NO occupation is immune to the debilitating reverberations of a global pandemic, but undoubtedly, the intimacy and tactility practised by those in the styling industry will undoubtedly continue to be greatly disrupted by the restrictions imposed by Covid-19.

And in a double blow to the sector where most workers are self-employed, recent ONS research has shown that such  imcomes have fallen at least 60 per cent since lockdown. So clearly, support and guidance is absolutely vital for many to survive the pandemic.

All reasons why Edinburgh-born entrepreneur Roz Colthart – director of the capital’s Salon Studios which offers stylists their own units operating from a central hub – felt it vital to launch ‘Salonpreneur’. This is a free online support network for all self-employed salon professionals, aiming to safely navigate those who participate back to profit in the post-Covid landscape.

Colthart’s support programme is comprehensive, with social media checklists, pre-made templates, consultation forms, marketing and business plans. Sign up is currently free and all new members also receive a free three-month subscription to TreatWell, the online booking platform for hair and beauty appointments.

“When the pandemic hit, I just thought – well, how can I help my clients at Salon Studios?,” says Colthart. “But what is great about the Salonpreneur project is that it is for everyone – I’m already seeing lots of people sign up from Australia, USA and South Africa. These professionals are hungry for information.  

“We are now aiming to build the Salonpreneur community and assist them through podcasts, magazines and even, in the future, celebratory awards ceremonies to recognise achievement.”

An alumna of Napier University with a Masters in Business Administration, Colthart has spent most of her career working for some of the most influential hospitality companies in the world, from Disney World to the management team on Richard Branson’s private island.

As Covid-19 has affected her present position promoting back-to-nature luxury holidays for sustainable luxury resort Soneva, it also gave Colthart more time to focus on the business she founded, Salon Studios – the hub for ambitious and entrepreneurial stylist professionals based in the capital’s Corstorphine area.

The concept behind Salon Studios is a re-invention of traditional ownership, providing self-contained, stylish salons for self-employed professionals – hairdressers, beauticians, chiropractors, nutritionists, dieticians, wedding planners and more – where they can provide one-on-one services.

“It’s a new model for stylist professionals,” says Colthart. “I always get asked – what’s the catch? There’s none! I keep it simple – clients at the Salon Studios hub in Edinburgh just pay to rent the space and get their name above the door – and they can also access all the assistance and guidance they need.”
The business model makes it possible for independent professionals to run their own business and make more money without the risks associated with owning a conventional space – all for the similar rate as a chair rental in a traditional salon. 

And due to the success of the venture, there are plans to open a sizeable new hub in Glasgow. Then, if all goes well, Colthart hopes to franchise the business.

She said: “To me, the focus is not just business, it is community in business and that’s what Salon Studios is all about. And that’s why I created Salonpreneur as a resource for all salon professionals.

“The platform will serve as a central hub, uniting self-employed professionals and inviting them to come and share their insight, knowledge and experiences, as well as making the most of all of the free resources that I have put together for them. They are in business for themselves, but never by themselves.”

Having helped her first Salonpreneur go from two clients to over 300 in just six months, Colthart is confident she has hit on a concept that so far has only seen real success across the pond in the US. 

Naomi Henderson, Colthart’s first Salonpreneur at Salon Studios, confirmed: “The day after leaving my old job, I was at Salon Studios talking about my dream being easily within arm’s reach. 

“Roz had such a positive and enthusiastic attitude about building her own business, that I knew this was the right space and energy to start mine. 

“She offered brilliant support from day one, with advice and help building my website and diary booking system, to interior design and the client journey. 

“I started at Salon Studios with two clients from my previous job and worked my way up to almost 300 with help from flexible opening hours and a buzzer entry system. This helped me run my business my own way to my own schedule.”