In celebration of Small Business Saturday today I’m writing about a small business with incredible longevity.
Elizabeth Ross Hair and Beauty has been serving the community in North London’s Turnpike Lane, for over 27 years. It’s independently owned and ran by Huseyin Mehmet and his wife Sophie, a hairdresser with some 30 years of experience. It’s rare that a small business survives for such a long time in one location and they have not only survived but flourished.
In this digital age, everyone has a website, facebook, twitter or Instagram – not Elizabeth Ross! although that will change in 2015.
All their bookings come from repeat business and a very loyal client base. Their location also means that they are in an incredible position for passing trade. The combination of being next to both Turnpike Lane tube and the main bus station, not to mention being right at the heart of a very busy crossroads makes it very easy to attract passers by. All they have to then is keep people happy and have them come back – and that is what they do very well!
1. What services to you offer?Elizabeth Ross offers; male and female hairdressing, beauty, electrolysis, nails, tanning and also an expert body piercing service. They have between 6 to 10 staff depending on the time of year.
2. How did you start out?
It all started 27 years ago, Sophie had trained as a hairdresser so we had a small shop at the back with just 3 cutting chairs and 1 basin. In 1990 we expanded into the shop we are in now and added beauty and piercing. Tanning came a few years later.
3. What makes your service special?
Because we started small, we’ve always been a person to person business and we get to know our clients well. In some cases we see 3 or 4 generations from the same family! We’ve been seeing great Grandma for 25 years, her daughter, her granddaughter and now her great grandchildren. We’ve only ever relied on word of mouth recommendations, the only way to do that is to offer great service and value for money.
4. Did you prepare a Christmas marketing campaign and what did you do?
Christmas is a busy time for us so we haven’t really had to do anything special.
6. What’s your biggest challenge in 2015?
We are launching our website and we are going to embrace social media! It’s a bit daunting, but exciting too. That’s how the younger generation communicate, so we need to be there too.
7. What’s your hidden talent?
I’ve always been very passionate about piercings. I trained as a tattooist and in piercing in Bournemouth years ago. Piercing feels like more of a ritual and it’s very rewarding when people put their trust in you. I’ve topped up the training over the years with onsite specialists for myself and some of the other beauticians have chosen to specilialise too.
It’s unregulated which is crazy. If you are piercing someone’s skin then proper training, proper equipment and hygience are all of prime importance.
We have an Autoclave sterilisation system, which is used by the NHS. It subjects equipment to high pressure saturated steam at 121 degrees for around 15 to 20 minutes. One needle per treatment and the rest go in the Sharps box. I’ve always done it that way. The Sharps box is collected by specialist contractors.
There’s a much wider client range than y0u might imagine! It’s certainly not all young people and it’s also split between men and women. I get quite a few middle aged men asking for nipple or navel piercings. It’s a very personal thing to do for someone and usually for them is a right of passage or reflects a major change in their life. It’s a privilege to be a part of that.
8. What your proudest business achievment in 2014?
We’ve increased our regular clients and we’ve spent time planning and designing our new website which is launching next year.
9. Why Turnpike lane and who are your clients?
We live locally and work locally, we’ve grown up here, our children have grown up here and our clients’ families have grown up here. We are all part of the same community. We see a huge range of ages and nationalities. It’s a very friendly part of the world.
10. What’s your favourite piece of business advice to pass on?
Be honest and offer a good service at good prices. It’s important to maintain the level of care to everyone to keep the repeat business.
All the staff at Elizabeth Ross are very good, but my favourite beautician is Gamze. She gives fantastic pedicures and is the only person I trust to dig out my monthly ingrown toenails. (Hope you aren’t having breakfast while you are reading this!)
Being a red head, I have blond eyelashes, so being too lazy to wear mascara every day, I get them dyed. Gamze is the only person that can get right in close to the roots and not sting my eyes.
Gamze trained as a hairdresser for 2 yrs, then discovered she preferred beauty. So she went to university to study Beauty and Spa Management. She found beauty suited her compassionate nature and there’s something about making people feel better about them selves that has a nice karma about it.
She prides herself on her client service, and always makes sure that her customers are truly happy with the results of their treatments before they leave the building. She’s keen to keep up to date and maintains her training. Her most popular treatments are eyebrow waxing and threading, eyelash extension, pedicures and manicures. Next year she wants to train in laser hair removal.
I enjoy catching up with Gamze every month, she got married this year, so hearing about the wedding preparations was great fun. I hear she’s a mean belly dancer too!
As I left the salon, Gamze and Kim’s next clients arrived. It’s was an elderly disabled couple, who have been coming for years. Their carer brings them every month for a manicure and they sit side by side having their nails done. It was incredibly moving to see and the girls treated them like royalty. Now that’s gold standard client service!
Call them to make an appointment 020 8888 5103
They are open everyday except Sundays
Thanks for reading, get out there and shop local today for Small Business Saturday!