Name: Kyle Ross.

Age: 32.

What is your business called?

Sovereign Grooming.

What services does it offer?

We supply grooming services aimed at men of all ages and offer everything from a cut and finish to beard trims and sports massages, so that they can feel their best.

Where is it based?

In salons in city centre locations in Aberdeen and Edinburgh, with a third opening in Glasgow on March 8, with our first training academy.

To whom does it sell?

A wide range of customers with the demographic varying between Edinburgh and Aberdeen. For Aberdeen the core customer base ranges between 30-50 whereas Edinburgh has attracted a younger base ranging between 25-40.

What is its turnover?


How many employees?


When was it formed?


I opened my first salon in the West End of Aberdeen, on Union Street. Initially, the business was launched as ‘Huntsman’ but we made the decision to change it to Sovereign Grooming ahead of our expansion.

I made sure to go for a big, bold space in the heart of Aberdeen – I knew from the get go that my ambition was to have a large, prominent high street salon.

Bearing in mind, this was during the oil recession (in what some people would call the Oil Capital of Europe) so to say fellow Aberdonians thought I was mad would be an understatement. There are no regrets though - and it’s fair to say our Aberdeen salon has become extremely well established.

Marketing specialist Ryan Crighton, who was one of the few Aberdonians saying I wasn’t mad, is now a shareholder and director at Sovereign Grooming and joined me in 2018. He’s since added a vast amount of business expertise to help get the firm thriving in the way it has.

Why did you take the plunge?

I’d noticed huge generational changes in men – they were spending more time on their appearance and becoming more image conscious. I knew fairly quickly that the men’s grooming industry was going to grow rapidly and was keen to be at the heart of it.

At the time there were hardly any high-end male grooming spots but the way the trend was going more and more were popping up. As predicted, the industry has and continues to grow, branching into many new areas.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

After leaving school I started studying law at Aberdeen University, when it became apparent it wasn’t the career for me. I found it extremely dull sitting in the library poring over case law and knew I had a bigger passion for being creative and working with my hands.

I gained an apprenticeship at one of Scotland’s largest hair salons and then worked in a few others on both men’s and women’s hair.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

Initially, I bought a house as a renovation project so I could increase the value and borrow against the equity to get some capital. We had to put in everything we had and it was a huge risk, we certainly could never have predicted a global pandemic either.

More recently, to open our two new salons, my co-director Ryan Crighton and I raised a six-figure funding package from investors, led by MB Martin & Partners, which specialises in helping high-potential, early-stage companies grow.

That is what made it possible for us to open our 1200 sq ft Edinburgh salon in the New Waverley area. It is also enabling us to bring to life the third outlet in Glasgow. That includes our barber school, which we hope will inspire a new generation of barbers.

During the investment process we were also advised by both CBRE and law firm Aberdein Considine.

The investment has been a lifeline for us during a rocky time for the economy. We’ve weathered the storm of the pandemic, but for months it was touch and go, especially when you consider that over two lockdowns, we were forced to close for seven months.

What was your biggest break?

I was fortunate to be nominated and win some big, well-recognised industry awards that helped kick everything off.

In 2017 I was named Scottish Men’s Stylist of the Year and won Best Barber UK at the International Barber Awards in Germany. I was also named Best Barber at the Scottish Hair and Beauty Awards 2018 and was shortlisted for GQ’s Barber of the Year 2019.

Being involved in awards and industry networking has been one of the most vital ways of sharing our brand with individuals outside of Aberdeen.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

My short-term ambition is to keep building on the success of our Edinburgh salon and ensure Glasgow enjoys its best possible first year. Our long-term goal is to have salons across the UK becoming a household name for men’s grooming.

We’ve also got very high hopes for our barber school in Glasgow. The National Hair and Beauty Federation reckons the number of new stylists qualifying fell by 50 per cent during the pandemic.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish Governments do that would help?

It’s clearly a tricky time for those in government due to the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, but one thing we’d love to see is more support for barbering as a career route.

Many businesses have had to take backwards steps through this pandemic, coming out of it saddled in debt. Providing support for businesses to take a couple of steps forward again would be very beneficial in creating employment and driving the economy forward.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is probably that for every problem there is a solution.

How do you relax?

I’m a big football fan so before the pandemic I was playing a lot of eight-a-side, that all came to a halt but I’m keen to get back into it. I also used to enjoy playing guitar which has slowed down but I’m keen to pick that back up. With my workday expanding as the business expands, it’s been hard to find time to relax. That being said, I’d much rather be on my feet and cutting someone’s hair than with my feet up on the sofa.