Joseph Kramer and we really got on. He was so nice. Someone had given him a chance once and he wanted to give me a chance.”
With Greystones doing so well, funding wasn’t the difficulty it had been the first time round. Her accountant dealt with the bank (“we got the key money, the funding”). Reynolds has taken on 11 staff from Kramer, three of her own – there will be more.
“It’s been stressful but it’s working out. We’re offering a luxury service – tea in Wedgewood china cups, homemade biscuits, fresh flowers, ribbons for children who get their hair done, loyalty cards. Depending on legislation we’ll be offering Prosecco.”
Any plans to to get Leila and Yasmine in to help? “Sweeping up, maybe!”