July 13, 2016

Based on Brick Lane, Not Another Salon is an eye-popping colour extravaganza. A hair salon specialising in glorious damage-free colour treatments, we stopped by to catch up with salon owner, Sophia Hilton. From the candy-coloured exteriors to the paint pot murals, art displays and paint-spattered staircase, we’d never been anywhere so drenched in rainbow hues. We caught up with Sophia about creating a successful business, no judgement policies and having the confidence to be yourself no matter what.

UO: Where did the idea for Not Another Salon come from?

I didn’t really think I wanted a salon, it looked boring to be honest. The name came from me telling my husband if I were to have a salon it couldn’t just be ‘Another Salon.’

UO: Can you tell us a little about your No Judgement policy and why it’s important to you?

In my life I’ve always celebrated individuality. I’ve always tried to encourage my friends to be comfortable in their own skin. For years as a teenager I was bullied for wanting to be unique. In more recent years I have been contacted by other kids from back in the day that were going through a similar struggle. They told me that through watching me go through what I did, they found personal strength for their own struggles when they saw that I never stopped being me. I’ve always seemed to be the person that people open up to about everything from their sexualty or their home problems, because I don’t judge. So when it came to opening a salon, I wanted to extend that ideology to a no judgment policy salon. It’s a happy, safe place to be yourself.

UO: Can you tell us a bit about your education programme at Not Another Salon?

Because of the high demand from other hairdressers to learn our techniques, we started an academy. It’s very flattering to have other hairdressers come to our salon to learn when we have only been open eight months.

UO: What’s one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced so far?

The launch of the salon in general. 16 hours a day, 7 days a week for months. I was exhausted, I was aggregated and I got so skinny because I didn’t have time to eat….or I’d forget to. My husband was building it and so he was exactly the same. We were shadows of people for a while. I didn’t think those hours would ever end.

UO: How important is Instagram to your brand identity and drawing in new customers?

These days trends are spread fastest on Instagram. Instagram has been the biggest driving force for our business and I put a lot of time and energy into it – it was planned to the fine detail for a year before. But I really don’t feel we ‘keep up to date,’ as such, we’re just doing our own thing. I’ve never been one for following trends.

UO: How do you hope Not Another Salon changes the dynamics around coloured hair?

It’s just challenging perceptions. I’m sick of bright colours being seen as a sign of teenage rebellion. It’s an out-dated mindset. No-natural colours are going to take a while to sit in the mainstream properly…. but mark my word, they will.

UO: What legacy do you hope Not Another Salon will leave to your staff, community etc?

My company tells people it’s ok to be who you are, to sing to your own tune. If I can start to help people belive this in my lifetime I will be happy.

UO: What key piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own business but aren’t quite sure or are plagued by self-doubt?

Self-doubt is a good thing. It stops us making stupid decisions. Stop reading books that tell you you can do anything and start reading a book that tells to you understand your own personal limitations and how to work around them. Do NOT ignore your weaknesses.

UO: Words to live by?

A man can withstand almost any how if he has a why. Simply, this means that if I didn’t hold a deeper meaning to all of this, then this whole process would be painful. It’s only holding a reason infront of me that makes me continue. There is no point climbing a ladder just to find it’s leaning against the wrong wall. Know your wall.

My meaning is to have a positive influence on those around me, to have a business that actually makes a difference to people’s lives.