Salon before breakfast? It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but for Urban Hair Studio located on Barclays Plaza, Loita Street, it is one of its best plans yet. At 6.30am the parlour is a beehive of activity.
At the reception is vase of fresh flowers, a staff serves customers a choice of tea or juice. Shampoo girls busy at the sink scrub and massage scalps while stylists arrange hair to ones’ liking. At another table, a beautician makes a bold stroke of colour on a customer nails. Many customers here are young professional women putting a beautiful start to their day.
Services range from hair treatment, retouches to manicures. Men can get haircuts, colour and have their dreadlocks and natural hair coloured and styled.
The head stylist, Mr Patrick Muikamba, said the whole idea started with a busy customer. “This client told me she had a busy weekend outside Nairobi and had an early morning presentation to her company’s top executives and she needed to look her best. She requested to come in at six o’clock in the morning,” he told Money.
He agreed but he thought he could face idle mornings. To his surprise, however, customers kept coming, all expressing delight that the salon was open so early. Some even chided him for not informing them earlier.
Most said they were in town early to avoid traffic jam and being in the salon was a good use of their time.
“We discovered we were on to something and decided to have at least half our staff come in early.”
The weekday morning sessions are popular with their regular clientele, who make reservations based on their schedule.
“In the beginning, we saw people preparing for interviews and important presentations coming in early, but now clients just come in, just to look good and boost their confidence,” he said.
This development has compelled them to add to their range of services. The natural hair trend is big and they now have a stylist, whose job it is to create different looks for natural hair.
Saul Juma, a stylist at the parlour noted that while natural hair can be done at home, a salon touch makes it neat and keeps the style for longer.
Mr Muikamba says the salon offers premium services at reasonable rates. “Our clients prefer personalised services. For them being in the salon on the weekend with everyone else just won’t do. So this is their time where they feel they’ve received undivided attention,” he said.
While Urban Studio offers a wide range of services, hair remains its core business.
“We take hair very seriously and we use only the best products. We keep abreast of developments in technology and invest in products and equipment that help us provide unmatched services. We want our clients’ hair to be their crowning glory and be our best advertisement.”
The salon’s flagship product is Mizani by L’oreal, which they import from the US. They are keen on how they dispose the containers to avoid the packaging from falling in the hands of counterfeiters.
“We opted to import our products to ensure we maintain consistent standards. This also helped us build relationships and we participate in trainings that make us better at our job. We also give feedback to them on how they can improve the product to suit our customers here. We also get new products first before everyone else,” he said.
The salon offers gel manicures, which are chip resistant and offer long wear of up to a month making them an ideal choice for the busy career women, who have little time to spend in the salon.
The charges vary depending on the services offered. Treatments start from Sh2,000 to Sh6,000. A retouch would set you back Sh4,000.
The salon opens from 6am to 7pm. It offers free parking in an adjacent parking lot.
Mr Edwin Wandera, the head stylist for men noted that men have not been keen on the morning rush, instead preferring the mid-morning to late afternoon hours.
Urban Hair Studio, which now has a staff of 30: six stylists, six shampoo assistants, six braiders, eight beauticians, two receptionists and four support employees plans to open franchises in the city neighbourhoods.