Tell us a little bit about Glasshouse
Glasshouse Salon products and services are centered around using natural, organic, and sustainable products, but we are more than just a hair salon – we are a lifestyle brand. Our philosophy is about being as responsible as we can; from the cleaning products we use to the coffee we serve. We celebrate inclusivity and community.
I founded Glasshouse back in 2012 – the industry is dominated by big brands which makes it hard for any smaller brand to break out. When I first arrived here in 2008, it was a huge challenge to overcome at the time.
What were you doing before this?
I trained in hairdressing straight out of school, but when I came to London I didn’t want to work in salons anymore. I wanted to move away from the hierarchy, I was sick of using chemicals that I felt were harmful to both myself and the environment. Instead I found an incredible company called Organic Colour Systems who had already been specialising in producing natural and organically based products for salons for over 20 years – I began working with their London distributor, providing training for stylists at different salons. I was really struck by two things: one was how amazing their products were (it was a far cry away from the very limiting henna colours I had seen in the health food stores at the time), and the second was how resistant hairdressers were to using them as they viewed it as an ‘alternative’ range to their big brand ammonia colours.
To me they ticked all the boxes - better for the environment, better for your hair and safer for clients and staff.. Through my network of friends I started building up my own clientele. I’d become so busy it felt like a wasted opportunity to not be able to expand on what I was able to offer as a healthier safer option.
What made you decide to break away from the norm?
We’ve seen a real movement in the world towards nature, veganism, sustainability, and environmentalism. For us that’s part of who we are but initially the big brands were holding back.
They have started to react and catch up but sometimes they just pay lip service to the cause and that can be quite frustrating. Small brands can be very product focussed and make amazing things but where they fall down is in promoting themselves to the consumer – it’s all about creating transparency with our customers.
What has been your biggest challenge?
When I first started I was 26 and had just taken over a room in a studio where I could cobble things together; growing from there was easy but replicating that type of growth nowadays is hard. It’s also been difficult at times to find the right people and staff; I need amazing stylists who also share our vision. But if I’m honest the biggest challenge at times has been having confidence in myself. When I started I had no idea what I was doing – it took massive bravery to get going but as I look back I realise it was exactly the right time to do it.
What’s your biggest success?
Success can mean many different things – we’ve had incredible business success; launching our own products, receiving lovely praise in the press, but the thing I’m most proud of is when I took a step back from the business to have my daughter. Being a mum and running a business was challenging and it reached a point where I needed to let go of some parts rather than feeling like I had to have control of everything – I had faith in my incredible team and watching them lead us through the most amazing year of growth was really empowering.
I’ve taken lots of risks, but I could have taken more – sometimes I regret not having been more ambitious than I was. Maybe that’s not a regret though, at the end of the day for me it’s about integrity and maintaining our core ethos by not selling out.
Recently, a good friend of mine and I expanded into another project called A Sustainable Department Store which is a platform to help independent brands sell directly to consumers. We have run several pop-up events across London and look forward to being the first UK retailer for Isle of Eden later this year.
Any advice to anyone ready to do the same?
Think about what you can offer the world, and think about what the world needs right now – this isn’t the time to be making bullshit for the sake of it. If you are really, really passionate about something then that will inevitably lead you to success. Don’t for a second think it’s going to be easy, but if you love what you do then you will be setting yourself up for success.