Scotland B2B catches up with the entrepreneur behind Edinburgh’s Best Business and puts his salon services to the test
Meet Dean Jones – owner of Dean Jones Hairdressing and Edinburgh’s Best Business 2017 as voted for by members of the public.
As we speak, Jones and his team of salon professionals are biting their nails in anticipation of who will be crowned the overall Business of the Year after being put through to the national final as category winners in the Edinburgh Business Awards.
If successful, this will be Team Dean Jones’ third triumphant year at Scotland’s Business Awards – beating off stiff competition from some big industry names. The boutique salon was also named Edinburgh’s Best Salon in 2016 and shows no sign of giving up its top-ranking status anytime soon.
But with hundreds of hairdressers in the Capital, what makes Dean Jones stand out? Keen to find out, I popped into the Elm Row salon to to meet Dean himself – and get my hair cut in the process.
I hit it off with Dean straight away. In fact, it’s pretty hard not to. His warm welcome and friendly banter put me right at ease and, for once, I didn’t feel too mumsy and too out of touch to be sat in a trendy salon.
My brief? To find out what it takes – from a business perspective – to own and run such a successful salon. His brief? To make me look like Amanda Holden.
I started out by having my hair washed by one of Dean’s assistants and, given that I’m a sucker for a massage, was pleased to find that putting my feet up and having a mini shiatsu were all par for the course.
Once back in Dean’s safe hands, we started chatting and both essentially got to work in our different ways, with me interviewing and him styling.
I was keen to find out how easy it was to set up a brand new salon in what is a prime – and costly – Edinburgh location, especially with Dean having moved from Fife where property rental is considerably cheaper.
“Although I lived in Fife, my life was through in Edinburgh,” explains Dean. “And when my mum sadly passed away, that draw was no longer there so it seemed like a good time to move.
“The property on Elm Row caught my eye so I decided to book a viewing. Then I went home to husband and said ‘I think I want to run my own business; I really think I can do this’.
“We decided to approach the bank for funding and, despite having to pull together a fairly in-depth business plan, getting their financial backing was relatively straight forward.
“The hardest part was having to project figures for a business that didn’t exist. I had to think about things like how many cut and blow-dries I could do in a month and how much product I planned to use.
“There were times I felt like giving up but I’m glad I persevered. When they finally approved the application, ploughing through the figures seemed so worthwhile.”
Dean trained under industry stalwart Dom Migele, who honed his craft alongside couturiers in London, Paris and New York, at his Glenrothes salon which has since become Kirkcaldy’s luxury Migele Experience.
He then went on to spend a 14-year stint as a senior stylist at Alison Stewart Hair & Beauty, which has salons in both Glenrothes and Kirkcaldy.
Now a renowned stylist in his own right, Dean has worked alongside some of the biggest names in Scottish hairdressing and is enjoying running his own salon which, with the bank’s help, he opened in 2014.
I asked Dean what inspired him to turn to hairdressing.
“I wasn’t very good at school,” he says. “And I left early without any qualifications. At 15, I went to college to study electrical engineering but it wasn’t really for me. I tried my hand at lots of other practical things and found that I had a flair for most of them.
“I finally followed in the footsteps of my sister, who was a hairdresser, and completed all my qualifications and training by the time I was 18.”
Dean’s career really took off when the salon he worked for won the L’Oreal Colour Trophy Award, which helped to raise his profile. He then took to the national stage to present seminars for the hairdressing industry.
He built up his client portfolio freelancing in and around Edinburgh before taking the plunge to open Dean Jones Hairdressing, which is now celebrating its third anniversary year.
As Dean put the finishing touches to my newly-coiffed hair, he told me about the influence social media and reality TV have had on the hairdressing profession.
“I have to make a point of sitting down and watching TOWIE (The Only Way Is Essex),” he said. “Not because I enjoy it but to keep up with today’s selfie-led society. It’s my way of keeping in touch with the younger generation to stay ahead of the curve. Today’s culture is all about selfies and Instagram and, as a stylist, I need to stay ahead of the game.”
On that note, I decided to take to social media to rave about my new, Amanda Holden-style long bob. I loved it – and, judging by her Twitter response, I think Amanda did too.