The staff behind a Derby hair salon which has been based in the city centre for more than four decades have said that the values of good customer service have been the key to its success. Rosin Clarke, who owns the Headquarters salon in Queen Street, has even learned British Sign Language (BSL) to ensure everyone is welcome.
The unisex salon was first founded by Rosin’s mum, Erica Holland, in 1978. The business was previously based in the city’s Eagle Market and Market Hall, before moving to Queen Street in the city’s Cathedral Quarter ten years ago, surviving numerous recessions by working hard through good times and tough times.
Now, a team of three staff help maintain the “old-fashioned” values of customer service that has kept clients coming back despite a challenging economy. Speaking as part of Derbyshire Live’s Love Your Local campaign, Rosin said the company has had to change with the times.
She said: “I think we have stayed the test of time because we remain focused on our goal – to give a high quality service that is value for money and, most importantly, that we are here to make customers feel special and good about themselves. We have all seen the economy ebb and flow over the decades and, personally, I am always philosophical about it and tend not to panic when times get tough.
“Fashion has traditionally followed the financial climate and this is even more the case for hair styles. When the economy is performing well, women in particular tend to go for more elaborate styles and full hair colour – booking regular appointments before styles grow out or roots start to show.
“In harder economic climates like we are in now, people do not have as much disposable income and this is reflected in the fashions. We help and advise customers to opt for more low maintenance balayage colour which can still look beautiful three months later and ensure we find the right choice of colour and style to flatter them so that they leave happy and with a look that they can easily maintain.
“The important thing is to listen to the customer and gently offer alternatives if you know that they will not be able to make such regular appointments as they used to.”
Despite having a strong customer base, Rosin also said that the strength of independent businesses was that they have the flexibility to be innovative and have learnt not to be complacent. As well as learning BSL to cater for Derby’s large deaf community, her staff regularly update their skills with training courses on the latest colouring methods and skills.
They have also undertaken specialist training from the British celebrity hair stylist, Trevor Sorbie MBE. This allows them to style wigs for women who have suffered hair loss due to illness or cancer treatment.
But at a time when many shops in the city have faced closure, Rosin and her team are also adamant that they will remain in the Cathedral Quarter, despite the on-going uncertainty surrounding the future of Britain’s high streets. Rosin is so confident of the salon’s future, she hired a third stylist, Nicola Vernon, with whom she had previously worked.
She said: “Our roots are firmly embedded in the city centre and will remain so for many years to come. Coming into town to have your hair done is more than just an appointment – it’s the opportunity to meet for coffee, enjoy some retail therapy and even visit one of the great museums or catch the latest film.
“We did lose some customers during and after the pandemic but people are getting back into their stride. In fact, I am so confident that the future that I have recently taken on a third stylist – Nicola Vernon – who was originally with me nearly 20 years ago as a newly-qualified stylist and has re-joined.
“I also continue to provide premises here for other beauty businesses who offer holistic and beauty therapies and treatments which complement our business. And we took the plunge recently to install an infrared sauna and shower which the customers love particularly ahead of a massage and hair appointment.”
But despite the continued success of Headquarters, Rosin said she was saddened to hear of the recent news that the Eagle Market – the salon’s former home – was to close to make way for a new supermarket.
She said: “I was particularly devastated to hear about the pending closure of the Eagle Market as my regular customers include many of the market traders who I worked alongside there as well as long-standing customers whose mums and grandmothers were customers back in the market days.
“The ethos of friendly and honest customer service is what made the markets great over the generations and it was bred into me from an early age. I love Derby and have spent all my life here. I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a hairdresser and used to sweep up for her when she worked in the Eagle Market.
“By staying relevant but true to our roots, I hope we will continue to be an active part of the independent business community here in the Cathedral Quarter for many more years to come.”
Here at Derbyshire Live, we launched our Love your Local campaign on Monday, June 27. In the weeks since then, we have been shining a light on independent retail and hospitality businesses across the county to help people to appreciate their local shops, restaurants, cafes and bars. So far, we have spoken to independent shop owners on Sadler Gate, in Derby’s Cathedral Quarter, long-serving Derbion jewellers Judith Hart, and Dave Hill, who has run BPM Records in Old Blacksmiths Yard for more than three decades.
To find out more about Headquarters, visit their website, phone 01332 369646 or look on social media.