The word “Etch” means to cut, carve and create art with a sharp instrument – with the artist who etches being the ‘Etcher’. This is very much what we do as hairdressers… we create art (with our scissors)! Our goal is to help people feel like their most authentic selves; whatever that may be. We want to celebrate each individual as the special, unique beings they are.

Introducing Etcher Salon; an inviting, client-inclusive (and vibrantly hued!) salon setup in the heart of Adelaide’s CBD.

Brainchild of established hairdresser Lauren Cooper and consummate professional Matthew Stadler; Etcher culminates the pair’s respective talents, skillsets and a shared passion for customer service to offer a unique and creatively charged salon environment (and education hub) for clients of all preferences and persuasions.

Fresh off the salon’s August launch, we caught up with Lauren and Matthew to learn more about the Etcher brand, adoption of sustainable salon practices and the salon’s client focused approach to service; an approach that celebrates individuality, authenticity and client diversity above all else. Over to you team!

TJ: Tell us about Etcher Salon.

ES: Etcher salon is a brand new salon in the heart of Adelaide’s CBD, opened by partners Lauren Cooper and Matthew Stadler. Lauren has been a hairdresser for the past twelve years, and has worked in some of Adelaide’s top salons. She’s also a current finalist for AHFA 2020 SA/TAS Hairdresser of the Year and an Australian FAME Team finalist.

Over the past few years, Matthew has worked in management and sales (within the manufacturing industry) and traveled the world as a full time musician. We decided to bring our strengths together and create a salon wherein Lauren could look after the hair and people, and Matthew could focus on the business management.

TJ: Tell us more about the multi-functional nature of the salon space.

ES: We wanted to create something a little different and to use the space for a variety of purposes; first and foremost, servicing clients in a warm, vibrant and creative space during the day. After hours (and on weekends), we wanted to be able to host education and events that could bring the hairdressing community together.

Our intention was to find a space that was large enough to be able to build a community of hairdressers (who could congregate and come together from different salons); allowing each to learn from each other, share knowledge and work together to enhance our extended industry community.

TJ: Can you tell us a bit more about the Etcher name and brand?

ES: The word “Etch” means to cut, carve and create art with a sharp instrument – with the artist who etches being the ‘Etcher’. This is very much what we do as hairdressers… we create art (with our scissors)!

We wanted the branding of the salon to be bright and vibrant with a warm, welcoming vibe that would foster a feeling of inclusivity. Our goal is to help people feel like their most authentic selves; whatever that may be. We want to celebrate each individual as the special, unique beings they are.

TJ: What have been some of the most challenging aspects of owning/operating a business during the current pandemic? How have your goals shifted in 2020?

ES: We began dreaming up our idea for a salon over a year and a half ago, and finally opened the salon at the beginning of August.

We originally found the space in January and held off signing the lease until May, when we were a little more certain of the South Australian Government’s concerning COVID lockdowns and restrictions. The fear of the business not being viable during such uncertain times was extremely challenging, and something we had to think a lot about.

We had to consider emergency plans for what to do if there was a possible lockdown during/or just after opening. We also had to make sure that the salon was COVID safe, with social distancing restrictions adhered to, and worked into our design layout.

Designing and organising the shipment of furniture was also a challenge (as there were quite a few delays due to boarders being closed), but we managed to make it over those hurdles… and have everything there just in time for our opening day!

TJ: For those yet to visit, can you describe the Etcher culture and approach to service?

ES: We want each individual who walks through the door to feel like they are stepping into a safe space where they can feel free to be their most authentic selves, without judgement or bias. Our staff embody that energy and love making people feel like their best selves.

Our staff are exceptionally well-trained individuals who create the most incredible work and treat clients like their own family. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, and love to have a laugh with each other. You might even see a bit of dancing on Saturday arvos if the 80’s throwback playlist list is playing!

TJ: What inspired the salon’s vibrant aesthetic? Any key pieces, details or points of difference?

ES: We wanted the space to feel warm and inviting… like a big hug as you enter! We used a lot of soft pastels and curves to soften the industrial architecture; you will notice most of the furniture and mirrors comprise curves and arches. The focal point of the space is definitely the incredible mural painted by Adelaide artist Dave Court.

