Everything has been chosen to make our clients feel comfortable; as though they’re in their own safe place they can settle into during their stay. We take a one-at-a-time approach to clients. This is our real point of difference, as we have time to care for and create with each client.
Meet Donna Sheridan: Melbourne based hairdresser, client-whisperer and founder of Donna Sheridan Salon.
Having honed her vision, skillset and service acumen over the course of 15 years, the New Zealand native was in perfect steed to set up her own boutique space amidst the buzz of Melbourne’s Fitzroy precinct.
A venture that ultimately transpired following her 2008 move to Australia – from a small town in the South Island of New Zealand.
Enter Donna Sheridan Salon; a welcome refuge from from the throes of city living; bathed in warm lighting and earth-toned brick accents – with a couple of retro features thrown in for good (sartorial) measure.
Informed by a ‘one-on-one’ studio policy, Donna Sheridan Salon takes a personal approach to hairdressing, ensuring each client receives tailored, individual service – in a relaxed, un-hurried fashion.
The goal? To create great, everyday hair that reflects each individuals’ personal style, lifestyle and physical attributes. All this while offering a welcome life-respite in an uber-cool, albeit accessible studio space.
Here Donna talks transparent service, sustainable salon practices and the importance of tailoring your service to each prospective client.
TJ: What might first-time clients find upon visiting Donna Sheridan salon?
DS: An intimate, safe and relaxed studio setting wherein clients will receive care and attention from experienced hairdressers who will carry out your service from start-to-finish; hairdressers who want to enhance what Mother Nature has naturally given you.
TJ: Describe the Donna Sheridan approach and culture.
DS: Our hairdressers take a problem-solving based approach to work; they’re hair lovers who deliver quality service, recommend natural products and prioritise your consultation and hair longevity above all.
The Donna Sheridan culture is kind, helpful and easy-going; a team of talented professionals who are experts in their work. In all, an inviting, collaborative and inclusive community.
TJ: Where do you draw the majority of your style inspiration? Any signature hair looks you love creating?
DS: We aren’t too big on over-styling, and tend to prefer spending our appointments creating hair that works with each clients’ hair type – looks that will suit each individual.
Trend-wise, at the moment French girl haircuts and 70s inspired styles are very popular. A lot of our inspiration comes from our clients themselves – how they dress, what they’re already (naturally) doing.
That and experience; experience creating cuts for certain face shape, the colour shades that suit certain skin tones and the textures that work well with specific styles.
Style is about wearing something – not something wearing you.
TJ: Talk us through the salon’s design and aesthetic. Any unique features or points of difference?
DS: The salon design brief was all about clean functionality; a space that evokes a sense of calm and reflects our quality of work and creativity. We’ve used natural textures and light to create a calm, relaxing and safe environment.
We’ve placed beautiful wooden timber shelving throughout the salon, and floor to ceiling mirrors that create as much light as possible. Plants help soften the open clean spaces, and make the salon feel alive.
Everything has been chosen to make our clients feel comfortable; as though they’re in their own safe place that they can settle into during their stay in the salon.
As for the aesthetic; the quality, style and overall flow are equally important, as are the sounds, light and temperature – all of these elements ensure that clients and staff feel calm, comfortable and creatively charged.
TJ: You’ve mentioned your transparent approach to service. How do you (and your staff) maintain transparency among clients – whilst still fulfilling their respective needs?
DS: We achieve this through our one-at-a-time approach. We believe this to be our real point of difference, as we have time to care for and create with each client.
People are spending a lot of money in hair salons, so its our responsibility to carefully carry out each service in its entirety without juggling other clients (which can be overwhelming, stressful, time restrictive and make things feel like a production line!)
Such factors are not conducive to creativity or relaxation.
TJ: Your most popular in-salon service…?
DS: Just all-round great, everyday hair. Haircuts are always popular, as are naturally lived-in colours; colours that enhance clients’ natural hair by adding brightness, or variation. Think soft, romantic hair.
TJ: What is the ratio of freelance staff to permanent staff? Why do you choose this model? Any key considerations when bringing on potential staff members?
DS: Every stylist is a freelancer. We’ve chosen this model as it gives our space a community feel – while providing a collective of skills, talents and ideas. It also evokes a spirit of equality and a confidence among our stylists.
As for key considerations? Those who share a similar work-life balance ethos; stylists with a decade or more experience in the industry. Prospective employees must have the care factor and love to create natural, beautiful hair – people who fit into our relaxed salon vibe.
TJ: Talk us through your sustainable approach to business. How important is it for you (and your staff) to employ sustainable practices in salon?
DS: Our first approach is in the way we care for the people who work within the business – it’s making sure they have a healthy work-life balance and that they feel that their efforts and experience are being rewarded in a lucrative and considerate way.
Next is the products we use daily, and the ingredients and ethos these companies maintain in their development. We have been a member of Sustainable Salons for almost a year; it’s an absolutely incredible company that really making a difference in the world of beauty.
Sustainable Salons recycles and repurposes up to 95% of salon waste, with 100% of their generated profits from recycling donated to charity.
So far Sustainable Salons have helped us save 358,000 kg of materials from landfill, provide 100,000 meals to those doing it tough in our communities and collected upwards of 43,000 ponytails towards wigs for cancer and alopecia sufferers.
They’ve also offered purposeful work for people with disabilities and given our salon members a strong voice in their communities to fight for a better future for all.
TJ: Can you share some of these practices?
DS: All stylists work on one client at a time (from start to finish), and we don’t ‘squeeze in’ clients between colour processing. Stylists are each in control of their own column, and are able to control their own workload based on their own limits.
We have five different recycling bins where we seperate and store up to 95% of our salon waste. We use locally made organic tea leaves and biodegradable coffee pods – that are also locally made. Besides this, we also use ‘who gives a crap’ toilet paper.
TJ: Any advice for salon owners looking to minimise their salon footprint?
DS: Join Sustainable Salons – it’s the one of the best things we’ve done to date!