Salon and spa culture in the UAE is as embedded as the sand and hospitality. As an industry, it is one of the busiest regions in the world due to demand, which only continues to grow. It's natural then, for the entrepreneurial women amongst us, that thoughts often turn to starting a new venture in this space. We might enjoy our weekly visits, but what do we need to consider when our minds turn to owning or operating our own salon, or for those business minded stylists and technicians, moving into the realm of ownership.
Valerie Reynaert is the CEO and Founder of the beauty consulting platform VR Beauty Consulting, where she helps aspiring and current beauty salon owners in the region to leverage the best practices from the salon floor all the way up to Managing Director level.
With a career including management positions at Sisters Beauty Lounge, Trevor Sorbie, and JetSet, we asked Valerie to help us lift the lid on the challenges and opportunities of starting your own beauty business in the UAE.
For many women owning their own salon is a dream. How hard is it to open your own salon really?
Starting a salon business is an exceptionally exciting time but it definitely isn’t a walk in the park. Having worked with countless entrepreneurs in this space, as well as launching my own beauty industry start-up, I know that it can be difficult, expensive, and scary to go out on your own. But I truly believe that when you are passionate, have a strong drive to continuously develop yourself personally and professionally and have the eagerness to succeed, you are paving your path to success. If you don’t know where to start, or feel you lack the experience, I highly recommend you to work with an industry expert.
Can you open a salon if you have no background in the industry?
How beneficial is it to be a qualified hairdresser or beautician?
A little-known fact is that majority of the salon owners in the region have no background in the industry. It certainly provides an added advantage if you have some training or a qualification in the field, but it isn’t a necessity to run a successful salon. That is because running a salon is about so much more than knowing how to do hair or nails. It is a business after all so you will have to acquire the skills of running a salon on a day-to-day basis, skills such as communications standards, people management, delivering outstanding customer service, training procedures, quality control and understanding your numbers are just a few to mention. So, if your dream is to open a salon, not having a hair or beauty background shouldn’t stop you from pursuing that dream. However, understanding how to properly set up and run the business is crucial.
There are so many salons in Dubai, something that we wonder a lot is, can you make money from one?
The beauty industry is thriving in the Middle East, and continues to show strong signs of growth and innovation. According to Euromonitor, the beauty and personal care market in the Middle East and Africa region was worth $ 33 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $39 billion by 2025.
Just before COVID we saw a shift in the market, with several single-service or specialist salons starting up the region. These salons provide in-depth and highly specialised services, but they have also revitalised the competitor landscape in the region and have encouraged innovation.
The key is to make sure you create a strong brand that offers customers a unique selling proposition. Build solid foundations with a strong focus on your team and clients and before you know it, you will be running a very profitable business ready for expansion.
What are your top 3 tips for someone wanting to open their own salon?
Businesses do not operate in a void; they compete for clients who are becoming more knowledgeable, in a sophisticated marketplace that has many competitors. This makes a clearly defined brand positioning a vital element for the viability and success of your beauty salon business.
Before investing your hard-earned money into your new salon, it is extremely wise to have an expert take you through the feasibility process which entails a total rundown of the viability of your salon.
Selecting the right location for your beauty salon start-up is as important as deciding to start the business in the first place. Your location can hold the key to sustained success, position your brand in the minds of clients and provide you with the launch pad for future expansion. This is a critical decision.
The day-to-day operation of a beauty salon requires skills such as communications, training and development, staff management and quality control to name only a few. After putting together your "dream team" and creating a customized Standard Operations Manual, it is time to electrify the energy in your salon and get down to business, teaching the team everything they need to know to deliver your vision and thrill your customers during your grand opening and beyond! This is an ongoing process.