Aberfeldy entrepreneurial team prove a cut above the rest

Having established Joshua John Hairdressing in November 2016, talented stylist Joshua Davie and partner Brian Scully have established themselves at the heart of the Aberfeldy community. With the help of beautician Louise Tod they have not only built a loyal customer base, but have since expanded their business by securing the future of the nearby newsagency and shop, highly valued by local residents.

The shared business, which sees Joshua working in the salon while the shop is managed by Brian, now employs four full-time and eight part-time staff, as well as seven paperboys, with further expansion imminent. Hardly surprising therefore that the business was named Best New Business in Perth Business Awards in November 2017.

“I’ve been a stylist for about six years, so I’m still quite early into my career really,” says Joshua. “After graduating from college, I returned to Aberfeldy to join an existing salon in the town. After three years as an employee, I decided to become self-employed, renting a chair, which with Brian’s help, quickly evolved into starting our own business.

“Brian has extensive experience in Business Administration and Management, so putting our heads together made a lot of sense.”

A change of ownership provided the perfect opportunity to bring Aberfeldy’s Old Library back into use. “It was the perfect location in terms of where it’s situated in the town. It’s a listed building, but it had fallen into a state of disrepair, so it was quite a project to take on when we took up the lease.”

Before being able to open, Joshua and Brian had to effectively gut the building, but as with many old buildings, renovation work uncovered some wonderful hidden secrets. “We decided to break up the cement flooring, which uncovered the original Victorian tiled flooring beneath, in surprisingly good condition,” explains Joshua. “That took six weeks to do by hand, but it was worthwhile. It’s a lovely feature in the salon now.

“We did most of the renovation ourselves as funding was quite limited. With our shoestring budget, we approached Glasgow-based DSL Business Finance Ltd and with support from the Scottish Finance Fund we were able to restore many of the period original features and fit out the new salon.”

The results were opened to the public at an open day in October 2016, for which the town came out in support. “We had more than 200 people come along to see what we’d done with the building. It was fantastic to see and be part of the local buzz.”

The nearby newsagents became available when previous owners decided to retire after 36 years trading. “Having helped set up the salon Brian was looking for his next challenge. Rather than lose the newsagent, and it’s valued local services, the pair of entrepreneurs stepped in to take over the running of the shop in October 2017.

“We have upwards of 300 clients on our books now, which just goes to show how much the Aberfeldy community continues to value good local service,” adds Joshua. “It was important to us when we took over the running of the shop that we protected those personalised services, which had been developed over the past 50 years or so.”

As refurbishment continues, some of the shop has been reinstated as a traditional sweet shop, which has helped to attract new customers. “Trading in Aberfeldy can be quite seasonal, so you have to be prepared for quieter months during the winter. As with many smaller towns, it’s a challenging retail landscape, but there is a real desire across the community to support local. That said, after making a profit in its first full year of trading – which is almost unheard of – the salon has gone from strength to strength and we’ve grown our turnover by about 25% in the past 12 months.”

Joshua puts that success down to a loyal customer base and regular repeat bookings. “Customers know that I might be booked up four, five or even six weeks in advance, so they know to book in straightaway.

“I’m looking to recruit additional staff to meet demand, but of course that takes time to get the right people. In the meantime, we have a team of six in the salon, including a full time beautician, reception team and part-time stylists.

“We also attract a lot of bridal party bookings. Aberfeldy is a beautiful area and popular for weddings with a choice of large resorts quite close to the town, including the Kenmore Hotel, Moness Resort and Errichel Cottages. Being able to offer the complete hair and make-up package is a popular aspect of our offer, especially during the summer months.”

So successful have Joshua and Brian been in growing and nurturing their business they were shortlisted as one of four finalists for the Citi Foundation’s Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards last November, recognising the business’s sustainability; growth, and track record in creating significant social value.

In May, Joshua was also named L’Oréal Matrix UK Educator of The Year’ at a prestigious awards ceremony held in Ibiza, Spain. For several years, Joshua has been travelling up and down the UK visiting colleges and salons as a L’Oréal ambassador, providing training on Matrix products and services. “I was very surprised to receive this award!” adds Joshua.

“We’ve been shocked and amazed to collect these types of accolades, considering it’s only been 18 months since we started all this. It’s all been possible thanks to the local Aberfeldy community – without their support and backing we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

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