Hip London salon Cucumba is on a mission to ‘spread the love’ and challenge the beauty industry’s standards. Since launching in 2005, Cucumba has built a reputation for providing high quality and affordable treatments in time slots that work around your busy schedule. Whether you’re looking for a wax, manicure or massage, Cucumba has it all – and you don’t even need an appointment. TreatNOW chatted to Vivienne about how it all began and how she hopes Cucumba will continue to rock the beauty world.
Can you talk me through the beginnings of Cucumba? Is beauty something you always wanted to go into?
No, it definitely wasn’t. I was always a complete tomboy and was put off by the traditional salons – I never found them to be very welcoming. After I had an accident in 2000 I needed a lot of massages, but I found it impossible to manage my appointments and fit them around my other commitments. Either that, or I found that a lot of salons couldn’t offer a high quality and proper massage. I knew I wanted to build somewhere where you could walk in when you wanted and get exactly what you wanted.
We love how the treatments are divided by the time that they take – did you find that there was a demand for quick fix treatments?
Yes, people can’t book their appointments a month in advance. We don’t even know what treatment we need until we’ve had a bad day at work or developed a headache. Cucumba allows you to drop in for a treatment when you really need it – even on your lunchbreak .
When we launched there was no Twitter or quick fix treatment. Things like the 20 minute facial have now become popular, but at the time we were completely challenging the industry. The beauty industry was telling us that an hour spent on a pedicure was normal – soaking our nails before they were treated. But why is a dry pedicure not an option? It doesn’t affect the quality of the treatment. There was, and continues to be, a lot of misinformation out there.
We wanted to fit around work and personal life commitments and essentially provide the same effect in a lot less time. Customers can also spend less money but still see a big health benefit.
Is there any treatment that does require a longer session?
Our customers can choose exactly how long they want their treatment to last. With the massage, for example, you can opt for an hour long session. It totally depends on what suits the customer. Alternatively, you can choose the quicker options and have a 20 minute massage. You get the same outcome but in less time and it means that you can get on with your day.
The names for your different treatments are really eyecatching. How did you come up with them?
We wanted cheeky names for our treatments so there was a bit of trial and error involved. We wanted to let the customer see that each option focuses on a specific area. For example, with the ‘love massage’ treatments you can see that you can focus on a specific area for a thorough massage. We wanted to promote the fact that the massages are really good quality – all the staff are trained through the academy.
Do you have a favourite treatment?
I love a good massage. You can be so stressed and bent out of shape and a massage is extremely beneficial. Just as exercise and eating well benefits your health, the same can be said for massage. I love how it makes you feel instantly healthier.
You’re already one of London’s hippest salons – what does the future hold for Cucumba?
For us, sustainability is more important than maximising profit. Our prices haven’t risen since we started. You see businesses around us come and go so for an independent salon to still be standing is a massive success. We have a very loyal following and an innovative team that is on a mission to transform a nation of undervalued people. We want to spread the love and aim to develop everyone that we come into contact with. This includes our staff who we help to develop their skill set – we love to get them involved in marketing. Cucumba is all about having fun (they have a shot and wax night!), changing the industry and challenging what’s inaccessible. We want to continue with that.
Lastly, do you have a message for beauty lovers?
If you want to spend your money in a sustainable and sensible way then you need to consider where you are going for beauty treatments. There is a lot of misinformation out there regarding cheap beauty treatments and a lot of clients are confused. When choosing a beauty treatment, cheap is not always the best option. It’s no different to opting to buy organic food. I feel that we need to look at the story behind cheap treatments and consider the black economy that a lot of the cheap, and frequently unlicensed, beauty salons have. We have a responsibility to turn our minds on and invest our money in a responsible and sustainable way.