We spoke with Dave about the design and colour palette, as well as how we wanted the mural to feel – with lots of layers and movement. We then left him to manifest his own creative expression! It’s definitely an element of the space that draws in passersby!

We also have an incredible processing table custom designed and made by Adelaide furniture maker Remington Matters, and our curved pink concrete terrazzo front desk made by Adelaide company Create with Concrete. It was important for us to use Adelaide local companies with our design, as we wanted to celebrate the amazing talents we have here in this city!

Our big pink neon sign – that lights the space with the quote “Hey babe, your hairs alright. Hey babe, let’s go out tonight” – is a little nod to our favourite musician David Bowie and his song Rebel Rebel. Bowie is the perfect embodiment of what we are trying to create at Etcher; someone who felt free to morph, change and express himself in so many different ways during his life.

TJ: What brands are stocked on site? How do you approach retail with clients new and existing?

ES: We use Redken and Evo colour, and Evo and Shu Uemura retail. We wanted to have two retail lines that were quite different as there will always be certain aspects to each brand that people tend to gravitate more towards.

We customise each retail prescription to suit each particular clients’ needs. We find that once you have gained the clients’ trust, it’s not so much of a sales approach – but more of a recommendation towards helping them achieve their hair goals. We will never push products that are not needed, and our clients know and appreciate that.

TJ: Tell us about the Etcher team.

ES: We have grown quite quickly as a new salon, taking on 6 staff members in 2 months! We have honestly been so lucky that after putting out an advert of social media (letting hairdressers know what we had to offer), we had an influx of interest!

When looking for prospective staff members, we look for are individuals who are willing and open to learn more; those who are open to pushing themselves to grow and evolve as hairdressers and people. We wanted to create a space where staff feel confident that they have the training and knowledge to take a risk and try something new – but if they fail, we’re always there to catch them.

All we ask is that they cut, colour and style hair to the best of their ability, service customers with the utmost respect and are willing to learn and grow; the rest is more about what we can do for them and their careers. Our management style involves looking at individuals’ strengths and goals, and determining how we can use the Etcher platform to support their career journeys.

We put a huge emphasis on the mental health of our staff and try to ensure we foster a healthy work life balance for them – while tailoring bonus structures to suit their individual wants and needs. We know money isn’t always what motivates people, so we have implemented a structure wherein staff can choose what they would like their bonus incentive to be. It could be more time off, extra education, travel opportunities or gift vouchers.

TJ: Who is the Etcher Salon client? You’ve mentioned you’re a gender neutral salon?

ES: The Etcher client is anyone and everyone!

We wanted to make sure that, by avoiding using gender as a pricing point and solely using hair length as our guide, we were not asking individuals to feel pushed into labelling themselves. We are a salon that celebrates what makes each client unique and special, and wanted to create a safe space where clients could express themselves without any judgement or bias.

TJ: Your most popular in-salon service…?

LC: To be honest we don’t have a ‘most popular service’ per se as our ethos is to celebrate diversity, and it truly shows in our service list! We have clients with beautiful blondes and balayage, clients with rainbow hair and clients with completely natural hair!

Short hair, long hair… we do it all! Most of our staff are colour specialists so you could definitely say our speciality lies in colour.

TJ: Talk us through your sustainable approach to business. How important is it for you (and your staff) to employ sustainable practices in salon?

ES: We use Sustainable Salons to recycle all of our salons waste, which prevents 95% of it ending up in landfill. It’s extremely important for us to do our part in making sure the planet stays beautiful for generations to come – and unfortunately in our chosen career we do create a lot of waste.

With Sustainable Salons, 100% of our foil is recycled and reprinted back into foil sheets to use again, and all of our hair clippings that are swept off the floor are compacted into cotton sausage logs and used to soak up oil in the event of oil spills. Clients absolutely love hearing that their hair isn’t going to waste and will be used in a productive way.

All of our lighting is LED for less power consumption, and we also use environmentally friendly cleaning products.

TJ: Anything else you would love to share with our readers? 

ES: We are so excited to be at the beginning of our salon journey and hope to help make a positive impact on the hair community and bring people together to share knowledge and inspiration with each other!

Follow: @etchersalon