Small Business Saturday Blog

At the cutting edge of local community

Monday, December 14 at 10:00

When Simon Webster and his wife Sophie established an independent hair salon in Brighton’s fashionable North Laine, their aim was to provide an inclusive space for clients to visit and build a support network for other local creatives and traders. As strong champions of small businesses and active members of the local community, the couple share their thoughts on life through lockdown and how the survival of our High Streets relies on co-operation.
Founded in 2012 by ultra-creative husband and wife team Simon and Sophie Webster, Simon Webster Hair prides itself as family-run hair salon with a client-centred approach, that gives inventive stylists freedom to work on their own terms. 
Its talented team split their time between working in-salon and for fashion publications and designers, previously having taken part in Fashion Weeks across Europe and being featured in Vogue, Tatler, and Men's Health to name a few.
Establishing the salon as a vital part of the local community was integral to the project. Simon Webster Hair soon earned a reputation as a trailblazing, welcoming local independent that combines the professionalism, quality and creativity of a high-end brand. This winning formula helped it secure both the UK Ultimate Salon Award and Best Newcomer Award.
Passionate about using their platform to demonstrate the importance of inclusivity, Simon Webster Hair is a community space where the team, as well as their clients, contribute to the company’s policies, procedures, and brand. This ethos runs through all aspects of the business, from fair employment terms to the services they offer, and using their own clients as models in collections. The team works with all hair types, textures and wigs, and were pioneers of innovative, gender-free pricing where appointments are charged by time.
As a close-contact business, Simon Webster Hair had to close its doors when lockdown hit the country in March. Using the time as an opportunity for growth, the team concentrated on building relationships by personally calling clients, arranging bespoke product-drops to their homes, and using social media to share ideas on home-styling.
The community ethos doesn’t just stop with the salon’s clients: during lockdown, the team worked with product suppliers and charities to create over 500 care packages which were distributed to vulnerable families and the homeless across Brighton, as well as providing pamper packs for the local hospital’s midwives.
Social media and video have also proved crucial in keeping clients updated on the work going on behind the scenes to make the space COVID-secure and to assure customers that their safety is paramount.
 
“It’s always been about people over profit for us and we were determined not to lose sight of that despite the challenges of lockdown,” say Simon. “That sense of being stronger together has always been our ethos and it was prevalent during the peak of Coronavirus cases.”
Whether it's contributing to the safety of Brighton Pride, sponsoring arts events at Brighton Festival, fundraising for Brighton Women’s Centre, offering thank-you rewards for shopping at small businesses, or providing free haircuts to the homeless and vulnerable, it's clear that supporting the local community is at the very heart of this small business.
The salon took part in the American Express Shop Small campaign when they reopened after the first national lockdown at the start of July. Due to the unprecedented circumstances this year, American Express extended its ‘Spend £10 get £5 back’ Shop Small offer, which normally kicks off on Small Business Saturday, to run for 12 weeks through to September.
Sophie says: “It’s wonderful to have American Express’ support at such a difficult time.”
In the future, Simon Webster Hair aims to build their clientele and provide further opportunities for its tight-knit team to expand their skills and nurture their talents. Meanwhile, the business continues to promote the shared benefits of progressive business approaches and practices to other companies through industry events and networking.
“The importance of keeping our high street thriving depends on co-operation rather than competition, so our motivator is to encourage local spending and reinvestment in our communities because we know we're stronger together,” says Simon. “We mustn’t forget the lessons we learned when we all paused and took stock of what really matters.”
Visit Simon Webster Hair at 16 Gardner St, Brighton BN1 1UP, or online here. Click here to find out more about the American Express Shop Small campaign.

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