Since Expat Hair Studio opened its doors in February 2014, ladies in the East could do nothing more than cross their fingers in hopes of scoring an appointment and crossing the vaunted threshold. They were fully booked from October last year all the way up through Christmas! Clearly, subjecting one’s tresses to the skilled hands of Kat Moss or Jaclyn (Jacky) Douglas is an extraordinary experience!
The salon recently moved to new, bigger premises in Joo Chiat before even celebrating its first birthday.
How did they become so in-demand off nothing more than word of mouth marketing and Facebook, on top of also being busy mamas? We sat down with the two ladies behind the salon to find out more about the magic behind the cutting shears…
Kat is from Scotland, has been an expat for 15 years (with four years in Singapore), and is the mother of Molli (7) and Findlay (5). Jacky hails from Australia and has lived abroad for 13 years, with the last three spent in Singapore. She’s a mum to Mia (6), Zac (3) and baby girl Tahli (8 months).
Was the salon the ‘brainchild’ of one of you then roping in the other, or was it a combined effort?
Kat: I found Jacky through a Facebook forum recommendation, so I called her to get my hair done. When I went over to her house we chatted about the gap in the market for Western hairstylists. One year later Jacky’s husband called me up and suggested we open together and we all went for it! The name Expat Hair Studio was a suggestion from one of my clients.
Jacky: It’s funny, the first time I met Kat she told me that we would open a salon together one day. I thought she was crazy! My hubby and I had spoken about the possibilities of opening a salon here, then one day while I was away he met up with Kat and her hubby and they all talked about it. I got a text later that night saying we were going into business together! It’s always been a combined effort. Kat and I are very similar; we understand what the other is going through and we are a constant support to one another.
You’ve moved to bigger premises due to your success and expanding clientele. What do you attribute this success to, besides filling a gap in the market?
Kat: The biggest thing that helped us succeed is our loyal clients and word of mouth recommendations. Definitely the power of social media had a lot to do with it, too. Our passion is to make sure every client loves their hair, and Jacky and I love our jobs and it shows!
Jacky: We definitely found a massive gap in the market for hairdressers that cater to an expatriate clientele. We thought it would be lovely to have a little salon we could work in together and have lots of fun doing what we love, but we underestimated the size of the expat community and that was clear from day one when our phone began ringing off the hook.
We immediately started looking for receptionists, salon assistants and other stylists! We haven’t spent a cent on advertising, it’s all been word of mouth and through our Facebook page.
The reason we make a good team is because we’re both in it together. We rarely take lunch breaks, we always have customers booked in back to back. We just don’t want anyone to miss out on an appointment! I was heavily pregnant when we first opened and I just couldn’t slow down, I didn’t want to make it harder for Kat. She finally put her foot down and set me up with some part time hours for a while. It’s give and take and we make a great team that way.
How do you balance home life and childcare?
Kat: We finish twice a week at 3pm so we can pick our children up from school. My husband has been amazing through all this. The nights I work till 8pm he gets home around 6pm to put the kids to bed. Our helper picks the kids up from school three days a week. We could not do it without her; she is an angel!
Jacky: I would be lying if I said I could balance my work and home life on my own. My husband’s job as a pilot means he is away often. We have a helper who started working with us the day before I had Mia — we consider her to be part of our family. Two days a week we work late nights, which is hard, but then two days a week we finish early and this enables me to do school pickups and spend time with my kids. Five nights out of the seven we are able to have family dinners. I have stopped working on Saturdays for the moment because I fly solo as a parent a lot on the weekends. It’s important to me that I can have that quality time with my children. My husband and I have an even balance and make it work.
What would you say are your ‘standout’ services and what additional services do you hope to offer going forward at your new premises?
Jacky: We offer mainly hair cutting and colouring services in our salon, and we have just introduced keratin treatments. We like to keep it simple and do what we know we are good at and what clients want. Down the track we would love to introduce hair extensions, but we are booked out so far in advance we don’t have the time to do the training! So for now we will just keep things as they are!
Sassy Mama Perk:
Expat Hair Studio are offering first time clients to the salon a 10% discount on services when they quote “Sassy Mama”.