Hi, my name is Leo Mancini and I am a hairstylist from Ascot – a small town in East Berkshire, 20 miles west of London. For as long as I can remember I have loved doing hair. I have honed my craft for more than two decades and have become an expert in a wide spectrum of hair services and techniques, including colouring, extensions, thermal styling and treatments.
Starting out as fashion intern in my teen years, I gravitated toward hairstyling by late 1990s and became junior hairdresser by early 2000s. From those early days of my career, I have had a passion for delivering hair artistry and service excellence that exceeds client’s expectations. To further develop my craft, I attended Masterclass training at Connect Hair System by Feleny Georghiou in London. Georghiou is a world-expert in professional hair extensions and the creator of Connect hair Extensions. As my work received appreciation among clients and industry people, I went on to become a trainer at Gadiva Hair Extensions in London.
After regular promotions and gaining experience of working with some of the most skilled people in the business, I decided to open my own salon in 2009 – a business I successfully operated for seven years. It was during this time that I was also blessed with my wonderful son Leon. Being a single parent has been incredibly rewarding and is the most empowering thing I have ever done.
Although I loved my small business, I realized that there were significant inefficiencies in the hair and beauty industry which really bothered the present-day customers. In order to serve my clients better, I always took notes of their needs and problems they faced. This allowed me to find solutions and provide high-quality services. As most of my clients were female, they spent 2 to 3 hours on average at my salon, which provided me an excellent chance to study their future service expectations in extremely detailed manner.
The more I researched on the issues of today’s customer, the more I realized that the beauty industry was doing very little to address those issues. I discovered that the salon and spa industry is highly fragmented. Businesses offered a mix of services that fell short of providing the ideal experience to the present-day customer.
In a bustling city like London, getting quality hair and beauty service is often an inconvenient and all-day ritual involving multiple destinations. Women regularly require hair, beauty and nails services and – to avail them – they have to visit separate service providers located in different parts of the city. It doesn’t’ help that most of these women have a very busy schedule.
Their journey as customer is fragmented, where they visit different providers to get all their desired services. This means that they spend a lot of time in commute – getting from point A to point B, then to point C, point D, and so on.
Not only the consumer journey is fragmented but the entire process requires too much effort on their part – in form of calls, commute, traffic and parking delays.
A fragmented consumer journey requires more effort to receive a required end-result, and therefore becomes less appealing to the customer.
How did the business idea come to light?
The foundation of the business is based on the inputs I received from my clients over the years. For example, customers often wanted a new look but hesitated on the off chance of not liking their new appearance. The answer was to use technologies like smart mirrors for virtual images and error reduction. Separately, the customers in London complained a lot about traffic, skipping a meal and starving through 3-hour long treatments. Thus, I needed to find a way to offer them refreshments like coffee and snacks during their visit. Similarly, there were many of these little things that were extremely desirable to the present-day customer and added a lot of value to the basic service performed.
As a result, the business came to light at the face of inefficiencies present in delivery of services in salons and spas across Greater London and Surrey. As a part of the industry, I realized that the fragmented way of delivering services created a huge market gap. A gap if filled could unlock enormous value for the consumer in terms of costs, time and effort. Needless to say, it was not going to be an easy undertaking, therefore in 2017 I decided to invest as much time as I could into market research, analysis and planning of the business idea so as to cover all aspects. I have spent over 5,000 hours in the last two years to prepare a well-thought-out and air-tight system called the Singular Salon Ecosystem.
What is a Singular Salon Ecosystem?
Through my extensive research I learned that the requirements of today’s tech-savvy, convenience-driven consumer are far greater that they were a few years ago. Unfortunately, the beauty industry is not addressing those needs in any suitable way with most of the salons still running on a model that has seen little change since the last century.
Accordingly, I compiled a list of new or add-on services and changes that salons and spas could make to address the needs of the modern-day consumer.
Imagine how much time, effort, and costs a customer could save if she got all the above services under one roof. And that’s exactly what I did. Based on needs and challenges faced by my clients, I designed a unique salon ecosystem which offered all the above services in the most convenient, relaxed and integrated setup. The goal was to take the existing inefficiencies and inconveniences out of the process and simplify the overall consumer experience. It goes without saying that developing such a model in an effective manner was a challenging iterative process. After months of analyzing and experimenting with different ideas, plans and configurations, I was finally able to put all the pieces together earlier this year. By model, I don’t just mean the floorplan design and setup of the salon premises, but also business requirements such as formation, human resource plan, operating plan, fixtures and equipment, products and supplies, financial analysis, mobile application development, and permits.
This system – which has a unique mix of services based on the needs of present-day consumer – is what I call the “Singular Salon Ecosystem”.
It will not only save time for clients but also make their time at the Salon more enjoyable. The customer will be able to avail services with shortest wait times in between services but also can order snacks and drinks. I designed our services to ensure the client optimally utilize their time and has a memorable experience.
The Singular Salon Ecosystem will boost value for customer. An integrated process requires less effort on customer’s part to receive the same end-result, thereby making it more appealing to the customer.
Convenience is a commodity that is most valuable to the current generation, and consumers in the salon and spa industry are no different. It is my vision to deliver that convenience to the customers by offering a full range of services, using integrated salon designs, advanced technologies, and setting up salons at predominantly convenient, high-traffic locations. I want to change how a part of our world works and I believe my focus in delivering a compelling value proposition to my clients across all service categories will drive customer loyalty.
No matter what one’s views are on personal appearance, studies have proven that being presentable has real measurable advantages. Consumer behaviors increasingly indicate that they are becoming more and more aware of their personal appearance. A comprehensive analysis of the market showed that the beauty industry has gone from strength to strength with each passing year, with Brits spending as much as £7.6 billion on salons and spas in 2017. Industry experts predict that this boom will continue well into next decade. With personal appearance being a core aspect of Western culture, the industry sustains its durability and growth by offering services that are difficult to replicate at home. Additionally, full-service salons and spas are gathering more popularity due to their soothing and relaxing quality counteracting the high stress activities of everyday life.
Further, the rising standards of living and better quality of life has meant more people are looking for a better and more rewarding experience. They are looking for added value and differentiation, and though a variety of businesses offer a mix of services, they often fall short of providing the ideal customer experience. I believe that my clients deserve better. That is where my salon system will step in to deliver superior value through exceptional range of services under one roof.
What will I do with the money?
So far, the business idea has been fueled by passion, support from friends, and my personal finances, and now, to bring my dream to life, I need your help. Because of the size and the nature of the project, the project is divided into steps with clear objectives. In the next step, I need to obtain patents and copyrights for my business idea and therefore require £20,000 to pay for legal and formation costs. After receiving necessary IPs, I will use a part of these funds to start pre-development work for the Salon’s web and mobile application (the preliminary design of the app is shown in the video below).
I have given the idea my absolute best over the last two and half years – be it my expertise, experience, vendor connections, understanding clients, arranging and paying for expert services, analyses, coordinating, validating etc. I loved every second of it, but I still have a long way to go. In these few years, I have developed my rough idea to a full-fledged plan and arranged for resources and logistics for a speedy execution thereof.
It's my dream to make the customer experience in hair and beauty industry more convenient, accessible and enjoyable. This project is a step toward fulfilling that dream. Nevertheless, as the saying above goes, I feel really blessed to be the part of the hair and beauty industry.